Pro Bono Service Is Habit Forming

By District of Columbia Bar

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Gina Lynn subscribes to the philosophy that lawyers should spend a percentage of their time and their money supporting pro bono service. She has always felt that pro bono service is important andthat being a lawyer in some respects makes it easier to do charitable work because the structure isalready set up.

Gina is a solo practitioner and, like most people in the legal profession, readily admits that it is not easy to balance life, work and pro bono service. However, she is adamant that if you make a commitment to yourself that you are going to devote a portion of your time and money to pro bono service, it simply becomes part of your work routine. 

Gina has taken advantage of nearly every opportunity the Pro Bono Program offers. She currently uses her 18 years of experience in estate planning and probate to mentor other pro bono volunteers with less experience in this area of law at the Pro Bono Program’s Saturday Advice & Referral Clinic, and the Probate Resource Center located at D.C. Superior Court.

Gina has also been instrumental in expanding pro bono services in the area of estate planning. She helped to design and implement the Pro Bono Program’s Wills Clinic, through which volunteer attorneys assist eligible D.C. residents with preparing estate planning documents, including wills, durable powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and living wills.

She has not only mentored attorneys through that clinic since its inception, but has also co-facilitated annual trainings, and helped to recruit other members of the probate bar to serve as mentors.

Gina enjoys mentoring and training other pro bono volunteers because “it forces me to go back and make sure what I know is still correct. I also learn a lot in the process.” She finds it rewarding because the other volunteers “are really enthusiastic and they really want to help.” She can recall being in their shoes.

Before she started her own practice she participated in a family law training and agreed to take two family law cases pro bono. “It was wonderful for someone like me who was going out on my own and trying to learn a new area. This is a great structure to get people involved in pro bono and different areas of the law. It also benefits them professionally. “

To lawyers who are just starting to incorporate pro bono service into their lives, Gina advises, “pick an area of law that you are interested in because it is a great opportunity to expand your professional capabilities, and manage your time well.” Her own interest is probate law. “If I was doing something that I wasn’t really interested in, it would feel like a chore,” she says.

Gina recommends that D.C. Bar members interested in pro bono service consider volunteering at the Probate Resource Center. “The demand is really high, and we could use more volunteers from the probate community. There are different levels of need and complexity. Sometimes clients simply need help filling out forms, but other times it is a really complex matter. Probate Court can be a confusing maze for people, who in a lot of instances are still grieving. I would love to see more people volunteer because this is truly a pressing need in our community.”

Gina Lynn assists clients in Washington, D.C. and Maryland with estate planning, probate, and litigating real estate matters. She was recently re-elected to the Steering Committee of the Estates, Trusts and Probate Section of the D.C. Bar, where she serves as the financial officer and co-chair of the program committee. She has given seminars to church groups, civic associations and realtors about estate planning and probate.