August 25, 2014

Infertility and Depression Don't Have to Go Hand in Hand

Infertility and Depression Don't Have to Go Hand in Hand

Infertility and Depression-1 (2).jpg There is no doubt that a diagnosis of infertility can lead to extreme stress and depression. In certain ways it is a vicious circle, because depression can lead to infertility, thus begging the question: what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Also, depression during pregnancy and after pregnancy (postpartum depression) is more common in women who have struggled with trying to conceive. However, there are important mechanisms to cope before the depression overwhelms you.

Know there is a difference between depression and sadness, so it is important to recognize the symptoms. Feelings of sadness generally dissipate fairly quickly. Depression on the other hand can affect your whole life - sleeping, eating, lethargy, etc. If left untreated, it can make your situation worse.

Understand that infertility is not just a female issue. Many men have physical issues as well that can adversely affect their sperm production. It is the emotional issues - particularly depression - we will talk about here.

Depression Can Affect Your Relationship

Infertility dramatically affects the relationship couples have with each other. Let's admit it, sex on demand is no fun and all the testing and treatments can be exhausting. Females and males seem to react very differently. Women want to talk about it more and find a solution (see a doctor, think about adoption) quicker. Women often get more jealous around women who have babies and tend to avoid other pregnant women, baby showers, etc. Men tend to suffer more in silence. The feelings of guilt, shock, and anger by either party can cloud the relationship.

A recent Danish study found that infertile couples are three times more likely to divorce than fertile ones, and many women stayed single for 12 years or longer. The main thing with infertile couples is to keep the lines of communication open and seek treatment, either through changes in lifestyle, medication, or counseling.

Infertility and Depression-2.jpg You Are Not Alone

Infertility is a common condition that affects one in eight couples or 7.3 million people in the United States.It is even more common among African Americans - approximately 11.5% of black women report being infertility compared to 7% of white women.

Research has shown that women with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as do women with cancer, heart disease and HIV+ status. Let's admit it, procreation is one of the strongest instincts in the animal kingdom. Society puts a lot of pressure on couples to have babies, as if not having them is selfish.

Infertility can be very lonely and isolating because couples with children or even your family and friends do not understand the frustration. Or, they are just tired of hearing you talk about it, telling you to "quit obsessing on it", "just get over it", or "relax about it."

Signs of depression may include:

• Feelings of isolation, hopelessness, or unhappiness
• Loss of pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
• Anger over small matters
• Chronic irritability and mood swings
• Lethargy and lack of energy
• Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
• Frequent sleeping or insomnia
• Change in eating habits including overeating or undereating
• Excessive worrying
• Thoughts of suicide or self-harm (contact your doctor or 911 immediately)

Some hormonal imbalances that cause infertility may also contribute to mood symptoms and vulnerability to depression. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are feeling symptoms of depression.

Getting Help

Many couples are hesitant to seek treatment, erroneously thinking it is something that will pass or you should learn to deal with it. This couldn't be farther from the truth! Here are some suggestions for combating your feelings of depression or stress:

• Medications. Although some anti-depressants cannot be taken while you are trying to conceive, others are safe. Check with your ob/gyn or infertility doctor.

• Support groups.Support groups are an invaluable resource to talk to people who are going through the same things. Click here to get a list in your area.

• Individual/couples therapy. Do not expect your partner to feel the same way you do as men and women, or even other women or men, cope differently. Sometimes it helps to discuss your feelings with a more objective person such as a psychiatrist or psychologist who can teach you some positive coping strategies.

• Mind/body groupsuse both physical and psychological techniques to promote relaxation. Mind techniques include reframing negative emotions (called cognitive restructuring) and self-nurturing skills. Instead of saying "I will never get pregnant", you use phrases like "I hope I can get pregnant." Yoga and meditation are often taught to help you unwind.

Be sure to talk to your fertility doctor because a slight change in your fertility medications may make a big difference in your moods.

My best advice? Give yourself permission to be distraught. If you want to rant and rave when you receive a baby announcement, go for it. It helps to release the emotions. What's important is to get help ... just don't sit there and stew forever, mired in your depression!

About The Author

Jeffrey A. Kasky, Esq. is a Florida adoption lawyer and Vice President of One World Adoption Services, Inc., a Florida-licensed not-for-profit child placing agency. Jeff's diverse career experiences include co-authoring the book, "99 Things You Wish You Knew Before ... Choosing Adoption" with Robert A. Kasky, Florida-certified law enforcement officer, and involvement in the autism community, including a TV show focused on helping families with legal issues related to autism called "Spectrum at Law" on The Autism Channel. A practicing attorney since 1995, he has worked on more than one thousand adoption cases.

July 25, 2014

Lawyers to the Rescue's Legal Clinic By Mariestela Somarriba


As an undergraduate student at Florida International University, starting my second year of college, I decided I wanted to do something productive with my summer. I had the good fortune of hearing about Lawyers to the Rescue through my brother and I was immediately intrigued by the notion of lawyers doing something to better our community.

During my high school years I learned the importance of being socially aware and engaged. As a result, I developed a commitment to serving others. This commitment now stems from a sincere desire to, somehow, make the lives of those around me better.

After graduating from high school and beginning my college years, I knew I wanted to follow a career path in law. My dilemma was finding a way to combine my dream of becoming a successful lawyer with my passion for helping others. I wanted my profession to serve not just as a means for me to make a living, but also as a way of making a difference in the lives of individuals.

