It’s that time of year (the one time of the year) when Rural Lawyer gets a bit political and takes the time to celebrate Buy Nothing Day. So, rather than joining the lemmings flocking to the stores, here are some “rural” ways to slow down and enjoy the day.
- Climb a tree – stay up there a while
- Have a picnic – don’t skimp, go all out – wicker hamper, gingham blanket, china & crystal
- Eat a lobster – with your hands, without a bib
- Go for a walk – take your SO & hold hands
- Play with your kids – until they’re tired
- Take a nap
- Have Tea – a really Tea, complete with sandwiches, trifles, fancy hats and sharp suits
And if you’ve got to spend money, considering sending some to these folks
This is not a post about always asking for a retainer up front or why you should take credit cards (both boffo ideas in their own right). This is not about managing accounts receivable, setting rates, or getting reticent clients to make good on their debts. This is not about how you should handle the occasional request to barter for your services (if the suggestion involves livestock, it is always better to ask that for it to be delivered wrapped and frozen and not walking and mooing).
I have a colleague who describes his research as falling into two categories: the stuff he does for DARPA (which pays the bills) and the stuff he does to make his mother proud. Which, in a way, is a good summation as to why I do the odd bit of pro bono work.
Aspirational goals aside, there is little upside for the rural lawyer to do pro bono – there is no great PR bump (there is an expectation in rural communities that neighbors look out for each other & the definition of neighbor is quite expansive) and there is certainly little return on the investment outside of that smile, those tears, that look of relief that comes when the client realizes that there is someone there to help shoulder the load. It’s not a payment you can take to the bank, but it has its own inestimable worth.
Remember: National Pro Bono Week is October 23-29 – go make mom proud.
Its that time of year when we flock to the nearest retail outlet at an ungodly hour in the morning in an attempt to beat out the rest of the assembled hoard for, what we assume to be, the deal of the Christmas shopping season.
Being a practicing curmudgeon, my suggestion is to spend the day observing that little know holiday of “Buy Nothing Day“.
If you must spend, consider sending something to Heifer International. They may not have any door-buster sales, but then the waiting line is not as long and you get to sleep in.
If you have a concern about the cost of legal services, then LawHelp.org and LawHelpMN.org may be the resources you are looking for.
Both organizations are gateways that help low and moderate income people find referrals to legal aid and public interest law offices, and both provide basic information about legal rights, self-help information, court information and links to social service agencies. While LawHelpMN.org is specific to Minnesota, LawHelp.org acts as a nationwide clearing house.
So don’t avoid seeking out legal help just because you believe you can’t afford it. Good, affordable legal help is out there and these sites can help you find it.
I know its early, but before you blow all your Christmas shopping money this holiday season, take a moment and consider sending some of that moola to Heifer International. Heifer’s mission is to bring an end to world hunger by helping people obtain a sustainable source of food and income. The concept in a nutshell is that Heifer makes a gift of livestock to one individual in a community. They teach that individual sustainable agriculture (how to breed for quality, how to care for the livestock, etc). In return, that individual agrees to share the offspring of the gift animals along with their knowledge, resources and skills with others in need.
If there is one thing I could give to the struggling people of the world it would be self-reliance.
Everyone deserves the dignity of providing for themselves and their families. That’s why I support Heifer International.”
— Walter Cronkite