From John Macdonald, recipient of BLS’s First Pro Bono Award
Pro bono service has been a constant throughout my career, having been instilled in me as a professional obligation by leadership of my first firm in 1977. As we know from our oath upon being sworn in, the practice of law is a privilege which comes with obligations, among which is pro bono service. I was fortunate that when I started practice my senior partners took pro bono service to heart and encouraged our young lawyers to volunteer with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. I have continued to volunteer and have encouraged and fostered pro bono service through the successive law firms of my career. That experience informs my view that lawyers of all strata, and especially those in senior firm leadership, must cultivate and encourage pro bono service in their juniors as a component of their firms’ mentorship. Although my practice is slowing as I transition towards retirement, I still continue to carry several active pro bono cases. I find that assistance of an indigent to a just conclusion in a legal matter is just as fulfilling now as was my first successful pro bono case 46 years ago.