Associate Life

Andrew Stauber

Pro Bono at WilmerHale

October 18, 2012 5:09 PM | Permalink | Print

When I was interviewing for summer associate positions, I had (and still have!) a very strong interest in doing pro bono work. An unnamed law school friend, a seasoned veteran of the OCI process, advised me in his infinite wisdom that I should avoid discussing this passion in interviews. He told me I might come across as someone not interested in representing a firm’s paying clients. When I arrived at my WilmerHale callback, I immediately disregarded my friend’s advice quicker than Usain Bolt in the 100 meter dash. In several of my callback interviews, partners and associates initiated conversation about their meaningful pro bono involvement and the firm’s investment into small and large pro bono matters alike, from (successfully) representing evicted tenants in housing court to (successfully) tackling death row appeals to (successfully) fighting for the release of unlawfully detained prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear my future colleagues’ stories and to share my experiences and interest in doing similar work.

Fast forward four years from OCI and I now have a much deeper and informed appreciation for how much pro bono is embedded into the culture here at WilmerHale. Over my first year, I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships and provide legal advice to over a dozen non-profit organizations. I am particularly excited to have worked—and continue to work with—many non-profits in the education sector, a passion of mine. Beyond the nice warm fuzzy feeling of being able to support such great causes, I appreciate that the substantive pro bono work I do and the relationships that I have begun to build help me to become a better attorney for all of our clients—both pro bono and paying clients. I have learned about the nuances of union negotiations from a 12 person non-profit (with a five person union!) focused on civil rights. I have explored an employer’s ability to regulate social media usage in the workplace in my representation of a national service organization. I have led numerous conference calls with pro bono clients where I have identified the benefits and risks of a proposed course of action and offered a practical recommendation to the client.

Reflecting back on the advice of my law school friend, I realize that pro bono work is not an impediment to WilmerHale’s success. Rather, it is a rewarding and integral part of firm life at WilmerHale, allowing both WilmerHale and me to do good while helping us to do well.