December 30, 2008
One Benefit of the Economic Downturn: More Attorneys Engaged in Pro Bono Work
From the ABA Journal article Law Firms Switch Idle Lawyers to Pro Bono Work:
"There is at least one benefit to the economic downturn: More lawyers are volunteering for pro bono work. Several law firms have switched lawyers experiencing idle time to pro bono work, the American Lawyer reports. The magazine says these law firms are among those making a change:
• Dechert, which has moved seven associates to full-time pro bono work because of a slowdown in structured finance.
• Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, which has increased pro bono hours.
• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where pro bono hours have risen to 85 hours per lawyer through September, compared to 69 hours per lawyer last year.
• Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where new associates have more free time than usual to devote to pro bono."
Another Journal article Not Enough Legal Work to Go Around? What About Low-Income Clients? recounts how ABA President-elect Carolyn Lamm urged firms to consider placing idle lawyers on pro bono matters:
"One possible approach, said Lamm, a partner at White & Case in Washington, D.C., would be to work with law firms to create programs that assign lawyers to handle cases for low-income clients rather than let them go altogether. She acknowledged that lawyers assigned to such work would be likely do so at salaries far below what they were making at firms previously."
Meanwhile, the Journal continues to document the downside of the recession: Law Prof Predicts More Big Law Firms Will Collapse in ’09 and More Law Firms Likely to Freeze Associate Salaries, Consultants Say
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