How to Make the Best of Your Downtime

Attorneys are encouraged to participate in pro bono legal efforts. However, there are many opportunities for lawyers to make a difference in their downtime that go beyond donating their legal skills. From volunteering to mentoring, there are plenty of ways lawyers can assist others outside of their law practice. It’s beneficial for everyone involved.

For those lawyers who are also parents, there is no need to look beyond the schools your children attend if you want to make a difference. In addition to joining the PTA or acting as an officer, just volunteering your time to the various events can be rewarding and make a huge contribution to the school and students. Our local PTA has book fairs, dances, holiday boutiques, class graduations and plenty of events in between. Assisting a child pick out that “perfect book” or gift for a loved one is a great experience for the adult and if there aren’t enough volunteers, that experience can be very frustrating for a child.

Most schools have a love of literacy week that also needs plenty of volunteers. As lawyers, we know the importance of reading. The times the schools focus on reading events is a great time to share some of our old favorites with a younger generation. I have personally enjoyed reading to numerous classes and love watching a captivated audience get lost in a story and the conversations that occur after the story is over. If you have the time, volunteer a few hours to go read to students.

If you love sports, every town has local groups for almost all sports that need volunteers. There is always a need for coaches, team parents and even people to help manage the organizations themselves. Football, soccer and baseball are always popular and in need of a lot of help. Fundraisers need to be organized, rules reviewed, waivers drafted and filed. Assisting the organization run smoothly has a great impact on parents, students and volunteers. Coaching is a way to really interact with the kids and teach them not only the sport, but being part of a team and good sportsmanship. My husband has coached numerous teams in baseball, football, basketball and soccer and I’ve supported him as much as I can. It’s a great way to make friends and we always love kids coming up to him even years later and calling him coach and catching up. If you want to assist with the organization side, look for a board position. It’s a way to make sure every child has a chance to play a sport they’re interested in.

Mentoring is also a very rewarding experience and it doesn’t necessarily have to be with students interested in a legal career. Often times, children need guidance with college choices or even just figuring out what they want to do and how to get there. Tutoring also falls in this area. Reach out to local high schools and colleges and offer to visit a class or a career event.

There are also plenty of local non-profits to reach out to. Whether you have a love of animals, the arts or cooking, there’s a nearby place for you to share your passion and contribute to your community. Work with a shelter. Local shelters in our area encourage visits and adoption promotions not to mention fundraising. If you want to share your artistic or cooking talents, volunteer to teach a free class. Reach out to local daycares, senior centers or the library. There might be an opportunity to share your skills and teach others.

Non-profits throughout the country are easily available to contact online. I volunteer with a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate parents and kids about online safety. I write legal articles for them but have also assisted with outreach programs. The possibilities are endless: join a local Breast Cancer walk, support a veteran’s group, raise awareness for a cause that you believe in or participate in the numerous events they have.

As lawyers, there are plenty of ways to contribute to our communities and beyond besides pro bono initiatives. Think of your other skills and passions and find a cause, a local group, a school or a larger organization to share them with. Not only will you benefit those you help, but it’s a great feeling to have a positive impact and hopefully make a difference.

About Elizabeth Cuccinello

Elizabeth Cuccinello
Elizabeth Cuccinello has been practicing law for over 15 years. While she has acted as General Counsel for numerous start up and growth stage technology companies, she recently started her own firm supporting similar companies and internal legal teams of larger corporations. She lives in Rockland County, New York with her husband Pete and their children. She actively volunteers in her community and with several organizations.

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