Joseph A. Sullivan, special counsel and director of pro bono programs at Pepper Hamilton, was quoted in the September 26, 2018 The Legal Intelligencer article, "Pro Bono Work: Helping You Gain Skills While Doing the Right Thing."
Joseph A. Sullivan is special counsel and director of pro bono programs at Pepper Hamilton, where he established a robust system for providing pro bono work. On the question of why [he does pro bono work], he says, "We are not just a business providing excellent legal services for clients that pay for those services. We are representatives of the system of justice in this country and we have special privileges to file lawsuits, to appear in court, to argue cases that the ordinary public does not have, and with privileges come responsibilities. As a profession, it is our duty as lawyers to look out for the integrity of the entire legal system and, since there are many people who cannot afford a lawyer, it is incumbent on the legal profession to make sure that we provide maximum access to justice. And one of the ways to do that is for all law firms, especially those that are doing well financially, to provide pro bono services to people who can't afford it."
Sullivan points to the lack of right-to-counsel in civil matters involving basic human needs, many of which could devastate families: housing, health care and parental rights. "If someone is facing the permanent deprivation of their children, that should not happen absent a legal proceeding with counsel representing them." He maintains that the legal system cannot have integrity when some have no access to justice.
Sullivan encourages lawyers to do pro bono because it's a great way to get professional training. Litigators can take prisoner civil rights cases and have an opportunity to interview clients, conduct discovery, file motions, and handle oral arguments that lawyers often don't have early in their careers. He also cites personal satisfaction. When your work feels routine and rote, you can embellish your legal practice by taking on pro bono in a different area.