New York will be the first state to institute such a requirement, which will take effect starting next year. New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the requirement May 1.
Since then, lawyers have been discussing the pros and cons of the rule. Some say it won’t do anything to help needy clients and unnecessarily burden incoming lawyers. Others contend it will turn new lawyers on to pro bono service.
Bloomberg BNA asked lawyers around the country what they think.
Ben Trachtenberg, professor at the University of Missouri School of Law: “While I completely appreciate the motive behind Chief Judge Lippman’s plan, and there’s a tremendous access to justice problem, I don’t think this is a particularly effective or fair way to solve the problem.”
Michael Millemann, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law: Chief Judge Lippman’s decision to require 50 hours of pro bono service for admission to the bar is a good step in the right direction.”
Robert N. Weiner, partner, Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.: “The issue is whether there will be enough resources to ensure that the people doing the pro bono are getting supervised, and getting to represent the right clients, and actually serving their clients The existing infrastructure will need to be supplemented dramatically to have the capacity to accommodate all this pro bono service.”
Questions remain about the implementation and organization of the requirement (some lawyers even want to extend the rule to existing lawyers) and the New York State Bar Association has created a task force to address the issue. What impact New York’s move will have on other states also remains to be seen.
Do you think Maryland should make pro bono work a prerequisite for admission to the bar?