We here at Big Debt received the following email this morning from The Posse List, an online tipsheet that forwards upcoming doc review gig information to desperate ....lawyers trying to scrounge out a living. Or should we write, used to forward such information. Past tense is appropriate in many conversations about the law, one quickly finds. Like a relative with Stage IV cancer, the legal industry is essentially a dead man walking, with most lawyers already earning less than plumbers, garbage collectors, and truckers (and that’s assuming you can find paying work at all, which is the biggest of ifs.)
Lately the projects have been few and far between, thanks to the ABA (American Biglaw Association) outsourcing domestic legal work to India. (The most recent project advertised was by an agency called Juristaff. This project required NY bar admission, 6-12 months electronic discovery experience, featured mandatory 60 hour weeks, and paid a whopping $23 an hour with no time and a half for overtime). Needless to say, the project was fully staffed within 45 minutes. Yet despite this glutinous saturation NY State is considering the addition of three additional taxpayer-funded law schools!
But back to this morning’s email:
The Posse List New York — Pro Bono Opportunities
New York Posse List Members:
Interested in helping underserved New Yorkers who cannot afford legal representation?
Want to maintain and improve your skills and acquire new skills? * Need Free CLE credit?
There are many reasons for contract attorneys to do pro bono and there are many pro bono opportunities in New York. Clearly there is a serious need for pro bono legal services in New York. In a recent report, the Office of NY’s Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives stated that the supply of publicly funded legal aid and pro bono services is “entirely inadequate” to meet the need. In addition to the obvious need, pro bono work is also a great opportunity for contract attorneys to maintain and improve their skills & acquire new skills, work directly with clients, network and get free CLE credit. (CLE credit is available for pro bono work in NY State).
This email highlights pro bono resources, as well as opportunities that may be well-suited for contract attorneys who have time off between projects or otherwise (some pro bono work may not be appropriate because of time-commitment, requirements of particular pro bono legal service providers).
Note that patience is required for finding the right pro bono opportunity. The need is great but some legal services organizations that put together pro bono work are understaffed in their pro bono programs and swamped with volunteers because of the state of the economy. Persistent matters and the right opportunity will happen! "
Hilarious, ain’t it? “Swamped with volunteers!” When’s the last time you heard of a pro-bono plumber, or a pro bono auto mechanic? Both these services are more expensive per hour than the average ....lawyer, but their trade organizations don’t seem eager to replace your faucets or spark plugs for free, do they? Instead, these folks realize that when a large section of a trade decide to work for free, it grossly devalues the service and makes it that much harder for others to earn a living. Besides, most of the lawyers doing pro bono are probably poorer than those they purport to assist!
“Pro Bono” work is little more than a relic from the days when being a lawyers was an elite and lucrative profession, not a race-to-the-bottom industry full of overpriced gutter schools and Biglaw cabals who send work offshore to increase their already repulsive profit margins.
What does it tell you about the state of the legal industry that people clamoring to work for free can’t even find the “opportunity” they desire? Who would spend 100 K+ and three miserable years of their life to enter an industry “swamped” with hordes of people just dying to work for nothing?
Here’s a novel idea: how about pro-bono law school administrators, or pro bono law professors? Surely given their obscene salaries and benefits that would make a CEO blush, these folks could do a couple years on the house and donate their earnings to scholarship funds, no?