Pro Bono

Lawyers Urged to Take on More Pro Bono Work to Offset Increase in Demand for Legal Services

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As the nation’s economy continues to lag and more and more people are heading to the courts without counsel, lawyers are being urged to take on more pro bono cases.

Legal Services Corp. plans to make recommendations next month about how to get more lawyers involved in providing free legal services.

“There’s a crisis in this country,” John Levi, board chairman of Legal Services Corp., tells the Associated Press. “Courthouses are being filled with people just showing up, trying to figure out what their rights are. If you’re a low-income person and you have a legal need, it is not easy to get it addressed.”

The AP also notes that the increase in pro se litigants is slowing down court dockets because of a lack of understanding of process.

The recommendations will come from a 58-member task force of judges, attorneys, law school deans and industry experts looking to address access to legal services issues. Less than 20 percent of the legal needs of low-income people get addressed with the help of a private lawyer or legal aid lawyer, according to the LSC.

While the AP, citing an American Lawyer magazine story saying pro bono has decreased at large law firms, ABA President Laurel G. Bellows says overall, the ABA is seeing more lawyers stepping forward to assist low-income parties.

“The need is extraordinary,” Bellows is quoted saying. “You not only have the poverty level community, but also the middle class community. We’re really very proud of our lawyers because they’re stepping up to the plate and helping more people who need assistance.”

Also see: ‘Idaho County to Hire Lawyer to Assist Pro Se Litigants” “Legal Aid Providers Expected to Lay Off 350 Lawyers, Scale Back Services”

ABA Journal: “Upward and Onward: ABA Initiatives Continue to Educate and Inspire’

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