Question of the Week

Should All Lawyers Be Required to Do Pro Bono or Monetarily Contribute to Legal Services Offices?

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Many readers and law bloggers had a strong reaction to last week’s Law Day announcement by New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman that all would-be lawyers will have to perform 50 hours of pro bono before they can get a law license in the state. Most who had something to say or write saw some flaws in the plan.

The American Bar Association Model Rule 6.1 states that “a lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.” Some companies have created structured pro bono programs to make it easier for lawyers to give back. And, undoubtedly, some lawyers want to and are able to do pro bono without built-in requirements or incentives.

So this week, we’d like to ask you: Should all lawyers be required to do pro bono or monetarily contribute to legal services offices? Is it more just to let each lawyer make that call for himself or herself, or would such a requirement do more good than harm? Do you have an alternative idea that would do a better job of helping to meet the legal needs of the poor?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: What Continues to Inspire You About the Practice of Law?

Featured answer:

Posted by Becca: “I have on a shelf in my office a shoebox in which I keep all those things that remind me, on the bad days, why my job really doesn’t suck. It contains thank-you letters from clients, copies of particularly satisfying judgments, newspaper clippings in which my name is actually spelled correctly and I wasn’t misquoted, pictures of children whose adoptions I handled, and notes from colleagues I admire. The best item in it: a heartfelt letter from clients (a married couple), whose case was lost at the summary judgment stage, thanking me for all my hard work on their case and for believing them even when it felt like no one else did.”

This week’s question was submitted by Renae Reed Patrick. Do you have an idea for a future question? If so, contact us.

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