Pro Bono Work is One Reason to "Love Your Lawyer"

It seems that everywhere you turn unofficial holidays that highlight certain groups of people like authors, vegans or even Star Wars fans are fast becoming commonplace. Now lawyers have a holiday of their own: "Love Your Lawyer Day".

SuperLawyers LYL Day.jpgThis day, designed to promote a positive and respected image of lawyers and their contributions to the community will be recognized today.

So maybe you'll spend this special day reconnecting with some past clients, grabbing lunch with fellow colleagues or even spreading some goodwill in the community. At Super Lawyers, we wanted to take a minute and celebrate two of our selectees conducting exceptional pro bono work.

Steve Lessard - Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP - New York, New York
As touched on in the 2016 New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine Lessard did an internship with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, primarily advising service members about their rights under "don't ask, don't tell," a policy prohibiting homosexual and bisexual military personnel from disclosing their sexual orientation.

"People who really felt that they had nowhere else to turn could turn to us and get some answers," says Lessard. The work was also personal.

"I am gay. I lived in the military under 'don't ask, don't tell' and felt like I wanted to be able to help individuals in the same situation I was in," says Lessard. "I've always had an affinity for causes for the LGBT community and an affinity for causes for veterans in general. Being able to marry those two has been nice."

Lessard is now a senior associate in the tax group at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he does about 200 hours of pro bono work per year. He was recently honored for that work with a 2016 President's Pro Bono Service Award from the New York State Bar Association.

Megan E. Watson - Berner Klaw & Watson LLP - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Watson, whose daytime caseload focuses on custody, support, divorce, abuse, special education and adoption cases, didn't even have her Bar identification number when she took on her first pro bono case at the firm, helping a low-income Hispanic woman wrestle custody of her kids from her abusive husband. Since then, she's served as a child advocate in a number of dependency and custody cases. In one, she repeatedly met with therapists, school professionals and a girl's parents before making recommendations about custody and schooling, which the judge approved. The pre-teen, who is only three years younger than Watson's own daughter, is now doing well and earning better grades.

"To be a child advocate, and to do a good job with that, is probably more social work than it is legal." Being a mother of two, Watson says, has helped her catch details that might otherwise go unnoticed. "You have to be able to connect with them. The reason I keep getting appointed is because they know I'm going to go to the school, I'm going to speak to any professionals that I need to speak to, I'm going to meet multiple times with the kid. You have to develop that relationship."

We hope all the attorneys out there have a special "Love Your Lawyer Day". Be sure to check back with us throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter as we'll be sharing updates on how others are celebrating.