What an outrage!
Starting next year, New York will become the first state to require lawyers to perform unpaid work before being licensed to practice, the state’s chief judge announced on Tuesday, describing the rule as a way to help the growing number of people who cannot afford legal services. The approximately 10,000 lawyers who apply to the New York State Bar each year will have to demonstrate that they have performed 50 hours of pro bono work to be admitted, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said.
I believe it is wrong to require people to perform services on a nonvoluntary basis, but let’s put that to the side. Notice what this rule does. It imposes an obligation only on those applying for the bar, but not on existing lawyers in New York. Thus, the Chief Judge and the other senior members of the bar don’t have to do anything. All of the obligations are imposed on the young (and possibly on those moving to the state). Notice that if the obligation were imposed on all lawyers, it could be greatly reduced from 50 hours to probably less than 5.
Yes, the best way to require charity is to impose the obligation on someone other than yourself. Why doesn’t the Chief Judge impose the obligation on himself and on others his age? Somehow, I don’t think he would be too popular with his peers, but I am guess that many of those peers will cheer the imposition of this obligation on someone else.