IMG_20131116_104307.jpg
A photo of Attorney Scott Kotler and law students meeting with clients at the Legal Clinic at Camillus House

On my first day interning at Lawyers to the Rescue's law clinic, held at Camillus House, I realized I was just where I needed to be. During my entire time there I was excited to interact with the lawyers, the interns, and the clients. Being in the same office as Spencer Aronfeld, the Miami lawyer who founded Lawyers to the Rescue, and his clients meant I could absorb every single part of the process. However, my favorite part came towards the end, when the clients left and we all gathered in one room to recapture the events of that day and to see how we could improve on what was being done. This was when I came to fully understand what I had witnessed, these weren't just lawyers doing their every day job, they were lawyers actually rescuing people. They did so by listening to them, talking to them, giving them hope, but most importantly, by giving them a voice with which to defend themselves. Altogether, this was more than just a rewarding experience, it was an eye opener to the kind of lawyer I someday hope to become.

April 21, 2014

Pointers for Efficiently Keeping Track of the Donations You Bring In by Andrew Lisa

Pointers for Efficiently Keeping Track of the Donations You Bring In

Every smart business owner knows that the arduous and tedious - yet crucial - chore of consistently keeping the books straight is the backbone of any enterprise. For non-profits such as Lawyers to the Rescue, however, there is even more at stake. For charities, failing to keep track of what's coming in and what's going out could lead to errors that frighten off donors or, even worse, attract attention from the IRS. Even slight errors in reporting - intentional or not - can trigger an audit or threaten your charity's tax-exempt status.

It is imperative that your charity's lifeblood - donations - are tracked and cataloged accurately every time. Follow this guide to keeping track of your donations.


Donations keep your charity going - track them meticulously.

Free Software

Free cloud-based software such as Mint and Outright have been used for years by sole proprietors as well as by individuals to maintain their personal and household finances. But there are probably many things about budget apps that you're not aware of (check out "4 Things You Didn't Know a Budget App Could Do" for more details).

These features can help charities keep their donations straight. Not only can these free, entry-level programs be accessed and used from any computer, phone or tablet with nothing more than a password, but they can catalog cash donations, create categories for different classes of donors, set reminders and provide email receipts.

Donation Management Software

Depending on the size or scope of your charity, you may need industry-specific software dedicated just to tracking donations. There are literally dozens - if not hundreds - of programs designed to making tracking donations easier. Whichever one you choose, it should provide an app - or even a text messaging system - for not only you, but also for your donors. If they can donate through the comfort and security of their own phone or computer without going through an external system, they'll be provided with both peace of mind and simplicity.

Use Common Business Sense

This seems so obvious that it should be in the goes-without-saying category, but always categorize, calculate and record every donation you receive right away. Like invoicing for small business owners, tracking donations is something that can turn into a magnet for mistakes if not done while it's still fresh in your mind. Buildup leads to haste and can breed errors that come from entering data when you're overwhelmed. Get the software you need, and no more.


Give your donors an app they can use to donate whenever or wherever they want.

You owe it to both your donors and the people your charity was designed to help to be unforgivably meticulous when tracking donations. Taking money from generous people and directing it to help those in need is the core principle of any non-profit's existence. Your organizing principle, therefore, must be a clear, consistent and transparent method of accounting for every dollar. Luckily, software exists that makes this a very doable task. Use it - and use basic business common sense - to make your charity one worth giving to.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about small business management and the non-profit sector.

April 16, 2014

Data Management Systems: Helping You Keep Track of Your Volunteer Info by Andrew Lisa

Data Management Systems: Helping You Keep Track of Your Volunteer Info

Whether it's a simple list of personnel information or total data integration, volunteer organizations are under special pressure to manage their data properly. Whether it's Lawyers to the Rescue or any other nonprofit, a breach or mishap in data management can make the group look unorganized or incompetent, scaring off potential volunteers who want to make sure they donate their precious time and money to an organization that knows how to manage it.

Follow this guide to making sure you get the right system for your data organization.


Say goodbye to spreadsheets. Modern data management software was designed for volunteer groups.

Volgistics

Volgistics is excellent in the realm of personnel data management. The entire volunteer cycle can be handled within this single system. From a potential volunteer applying online to the calculation of awards, Volgistics (shorthand for Volunteer Logistics) is fully customizable - virtually every feature can be turned on or off.

It is currently in use by healthcare facilities, animal shelters, aquariums, zoos, museums, community outreach organizations, park and recreation entities, libraries, hospices and food banks.

NewOrg

NewOrg Management Systems is a full-service data management solution - so much so that they boast about several client organizations that are managed completely by volunteers, including Habitat for Humanity Affiliates, Senior Corp and RSVP organization partners. Their software can handle volunteer pairing, scheduling of orientations and training sessions, as well as the creation and maintenance of personal information and credentialing.

Once they have a password, volunteers can access and update their personal information, view internal calendars that are unique to their activities, sign up for events, view documents that you've shared, view their volunteering history, complete forms and surveys as well as provide information related to their skills, volunteering preferences and availability for activities.

