It’s a natural match, worth duplicating in most states. New lawyers, often without jobs, and needing experience and MCLE credits, and litigants desperate for attorney help.
Kudos to the NY Courts and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Fern Fisher, an innovate, perceptive and strategic leader, for thinking of “Bridge the Gap.” New lawyers take a program and get all their new lawyer CLE requirements for the year met, and in return they agree to participate in a 50 hour pro bono supervised practicum.
As the press release puts it
Over 130 recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys have signed up for this pilot initiative, closing registration and creating a waiting list weeks before the program begins. “We are delighted that there is so much interest in pro bono service among new lawyers. The fact that this program was over-subscribed so quickly indicates that there is an untapped and valuable resource among this group. Our hope is that involving attorneys in pro bono service early in their careers will encourage long-term commitment to public service within the profession. All participants in the program will gain invaluable experience while helping some of New York’s most disadvantaged civil litigants obtain access to justice.” said Administrative Judge Fisher.
Its obviously important that the practicum be supervised, and this is another example of how building up a comprehensive pro bono infrastructure can play large ongoing dividends. Its about much more than referral, but having a system of training and finding the right slots customized to the volunteers needs.