Cordell Parvin Blog Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

Why is “Pro Bono” so fulfilling?

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “Giving” as a client development strategy. Want to get ahead? Try this. Giving also makes practicing law more fulfilling. What would it be like if 1000 of your 2000 billable hours were “pro-bono?” I can’t imagine a firm allowing all of its lawyers to do that. Would it surprise you if a famous singer did something like that?

There are times when I cannot get his songs out of my head. My favorite is Circle, known as the Chapin anthem and was the closing song for each of Harry Chapin’s concerts. I recently went searching for the meaning of the song and found this blog written by a minister who has used Harry Chapin music in sermons What Then Is This Child Going To Be? I also found this quote on song meanings website.

This song is known as the Chapin Anthem, as Harry (And tribute performers) would play this song at the end of their concerts. Anyway it was written for Tom’s (Chapin-Harry’s brother) kids show “Make a Wish” on ABC and it’s about humanity being like a circle, nothing is ever set in front of you from the start, there are no clear choices, and nothing ever comes to a dead end.

Take a few minutes and watch one of my favorite videos of that song.

I wrote about Harry Chapin here before a couple of years ago: Lessons I learned from Harry Chapin. Why did I love Harry Chapin? I enjoyed the stories in his music, but more importantly, I appreciated how he lived his life based on his priorities. He was a giver and wanted to change the world.

Take a look at this New York Times article: Harry Chapin: All His Life Was a Circle. There you will learn:

The singer wasn’t selling himself; he was giving himself. Half of his 200 to 300 concerts a year were benefits for charity. Exhorting his audiences like an evangelist, Chapin preached until he was hoarse about the need for civic involvement.

Even if your firm would never allow you to “give away” half of your time, you will still feel more fulfilled when you take on matters for clients you believe in and who you know can’t pay you. Let me tell you a story about my own experience.

Many years ago, I was asked to help Rachel, a single mother who owned a small construction business. Rachel had several sons, one of whom was deaf and was attending a special school miles from her house.

Rachel’s day consisted of getting her sons ready for school, taking them to school. Then she spent all day on construction projects. Each night after feeding her two boys and getting them to sleep, Rachel did her “paperwork.” She worked very, very hard and didn’t ask for anything from the government, other than an opportunity.

Helping her deal with a difficult situation that would have put her out of business was one of my best memories practicing law. I will never forget the look on Rachel’s face, and the hug she gave me, when she said: ‘Thank you.”

When I wrote this, I searched in Google for Rachel and discovered she passed away in 2011. One of her friends wrote:

Rachel was a wonderful and unique person who I counted as a friend and confidant. I will miss her. Blessings always to her family.

Teresa

Who needs your help and cannot afford to pay you? I know from experience that helping that person will make practicing law more meaningful.

P.S. I still have 3 Harry Chapin: Remember When DVDs I would love to give away to any of you who would like them. The DVD ends with Circle.

  • Tracey

    Harry Chapin was one of my favorites! I saw him numerous times. My favorite was a concert with just him and his brother, all acoustic. Thanks for the great memories.

  • http://www.cordellblog.com/ Cordell Parvin

    Awesome. Tracey thanks for sharing your comment. The concert with just Harry and his brother must have been very unique and special.