Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

Pro bono legal work - what's fair? Regarding "Should lawyers be required to work for free?" (Jan. 13): What an interesting about-face is being executed by the general public, as reflected in the issue of mandated pro bono (free) legal services being considered by the Colorado Supreme Court.

For years the public has vilified attorneys. Now the public cries out for enforced labor by the legal profession, and the courts follow the mob by bowing to social popularity more often than exercising independent judgment.

Enforced pro bono work deprives an attorney of the traditional right to refuse a case in which he does not believe. From my experience in a private law practice for more than 30 years, I have observed that pro bono work is performed by the vast majority of attorneys in private practices. Often this is at the request of a community leader, such as a local minister. Or it comes about by serving on a charitable board or acting as counsel, without pay, for a community endeavor. Why shift the burden which society has created (of offering pro bono legal services) from society to the attorneys? Let society pay for its principles by diverting a small portion of its tax dollars to fund the various Legal Aid Societies and then place the burden on the Legal Aid Societies to use their finite resources to identify and serve those that are truly in need of free services. Another idea would be to offer attorneys tax credits for volunteering time for free legal services. Richard Corash Staten Island, N.Y. After reading the entire article, I do understand the position of those promoting the concept for mandated pro bono work. However, it should go far beyond lawyers. It isn't fair to require a particular group of people to contribute because of their expertise - one that they have earned through their own sweat and resources. Instead of limiting such a requirement to any group of people, I suggest that such an expectation be placed on all Americans. …

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