Nation’s Top Law Firms Contribute More Than $2 Billion in Legal Services to the Poor

Ed Poll, a national expert in law office management, has an excellent article in this month’s edition of Law Practice Today about a phenomenon rarely mentioned anywhere: the staggering amount of pro bono legal services that are collectively provided by U.S. lawyers. Noting that the media like to focus on how much money lawyers make – including specifically mentioning a book called “Lawyers Gone Bad”– Poll notes that that law firm profitability has made it possible for lawyers to provide free legal services to the poor at an impressive level. 
Citing data from the Pro Bono Institute, Poll says:
. . . in 2009 (the last year for available figures), at the height of the recession, 134 of the nation’s top law firms performed 4,867,820 hours of pro bono work, an increase of nearly 24,000 hours from 2008. The total translates to nearly $2 billion in free legal services, or the equivalent of 3,100 full time lawyers - almost the same as the number of full time salaried legal services attorneys in the U.S.  And of course, that does not include the countless solo and small firm lawyers who do likewise. Hard to call them “lawyers gone bad.”
Hard, indeed. 

Posted: 5/24/2011 2:39:22 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 1 comments

One needs to survey the results of pro bono work to see if these lawyers are delivering zealous representation or something else entirely. Mediocrity or worse for the poor should not be rewarded.
6/3/2011 2:49:55 PM

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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