In order to graduate from my Law School, we are required to log in at least 40 hours of pro bono legal work.
I have nothing against pro bono work. I am all for helping the down-trodden, the needy, and the evicted. I am not, however, down with the fact that they place these real life issues in the hands of inexperienced and clueless law students!
I have a friend who, in her first year of law school, worked with people who got evicted and interviewed them and filed their legal paperwork. She admitted that she wasn’t really sure what should have been done. She just followed “protocol” at the legal aid foundation she was working in.
Another friend filed taxes for the elderly. He said he just blew off his tax training (and got the answers from the certification test from a friend who had already previously taken the test) and just followed the charts and worksheets that the tax assistance program gave him. He wasn’t quite sure about what he was doing, either.
I also have friends who are only volunteering to pad their resumes for jobs in the summer.
Furthermore, I have friends who work as advocates for the disabled, but are really only logging in hours to get “pro bono out of the way.” My 3L friends, especially, are just eager to get it done and graduate.
I still haven’t decided what to do for my pro-bono work. I’m already half-way through law school. I’m wary enough that I don’t want to add more responsibility to what I already have on my place, but also still idealistic enough that I really still genuinely want to help people.
I came to law school an idealist — I want to help people know that they stand a chance — but am slowly becoming a bitter realist. Not everyone really stands a chance. Altruism is dead.
And it’s even worse when required pro-bono hours result in half-ass work from clueless law students who haven’t taken all the classes they really neeed to do the job right.
[ end rant. ]
PS. I might work in a family law clinic…cuz, y’know…i STILL have to log in those hours.