Where Equal Justice Begins: Mandatory Pro Bono in American Legal Education
22 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2006
Attorneys have a long history of voluntarily providing legal services free of charge to the indigent. Such service is a tenet of the Anglo-American tradition of lawyer professional responsibility. Mandatory pro bono, by contrast, has been reviled by many in the legal profession as a contradiction in terms and, even worse, as tantamount to involuntary servitude. Mandatory pro bono programs in American law schools, however, are on the rise, in part because they advance the aspirational and pedagogical goals of law schools in many ways. In this Essay, we reflect on the role of mandatory pro bono in American legal education, relate how mandatory pro bono at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law evolved from an idea to a reality in less than one year and analyze the data emerging from the two years since the program was implemented. In the course of our examination of how the spirit of pro bono became part of the educational mission and culture of Texas Wesleyan, we call upon other American law schools to adopt pro bono graduation requirements.
Keywords: Legal education, pro bono service
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