Five Career Firsts Thanks to Pro Bono

By Emily Ellis, Esq.

I can’t imagine selecting only five things about pro bono that I love. Instead, I’d like to share five career firsts, thanks to the pro bono matters I’ve had the opportunity to work on.

The first time I . . .

1. Went to trial

Nowadays, most cases settle on the courthouse steps. I had just become okay with this when my CAP pro bono matter was set for a termination of parental rights trial. Because our client desperately wanted to terminate ties with her father, my co-counsel and I geared up for trial. While there was no Perry Mason moment, we gained amazing experience through the trial and terminated the father’s rights.

2. Argued before the Supreme Court of

I never imagined I would get the opportunity to argue in front of the Supreme Court of Nevada within my first years of practice. When you agree to represent a pro bono client through the Nevada Supreme Court Appellate Pro Bono Program, oral argument is guaranteed. After briefing the appeal, our oral argument was scheduled in a high school auditorium with hundreds of students. This was not an ordinary day in court, but it provided me with my first-ever appellate oral argument and is a memory I will not soon forget!

3. Witnessed everyone smiling in court

While normally one party walks out of a courtroom upset at the outcome, every person is grinning from ear to ear after witnessing a child find his or her “forever home.” If you agree to represent a child in need, you could be a part of this amazingly happy day in court for the child and parents.

4. Was surprised by a client

Through the Legal Aid Center, I worked closely with my client to apply for protection under the Violence Against Women Act. Later, while walking in a fundraiser for my son’s illness, I got a beautiful surprise—my client had volunteered after learning of my son’s disease. To say I was moved, that would be an understatement.

5. Visited jail

I always wanted to help the wrongly accused. In representing an inmate pro bono and seeing his release due to our team’s efforts, I was able to do just that. While client meetings at the jail were not traditional, this pro bono experience was like no other.

About the author
Emily Ellis

Emily Ellis is partner in Brownstein’s Litigation Department, focusing on complex commercial litigation. She is the Las Vegas chairperson of the firm’s Karma Committee, a firm-wide committee focused on community relations and involvement, sits on several non-profit boards, and is passionate about offering pro bono legal work through the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

About this article

This article was originally published in the “Five Things” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (January 2021). See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2021/communique-january-2021/.

© 2021 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

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