2nd Circuit Chief Judge Says Pro Bono Work is ‘Anti-Social’
Posted Oct 15, 2008 9:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The chief judge of the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blasted pro bono work as “anti-social” and “self-serving” at a Federalist Society meeting this week.
Judge Dennis Jacobs contended pro bono work is an “anti-social” activity that is sometimes used to expand courts’ reach into legislative matters, according to a Daily Record (sub. req.) account summarized on Legal Blog Watch and the American Constitution Society Blog.
Jacobs said pro bono work is used by law firms to recruit associates and develop their skills, according to the account. The pro bono lawyers honor each other “sometimes over and over again” without taking responsibility for the impact of their work, he said.
He cited one case in which his former law firm, Simpson Thacher, represented a tenant known as the “bird lady” because of her unhealthy collection of birds, prompting criticism from New York’s governor, the story said. Another case brought by an environmental group held up a levee project before Hurricane Katrina struck.
Legal Blog Watch points out that Jacobs is among the judges who solicited lawyers to become members of the 2nd Circuit’s own pro bono panel.