Volunteer Squared

Volunteer Squared prides itself on being customizable for the needs of any organization, as they are the choice of entities that have between 40 and 300,000 volunteers. Aside from tracking volunteer activity, warehousing personal information, handling scheduling and generating reports, Volunteer Squared was designed to integrate with social media, allowing recruiters to engage with volunteers on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Among its adherents are the Salvation Army and Lollapalooza.

CERVIS

CERVIS is a web-based program, which means you don't have to download any software or worry about security on local drives or servers. With only a password, anyone can access it from anywhere.

This volunteer and event management software is customizable enough that virtually any operation can manage their volunteers and volunteer opportunities. You can create your own opportunities and post them online for easy registration. Track volunteer skills and interests, availability and volunteer hours. Make your volunteer events a success by quickly printing name tags, event sign-in sheets and more.


The right software can streamline your volunteer operation.

For volunteer organizations, data management is especially important. Not only can an inefficient system corrupt your day-to-day operations, creating confusion and wasting resources, but a sluggish or vulnerable system could put up a red flag to investors, donors and recruits. The software you choose will be the home base of your operations.

Generally, the rule with data managemenet software is to buy as much as you need - and no more. It is a common misconception that it's prudent to buy the best you can afford, but in reality, the pricier the program, the more complicated it usually is, which means a steeper learning curve and more mistakes. Shop around, get a consensus and go do some good.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about non-profit software and data management.

February 3, 2014

6 Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Family Lawyer

6 Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Family Lawyer

lawyers.jpg

A Family Law attorney or a Family Lawyer refers to the Law Practitioner who specialises in cases like divorce, child custody, child support, child visitation, spousal support and guardianships etc. A Family Law Attorney not only provides legal advice when it comes to such cases but also negotiates the legal actions on your behalf. A Family Lawyer takes care of all the correspondence with the 3rd party and makes sure your court pleadings are executed in a proper manner. There are various benefits of hiring a family lawyer and in the article we shall discuss the 6 major benefits of hiring one.

1. Knowledge of Family Law

Now the most obvious benefit of hiring a family lawyer is indeed, a lawyer's better understanding of the Family Law and its loopholes that can make a major difference to your case. We all know that an experienced family lawyer makes his living convincing various people including judges and other parties of their client's demands. It is very likely that without the legal advice of an experienced lawyer you might miss and misrepresent a few facts that can prove extensively damaging to your case.

2. Knowledge of Procedural Issues

Different states have different procedures relating to family matters and if you do not originally belong to that particular state or even if you do, chances are you don't have a pinch of knowledge about the different procedures. Many laws cover even the way you present your papers, which only an experienced Family Lawyer will have knowledge about. The Lawyer makes sure that all your papers are presented in a proper manner that abides with the specific law of the state and ensures that your case isn't immediately thrown out.

3. Lowering The High Stakes

Most court cases and family lawsuits involve high stakes and if you're a person who doesn't know much about the law and are on your own, you're most likely to lose. An experienced family lawyer can lower those stakes for you as he will have a better knowledge of the laws and the judicial procedure and will present all the facts that favour your case in a proper manner and advocate your rights.

4. Impartial View

It's a common scenario in most court cases that one needs the assistance of a 3rd party to provide an impartial view of the case and the situation. Most of the time due to the emotional stress you might ignore and miss out on an important fact that is beneficial for your case resulting in a big loss. The Family Lawyer makes sure that he takes the load off your chest in researching and evaluating the various facts and presenting them in an impartial and fair way.

5. Emotional Support

When it comes to cases like divorce and child custody, emotions are high and you might often find yourself going through immense levels of stress due to lack of support formerly provided by the very family you have issues with. An Experienced Family Lawyer can not only provide you with legal assistance and taking the work load of proceedings in the court but often provides that emotional and moral support you need.

6. Counselling

Many times all a family needs is a 3rd party perspective and a detailed evaluation of their situation and make them realise the importance of each other. Most family lawyers are often good counsellors as well. They make sure that the decisions taken by you are not because of the high flying emotions and stress but provide adequate advice on the consequences and proceedings of a certain family dispute many a times eliminate the need of a lawsuit or a legal action altogether.

Hiring an experienced Family Lawyer can thus even the odds for your case and provide you with the assistance you need in handling such high risk and high stake cases with relative ease and lower the tensions and prevent emotional breakdowns.

Author Bio: Rohit is a contributor to the Chicago Family Lawyer website, he is a writer and a keen reader of law and various law related topics. He's often looking forward to keep up with the latest happenings in the field of law.

January 30, 2014

When Tragedy Strikes: Preparing Yourself for Auto Emergencies

LTR blog photo.jpg
When Tragedy Strikes: Preparing Yourself for Auto Emergencies

The recent Atlanta snowstorm had a tragic impact on students, drivers, families and communities. Many are still speculating what could have been done to avoid this tragedy.

However, unexpected disasters can occur at any time and the people whose lives were put on pause, should not have to suffer greater financial penalties and inconveniences as they repair damages to their vehicles and their lives.

A car accident or injury that resulted from this snowstorm could be an extremely painful and disorienting experience. Thousands are suffering loss of wages and are struggling to pick up the pieces. In challenging times like this, it is vital for people to gain the necessary support so they can continue with their lives.

Don't get caught up in the situation and end up forgetting some essentials that could go a long way to protect you. Here are some key points to bear in mind should you ever find yourself in an auto emergency.

