Do pro bono work because you care, Bondurant tells UGA law students
3:01 pm, March 4th, 2013
Emmet Bondurant of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore told students and attorneys at the University of Georgia Law School Saturday that they should do pro bono work because they care, not because their firms require it or provide them with a pro bono partner to facilitate the effort.
“You ought to be seeking out those opportunities for yourself. You don’t need a pro bono partner to say you have to do it,” Bondurant told an auditorium full of students and lawyers at the 8th annual Working in the Public Interest conference at UGA law school.
Bondurant spoke during a program titled “A higher calling: the importance of pro bono efforts in the legal profession.” Sitting beside Bondurant on the panel was Mary Benton, Alston & Bird’s pro bono partner. Also on the panel: Cynthia Adcock, constitutional law professor at the Charlotte School of Law; Lonnie Brown, UGA legal ethics professor; Andrew Vail, partner with Jenner & Block in Chicago.
“If it’s something you care about, do it,” Bondurant said. He noted his own firm is smaller and doesn’t have a pro bono department. “When young lawyers come into a firm there ought to be a presumption that they’re adults. They shouldn’t be handed something on a platter for their own interests,” he said. But he told the group young lawyers can “do well by doing good.”
Bondurant talked about his own pro bono work, starting in the early 1960s – soon after his 1959 graduation from UGA law – when he took on the loyalty oaths being required by the state in the anti-Communist paranoia of the times. And he mentioned a recent cause, representing Guantanamo detainees being held indefinitely without charges filed.