Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Lawyer Shortage for the Poor

A few weeks ago, I wrote that, although many lawyers today could not find work, there was still a severe lawyer shortage for the poor.  There is an article in the New York Times on this subject.  The article states:

Half of the people who seek help from legal aid offices are already turned away. Some offices are so understaffed that they must engage in triage, so that in, say, domestic abuse cases, they will only assist someone seeking a restraining order against a violent partner if that person is in immediate danger of being hurt again.

The article also states:

There is plenty the government, the legal profession and others can do to improve this shameful state of affairs. With the economic downturn, only around two-thirds of law school graduates in 2010 got jobs for which a law degree is required, the lowest rate since 1996. That leaves the other third — close to 15,000 lawyers — who, with financial support from government and the legal profession, could be using their legal expertise to help some of those who need representation.

As the article argues, we need to match these out-of-work lawyers with the needs of the poor for legal services.  Perhaps some of the merit scholarships that are currently being given out by law schools could be redirected to those who promise to go into public law positions.


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