Millennial Women

Purpose over Paycheck

As millennials, we’re certainly interested in pursuing our careers and investing in our professional development. But we also are interested in doing more than just “work”—we want to find ways to give back to our communities and help change them for the better. This month, we wanted to focus on how, as millennial attorneys, we can emphasize the purpose or meaning in our careers over just receiving a paycheck. As attorneys (or future attorneys!) we have some unique opportunities, including:

Pro Bono. Nearly every state bar encourages attorneys to do pro bono work, and some even have a mandatory reporting requirement of pro bono hours. Even if you don’t have to report pro bono hours, it’s a worthwhile effort that impacts our society for the better. There is such a wide variety of pro bono work—from representing individual clients who would otherwise not be able to afford legal counsel, to providing legal work to non-profit organizations, to doing research to support proposals for policy change. Even if you may not have time to take on an entire pro bono matter, there are shorter-term options such as volunteering during walk-in clinics or on telephone hotlines.

Service Opportunities at Work. As lawyers working in firms or companies, we have an opportunity to support service opportunities done on a corporation-wide basis. These opportunities can range from running a charity race to participating in a food drive or to going out and volunteering. As one example, Melanie and Elise and I put together a donation drive for a local animal shelter this summer. It was wonderful to see our colleagues at the firm support the drive, and as a bonus, we even got to have two kittens visit our office as special guests!

Bar Association Programming. States and cities typically have bar associations that local attorneys can join. These bar associations offer CLE events, networking events, and—relevant here—opportunities for lawyers to get involved in different initiatives to support the community. These can range from fundraisers for worthy causes to actual service projects. One of our favorites? Our local bar association has a program where lawyers can sign up to pick out and purchase a holiday gift for kids in our community in need.

Amid our busy legal careers (or legal educations), let’s remember to take time for activities that can help us emphasize purpose in our careers over just the paycheck.


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