Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New York's mandatory pro bono requirement might take work away from small firms and solos

From the New York Law Journal:

Past the Bar: Unintended Consequences

New York's new rule requiring 50 hours of pro bono service prior to admission to the bar threatens to displace small firm and solo practitioners out of even more areas previously handled by lawyers, albeit for smaller fees.

For example, a prominent New York firm is aiming to send junior associates out to Long Island and the other boroughs to handle child support collection cases to satisfy its pro bono mandates.

At first glance, the proposal seems a good idea and one beneficial to the public's interest. After all, child support non-payment is an inherent problem and enforcing child support obligations is an enormous task for overworked Family Court support magistrates.

Junior associates need the pro bono hours prior to becoming lawyers, and in any event, New York's new rules also now require voluntary disclosure of pro bono hours (NYLJ, May 1, 2013). Law firms like to have their associates garner some kind of courtroom experience (and since the typical large firm does not allow a first-year to even sniff a courtroom), so why not let them get some experience at no risk to the firm.

. . . .

But flooding the market with attorneys-to-be who simply need to get their pro bono hours out of the way is inviting problems for nearly every one involved.

. . . .

Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Professor Eric Young.



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