Pro bono work – why do it

In the almost 30 years David and I have owned and operated Magnus Research Consultants, we have been privileged to work on several high profile pro bono cases. Pro bono means “for the public good” and it is usually performed by attorneys for free, that is, at no cost to their clients. Many lawyers are committed to working on pro bono cases; in fact, large law firms often have a pro bono practice in which several attorneys work on behalf of their clients. Magnus has been involved in some horrifying pro bono cases, including mentally ill prisoners who were abused; indigent children who were subjected to medical experimentation without their knowledge or consent; a domestic assault victim who shot her assailant in self defense; a young boy who was charged as a adult for murder; and a military veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress who was charged with a particularly violent murder. On every pro bono case in which we have worked, Magnus, like our attorney clients, has received no remuneration for our work, meaning we have donated our time and resources to “the cause.” I have even participated in an entire trial of one of our pro bono cases, at no cost to our clients. Without exception, the attorneys with whom Magnus has worked on pro bono cases have been at the top of their profession. We have had the opportunity to meet, and work with, the best civil and criminal defense attorneys in the country. These attorneys’ dedication to their clients and their commitment to obtaining justice for people who have experienced atrocities is unsurpassed. Why do we do pro bono work? Because, just as the attorneys who are committed to performing work for the public good, I am committed to helping them by giving psychology away. Since Magnus’ founding in 1993, and continuing into the future, pro bono work is just what we do.

The pro bono cases on which we’ve worked have been some of the most personally rewarding cases we have handled.  While the intellectual rewards of the work we do are often felt, in these cases, it has been something special.  The cases have been unique, cases with questions no one has had to answer previously, or where great injustices were being done.  To be able to participate in those cases, usually with wonderful teams of lawyers, and sometimes, teams from multiple firms, is incredible.  Seeing their dedication, without regard to anyone profiting from their work, is amazing. I don’t know that the world realizes how much lawyers “give back” to society in these ways.  To be truthful, I see a marketing benefit in that we’ve often met attorneys through this work, and had them see the usefulness of our work.  That said, I can’t really think of paid work we have gotten directly from any of these pro bono efforts, but it has helped us in other ways that are more difficult to quantify. We have been asked for free services a few times by people who were being well paid by their clients – that’s not the formula for a right case.   But, we are doing this work to be a part of something bigger, often headline making cases, and doing so feels good. We will continue offering our services pro bono in the right cases.  We never know what next adventure awaits.

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