Safety is your top priority
If someone got hurt in the accident or is dying, it is your main priority to call 911 and to tend to their injuries. However, if this is not the case, be sure to photograph the vehicles involved before moving them to the side of the road as soon as you can.

However, if your vehicle cannot be moved, do not endanger your safety further by trying to move it. If there are no injuries or deaths, call the local police (not 911, since this is not an emergency) to report the accident so that they will not tow away vehicles in unreported accidents.

Submit your insurance claim ASAP
With an event like this, hundreds of insurance claims will be pouring in all at once. However, it is vital to report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, as most have 24-hour emergency hotlines. The reliability of your claim weakens if you procrastinate. Turn in all the information you have recorded, and don't hide anything. Wait to see whom your insurance company decides is to blame, and what settlements need to be made. Rest assured that if you feel your compensation is too inadequate, you have another good option to consider.

Have the law on your side
If you are injured and need immediate assistance from your insurance company, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you collect damages quickly and efficiently. A good auto accident attorney will be able to represent you, and he or she will ensure that you do not get lost in a sea of claims that could result in a minimal settlement.

Whether it is a snowstorm, a fallen tree, a car accident or other unexpected tragedy, it is helpful to keep an emergency kit with you in your vehicle:
• Extra blankets
• Water bottles
• Dried snacks (crackers, dried fruits, nuts, etc.)
• Flash light
• First aid kit (bandages, antibiotic ointment, etc.)
• Battery operated radio
• Emergency list of phone numbers including your insurance company

The snowstorm disaster could happen to anyone. Having emergency resources available may potentially soften the blow of a tragic event.

Peter Catania is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner and a personal injury lawyer of Catania & Catania Law dedicated to giving each and every client the highest quality of legal service available in the most efficient manner possible, regardless of the situation.


January 6, 2014

Pointers for Getting the Attention of Local Lawyers by Brian Flax

Pointers for Getting the Attention of Local Lawyers

Recruiting lawyers for pro bono cases may seem like a challenge at first, but once you can get the attention of a local lawyer, it's easy to explain the benefits of joining a cause like Lawyers to the Rescue. Accepting a pro bono case enables local lawyers to give back to their community and to help those in need of assistance - and can be used as a marketing tool and a way to gain valuable referrals from paying clients in the future.

Let's take a look at a few pointers for getting the attention of local lawyers and getting them on board with a good cause.


Pro bono cases can attract the attention of local and national media.

Don't Be Afraid to Reach Out

The first step in recruiting local attorneys for pro bono work is to reach out. An email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting are all great options for initiating contact. If the lawyer you're attempting to connect with is unfamiliar with programs like Lawyers to the Rescue, this is a great time to explain what the organization does and how it can benefit both them and their local community.

If you don't attempt to reach out, local lawyers may not have the chance to learn about the organization or donate their time or services.

Send a Small Gift

Sending inexpensive gift baskets can be a great way to grab the attention of a local lawyer. Make sure you include in-depth information about the organization and the cause along with the gift, and be prepared to follow up with them at a later date. Use the gift as a way to grab their attention, not as a reason for joining the organization. The information you send along should clearly explain the benefits they'll receive from taking on a pro bono case.

Explain the Benefits

If you're having a hard time recruiting a local attorney for a pro bono case, talk about the benefits they'll receive from doing so. Benefits include giving back to their community, attracting local and national media attention depending on the case they take, valuable referrals from the clients they're helping, and a chance to market their law practice and services in a unique way.


Sending an inexpensive gift basket can be a great way to grab the attention of a local lawyer.

In addition to local media attention and marketing, taking on a pro bono case is a great way to network with other local attorneys and meet other people within the industry. If they accept a case, they'll also get valuable courtroom and trial experience, an added benefit for attorneys who are just getting started. Pro bono cases may also count toward Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements.

Attend Local Events

Another great way to attract the attention of lawyers is to attend local industry events, including local bar association meetings. If you can give a brief presentation about the cause and how they can go about taking on a pro bono case, you may be surprised at how many firms may be interested in helping out.

If the local bar association sends out monthly or quarterly newsletters, see if you can get an article or advertisement published that includes ways to get in contact with the organization.

Taking on a pro bono case benefits the lawyer, client, and the local community. When reaching out to local attorneys, it's vital that you explain the benefits of taking on a pro bono case and how they can donate their time and services to a cause like Lawyers to the Rescue.

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based out of the Washington, D.C., area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including education, technology, and business management.

December 26, 2013

5 Tips for Recruiting Volunteers When Out of Town by Erin Steiner

5 Tips for Recruiting Volunteers When Out of Town

Finding people who want to and can help you with an event when you're on your own turf is hard enough. Finding trustworthy people to help you with an event when you are out of town and in unfamiliar territory can feel completely impossible.

Here are a few tips you can use to find the help you need.


Free work is so hard to find!

1. Social Media (of Course)

If you're still working on setting up the event, put the word out on social media. A simple "We're hoping to hold a fundraiser in [WHATEVER TOWN] in a few months. What's a good venue?" posted on Twitter and Facebook is often all you need to get suggestions rolling in. You can use this strategy to find venues, local entertainers, manpower, supplies - pretty much anything.

HINT: You'll get even more responses if you ask people to retweet and share your post.

