From Idealist: “So you’ve started a pro bono project… now what?”

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

If you’re on the job hunt, you’ve probably heard about It’s a great jobs site that focuses solely on nonprofit and social impact work, and includes everything from development gigs to international human rights fellowships. Last week, Idealist contributing writer Katie Mang wrote a great blog post on starting and implementing a pro bono project. The article is written in general terms to apply to any career field, but she’s got lots of great tips for us law students and lawyers as well. Here’s a few tips that especially apply to law student and attorneys providing pro bono service:

Document everything!

As an outsider to your pro bono organization, you bring a fresh perspective, different skills, and many new ideas. Find ways to document your feedback, processes, and resources so that the client can refer back to after you have completed your project. Don’t overwhelm them with technical jargon or lengthy paragraphs. Stick to free/low cost resources, instructions for future use, and bullet points. Creating FAQ’s or SOP’s (standard operating procedures) can ensure the sustainability of your work.

Be kind, tactful, and honest

It’s not uncommon to work for an organization that is short on staff and financial resources. It can be difficult to provide constructive feedback about their current processes or programs, as you know that they are trying their very best. Be mindful of their budget restrictions when making suggestions for improvement. Know that it can take some time for them to warm up to your ideas or feedback so stick with the most crucial suggestions that can make the most positive impact.

Understand the cause

People choose their pro bono service based on a cause they are passionate about, while others fall into a project because they want to fill a skills gap. Either way, it’s important that you know about the mission of the organization you are working with. Read up on their cause, work, and history. This contributes to a more rewarding experience and more informed work.

Click here to read the entire article!

1 Comment »

  1. Allison Jones said,

    July 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing our article! Hope it’s helpful to your readers.


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