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California Pro Bono

Pro bono: are lawyers leading the way?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

 Working at the National Pro Bono Centre I get to observe a large portion of the organised pro bono activities undertaken by members of the legal profession. One of the first things that struck me when I started working as a caseworker at LawWorks was the scale of the volunteer work done by lawyers. It seemed so impressive. But I was unwilling to accept that these lawyers did it just out of the goodness of their hearts. I thought, surely there’s something in it for them?

Well, it’s probably true that pro bono lawyers fall into two categories: those that do the exciting test cases, and those that take on the ‘mundane’ cases likely to interest only a likeminded pro bono lawyer who falls into the same category - even then it’s questionable. I imagine that part of the appeal for those doing the exciting cases lies in the fact that they get to explore a groundbreaking point of law, gain publicity, or expand their practice in some other way. However, only they can enjoy those benefits of pro bono. Because, after all, who will be interested in hearing about the way in which a lawyer helped a newly married couple with their boundary dispute, or spent the afternoon explaining the rules of limitation to someone who fails to understand why their case was decided without having the opportunity to present their evidence - sadly, these are the sorts of cases that come up time and time again.

 

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