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Columnist Praises Pro Bono Lawyers for Taking On Pro-Military and Constitutional Cases

Posted Aug 24, 2012 8:45 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A federal appeals judge recently criticized what he perceived as an undue emphasis by this country's pro bono lawyers on pursuing higher-profile cases that display an antipathy toward the military. Meanwhile, he contended, rank-and-file service members have legal needs that go unserved.

But there is, in fact, a program that provides such lawyers for ordinary enlisted men and women, writes Andrew Cohen in an Atlantic post.

It's the ABA Military Pro Bono Project.

Helping members of the military with cases that don't make headlines, volunteer lawyers donate their services to help with landlord/tenant disputes and family law matters, among others. They should be praised, Cohen writes--just like the attorneys who represent defendants in other types of cases.

"The men and women who represent the detainees on grand constitutional issues like habeas corpus and due process deserve no less praise for their professional sacrifice than the men and women who are working pro bono to help our troops get divorced, or to avoid civil judgments, or to see their kids via visitation rights," says Cohen. "Instead of criticizing the charitable choices our attorneys make, we should instead be grateful that they've made the choice at all to sacrifice their time to help other people in need."

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Legal Analyst Creates SCOTUS Nominee Short List: All Lawyers with Military Background"

Atlantic: "Federal Judge Trashes the Legal Profession for 'Antipathy' Toward the Military"

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