We are all accustomed to asking for what we want. But sometimes, we get more than we asked for.

That was the case today, when I opened my email and read a note by an Arizona lawyer.

Dan Riley practices at Curry, Pearson & Wooten in Phoenix. His note to me was in response to a call I made for pro bono stories, all in recognition of the National Pro Bono Celebration.

(Connections with the firm go deeper than that: In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we once published a story about a firm partner, Michael Pearson, who is not only a lawyer but also an air-traffic controller. And the CPW law offices are about half a block from my house, so I get to see their attractive vintage building every day.)

I received the essay in the morning, but many tasks kept me from reading it until the day was nearly complete. But when I did, I saw this was something out of the ordinary.

Dan Riley

Almost every lawyer I’ve ever worked with has contributed some of her or his time for free. And that is often the story one reads, about an attorney’s experience giving back. It’s a great story, one that never disappoints.

More rare is the story of what led the lawyer down a path to a point where they decided to repay goodwill that had been extended to them. Such a story is not better than the tale of the pro bono activity itself, but it is more revealing of the person behind the act.

That personal story is what Dan shared. His story opens:

“October 23-29 is National Pro Bono Week, and the Bar Association has asked attorneys to share their pro bono experiences. Rather than donate yet another ‘war story,’ I’ve decided to explain why I do pro bono work. I donate legal services, because I know what it’s like to not have a voice.”

That quiet opening ends with the telling word “voice,” and you should read Dan’s essay to see how well chosen the word is. Click here to read his story.

Dan Riley, age 11, speaking at his fourth-grade play

You can read more about Dan and his law practice here.

I’d welcome your own tale in regard to pro bono, whether it’s about your experience of representation or the effect it had on your life and practice.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about an opportunity to provide some of your time and experience to juvenile clients and their families—both of whom may need your help to locate their voice in the justice system.