David Udell, director of the National Center for Access to Justice has an excellent summary on his blog, here, of the NJ proposal for a bar admission pro bono requirement.
Among the differences from NY are limitation to programs and projects serving low income people, inclusion of “law school community education projects,” and allowing the work to be done prior to the date of admission, rather than prior to application for the bar.
This idea is spreading very quickly. It will be interesting to see if it impacts long term pro bono participation. Indeed, the NJ proposal includes an evaluation to be done in two years.
Pro bono is not an adequate answer to the access to justice problem in the United States. We need more fundamental change. If the bar associations can’t fix the problem of affordability of legal services by 85% of the US population, they need to step aside and let real system wide innovation do its work. I am tired about hearing pro bono as an answer to the access to justice problem. It’s a very limited solution, and grounded in bar association politics.