Tuesday, September 6, 2016

California Governor vetoes bill that would have imposed mandatory pro bono for newly admitted lawyers

Citing the fact that many law graduates are facing high debt, California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have required recently admitted lawyers to complete at least 50 hours of supervised pro bono work within their first year in practice.  The Governor stated that “Law students in California are now contending with skyrocketing costs—often more than $200,000 for tuition and room and board —and many struggle to find employment once they are admitted to the bar.  In this context, I believe it would be unfair to burden students with the requirements set forth in this bill.”  Opponents of the proposal had argued that the duty to perform mandatory pro bono work should not be imposed on brand new lawyers because they are the least able to handle the imposition of working for free.

Over at Above the Law, Jeff Bennon sees the issue differently.  Commenting on the Governor's basis to veto the bill, he says that "[it] is, of course, ridiculous, because if you can withstand 100-plus weeks of legal education, adding five more 10-hour days is not going to push anyone over the edge."  But then he adds that the Governor "was right to veto the bill though, because it was stupid, not because it would burden students."  He argues the proposal is "stupid" because the supervising lawyers do not want to supervise newly admitted lawyers for the mandatory 50 hours and that the newly admitted lawyers would not get much out of the experience either.  In other words, the proposal does not really benefit anyone.  You can read his comment here.

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