The next time someone hits you with that old tired rap about all lawyers being greedy and selfish, here’s a neat little fact you can throw back at them.
When it comes to social consciousness, lawyers are number one!
That’s according to the first-ever Professional Social Responsibility survey by the Taproot Foundation, which advocates for pro bono services nationwide.
“One of the best ways to measure the responsibility of professionals is by measuring the commitment to pro bono service by professional services firms,” says Taproot founder Aaron Hurst.
The bottom line: lawyers give more of their time away than any other office professionals (excluding teachers, doctors and such). More than artists and architects. More than engineers and athletes. And way more than accountants.
Lawyers give an average of 35 hours of pro bono service each year, Taproot says (basing that number on U.S. Census data), while other professionals average a paltry five hours.
Here are the Professional Social Responsibility rankings:
- Art, Design, Entertainment, Sports & Media
- Architecture and Engineering
- Business & Financial Operations
- Computer and Mathematical Science
- Sales and Related
- Advertising and Public Relations Firms
- Technology Firms
- Human Resources/Talent Development
- Market Research
- Accounting Firms
Helping by Counseling
But lawyer-mediator Saul Segan believes our social responsibility should go beyond just giving free legal services to people who can’t afford them. He says we should help our clients avoid repeating the mistakes that brought them into our offices in the first place.
Clients might listen to us, Segan says, while tuning out relatives and friends.
“[S]ometimes, somehow, when the admonition comes from a lawyer, the ears perk up, the eyebrows rise, and just then, there is a chance of penetration into the rigid thinking processes of the individual’s resistant mind,” Segan writes in the Huffington Post. “This puts us in a unique position to help. And then a life can change. And head in a healthy, productive direction.”
He’s talking about putting on our counselor hats.
Counseling does not require a couch and psychology degree. A good start is making a list of local resources - drug and alcohol rehabs, family therapists, anger management consultants, mental health departments, social service agencies, child protective services and alternative dispute resolution firms – that might help a client find a better path.
“We are fortunate to make our living by helping people,” writes Segan. “Sometimes it is even a good living, so we should give something back. For those who might be in a professional rut, there is nothing more calming of the spirit, or exciting to the imagination, as the knowledge that what you did in a given day made somebody’s life better in a unique way. That is why each of us is here.”
So take that, all you haters.
For more information:
- Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saul-segan/do-lawyers-not-have-a-soc_b_2712348.html
- Taproot Foundation http://www.taprootfoundation.org/
- Lawyers Top Social Responsibility List http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130517124003-201849-2013-professional-social-responsibility-rankings?goback=%2Egde_2691620_member_242215018
- ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service http://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/news_announcements.html