Today I had the pleasure of representing two Guatemalan brothers in a guardianship hearing in a pro bono case I took on with a colleague. Tasnima Apol, of Apol Law LLC is an experienced family law attorney who has done guardianship petitions before and I have experience working with immigrant clients in immigration and other matters. It was the perfect opportunity to pair up to do some good and get additional experience while supporting each other. I handled much of the client interviewing because I speak Spanish, and I was also able to navigate the immigration forms we had to send in. Tasnima rocked the direct examination of our clients in court and her comfort level in the courtroom helped us win.
Teaming up to work with another attorney is one way attorneys branch into new areas of practice or enhance the services they can offer to clients, but it is still not very common. Having made the effort, I recommend it. Especially for solo attorneys, working with a colleague on either a paying matter or doing pro bono could open up new areas of work and deepen your experience while while you maintain your individual practices. In our case together, my colleague and I had a representation agreement with the client that expressed that we worked together. In more complex litigation or a larger team a co-counseling agreement between the lawyers in addition to the consent of the client may be necessary to decide issues of work distribution, allocation of fees, and other issues such as ultimate decision making.
In our case, Tasnima and I both gained valuable skills and experience from working with one another and we are happy to say our clients are well on their way to a better life situation as a result. Do pro bono. With friends.