Lauren Paley ‘98, '99, ‘02-06 is a New York alumna who graduated from George Washington University. Lauren initially went to college with the intention of being a journalist; she had even taken time off from school to work for a news service. However, working as a counselor from ’02-’06 and working with other non-profits ignited her passion in non-profit management. As it turned out, the news service was a nonprofit too, where her reporting work quickly changed to grant writing.
After returning to college and taking up a part-time job at a law office, Lauren learned about the pro bono work of many law partners there. The law firm job was meant to just help pay bills while in school, but it led her down a path that ultimately shaped her career.
Lauren currently works at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center where she helps match community nonprofits and small businesses in the Washington, DC area with free legal assistance. “Nonprofits and small businesses are the back bone of a healthy community," Lauren says. "They offer essential services to the public and are the top job creators toward a thriving local economy.”
However, paying for an attorney can significantly deplete the funds a nonprofit needs to keep programs running or a business needs to grow on start-up capital. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center runs classes on legal basics, brief advice clinics where organizations can meet with attorneys for the day, and a match program that creates long-term relationships between lawyers and organizations. Attorneys from large law firms, solo practices, the federal government, and local corporations all donate their time through the Pro Bono Center to help these small businesses and nonprofits. Lauren adds that, “When I hear people get frustrated about Washington, DC, I like to tell them about the Pro Bono Center and remind them that public service is alive and well in this city!”
Lastly, we asked Lauren for one piece of advice she would like to give to our younger alumni. She stated, “Sometimes we’re so narrowly focused on the ‘right way’ toward our goals, we prevent ourselves from trying unrelated experiences. It’s okay to try out things that aren’t part of the plan. Some may not stick, but often you’ll be surprised.”