New lawyers in New York must do first 50 hours of work for free
Top Judge Makes Free Legal Work Mandatory for Joining State Bar:
Starting next year, New York will become the first state to require lawyers to perform unpaid work before being licensed to practice, the state’s chief judge announced on Tuesday, describing the rule as a way to help the growing number of people who cannot afford legal services.
The approximately 10,000 lawyers who apply to the New York State Bar each year will have to demonstrate that they have performed 50 hours of pro bono work to be admitted, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said. He said the move was intended to provide about a half-million hours of badly needed legal services to those with urgent problems, like foreclosure and domestic violence.
Something about this plan doesn’t sit well with me. In theory the idea has merit, but the potential drawbacks: fewer bar applicants, inexperienced lawyers doing pro bono work and fraud potential, could do far more harm than good.
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