Ella Shenhav explains the importance of pro-bono service at every point in one’s career

By Rachel Wise

The Student Leadership Development Committee hosted its final luncheon of the semester on April 18 with Ella Shenhav, a partner at the Tampa office of Shutts & Bowen LLP, presenting.

Ella Shenhav.

Ella Shenhav.

Shenhav received her B.A. from the University of South Florida and later earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2009.

During the luncheon, she engaged with students and spoke about the importance of helping others through pro bono service.

“Leadership in the service context means developing the kind of relationships with people that convinces them you’re not going to throw them in the water without a flotation device,” Shenhav said.

Shenhav serves as the executive director of the Tampa branch of Project H.E.L.P., Homeless Experience Legal Protection, which brings attorneys, law students and legal staff together to provide legal assistance to the Bay area homeless population.

“Sometimes I feel like a personal trainer,” she explained. “I tell everyone, ‘You should really do some pro bono. All the paperwork’s there. You’ll feel great afterwards.’”

In her first job at a large law firm, Shenhav explained that she wanted to effectively contribute to her team, so she completed more than 400 hours of pro bono service to gain experience in her field and learn more about the real-world practice of law. She encouraged students to do the same and get involved with pro bono sooner rather than later.

“You can coach people and help them to a point where they feel so comfortable with pro bono that they almost become addicted to it,” Shenhav concluded.