Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reason #188: 500,000 Hours

Beginning next year, New York will be the first state in the nation to require that law students complete pro bono work prior to passing the state Bar Exam. The new program, put forth by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, mandates at least fifty pro bono hours for each of the ten thousand annual bar admissions, which translates into 500,000 hours' worth of free legal services for the public.

Even some people working in the legal aid field are as yet uncertain how best to incorporate these students into their current operations--and as someone who works at a law firm, I can attest that 50 hours of one attorney's time doesn't always result in an abundance of progress--but most seem to welcome the measure, not only for the good it will do for people in dire need of competent representation, but for the aspiring attorneys themselves, in the form of a stronger focus on serving the public; potentially affecting the culture of the legal profession as well as the raw statistics.

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