Young Lawyers: Why You Should Take a Pro Bono Appeal. Pro bono appeals are often overlooked as a way to give back to the community, but are worth considering for a number of reasons

AuthorLara Escobio O'Donnell
Pages24-26
Appellate Practice
American Bar Association Litigation Section
Winter 2022, Vol. 41 No. 2
© 2021 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be
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August 24, 2018
Young Lawyers: Why You Should Take a
Pro Bono Appeal
Pro bono appeals are often overlooked as a way to give back
to the community, but are worth considering for a number of
reasons.
By Lara Escobio O'Donnell
As authors in this journal have previously noted, pro bono work is a great way for lawyers
to gain experience and to give back to the community. Pro bono appeals programs are often
overlooked in this regard. However, such appeals are worth considering for a number of
reasons. They provide lawyersespecially younger lawyers in private practicewith
experience they would not otherwise receive. Even in jurisdictions that require a certain
level of experience or supervision by a more experienced attorney, less experienced
attorneys are still generally permitted to handle all aspects of the case, including
researching and writing briefs and presenting oral argument.
Courts make particular efforts to grant, or in some cases even guarantee, oral argument in a
pro bono appeal. For instance, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ pro bono program has
been established since 1993, having grown from about 12 cases per year to 160. The Ninth
Circuit notes in its Pro Bono Program handbook that, with the exception of appointments
that are for mediation purposes only or as amicus curiae, the court has committed to
hearing oral argument in all cases in which pro bono counsel is appointed through the
program. See Ninth Circuit Pro Bono Program, handbook at 7 (citing 9th Cir. Gen. Order
3.8). The Second Circuit has adopted a pro bono plan for pro se appellants with meritorious
or complex appeals who are ineligible for representation under the Criminal Justice Act, 18
U.S.C. § 3006A, and to assist the court in processing pro se civil appeals. See Second Circuit
Pro Bono Counsel Plan. The plan provides pro bono counsel to pro se litigants in civil
appeals in which briefing and oral argument by counsel would benefit the court’s review.
Similarly, the Arizona Court of Appeals recently launched a pro bono representation
program allowing the court to appoint pro bono counsel to pro se parties in selected civil
and juvenile appeals identified by the court, in which briefing and argument by pro bono
counsel would benefit the court. See Administrative Order No. 2014-1 (Dec. 5, 2014). The

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