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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 19 (2001) For the Public Good

Why Lawyers Should Do Pro Bono Work

Stephen Parker is Professor and Dean of Law at Monash University

Parker discusses a range of arguments why lawyers should be involved in pro bono activities; irrespective of whether the expectation to do pro bono work arises from a compulsory scheme, or a scheme officially encouraged by professional bodies, or the individual lawyer's preferences. The arguments are grouped under the headings of practical, tactical and ethical. It is suggested that the practical and tactical arguments provide a reasonably strong basis for expecting lawyers to undertake some pro bono work, but they are not over-whelming. On this basis, a compulsory or quasi-compulsory scheme would be difficult to justify, or may not be enthusiastically implemented. The rationale for pro bono work must therefore be supplemented by arguments that have their basis in ethics or social responsibility. Parker argues that a new conception of a lawyer is needed before ethical arguments can be marshalled that are compelling and capable of being instilled through education and training. He suggests the basis of this conception might lie in the acknowledgment of lawyers as a public rather than private profession.

Comment: Lawyers as Social Entrepreneurs
Michael Liffman
Comment: Pro Bono Lawyering in the 21st Century
Fiona McLeay

(2001) 19 Law in Context 5
Keywords: Lawyering

   
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