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Alumni Reflections

Why should pro bono be part of your Carolina Law experience?

"Pro bono provided me with the opportunity to get hands on, practical experience in different areas of the law. It also allowed me interact with real clients and produce real solutions for them, a hugely exciting affirmation that I had chosen the right profession."

- Chris Brook, class of 2005, Legal Director of ACLU of North Carolina

"My pro bono service reminds me of my greatest motivation for pursuing a legal career ... to help others."

- Carmen Boykin, class of 2010

"I can't say enough about the benefits of engaging in pro bono work and encourage ALL students to participate now while in law school and after they graduate. As a student I helped encourage other students to become involved through my role on the Pro Bono Board and as the DVAP 50b Project Coordinator. I heard time and again that the pro bono work that students did was some of the most rewarding, practical, and career-shaping experiences of their three years in law school. I also completed pro bono projects myself, not only benefiting from the knowledge that I assisted citizens who might not otherwise have legal representation, but I built networks with practicing attorneys whom I still turn to for support and mentoring today. Engaging in pro bono work is an invaluable experience and you do not want to miss out!"

- Amily McCool, class of 2008, Assistant District Attorney for Wake County

"Pro bono work provided crucial learning opportunities during law school.  Whether working on wills for first responders or presenting to social workers about children's educational rights in public schools, pro bono prompted the development of new skills and the sharpening of others - in drafting, client interviewing, oral advocacy, research, networking, public speaking and other areas.  Being able to step outside of the classroom to a real life situation, apply your knowledge, and analyze situations is a useful and practical experience that no student should miss."

Mary Irvine, class of 2012

"You might feel like you do not know anything and cannot help anyone, but you know more than you think, and the attorneys are very helpful and patient. Also, my research skills improved greatly while working on a pro bono project, which made my research for school go much quicker."

- Alexis Chappell, class of 2010

"Pro bono service gives Carolina Law students the opportunity to participate in hands-on legal work while still enrolled as a law student."

- Jason Wedekind, Class of 2009

"Pro bono work gives law students the chance to put down the books and get some real world experience. This serves not only as a benefit to the client, who might not otherwise receive any type of legal assistance, but also as a benefit to the student as a means of honing interview skills and receiving exposure to various areas of law. The student is given an opportunity to obtain knowledge that could never be taught in a classroom, while working with attorneys and other community leaders in the field."

- Hannah Little, Class of 2006

"Pro Bono work is a great opportunity to apply classroom theory in a practical setting and experience the rewards of your hard work."

- Carmen Boykin, Class of 2010

"Pro bono is a great way to apply what you are learning during law school. Law students often lose perspective when in school, and pro bono reminds them why they came to law school. It is a great way to see how what you are learning in class can be practically applied and result in positive change in people's lives. Pro bono allows you to see the law in action as a remedy to many problems that exist in the world."

- Sonal Raja, Class of 2010

"Incoming students should make pro bono part of their law school experience because pro bono opportunities give students the opportunity to do real legal work for real clients."

- Hilary Cooper, Class of 2009

"I have found that another very useful thing about pro bono work is that it has allowed me to be exposed to different areas of law in the real world setting - this has helped me to be able to focus on what I would be happy doing for my career. That is especially important for someone like me, since I can see myself working in many different legal contexts."

- James Van Orden, Class of 2006

What is most rewarding about pro bono service?

"The most rewarding part of my pro bono experience is the appreciation from the clients. Most clients are so happy and thankful to have someone care about the problem they are having and to help them through the complex maze that the law can sometimes be."

- Hilary Cooper, Class of 2009

"The more you give to pro bono, the more pro bono will give you. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight as to why you decided to attend law school, or you may begin to question whether what you are learning is really applicable in the real world. Pro bono work is not some hypothetical problem designed to see how many issues you can spot and write about in a limited, stress-filled, timed exam that will be graded on a mandatory curve. Pro bono allows you to experience real success doing real law work for real lawyers helping real people. The work you do matters! The sense of accomplishment provides pro bono volunteers confidence that cannot be learned from a case book. Pro bono also provides you with a network that will become more valuable as it gets closer to job hunting time in the form of a reference or possibly even a job."

- Bill Kroll, Class of 2009

"Pro bono service has been rewarding for me because it introduced me to people and areas of the law such as I would not have experienced otherwise."

- Jason Wedekind, Class of 2009

"My pro bono service reminds me of my greatest motivation for pursuing a legal career ... to help others."

- Carmen Boykin, Class of 2010

"I have found that in the times when law school seems most tough or not worth all the work (times that I think we all have in some way), the rewards of pro bono increase exponentially. For me, in times like that, pro bono work helped to make me feel good about my future profession and allowed me to be able to view my day-to-day school work in a larger context, which can be easy to lose sight of in the face of our constant demands."

- James Van Orden, Class of 2006

What advice do you have about pro bono for incoming 1Ls?

"I would advise incoming 1Ls to become involved in at least one pro bono opportunity during their Carolina Law education. It's always amazed me how a single life experience changes one's perspectives on life."

- Jason Wedekind, Class of 2009

"Doing pro bono is an excellent way to get great, real world experience, explore areas of the law, network and meet new students and lawyers, and, of course, help people in need! There are plenty of opportunities even for busy 1Ls to fit pro bono into their schedules, such as working in New Orleans over Winter Break. I was fortunate enough to get selected for New Orleans trip my 1L year, and I got to help some great folks in an incredible city and refine myself as a law student."

- John Derrick, Class of 2009

"There is a saying that the hardest part of a journey is the first step, and this totally applied to me and getting involved with the Pro Bono Program. Coming up with reasons not to get involved are easy: I'm not sure where to start, I'm not sure I have the necessary skills, I don't have enough time. But if you make a small first step by committing yourself to getting involved and making a difference, the Pro Bono Program will help you over any hurdles that you might encounter. If you are not sure where to start, there is an amazing staff and student board that can point you in the right direction, show available projects and answer questions about what certain tasks involve. Many projects really only involve a couple of hours per week that can be completed from anywhere you have Internet access."

- Bill Kroll, Class of 2009

"Pro bono work is a great way to obtain practical legal experience, putting theory to practice. There are many ways to get involved, big or small. Do not hesitate to reach out to the CPILO or class coordinator for assistance with navigating the process."

- Kathryn Marchesini, Class of 2010

"Get involved in any type of pro bono work, even if you do know exactly what area of law interests you. I especially recommend pro bono if you have no idea what interests you, because it is a great way to explore areas of the law."

- Carmen Boykin, Class of 2010

"My advice is try a lot of different things to find what is a good fit for you. Pro bono during school breaks is always a great way to bond with your classmates."

- Hilary Cooper, Class of 2009

"Two months into law school, I can see I've got a lot to learn, but at the same time, pro bono work has given me the opportunity to use what minimal skills I have to help people who really need help; it's a constant reminder of why I decided I wanted to become a lawyer in the first place. It's both an amazing and scary feeling to realize that putting in even a few hours every week can have such an enormous impact on someone's life. And I think that pro bono work can also keep you grounded -- when you meet someone or read an affidavit in an asylum case that quite candidly accepts that returning "home" means death, you learn you simply don't have much to complain about."

- Joyce Kung, Class of 2007

"You might feel like you do not know anything and cannot help anyone, but you know more than you think, and the attorneys are very helpful and patient. Also, my research skills improved greatly while working on a pro bono project, which made my research for school go much quicker."

- Alexis Chappell, Class of 2010

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