Why You Should Consider Volunteering at All Stages of Your Law Career

According to Wikipedia, “Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved for the individual. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment. It is helping, assisting, or serving another person or persons without pay. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.”

 

The Many Benefits of Volunteering

The benefits of volunteering for law students, law graduates, applicants to the bar or lawyers in transition are many. Volunteering can be a great way to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, learn more about career options, “give back”, invest in your community, have fun, develop new professional contacts, get exercise, fill time constructively, to feel like you have made a difference, or even just shake up your routine! If any of this sounds appealing to you, then becoming a volunteer is something you might want to seriously consider and pursue. 

 

Skill Development  

Always wanted to learn about sustainability and conservation methods? Have experience creating podcasts and would like to try using them as an advocacy tool for a nonprofit? Volunteering helps you learn new skills, keep skills sharp, or use existing skills in new ways! Just because volunteer work is unpaid does not mean the skills you learn are basic. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training. Volunteering can also help you build upon skills you already have and use them to benefit the greater community. 

 

Career Exploration  

Regardless of your age or career level, volunteering will introduce you to new professional paths. Volunteering can be an excellent way to learn more about a particular role or sector (particularly if you are coming from a for-profit job and hoping to switch to non-profit or government), workplace or office culture, or cause. Also, never underestimate the power of networking: volunteering offers the opportunity to cross paths- as well as, in many cases, quickly bond with people from across your community, including many with whom you may otherwise not have had contact! 

 

Personal Growth  

Lifelong learning includes hands-on experience as a volunteer which can teach you about issues ranging from adult literacy to public health to animal welfare. Plainly and simply, sometimes it just feels good to be valued, and as a volunteer, you can contribute unique skills, experience, and perspectives.

 

Have an Impact  

Last but most certainly not least, volunteering is one of the best ways to make a difference in your community. Whatever your passion, however you get involved, volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact on the world.

Where to Start

 

One of the best places to start is at Volunteer Match, where you can match your skills and interests with the needs right in your own neighborhood. Put your professional experience, hobbies and other talents to work for the good of nearby nonprofit organizations.

 

Types of Volunteering

 

Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as law, medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster. And many others volunteer in areas completely foreign to them in order to add a little spice to their life! Some types of volunteering are: 

  • Service Learning Programs
  • Skills-based volunteering
  • Board Service
  • Volunteering in developing countries
  • Virtual volunteering
  • Micro-volunteering
  • Community Volunteering
  • International Work Camps
  • Environmental volunteering
  • Volunteering in an emergency
  • Volunteering in schools
  • Corporate volunteering

 

In addition, here are some examples of volunteer opportunities of special interest to New Jersey lawyers and law students.

 

CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey (see Greg's video, above) 

The Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties

Grounds for Sculpture

Legal Services of New Jersey

New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

Volunteer Lawyers for Justice 

 

If you know of any volunteer opportunities in New Jersey or have any suggestions for this page, please email NJLAP at info@njlap.org. 

In the meantime, be adventurous, be helpful, be a part of something bigger than yourself:

VOLUNTEER!