What do you get out of doing pro bono work?

‘Pro bono work reminds me that practicing law is a privilege.’



Chelsea E. Nelson, U.S. Bank 

Like many others, I became an attorney to help people. There is an indescribable specialness about offering help to someone as their last resort and their last hope. Pro bono clients come to you completely vulnerable in that they sometimes must reveal the most personal parts of their life to you and ask for help that they’re unable to afford. That is a vulnerability that most people are not willing to subject themselves to. 

But those clients are also the ones to say ‘Thank You’ with the most sincerity. They provide this feeling of being genuinely appreciated that is unmatched by any other sort of representation I can offer. While I can ‘help’ my paying clients, the help I can offer pro bono clients is unequivocally the most fulfilling. To put it simply, pro bono work just feels good. 



Daniel G. Prokott, Faegre Drinker

I believe strongly that every attorney should provide pro bono legal services. I started doing pro bono work during law school and have continued to provide pro bono services for 20-plus years. In my mind providing some amount of pro bono services—which, for a given person, may be a lot or a little, and may vary year to year—is simply part of being an attorney. 

The professional, community, and personal benefits are numerous. Pro bono work has allowed me to develop and extend my knowledge about the law, including areas outside of my primary area of specialization, and has resulted in my being able to help many clients navigate and move forward from very stressful and significant life events. It has provided me with numerous opportunities to develop, improve, and use many skills, including effective client interaction, negotiation, and oral and written advocacy skills. Pro bono work has created opportunities to collaborate with many colleagues and interact with numerous other professionals, enabling me to learn from others, to become a mentor and advisor to other attorneys, and to help our judicial and administrative systems be more efficient and effective. Finally, using my time and talent to provide pro bono legal services simply makes me feel good—about myself, my profession, and our legal community.



Alyson Cauchy, Anderson Law Offices, PA 

I’m not sure if I can calculate the personal value of giving and receiving pro bono services. It is an enormous thing for both sides when one steps in to guide another through challenging moments—and for no reason other than that one could do what another could not do for themselves. Can that personal impact be quantified? Participating in pro bono can be personally uncomfortable and emotionally hard, but the relationships built—and rewards gained—far outshine the difficulties. As the co-chair of the pro bono program at U.S. Bank, I utilize my passion to enable great attorneys to connect and collaborate with nonprofits serving contemporary pro bono needs across the U.S. Personally, my hope is that any small positive value I add to pro bono services perpetuates and compounds.

Professionally, pro bono service is an invaluable opportunity to fill in the cracks of a system that is here to serve all people, but where some people experience significant challenges when trying to gain access to legal representation and services. I believe pro bono work is part of the privilege of being an attorney. It serves as a platform for some of the best work of our profession and demonstrates that the profession does not operate apart from the community we live and practice within.



Veena Tripathi, Fish & Richardson, P.C. 

Pro bono work reminds me that practicing law is a privilege. It’s easy to lose steam as a junior attorney—long hours, intensive learning curves, and endless pages of document review can make even the most energetic, motivated associate feel sluggish at times.

But when I feel my gears slowing, pro bono work reminds me of what an honor it is to be a member of this profession. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help a local entrepreneur bring her ideas to a public space, conduct complex factual and legal research for asylum briefs, and protect the First Amendment rights of protestors fighting for the future of our country. I feel lucky that I can learn from dedicated, accomplished, and knowledgeable attorneys from many different practice areas about how to be the best advocate I can. Pro bono work reminds me that this practice is, in no uncertain terms, a privilege. So what do I get out of pro bono work? Perspective, motivation, and gratitude. 

ALYSON CAUCHY has served as U.S. Bank Law Division’s pro bono program coordinator since 2017, and in 2020 became co-chair. While working at U.S. Bank, she obtained her JD from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and was admitted to the Minnesota bar in 2019. ALYSON.CAUCHY@USBANK.COM 

DAN PROKOTT, a partner with Faegre Drinker, focuses his practice on advising employers of all sizes, including multinational public and private companies, established and emerging private businesses, and nonprofit organizations, regarding complex workplace matters. He has been recognized as a Tubman Safety Project Attorney of the Year (2013) and has received his firm’s Pro Bono Award (2017). DANIEL.PROKOTT@FAEGREDRINKER.COM 

CHELSEA NELSON is an attorney at Anderson Law Offices, PA in northern Minnesota, whose practice is focused on family law and estates/wills. A native of International Falls, she and her family love everything that “up north” has to offer. CHELSEA@ANDERSONLAWYERS.COM 

VEENA TRIPATHI is an associate at Fish & Richardson, P.C. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. TRIPATHI@FR.COM