Stand by Someone Who Needs You, In a Way Only You Can

By Bob Glaves  |  CBF Executive Director

This year’s Pro Bono Week theme, Celebrating the Power of Pro Bono, invites us to think about what that power looks like in real life to someone who is facing a serious legal issue but unable to afford the legal help they need. As I often do, I am turning to music for my inspiration, echoing the choice of theme song for our Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon earlier this year.

That song is I’ll Stand By You by the Pretenders, because it really encapsulates the critical role lawyers play for people going through difficult times. While Chrissie Hynde was not singing about people with legal problems, a few lines really encapsulate the power of pro bono well:

When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do

When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose

You’re feeling all alone   

You won’t be on your own

I’ll stand by you

For someone facing a serious legal issue, that is a pretty good summation of what it feels like, and how much it means to know a lawyer will be there to stand by them.

And the more vulnerable someone is in the system and the higher the stakes they are facing, the more true it is that a lawyer standing by them makes all the difference.

It could be someone who is a victim of human trafficking or seeking asylum after fleeing torture in their home country. Or a victim of a serious crime and their family. Someone in custody who isn’t getting the medical care they need. A homeless young person seeking safety and stability. Or someone who was wrongfully convicted of a crime or is seeking a second chance in life after a long-ago mistake.

Those are just a few examples of some of the situations where lawyers have a unique power to make a difference for someone who really needs legal help. And they also happen to be actual examples of some of the people helped by the lawyers honored with this year’s CBA and CBF Pro Bono & Public Service Awards.

There are many other examples too, including a victim of domestic violence or someone with a disability who finds out their polling place is not accessible for them to be able to vote. Those are examples of actual people you can help by attending one of this year’s Pro Bono Week trainings and learning how to get involved.

And you can find out about the many other ways to get involved at this year’s Pro Bono and Community Service Fair during Pro Bono Week, or by checking out the CBF and Paladin’s new online pro bono opportunities guide at

Wherever you are in the legal community, you have the power to stand by someone who needs your help, giving them a powerful voice in the legal system that only you can provide. You can protect and empower them, and make justice real for them.

So this Pro Bono Week, stand by someone who needs you, in a way only you can as a lawyer.