New York Pro Bono Requirement

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Long title: 
Lippman's Law: Instilling Public Service Values through a 50 Hour Pro Bono Requirement for Bar Admission
Author(s): 
Hansford, Justin
Author(s)' contact information: 
Saint Louis University, USA
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
USA
Year: 
2014

The New York Bar recently became the first jurisdiction in the United States to mandate that all bar applicants complete 50 hours of pro bono service before becoming eligible to practice law. Other states have begun to follow suit, and the movement to require mandatory pro bono for bar applicants seems likely to continue to spread across the country. More and more, states may adopt this requirement as a way to help the profession bridge the gap in access to justice, provide more practical skills training, and instill in aspiring lawyers a more public service oriented sense of professional responsibility.
In light of this new requirement, a number of questions arise. Is it justifiable to seek to instill a more public service oriented ideal of legal professionalism in the hearts and minds of soon to be admitted members of the bar, or should the practice of law be understood primarily as a business? What should count as pro bono for the purposes of this requirement? This paper argues that this new requirement should promote pro bono in the areas of economic justice, racial justice, and voting rights, as part of a justifiable effort to promote an understanding of the practice of law as a higher calling and a commitment to equal justice under law.

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