2. Mine the Source

If you have a venue already in place and entertainment already lined up, ask if their staffs would be willing to volunteer their time to help out your cause. Entertainers typically have a handful of people they trust to help them out at their own events; ask them if those people would mind helping you out, too. Ask the person in charge of the venue if he or she might have people on staff who would be willing to donate some of their time (and venue knowledge).


Who do you know? Who do they know??

3. Local Contacts

You undoubtedly already know someone in that town or you wouldn't be considering holding your fundraiser there in the first place. Email everybody you know in that town and ask for their help or to spread the word that you're looking for help with your fundraiser or awareness event. Ask for recommendations or encourage them to give your email address to anybody they know who might be willing to or interested in helping.

4. Offer Incentive

Remember, you're asking people to volunteer their time, expertise, skills, and sometimes even their products. It's just good manners to offer some sort of incentive, even if it is small. Yes, people are signing up for this understanding there is no pay. That doesn't mean, though, that there shouldn't be any perks. Even seemingly small things: admission to the event, a special meet and greet with any entertainers who will be performing, free vouchers for drinks and food, a t-shirt, printing their names in the program - all of these things are great ways to thank your volunteers as well as incentivize them to offer their time and services in the first place.

5. Always Say Thank You

Word spreads quickly in our digital age. Make sure the people who volunteer for you understand how much you appreciate their time and effort. Those incentives we talked about also make great thank-you gifts. Treating volunteers well at one event will help you build a good reputation, which will make it easier for you to find volunteers for other events.

When all else fails, you can run some simple advertisements online and in local media asking people to help you make the event a success.

Have you had to put together events or fundraisers in towns that aren't your own? How did you find the staff and volunteer teams you needed?

Erin Steiner writes about everything from gutter filters to pop culture. You can find her work all over the web.

November 26, 2013

Are You Budgeting Enough to Properly Show Volunteer Appreciation? by Bridget Galbreath

Are You Budgeting Enough to Properly Show Volunteer Appreciation?

The heart and soul of a non-profit organization are the volunteers who support the mission and the cause. These individuals work from the good of their hearts, not expecting - just doing because they want to help others. If you run a non-profit, you know all too well how much you rely on your volunteers. While they don't expect to receive any direct recognition, it is a nice idea to show them how much you appreciate all of their hard work and dedication.

Hosting a volunteer appreciation event is a fantastic way to take your hat off to those giving, kind-hearted men and women. There are a number of ways you can show how thankful you are. For example, you could host a special banquet, plan a retreat, or even give out gift baskets. While all of these are great volunteer appreciation ideas, and are bound to be appreciated by your volunteers, they do require a monetary investment. Do you have enough money set aside for such an investment? How much do you need to set aside? How should you go about creating a budget?

Continue reading to find out how to successfully set up a volunteer appreciation budget.

Determine the Appreciation Event:

How are you going to thank your volunteers? Are you going to host a dinner, plan a retreat, give gifts, or do something else? While your volunteers will likely appreciate anything you plan, take their interests into consideration. If they enjoy exploring and enjoying nature, for example, a wilderness retreat might be right up their alley.

Determine Your Needs:

Once you decide what type of affair you will be hosting, you will need to figure out what will be needed for the event. For instance, if you are hosting a dinner, not only will you need a catering hall, but you will also need decorations, entertainment, and whatever else you think will make the affair a success. Create a list of the things you want to include. You can use the old paper and pencil method, use a traditional spreadsheet, or utilize software specifically designed to help plan events, such as PlanningPod.

Estimate the Price Point:

Now you can move on to determine the price point of your volunteer appreciation event. To do this, you are going to need to do some research. Contact vendors, suppliers, travel agencies - anyone who can provide you with what you will need for the affair. Ask for price estimates. Contact several different vendors in order to find the best value for your budget. Calculate all of the expenses so you can get an idea of how much you will need to spend on the affair. Over-estimating is always better than under-estimating, as you don't want to come up short on funds.

Start Investing:

Now you can start investing in your volunteer appreciation event. Use a budgeting software to keep track of expenses and keep tabs on how much you have and how much you have to invest until you reach the goal for your budget. Try to invest whatever you can, whenever you can, into the budget. You may have to invest from your own pocket, or you can call on the help of others by hosting fundraisers in order to meet the needs of your budget (of course, you want to do this as slyly as possible so your volunteers are pleasantly surprised when they learn about the affair you have organized in their honor).

Without your volunteers, your non-profit would not be able to succeed. Show them how thankful you are for all of their hard work by hosting a volunteer appreciation day.

Bridget Galbreath is a freelance writer who specializes in providing money management tips for small and large businesses, as well as non-profit organizations.

October 30, 2013

Pro Bono Work- A Way to Increase the Efficiency of Attorneys through Charity by Alisa Martin

Pro Bono Work- A Way to Increase the Efficiency of Attorneys through Charity

Pro bono work is quite valuable from the perspective of charity. Taking up pro bono cases is indeed an act of nobility for attorneys. Attorneys and lawyers possess some unique skills, which can significantly help people to get justice, who otherwise cannot afford legal services.

But, as an attorney, you may think if doing pro bono work can benefit you in any way, other than instilling a feeling of satisfaction arising from helping people. Attorneys would be happy to know that pro bono work can significantly help you to grow both personally and professionally. Pro bono work is a good way to gain courtroom experience and build client relations.

