Posted on August 7, 2019
Personal, professional rewards through pro bono service
On my first day of law school, Professor Lumen Mulligan asked our small section why we chose to come to law school. My answer without hesitation was, “I want to make a lot of money.” Being a lawyer meant making good money to me.
My first semester of law school, I received an email about a pro bono opportunity helping at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Renewal Clinic. Being an immigrant to the U.S. myself, this opportunity instantly caught my attention. Before I could make up my mind, my body volunteered. There weren’t many who came to get help at the clinic, but I was fascinated by the willingness of the law school to help the people in need. After participating in the DACA renewal clinic, I was motivated to utilize my skills as a law student to give back to the community.
During my two years at the law school, I have participated in a variety of law-school-sponsored pro bono opportunities: DACA Renewal Clinic, Clean Slate Expungement Clinic, Guardianship Assistance Program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and judging mock trials. I interviewed individuals who need to remove charges from their criminal record, but don’t have the funds to do so. I drafted a petition for a mother in need of a guardianship of her son with multiple health conditions. I assisted international students file their tax returns and helped them understand the reason for filing taxes. Through these opportunities, I gained rewarding professional experience that can’t be taught.
The satisfaction that I got from knowing that I made a difference in the community was equivalent to the satisfaction that I got from money. The smiles on people’s faces as they thank you from the bottom of their heart was more than rewarding.
It wasn’t until the first semester in law school when I realized the importance of pro bono service. Uncompensated legal work seemed to be an oxymoron when I started law school. KU Law has taught me the responsibility that I have as a law student and a future lawyer, to serve and to give back to the community. Participating in a variety of law-school-sponsored pro bono opportunities not only helped me gain hands-on legal experience, but it redefined what being a lawyer meant to me.
I chose to come to law school to make good money, while serving and giving back to the community.
— Dukgi Goh is a rising 3L at the University of Kansas School of Law.