Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Proposal asking ABA to mandate law student pro bono service fails to gain favor

A proposal to follow the lead of the New York Court of Appeals by creating a national, mandatory pro bono requirement for all students attending ABA accredited law schools didn't gain much favor with the ABA accreditation committee during its meeting last week according to this report from the New York Law Journal.

It appears that a New York-style pro bono requirement for law students won't be going national anytime soon.

Several organizations and legal leaders have asked the committee that is updating the American Bar Association's law school accreditation standards to add a 50-hour pro bono requirement, but that idea got a chilly reception from the committee at its most recent meeting on Nov. 16 and 17.

None of the nine committee members in attendance endorsed the idea, which generated only a few minutes of discussion. Those who took a position said that requiring a certain amount of pro bono work is outside the scope of the ABA's accreditor role.

"My own thought on this is that meeting the need for legal representation should not be the goal of accrediting law schools," said committee chairman Jeffrey Lewis, a dean emeritus and law professor at Saint Louis University School of Law.

Erica Moeser, a committee member and the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, agreed.

"I don't think the [ABA's accreditation standards] should be used by anyone as a vehicle for good works," she said.

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