The major benefits of pro bono representation are stated below:

Professional Development:

You cannot learn everything when you are at a law school. Being a new associate also, you would not be able to learn everything needed. Irrespective of what type of legal employer you have or what kind of practice area you are in, you can learn a lot by offering your services to others by doing pro bono work.

Learn a Different Practice Area:

If you handle a case dealing with a practice area entirely different from your domain, you can learn a number of valuable skills. These skills would help you to build competence in an entirely new domain of law. When you are involved in pro bono work, your seniors, colleagues and peers would always be there for helping you to learn the tricks and techniques of an area on which you do not possess that command. You would always try to benefit your client through your work, and in the process, you may master an entirely new field of law.

Attain Case Management Skills:

As an attorney, you would know quite well that how vast is law. There is so much to discover and learn in law. Taking up pro bono cases would help you to learn a wide range of new skills. You would learn organizational skills, prioritization and case management skills and professional interaction skills. By handling such cases, you may have the chance to learn so much that you may not have learnt so far in this career. If you are a new attorney, dealing with such a case would help you to get skills and litigation experience, which new attorneys are usually not exposed to. Irrespective of your practice domain, attaining case management skills and gaining litigation experience is extremely important for an attorney.

Enhance Client Relationship Abilities:

As a new attorney, you may not have had the opportunity of communicating directly with clients. In such a case, you may not have that strong relationship development and client communication skills. Indulging in pro bono work, would enable you to interact directly with clients. This would help you to manage client expectations, communicate consistently and effectively and navigate client meetings.

Do Meaningful Work that Creates a Difference:

Once you enter the profession of an attorney, you would be facing heavy workload everyday, and the intensity of work would increase constantly. This often leads to a lack of balance between the various aspects in your life, which may lead to deterioration in your performance, both on the personal and professional levels. Involving in pro bono work provides an opportunity to come out of that daily routine and handle something new, while cultivating many essential skills. Law firms highly appreciate attorneys doing such work. You would feel satisfied from within as the work you are doing is meaningful. It would make you feel that being an attorney; you can really make some positive changes in the lives of people.

Conclusion:

Pro bono work is indeed quite advantageous for lawyers and attorneys. The above information proves the benefits lawyers can get when dealing with pro bono cases. It is an excellent way to do some good to your community with the help of your skills and knowledge.

About Author: Alisa Martin is a proficient guest blogger who writes highly informative articles on pro bono work done by lawyers. She also writes about various law firms like Phuket Law Office, which encourage lawyers to take up pro bono cases.

October 25, 2013

Volunteer Loyalty: 5 Pointers to Ensure Your Volunteers Come Back Year After Year by Bridget Galbreath

Volunteer Loyalty: 5 Pointers to Ensure Your Volunteers Come Back Year After Year

Lawyers to the Rescue was created by a group of humanitarian lawyers whose aim is to better the world by offering their legal services to the less fortunate. This not-for-profit organization was founded with the idea of bringing about change to those who have experienced hardships. Founded following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, this group prides itself on offering their legal services and humanitarian help to victims of natural disasters, famine, and disease.


Photo Credit: We Heart It

While Lawyers to the Rescue was founded by lawyers, and yes, lawyers do provide their legal services through the foundation, the truth is that volunteers are what keeps it going. Volunteers help bring food, water, shelter, clothing, and hope to those who have been afflicted by life-altering natural disasters.

Since volunteers are the heart and soul of Lawyers to the Rescue, it is crucial that those who work with this organization create incentive to keep those volunteers interested in offering their services. Here are some incentives that can be used to show volunteers they are valued and keep them coming back to serve.


Photo Credits: We Heart It

Value Them: While volunteers can't be rewarded monetarily (and that's not why they are volunteering in the first place), they can certainly be shown that they are appreciated in other ways. Let them know how much you appreciate all the hard work they do by simply saying so. Sometimes, a good pat on the back and a "job well done" is all that is needed to let volunteers know that they are appreciated and to keep them coming back.

Show Results: You'll really make your volunteers proud and interested in returning to offer their help when you show them the results of their hard work. You can show them pictures of the people they have helped, show them images that actually highlight the benefits of their work (a building they built being used by locals, for example), or read letters written by those who they have helped. When volunteers actually realize the powerful impact they have had, they are likely to continue offering their services.

Ask for Input: You'll certainly keep your volunteers motivated and make them want to continue coming back to help when you ask them for their input. Hold a meeting to discuss the issues that an area needing help experiences. Ask your volunteers to shed some light and offer their ideas for offering help. Of course, coach them and let them know you appreciate their ideas.

Follow Up: Don't forget to check in with your volunteers while they offer their services. After a specific task is complete, check in to see how participating affected them and whether or not they would be interested in making a difference again.

Host an Event: You don't have to go completely all out, but you can certainly hold an event to honor the hard work of your volunteers. Depending on what your budget allows, you could plan a formal dinner, plan an outing (ziplining or rock climbing, perhaps?), or even just have a casual get-together over some pizza and some beer.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of a non-profit organization. Try these incentives to keep the volunteers at Lawyers to the Rescue coming back to give.

Bridget Galbreath is a writer who is well-versed in a wide range of topics, including non-profit agencies and even passive recruiting.

