We all have good intentions when it comes to volunteering, but oftentimes we either do not know where to start or have limited availability.

But whether you are volunteering weekly, monthly, or even yearly, any time you dedicate your expertise to helping individuals less fortunate, you are involved in public interest volunteering.

Here are opportunities for individuals to find their volunteer journey – whether they are a newly minted volunteer or those with experience seeking to broaden their volunteer portfolio.

Kelsey Brown headshot Kelsey Brown, Marquette 2019, is an attorney-advisor with the Defense Logistics Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where she reviews government contracts in support of the warfighter mission with the Department of Defense.

Legal Clinics

One way to get involved in public interest law is by volunteering at the various free legal clinics throughout Wisconsin. This option is available to both law students and Wisconsin lawyers. Locations include:

For a complete list please visit the State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Calendar on WisBar.org.

Opportunities with the State Bar of Wisconsin

Another great way to get involved is by becoming active within the State Bar. The State Bar is a wonderful place for both new and experienced attorneys, not to mention law students, to volunteer for different pro bono opportunities throughout Wisconsin. These opportunities include helping individuals with mediation, housing, public benefits, bankruptcy, and estate planning.

Volunteering with the Wisconsin High School Mock Trial Program

The State Bar’s Wisconsin High School Mock Trial Program is also good way to volunteer. By volunteering as a coach or judge, you can provide insightful feedback to the students as they prepare their case, examine witnesses, and argue their side.

Local Bar Associations and State Bar Sections, Committees, or Divisions

Joining your Wisconsin local bar association or a State Bar section, committee, or division is another fantastic way to get involved in public interest volunteer opportunities.

By connecting with these organizations, not only can you volunteer, but you can also formulate long-standing positive change both in your local district and within the state of Wisconsin overall. For example, Legislative Oversight Committee offers members opportunities to monitor public policy and recommend change.

The Benefits of Volunteering

There are numerous benefits to yourself when you volunteer too, not just the person or organization you are helping. I find that when I volunteer, I have a sense of purpose and a deeper connection to my community. Volunteering is also a great way to network, build your resume, increase your social skills, and become familiar with your neighborhood.

Further, volunteering can be fun, and allows you to practice other areas of public intertest law that you otherwise cannot do at your regular job. Volunteering will also get you out of your comfort zone and can lead to other job opportunities.

Finally, for me (and hopefully you, too) volunteering is good for my mental health. After volunteering I find myself happier and having less stress and irritation.

Conclusion: You’re Needed

There are various ways to volunteer within public interest law – legal clinics, State Bar of Wisconsin, mock trial programs, bar associations, and sections, committees, or divisions.

When you volunteer not only are you helping someone in need, but you are also helping yourself. These opportunities are just a starting point, so get involved!

This article was originally published on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Public Interest Law Section Blog. Visit the State Bar sections or the Public Interest Law Section web pages to learn more about the benefits of section membership.