Lawyers' Pro Bono Service and American-Style Civil Legal Assistance

By Emrey, Jolly A. | Justice System Journal, May 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Lawyers' Pro Bono Service and American-Style Civil Legal Assistance


Emrey, Jolly A., Justice System Journal


Rebecca L. Sandefiir, "Lawyers' Pro Bono Service and American-Style Civil Legal Assistance," Law and Society Review 41 (June 2007): 79-112.

Using the most recent data available (1997), the author examines trends in pro bono service across the United States and discusses these trends in light of professional regulation, market control, and positional conflict. Increasing demand for civil legal services among lower-income Americans has created many consequences for the American legal profession. Many legal scholars have noted that the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which was created to provide civil legal assistance to the poor, has not been able to keep up with demand for a variety of reasons, especially the lack of funding and consequently lack of staff. In addition, legal scholars have cited the growth of pro bono work on the part of private law firms both small and large and the simultaneous growth of nonlawyer organizations seeking to fill this gap.

Sandefur finds that pro bono activity varies by state and that the use of nonlawyer organizations for legal help is conditioned by the size of a state's bar. For example, the more large firms present in a state and the more lawyers per state capita, the more likely that indigent litigants will have access to lawyers for pro-bono civil legal assistance.

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