Recommendation for law school pro bono aspirational guideline supported by ABA

In addition to its own recommendations, the American Bar Association's (ABA) Standing Committee for Pro Bono and Public Service (Standing Committee) last Friday indicated its support of Equal Justice Works' effort to build into the standards a 50-hour aspirational pro bono goal for students that would mirror the guidance offered to attorneys in Model Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1.

In a memo to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the Committee wrote, "The Standing Committee has reviewed comments submitted by others regarding current Accreditation Standard 302(b) and its interpretation, 302-10. The Committee supports the recommendation of Equal Justice Works that the Accreditation Standards be modified to incorporate a 50-hour aspirational guideline, consistent with ABA MRPC 6.1."

"Law student pro bono is a means to instill in every law student the responsibility that the ABA demands of every attorney - the responsibility to play their part to ensure equal justice for all, by helping to provide equal access to all," said David Stern, executive director of Equal Justice Works. "We commend the ABA for its continued work to strengthen and promote law schools' commitment to pro bono."

Last month, Equal Justice Works launched Law Students for Pro Bono, an initiative driven by hundreds of law students and graduates from across the country. In less than two weeks, more than 600 students and graduates signed a petition asking the ABA to create an aspirational goal for law schools to promote students' participation in 50 hours of pro bono service.

"Most students enter law school with a desire to use their law degree to help make our society more just, and they support a pro bono requirement." said Stern. According to the National Law Journal, 68 percent of 750 pre-law students surveyed by Kaplan Test Prep this past June "support a rule requiring law students to complete a certain amount of pro bono work before being admitted to the bar.

"The student response to the Law Students for Pro Bono campaign has been incredible," Stern said. "Students from across the country have come together to ensure that schools are imparting upon future lawyers the values that are core to the legal profession."

To learn more about Law Students for Pro Bono, visit www.lawstudentsforprobono.org.

Published: Wed, Feb 5, 2014

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