Sunday, October 17, 2004

On pro bono

Tort et travers has this post which says among other things that every year he must report to the Florida bar the number of his pro bono hours. The post continues with a discussion about whether pro bono work is a good thing.

I have no doubt that pro bono work (as I understand it) is a good thing, that the legal aid organizations cannot cover all the unmet needs of the poor, and that many country lawyers (like me) do a fair amount of pro bono work almost in spite of themselves.

In Virginia, the VBA now is administering the Community Service Program, one goal of which is to develop data about the pro bono activities of the members of the Virginia State Bar. I've heard this program described about 10 times now, and the first 2 or 3 times I had no particular sense of what it is that makes anyone excited about it. The last few times I've thought (including Thursday and Friday) that perhaps I would like to sign up so that when the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

When I was a somewhat younger lawyer, I did some court-appointed criminal work, the point of which I must confess was more to get experience in the courts than anything else. In the course of that work, some of my clients became my friends, and they still call on me from time to time to help them with their legal problems, which are remarkable in quality and quantity. I think that counts as pro bono work; maybe it doesn't.

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