October 22, 2013

Tips for Young, New Attorneys Interested in Taking on a Pro Bono Case by Brian Flax

5 Tips for Young, New Attorneys Interested in Taking on a Pro Bono Case

As a new lawyer, you may be asking yourself: "What's the purpose of taking on a pro bono case?"

In addition to establishing yourself within the industry, you're also helping people who need legal representation but cannot afford to pay. Your new skills and knowledge can have a big impact on the lives of others, help the local community, and give you a chance to do something different. For new lawyers, it also provides practical courtroom experience.


Gain practical courtroom experience by taking on pro bono cases.

Don't Take Complex Cases

Keep it simple. Taking on a pro bono case doesn't have to take up a lot of your time or even involve a complex issue. Look for a case that requires a minimal amount of "lawyer" work, but still gives you experience in the courtroom and time dealing with clients.

You don't have to stick to one issue, either. Keep things interesting by taking on a variety of cases whenever you choose to take on pro bono work.

Draft a Pro Bono Policy

It's your choice what pro bono cases you take on. Set expectations right from the beginning by drafting a pro bono policy that limits the types of cases and clients you'll accept.

If your goal is to help low-income families or individuals, set your requirements from 125 to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility. Of course you'll still have the flexibility to take on additional cases even if they exceed your guidelines, but this type of policy will allow you to help those who need it most.


Pro bono services give you the chance to help those without the financial means for legal services.

Reach Out to Clients

You don't need to wait for a client to contact you about a a legal matter. If there is a case that interests you, reach out and offer your assistance. Many clients can be nervous about the process or taking up too much of your time, so initiating contact can help put their mind at ease. This also gives you a chance to personalize the experience and get to know your client outside of the parameters of the case.

Contact a Local Association

Contacting the local county bar association is a great place to start when looking for pro bono opportunities. While the services offered by the association may vary by location, most are happy to help volunteers find clients for pro bono work, or at least point in the right direction. Many communities have non-profit and legal associations that help low-income clients find pro bono opportunities, as well.

Get Your Firm's Support

If you work for a larger firm, it's a good idea to get the support of your boss or higher-ups before taking on a pro bono case. Approval to take on pro bono work could come in handy down the line if you run into problems with the case and need additional resources from the firm. It should be an easy sell, as pro bono work can be a great way to market yourself and the firm at the same time. It can also lead to paid work from referrals if your pro bono clients pass on the word of a job well done.

Taking on a pro bono case doesn't have to be a complex or time-consuming process. In addition to helping those who can't afford legal services, you'll be expanding and refining your skills while marketing yourself at the same time. For new lawyers, pro bono cases provide practical courtroom experience and a way to network with other attorneys in your local community.

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including business, technology, and www.dailyreputation.com

October 14, 2013

It's Not All About Charity - Pro Bono Work Is Great Marketing, Too! by Amy Kirkegaard

It's Not All About Charity - Pro Bono Work Is Great Marketing, Too!

Now that you've invested thousands of hours (in addition to thousands of dollars) into law school, you possess a skill set that few people can claim. You are unique, and that's something to be proud of.

While it is a privilege to be where you are, you also have a responsibility to your community. There are many people around you who need legal assistance, but they cannot afford it. Yet they deserve the same access to justice as those who can afford to pay for it.



The American Bar Association strongly encourages lawyers to provide at least 50 hours per year of legal services to those unable to pay. This is known as pro bono publico (typically shortened to pro bono), a Latin phrase meaning for the public good.

New York State's chief judge announced a new rule in 2012 requiring law students to perform 50 hours of pro bono work before> they can legally practice in New York.

You may consider pro bono work as simply an act of benevolence - giving something you have to someone who can't afford it. But it many ways, pro bono work is so much more.

Besides the obvious benefit to those in need, there are many ways pro bono work can benefit you as well:

  • For newer lawyers, pro bono work can help build your confidence as you spend more time in the courtroom.

  • Pro bono work provides an opportunity for you to gain experience that is different from what you are used to, such as representing clients from a different socio-economic group.

  • If you are highly specialized in one specific area, pro bono work allows you to step outside and offer services in an additional field you have less experience in.

  • It gives you an opportunity to develop your professional network and improve your professional reputation.


Another benefit of pro bono work is one you may not have thought of - marketing. You're in a crowded courtroom and you have a captive audience. There may be a spectator who needs - or knows someone who needs - legal services now or even in the future.



Many corporations have an interest in philanthropy. They may hold a food drive, participate in a charitable fun run, or host a community service day. These corporations want to associate with like-minded businesses.

Here are some things to think about when doing pro bono work, in terms of a marketing approach:

  • Always have a few business cards handy. You never know who you might run into during the course of your day.

  • Be who you are. Don't exaggerate when offering your experience.

  • Don't rush off as soon as court is adjourned. Be friendly and approachable.

  • Don't grumble and complain to your client about having to do pro bono work. Nobody wants to be a burden.

  • Have compassion. Maybe you've never been where these people are, but you shouldn't treat them as though they are unworthy of your time.


There are many benefits to pro bono work, both for you and your client. But the greatest benefit of all may be the satisfaction you feel after you've given a gift to someone and expected nothing in return.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mahatma Gandhi


Amy Kirkegaard is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including social media, online reputation management, and prominent business leaders such as Charles E. Phillips.

