Carole Pasternak

Carole Pasternak is a partner at Klampe Law Firm where she has been practicing for over 20 years. In addition to her practice, she spends her professional time volunteering for Legal Assistance of Olmsted County, where she currently holds position as board chair, as well as logging hours with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services and the Volunteer Lawyers Network. Through her work with Legal Assistance of Olmsted County, she has spent a heightened portion of her time regularly representing family law clients. With an extensive and impressive resume, it can be hard to imagine finding time to invest in pro bono work. How does Pasternak do it? Well, she just doesn’t separate the work. 

‘I don’t make time – my pro bono cases are just part of my caseload, they get the same attention as all other cases.’

With this mindset, it’s no wonder that she has been honored as a North Star Lawyer for the past ten years – an honor that few attorneys have achieved. Pasternak, no doubt, invests much of her time into pro bono work, but why is it important to her? She responds,

‘First, attorneys have specialized knowledge about the court system and such knowledge should not be inaccessible to those who cannot pay for an attorney.  Next, providing pro bono assistance is an asset to the court system as it allows the court to operate more efficiently.  Third, pro bono work provides an opportunity to learn an area of law with the assistance of a mentor.'

Advocacy is clearly at the core of the work that Pasternak engages in, and she urges others in the legal community to think the same.

‘Finally, most of my pro bono clients truly appreciate my efforts and I know that I am providing a way for my client to know their rights and allow them to be confident in their decisions on how to proceed through their case.’

Pasternak also receives what she gives, acknowledging the opportunity for educational growth through pro bono work. Working with the assistance of a mentor in the past, she was able to learn something new that she could use in her law practice outside the usual confines of her specified field of practice. Outside of pro bono work, she also urges her colleagues to make legal aid part of their annual giving.

‘Whether its donating money directly, attending a fundraiser, donating items for auctions, etc.  Every donation counts. ‘

Pasternak’s work reminds us to slow down, take in our surroundings and work towards giving back. She leaves us with this call to action:

‘While attorneys may say they are too busy to take pro bono cases, the recommended 50 hours per year is just one hour per week. Take advantage of the opportunity to share your knowledge, alleviate a burden on the court system, learn a new skill, and change someone’s life.  We all have an hour per week for that.’

Inspired by Carole Pasternak? Visit Pro Bono Opportunities to find out how you can make volunteer work a pivotal part of your practice.