f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 7, 2005

pro bono meets pro humbug

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:50 pm

Either my permidementia is really getting out of hand, or the

Summer 2005 edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin arrived really

late — because, I swear, it was stuffed in my mailbox today, along

with the December 2005 edition of Washington [DC] Lawyer. [update:

8 PM: sorting through the rest of my mail, I found an invitation to

a museum opening scheduled for Sept. 18, 2005, and an AARP

life insurance offer that needed a response by Oct. 4.  It seems

I’m not going crazy — the Summer edition of HLB really did arrive

today.]

 

I first looked through Washington Lawyer, and was pleased to see

an extensive cover article on “Government Attorneys and Pro Bono

and also a column by DC Bar President John C. Cruden on the topic. 

I hope this coverage will encourage government managers and individual

staffers at all levels of government to expand and encourage participation

in pro bono programs.  (My pro bono work almost three decades ago was

so satisfying that it got me to leave government and antitrust and focus

on mediation and children’s advocacy.)

 

Inspired by the Washington Lawyer pieces, I was discouraged by what   HLBgiving

I saw in the Alumni Letters section of the Harvard Law Bulletin.  In response

to articles in the Spring 2005 HLB, and particularly its backcover, there was

this Letter from HLS student Aaron S. Kaufman (Class of 2006):


The Other Side Uncovered


I am somewhat upset about the back cover of the Spring 2005

issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin, with the full-page photo of Suma

Nair and the quote, “I’m glad there is a pro bono requirement. It brought

me back to why I came here in the first place.” 

 

It misrepresents the views of most law students who very much resent

the law school telling us that we must work a certain number of hours

pro bono. Pro bono is supposed to be something that a lawyer wants to

do, not something that is imposed on us as a prerequisite to graduation.

While I doubt, for political reasons, that you’re going to put a full-page

picture of me on the back of the Bulletin saying, “I truly resent the pro

bono requirement,” I would appreciate if you make some sort of apology

or emphasize that Ms. Nair’s views are atypical. Or at the very least,

please present views on the other side of the issue.

Aaron S. Kaufman ’06
Cambridge, Mass.

HLBgiving  f/k/a covered the Giving Back edition of HLB here, where we noted:


The latest edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin (Spring 2005) features a

cover that reads “Giving Back: Harvard Law School wants all lawyers

to get involved in public service.”   I recommend “Sowing the seeds of

public service at HLS”, as well as “Requirement connects law students

to the practice of public service, which  describe the HLS pro bono require-

ment, its purpose, and the flexible ways it can be fulfilled.  The program,

which apparently helps attract some of the very best students, hopes to

make even the most skeptical student see how fulfilling it can be to make

public service a part of your life (by following your bliss).  There are some

good anecdotes.

I hope the skeptical and “somewhat upset” Mr.Kaufman has mellowed on this

topic. 

 

 

 






small town news

just enough paper

to cover the wino

 

 

 

 

 

city sunset

two men prowl the ruins

of a burned out house

 







scales rich poor

 








thunder

the migrant workers

never look up

 

 

laid off

she asks the mall santa to

bring dad a job

 

 


 

 

p.s.  Do you think it is deceptive for a solo practitioner to call

his or her law practice a “firm”?  How about calling it “The Law

Offices of . ..”?  See this article in Washington Lawyer, and

this post at MyShingle, with comments.

 

 

 


the rookie cop rousts

an old hobo —

feeding plump pigeons

 

    dagosan

                                                                                                  coin plate

 

6 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    I saw that you commented on the Washington Lawyer story on federal lawyers and pro bono. The story suggests that Clinton’s Executive Order of 1996 opened the door to allow federal lawyers to handle pro bono, but in reality the effort began back in 1989 and was in fact, started at least partly by my efforts.
    Back in 1989, I worked for FERC and enlisted as a pro bono attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. I soon discovered that federal attorneys, particularly those in Washington DC were very limited in pro bono matters that they could handle by virtue of 18 USC 205, which prohibits government employees from handling matters (even w/out compensation) where the US government and (at that time, DC) are a party. Of course, as you might expect, I ignored the law and took on whatever pro bono cases I wanted (hopefully the statute of limitations on prosecution has run by now!). But since I knew that most lawyers would not be as cavalier as I was back then, I also wanted to see the law changed. So I contacted the Administrative Conference of the United States and one of its staffers suggested that I write an article about the issue. So I did, first and wrote my first law review article “When Helping Others Is A Crime: Secton 205’s Restrictions on Federal Attorneys Pro Bono Representation, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Spring 1990.
    http://www.law.georgetown.edu/journals/ethics/title.html#w
    (as an aside, my article was also part of a proof of concept that anyone can get published in a law review) After my article was published (also in a shortened version in the Federal Bar Journal) several other law professors wrote similar pieces and the topic became the subject of some committee or another which eventually amended the statute so that federal attorneys could at least represent pro bono clients in matters where the DC government was a party. And at that point, many government agencies, including DOJ started to develop pro bono policies, eventually culminating the Clinton Executive Order and the work described in the Washington Lawyer.
    Carolyn

    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — December 8, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

  2. Hi David,
    I saw that you commented on the Washington Lawyer story on federal lawyers and pro bono. The story suggests that Clinton’s Executive Order of 1996 opened the door to allow federal lawyers to handle pro bono, but in reality the effort began back in 1989 and was in fact, started at least partly by my efforts.
    Back in 1989, I worked for FERC and enlisted as a pro bono attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. I soon discovered that federal attorneys, particularly those in Washington DC were very limited in pro bono matters that they could handle by virtue of 18 USC 205, which prohibits government employees from handling matters (even w/out compensation) where the US government and (at that time, DC) are a party. Of course, as you might expect, I ignored the law and took on whatever pro bono cases I wanted (hopefully the statute of limitations on prosecution has run by now!). But since I knew that most lawyers would not be as cavalier as I was back then, I also wanted to see the law changed. So I contacted the Administrative Conference of the United States and one of its staffers suggested that I write an article about the issue. So I did, first and wrote my first law review article “When Helping Others Is A Crime: Secton 205’s Restrictions on Federal Attorneys Pro Bono Representation, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Spring 1990.
    http://www.law.georgetown.edu/journals/ethics/title.html#w
    (as an aside, my article was also part of a proof of concept that anyone can get published in a law review) After my article was published (also in a shortened version in the Federal Bar Journal) several other law professors wrote similar pieces and the topic became the subject of some committee or another which eventually amended the statute so that federal attorneys could at least represent pro bono clients in matters where the DC government was a party. And at that point, many government agencies, including DOJ started to develop pro bono policies, eventually culminating the Clinton Executive Order and the work described in the Washington Lawyer.
    Carolyn

    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — December 8, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

  3. Thanks for the history lesson, Carolyn, and even more for your efforts to make pro bono possible for federal lawyers.

    Comment by David Giacalone — December 9, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

  4. Thanks for the history lesson, Carolyn, and even more for your efforts to make pro bono possible for federal lawyers.

    Comment by David Giacalone — December 9, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

  5. Where are the ethics in how the legal community educates itself? When will we fix the miserable mess it is for all involved?

    http://accuracyblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/law-school-story.html

    Comment by Chris Laurel — December 11, 2005 @ 10:02 pm

  6. Where are the ethics in how the legal community educates itself? When will we fix the miserable mess it is for all involved?

    http://accuracyblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/law-school-story.html

    Comment by Chris Laurel — December 11, 2005 @ 10:02 pm

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