It’s not that providing legal services to the poor isn’t a worthy policy goal. However that worthiness does not vindicate any old policy nominally intended to serve that end, particularly if said policy either (a) doesn’t actually help achieve it, or, worse, (b) actually undermines it.
Such is the case of the rule promulgated by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, head of the New York court system and, by extension, the New York Bar. Beginning in 2012 this rule will require prospective applicants to the bar to have performed 50 hours of pro bono work to be eligible for admission.
While the goal of providing legal services to the poor is laudable, this rule is anything but. Not only will it fail to truly serve the constituency it purports to benefit, but it will also result in the deprivation of legal services to even more people by ultimately raising the their costs even higher than they already are.