Lippman Announces Pro Bono Requirement for Bar Admission

, New York Law Journal

   |19 Comments

Starting in 2013, prospective lawyers must show that they have performed at least 50 hours of law-related pro bono service as a requirement for admission to the New York state bar, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said yesterday.

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What's being said

  • BarbaraMay

    Chief Lippman realizes that the genesis of this country was fueled by the outrage of widespread injustice that was suffocating the non-rich, aka poor. Our country is precipitously approaching the same state. If a law student does not feel any personal responsibility for "justice for all", and yet still pursues a law degree, then helping a poor person may expose how many injustices get forced upon the poor through no fault of their own other that they cannot afford an attorney. Unrepresented decisions often become obliterative, unfair orders that can destroy people's life's, their hope, their very survival. Worst of all, these people cease to believe in justice, they become angry, resentful, and they will direct all this at monied citizens. If this situation snowballs, we will be ripe for a revolution. Sound extreme? Ahh, maybe, but the preventive remedy is "and justice for all".!

  • geTaylor

    Did I hear "MANDATE"?

  • Think About It

    "My belief is that mandatory pro bono for the entire bar is not workable because there are so many different categories of lawyers, so much different geography, lawyers who can't make a living on what they are doing now." How are any of these relevant to whether current lawyers should have to do mandatory pro bono? Different Categories - Law students don't have a category of practice to begin with Different Geography - New JDs from, say, California have to abide by the same requirements if they plan to sit for the bar Lawyers Who Can't Make a Living On What They Are Doing Now - As if 3Ls are making a ton of money

  • Blammm

    It's ridiculous that the Committee on Character and Fitness has the discretion to judge your character on the basis of what work you decided to perform while in law school. Imagine if you got rejected from the bar after passing the exam because some administrator didn't like what you volunteered to do.

  • Blammm

    I am one year out of a Tier 1 Law School and have been already admitted to the Bar in my state so I am saying this as a person who would not be affected by the regulation. It is grossly unfair to treat new lawyers this way. The economy is in the tank. NO ONE is hiring 1st Year Associates and the cost of law school continues to skyrocket, leaving graduates with obscene amounts of debt with no way of repayment. I understand that law firms are businesses that will only hire when it is profitable. But to outsource pro bono to law students unvoluntarily as a condition for admission is an abdication of our personal responsibility to provide these services regardless of our seniority. Many of them are not even covered by malpractice insurance while they are not practicing. If this mandate persists, I feel that it would be similarly appropriate for the bar to mandate that all law firms hire a certain number of new associates each year.

  • lawyerwoman

    Makes more sense to alleviate strain on these poor new lawyers who are graduating with tons of debt and no prospects of a job, rather than impose more burden on them! As it is there are stupid rules imposed on them. Who decreed that bar must be in july,causing bar courses to start before graduation? For kids out of state they have to move back to nys early or miss bar class or graduation!! Now they are also forced to find pro bono placement from public interest organizations which have no incentive to hire non -experienced kids too? Did mandating extra ethics exam make for more ethical lawyers? Or mandating multistate exam make smarter lawyers? Why doesn't Lippman mandate pro bono for big firm partners who walk around as if they are the masters of universe? It would be good for them.Leave these poor law grads alone. They have enough on their plate!!! Why doesn't Lippman poll lawyers as to these crazy ideas!!! His administrative board rubberstamps because they need things from him.

  • M

    What other licensed professionals in New York have to give away their services--doctors, accountants, therapists, architects, etc. etc.? While pro bono is noble, performed with passion by those committed to helping the poor, I doubt compulsory pro bono will be performed in the same manner -- and I suspect will not be of the same quality.

  • DKK

    Totally agree with LawyerMom and Lefkowitz. And think about it, how much good can a NON-lawyer do for "poor people" ? Make copies of a brief? Type it up? Maybe do some research? Enforced and unpaid labor is all this is, and just another way to take from people that which does not belong to the government.

  • M

    What other licensed professionals in New York have to give away their services--doctors, accountants, therapists, architects, etc. etc.? While pro bono is noble, performed with passion by those committed to helping the poor, I doubt compulsory pro bono will be performed in the same manner -- and I suspect will not be of the same quality.

  • MJS

    There is no greater good than to give those who have been silenced through circumstance a voice to fight for justice.

  • Ratkellar

    The concept is a nice idea; I do not think it will be workable or do much good. If laws were not so complex, the poor and disadvantaged would not need so much "legal" assistance. Facts and fairness are no longer sufficient; procedures and fine print are the rule.

  • Mr.PC

    If you're not yet admitted to the bar it might be a little more difficult to accumulate law-related pro bono hours.

  • Lawyermom

    In my view it is unfair to require even more financially uncompensated time from our new lawyers. At this time most law school graduates are incurring large debt in the form of student loans. Most work/clerk during the summers, sometimes with pay, sometimes without. Those who would seek to continue their training after law school through a very low paid clerkship may not be able to do so under the current requirements as they cannot afford to defer their debt. Currently, those with high debt--sometimes in the vicinity of $200,000--cannot afford to take government positions because of the low pay. Historically, government positions have provided excellent training for many lawyers. In my view, the pro bono requirement more properly should be imposed upon currently admitted lawyers, especially those who are billing $1,000 per hour, beginning with those who have been admitted the longest. It is those folks who need to be reminded that not everyone lives a life of privilege. It is also critical that the requirement be fulfilled by the lawyer him/herself, and not by an associate of the firm.

  • Lefkowitz

    How much pro bono work does he do every year? Government taking advantage of lawyers again. This is just a fancy term for slavery. They could never get away with this against any other group.

  • Jane

    My law school had a pro bono hours requirement. From what I recall, it was not very difficult to fulfill because most clinics counted, as well as many summer public interest jobs. I would imagine if a student does not want to do any clinical work (assuming this would count for the new NY requirement) and also does not want to spend a summer doing public interest work, it might be a bit more difficult.

  • Ah yes, another tired effort by a democrat political hack to impose taxes. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, the problem with socialism is that pretty soon you run out of other people's money to spend.

  • Dunewood Truglia, Esq.

    Judge Lippmann, you have way too much time on your hands.

  • lawyerwoman

    Having law students do pro bono services with organizations requires immense supervision and resources of the organizations who have bare bones resources. These students have no clue as to substance of poverty law, where the courthouse is, and can't go to court. The organization will have its resources sucked dry by taking and training them for 50 hours so there will be little incentive to take these very very short -term volunteers and these kids will have trouble finding placements--causing them more stress. Feel bad for these kids - no full time jobs and now they have to compete for this too!!!! Having worked for such organizations, i know. Great PR for Chief Judge but it is added strain on public interest organizations. Also law students are under enormous pressure now with the equivalent of mortgages they can't pay and no jobs. Charge extra 5 dollars to take bar and give it to public interest organizations instead!

  • w. adam mandelbaum

    Isn't it grand how generous others are with the time and effort of lawyers who actually have to make a living. Now, prior to admission to a profession which does its level best to destroy itself, supplicants to the altar of this adversarial arena can learn what involuntary servitude is all about.

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