more people are struggling financially; more people need legal services to cope with foreclosures, evictions and credit and employment problems that could push them into long-term poverty; and state and federal financing for legal services has plunged.
So New York has imposed a requirement that all applicants to the New York State Bar have to perform 50 hours of pro bono to be admitted. Some people aren’t happy:
But his latest measure may prove more controversial, some of his admirers said, because it wades into a fierce debate among lawyers over whether mandatory pro bono service is the right solution — and because it could hit the pocketbooks of young lawyers at a time when they are struggling to find jobs. Judge Lippman and the court administrative board have the power to do so because, unlike in many other states, the New York court system, and not the bar association, sets the requirements.
“Lawyers do not like to be told what to do,” said Esther Lardent, president of the Pro Bono Institute, a nonprofit group that works with law firms to improve their pro bono services. “I worry about poor people with lawyers who don’t want to be there.”