That’s the comment from “James” in response to an ABA Journal Weekly story about New York’s new “pro bono” requirement for would-be attorneys. I couldn’t agree more. There are lots of people who could use lawyers if those lawyers could make a decent living (and pay off their debts) at reasonable rates.
Some of the other comments:
“Has any lawyer out there ever considered that Judges should NOT have control of your profession?” — Citizen1
Well, yes. The fact that the government requires lawyers to have a government license to appear in front of government employees while representing people involved in disputes with the government has always struck me as a little odd.
“While I do believe that there is value in law students being required to go out and actually experience practicing before being licensed as attorneys, the fact that the government is seeking free labor that will likely result in a permanent loss of certain public-sector entry-level positions has not gone unnoticed.” – Esq.
Actually, I hadn’t thought of this, but it’s a good point. Why pay people when you can make them work for free?
“A law license is no more a privilege than a house or a boat or anything else you earn. A court ought not be able to attach its own pet social concerns as a condition to practicing law.” — SlipKid
Maybe we should require everyone who applies for an OTR truck driver’s license to do 50 hours of free work hauling stuff to food banks as a condition of getting the “privilege” to drive a truck.
Not sure that pro bono assistance of unlicensed, inexperienced lawyers is that much of a benefit. Practicing on the poor? The obligation to do pro bono work should be shouldered by someone who has a license and experience. — Douglas J. Monahan
Wouldn’t it be better to have graduates of less expensive unaccredited schools who specialize in helping poor people provide these services, rather than mandating unmotivated law students to do it as a condition of getting their ticket punched?
As various commentators point out, supervising 500,000 of “pro bono” hours given by utterly inexperienced lawyers every year is going to be expensive. Somebody is going to have to pay for that. If it’s the law schools, it means that new lawyers will spend even more for their degrees, which will make them even less able to work for poor people. My school has a mandatory “pro bono” requirement for graduation. It costs money to run. It may be money well spent, but it’s not free.
Among the people we know won’t be paying for this are Judge Lippman and his court system. But I’m sure they’ll feel good about it.