Professor Thompson shares Pro Bono efforts.October 26, 2009
While at Hunton & Williams, Professor Scott Thompson twice received the E. Randolph Williams Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service, given annually to attorneys who log a minimum of 100 hours of pro bono work during a given year. During the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 fiscal years, he performed pro bono work for the Alliance Defense Fund, primarily in research and writing. He also handled a number of pro bono matters for individual churches and indigent clients.
Among the more memorable cases that Professor Thompson handled on a pro bono basis were:
Representing a taxi cab driver in a lawsuit brought by a local attorney who had failed to pay his cab fare because he was so drunk and then filed suit against the cab driver for malicious prosecution when he called the police to help him collect his fare.
Representing a first-time home buyer against an unscrupulous seller who attempted to have the buyer’s security deposit forfeited after the seller purposely delayed the home closing to beyond the agreed-upon contract closing date.
Representing a church against a local zoning board that was trying to evict it from its premises.
Professor Thompson continues to handle occasional pro bono cases, saying, “As Christians, we are called upon to be servants. Christ commands us to serve, as well to defend the widows and orphans. I see my pro bono practice as one way that I can serve those who are in need. When I get paid for my work, it’s hard to see it as service. There is nothing wrong with getting paid for what you do and for the service you provide; but when you help those in need with no expectation of getting paid―either because they can’t afford to pay you or because you believe in the justness of their cause and will defend it whether you ever get paid or not―it is very rewarding. When David bought the field of Araunah the Jebusite to offer a sacrifice to stop the plague that the Lord had sent for his disobedience, he said, ‘I will not offer burnt sacrifices to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.’ (2 Samuel 24:15-25) Similarly, I believe that my pro bono practice is an act of service to the Lord and it should therefore cost me something.”
To current students Professor Thompson says, “Developing an attitude of service now will make it easier to continue to serve once you actually begin practicing. The pressures of a full-time legal job will always try to squeeze out the opportunities for you to give back to those in need. Those who are able to make a commitment to serving now, even in non-legal or quasi-legal areas, will find it easier to continue serving throughout their careers.”