Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Jerry Brown Vetoes 50-Hour Pro Bono Mandate For California Bar Admission, Citing 'Skyrocketing' Costs Incurred By Students Who 'Struggle To Find Employment'; Instead, Focus Should Be On Lowering Costs Of Law School And Bar Exam

California State Bar (2014)Veto Message (Aug. 29, 2016):

I am returning Senate Bill 1257 without my signature.

This bill requires an applicant for membership in the State Bar to complete at least fifty hours of supervised pro bono legal service. It also requires that a practicing lawyer or law professor supervise the student.

I certainly support law students and lawyers providing pro bono legal services. Some law schools already promote volunteerism and pro bono service in various ways and many employers also require a certain amount of pro bono hours for associates and clerks. While I commend the author for his desire to further these efforts, I don't believe a state mandate can be justified.

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.

Instead, we should focus on lowering the cost of legal education and devising alternative and less expensive ways to qualify for the Bar Exam. By doing so, we could actually expand the opportunity to serve the public interest.

Legal Education | Permalink


When your lefty institution has lost Jerry Brown...

Posted by: cas127 | Sep 2, 2016 5:42:57 PM

He-he! Better to have the rubes work for you, not work for the rubes.

Posted by: Ivar Ivarson | Sep 2, 2016 3:50:09 PM

Wow. A politician with a good idea. You don't see that everyday.

Posted by: Chris P. | Sep 1, 2016 6:06:36 PM


Posted by: Daniel Bryan | Sep 1, 2016 1:57:01 PM

One is tempted to propose mandatory pro bono for law professors, but that's just mean-spirited towards the indigent. "Um, let's see, the interstices of International Shoe and the Rule in Shelley's Case means that you probably have a claim against your landlord for not shoveling the sidewalk. Um, take this casebook down to that courthouse place and show page 753 to the magistrate."

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 1, 2016 1:10:55 PM

Instead, Brown wrote, the state should focus on lowering the cost of legal education.
“By doing so, we could actually expand the opportunity to serve the public interest,” he said."

Double teaching loads. Reduce faculty and administrator headcount. Pass along savings to students. Mic drop....

Posted by: Anon | Sep 1, 2016 11:25:17 AM