UHLC students told pro bono work is satisfying and helpful to career 


Ellyn Josef, Pro Bono Counsel at Vinson & Elkins, advises students on the value and importance of pro bono work.

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Oct. 25, 2013 – Pro bono work is not only a means of helping people in the community, but an excellent way of developing skills and building a successful career, University of Houston Law Center students were advised recently.

Ellyn Josef, Pro Bono Counsel at Vinson & Elkins, and UHLC alumnus Robert Etnyre ’78, a commercial litigator at Royston Razer, spoke Thursday about their pro bono experience and its importance in developing a legal career.

“It’s weird to think of it in a selfish way, but I think all of you know about it in an altruistic way,” Josef said. “Pro bono is really the best first step to enhancing your legal skills.”

Josef said pro bono experience is an opportunity to take charge at the associate level. She supervises all pro bono activities and committees at Vinson & Elkins, and serves as co-chairman of the Houston Alumni and Youth Center’s mission to provide pro bono legal support to youths in foster care. She also stressed pro bono work as a way to build a client base and enhance a firm’s reputation.

“In law practice, perspective is easy to lose,” Etnyre said. “Pro bono cases keep you on track.” Etnyre has represented more than 125 asylum seekers in Federal Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigrations Appeals, and Federal Appellate Courts. He is also a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas.

Etnyre said pro bono work provides him with a satisfaction he doesn’t receive from his commercial litigation work. With pro bono work, Etnyre said, clients are grateful in a way corporate clients are not. “I would not be practicing if not for pro bono,” Etnyre said. “I go to work every day and I’m glad to go to work.”

The lunch hour discussion was hosted by the Public Interest Law Organization, Student Bar Association, and American Civil Liberties Union.

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