September 19, 2013

Lawyers: Interested in Doing Pro Bono Work? Here's What You Need to Know by Kelsey Castle

Lawyers: Interested in Doing Pro Bono Work? Here's What You Need to Know

There's no doubt that lawyers are busy people or that they deserve the money they're paid -- particularly when you think about the student loan debt that so many lawyers have incurred. However, there's something to be said for a lawyer finding the time to do pro bono work -- that is, offering their legal services for a free or substantially reduced rate to those who can't afford it, whether it's an individual or nonprofit organization.

What Is Pro Bono Work?

In its basic definition, pro bono work refers to offering legal services for free or at a reduced rate. The American Bar Association, as part of its ethical rules, recommends that American lawyers engage in at least 50 hours of pro bono service per year. This isn't a mandated rule, though, and some state bars -- such as the New York State Bar Association -- recommend fewer hours per year.


Additionally, the ABA separates pro bono work into two categories -- category one pro bono is defined as personally offering legal representation to a person or organization with limited mean without any expectation or accrual of compensation.

Category two pro bono work encompasses all other sorts of reduced-fee or free law-related services to any client, low-income or otherwise. However, this does not include any sort of service or activity that's done to develop a paying client.

A 2013 survey by the American Bar Association found that in 2011, U.S. attorneys on average provided 56.5 hours of pro bono work in category one, with a median of 30 hours. However, 20 percent reported not having done any category one pro bono work.

The survey also noted that in 2011, 68 percent of surveyed attorneys performed some form of category two pro bono work. The average reduction of fees equaled approximately 48 percent.

Benefits of Pro Bono

The benefits of pro bono work are clear for the client who's receiving the service; however, what good does it do for the lawyer? Pro bono perks for lawyers range from tax deductions to increased education to moral and emotional benefits. Doing pro bono work can even boost a lawyer's community stature and be noted online on Reputation.com reviews.

The first perk a lawyer is likely to be interested in is financial -- although a lawyer doesn't receive his regular salary for doing pro bono work, he can deduct travel expenses incurred, as well as other expenses that are directly related to handling the pro bono work. However, the lawyer cannot simply write off an hour of advising a client for free -- versus billing a $450 hourly rate -- as a way to reduce taxable income, nor can a lawyer deduct expenses such as new computer equipment, even if it assists in working on the case.

Additionally, doing pro bono work can help you continue to learn about the law. Despite its best efforts, law school isn't able to teach you about all facets of the legal system; pro bono continues that education. This is particularly true for new associates who are still building up their knowledge and reputation as a lawyer.

Finally, pro bono work can remind a person why they became a lawyer. Although making a lot of money might have been on your mind when choosing pre-law in undergraduate work (you perhaps didn't think as much about the pile of student debt you might incur), it was also likely driven by a need to help people. Fair legal representation is a cornerstone of the American judicial system, and by providing that service, you're helping ensure that the system continues to work how it was meant to.

How to Get Started

Time might be the biggest hindrance to completing pro bono work, but with a little effort, any lawyer can find a way to provide their services. The first stop could be your state or city bar association, which often holds one-day legal advice clinics. This takes up just four to five hours of your day once every few months, but it offers an opportunity for the community to ask questions when they don't know where else to turn.

Another option is joining a humanitarian organization such as Lawyers to the Rescue, a non-denominational group that brings legal assistant to people across the globe, independent of any political, religious, or financial agenda. If you prefer to offer pro bono legal support under the banner of a religious or political organization, check with your preferred group to learn about their needs.

Whether you want to meet the ABA's guidelines for completing pro bono work or just give back to the community, doing so can offer a lawyer plenty of perks.

Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer/writer with a degree in journalism from a Big 10 University. She has worked for daily newspapers and monthly magazines.

September 6, 2013

"Ethical Governance Day." by Frank Minton

Please mark your calendar for October 22nd, 2013, "Ethical Governance Day." This is a day when the entire community and in particular our young people, need your assistance and commitment.

As we all are aware, South Florida seems to be plagued with a government that has left many of our citizens, young and old, with lingering doubts as to the integrity of our elected officials. Ethical Governance Day is a day when high school students across Miami-Dade County will be visited by community leaders who will deliver a message of hope and morality, emphasizing how civic participation at all levels has a positive impact on promoting ethical government.

Hundreds of civic minded volunteers have already signed up to speak to high school students on this very important day. The project is endorsed by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and the Miami-Dade County School Board and Lawyers to the Rescue.

While many community leaders have already signed up, we need more. We are looking for individuals with any significant civic involvement or desire to get involved. You can volunteer for a full day, or simply a portion of a day, in one or more high schools where your knowledge and wisdom would be most welcome and appreciated by our high school students.

Inspire the Change
Please click here to watch a video regarding the "Ethical Governance Day"

Suggested talking points will be provided in advance and volunteers are encouraged to share their own stories and experiences. Sometimes students who are struggling with complex social issues benefit from a fresh perspective on how their lives can be guided and improved through proper ethical behavior and hard work.

Should you have an interest in participating, click here for the Registration Form .

To learning more about Ethical Governance Day, please e-mail Rodzand@miamidade.gov or fax (305) 579-0273. You may also secure more information by directly calling the Commission on Ethics at (305) 579-2594 to speak with a commission staff member.

Call or sign up today. Our young people need your help and support. Thank you.