Record of Community Involvement

This is seventh in a series of posts highlighting my experience in each of the ten factors in evaluating a judicial candidate, as suggested by C. Dale McClain, a former President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in a 2009 blog post:

1. Legal ability. 

2. Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures.

3. A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity. 

4. Financial responsibility. 

5. Judicial temperament. 

6. Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office. 

7. Record of community involvement. 

8. Administrative ability. 

9. Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice. 

10. Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life. 

In his post, McClain explains the importance of nonlegal experience:    

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7. Record of community involvement. A candidate's nonlegal experience is very important. A candidate's participation in public service, community and pro bono (providing free legal services to the less fortunate) activities should be considered.

We can sometimes learn to do our own plumbing, maybe replace a garbage disposal or a sink faucet.  Plumbing a whole house though, often requires the expertise of a plumber. 

Similarly,  nonlawyers can sometimes handle part of a legal case, or take a stab at a small claims case.  Handling a whole case, though, often requires the expertise of a lawyer.   

That's why lawyers have an ethical duty to do pro bono (free or reduced fee) legal work. 

And it's a duty I take seriously.  I am very proud to have included public service, community, and pro bono work since the beginning of my career.  In fact, I've laid out my community experience and my pro bono work already and encourage you to learn more.  I've been active in pro bono work since my first semester of law school and maintain an active pro bono caseload today, as a volunteer at District 10's free walk-in legal advice clinic, Counsel in the Court, with regular representation of pro bono clients, and as a CASA attorney.  

Being a pro bono attorney helps me be a balanced lawyer and it helps my community.  That's a win/win.

Catherine Stafford