Service. Service to clients. Service to the bar. Service to the community. If we turn to Webster’s dictionary, service or “to serve” is defined in many ways but includes the definition “to meet the needs of.”[i] A servant is defined as “a person devoted to another or to a cause, creed, etc.”[ii] The Texas Lawyer’s Creed also contains references to service. It provides that lawyers are responsible to assure that all persons have access to competent representation regardless of wealth or position in life. It also requires the lawyer to “commit myself to an adequate and effective pro bono program.”[iii] Service is something that is important to the legal profession and the legal system. However, sometimes in the business of the practice of law, service is the one thing on the “to do list” that gets cut.
To fight this, Baylor Law School has created a culture of pro bono service. This process begins at orientation. Baylor Law School’s administration, faculty, and staff stress the importance of service in the profession. To help prepare our students for the practice of law, our pro bono programming was created with the profession in mind. The State Bar of Texas does not require lawyers to complete pro bono hours or community service hours. Texas lawyers are encouraged to serve and the hours of pro bono work that Texas lawyers give are truly voluntary. The Baylor Law School pro bono program works exactly the same way. With the emphasis being on practical legal training from day one, the program operates with that perspective.
Through volunteering in clinics and other pro bono projects, our students see the impact of their efforts working alongside Baylor faculty and volunteer lawyers. It may be the first time that they see how the law they have learned in class applies to real problems involving real people. Many experience deeper understanding of the subjects they’ve studied. These experiences often solidify their calling to be a lawyer, and create the impetus to continue to serve throughout their careers.