As lawyers, we have not only a professional duty to perform pro bono work and serve our communities, but also an ethical duty. Practicing law is a privilege, and as lawyers we are fortunate to have the tools necessary for getting things done in an increasingly complex world. At Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram, it is our belief that law firms should encourage a culture of service, pro bono work, and charitable giving.
I am proud that at Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram we continually strive to foster and maintain this culture. It is our privilege to work with a number of organizations that benefit disadvantaged communities and others in need. It is an effort that starts at the very top of the firm and trickles down to all members of staff.
One of our most significant and rewarding efforts to date has been our work with Sulam, an educational institution in Rockville, Maryland. Sulam is an incredible organization dedicated to providing children with learning differences individually designed programs that reflect “best practices” within a day school environment. Sulam provides each student with the education, encouragement, and expert support needed to fully realize his and her greatest potential. Having worked with Sulam since the early days of its development, I can say with confidence that Sulam creates a long-lasting, positive, and meaningful impact on the lives of all of its students.
SLS has committed itself to actively participating in Sulam’s mission. SLS attorneys Steven H. Schram and Daniel A. Kapner serve on the organization’s board, while I serve as Sulam’s president. The firm has pledged ongoing financial support to help Sulam continue to grow its program offerings, which include psychological services, physical therapy services, occupational therapy services, and speech and language therapy services. Our attorneys and staff frequently volunteer their time to assist Sulam in providing opportunities to its students.
While we at SLS wholeheartedly support Sulam out of our sense of duty to our community, we were humbled by the gratitude shown to us by the organization at its 15th Annual Gala Dinner and Silent Auction, which was held on June 2, 2015. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about Sulam’s mission and raise funds for continued programming and services. As part of the gala, Sulam honored SLS with its Founder’s Award, a recognition given to those whose efforts have made a major impact on the organization.
Creating a Culture of Giving
SLS urges all law firms and attorneys to consider making community service a priority. The rewards, both personal and professional, are immeasurable. For those looking to make community service and charitable giving a core part of a law firm’s culture, I offer the following suggestions:
- Compassion starts at the top: Leadership sets the tone for a law firm. If your firm wants to foster a culture of caring, it has to start at the top. Law firm management must lead by example and offer opportunities to the rest of the attorneys and staff to participate in charitable efforts throughout the year.
- Do good for the sake of doing good: While recognition and awards are nice, charity is a selfless activity. The reward for donating your time, talent, and money should be the sense of self-fulfillment you will receive from helping others and the positive effects of your assistance.
- Choose a cause that is personal to you or your firm: There are many causes out there that need support. However, to provide the greatest benefit, it helps if you focus on a small handful, particularly ones that are personal to you or your firm. Why? Because your passion will motivate you to put in as much effort as you can.