Monday, April 16, 2007
We linked a few days back to the Colloquy feature of the Northwestern University Law Review, which is running an online discussion about mandatory pro bono. So far Tom Lininger (Oregon) has commented on Deborah Rhode's proposal. As advertised, Sam Bagenstos (Wash. U.) has a rejoinder and, I have to admit, the teaser before the break had me laughing out loud.
Not to put too fine a point on it: Professor Lininger thinks Professor Rhode wimps out. Her "heart is in the right place," but she too readily draws back from proposing mandatory pro bono service. In this brief response, I want to up the ante. If Professor Lininger thinks Professor Rhode is a wimp, I think they're both hopeless goo-goos. We currently have a system of civil rights enforcement that harnesses the profit motive of plaintiffs' attorneys to encourage the prosecution of violations of civil rights laws. That system may seem crass and disreputable to those who believe that lawyers should bring civil rights actions out of the goodness of their hearts (perhaps while singing "Kumbaya" or, for those of a more lefty persuasion, "If I Had a Hammer"). But it's the best system of civil rights enforcement we've found.
Colloquy promises a surrebuttal from Professor Lininger. How will he respond to being called a hopeless goo-goo? Stay tuned. But in the meantime, ask yourself the question, would the articles editors have allowed the phrase "hopeless goo-goo" to have graced the pages of the hard copy of the Nw. U. L. Rev.? I don't know, but hope to be commenting on this issue in the near future.
One further note. Professor Bagenstos' footnote explaining the derivation of "goo-goo" is at best cryptic. My son, Matt, attended a concert given by the Goo Goo Dolls at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, so that may be a connection.