USJF Comments opposing Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

Michael Harless Administrative Law

There is an effort underway by elements in the federal and state judiciary and leftist lawyers and lawyer groups to increase political controls over lawyers — on whom the American people rely on to protect their interests.  Some states are trying to force lawyers to devote free legal services to favored classes of persons.   Historically, this proposal has been a cover for the misuse of law reform, class actions, emboldening the courts to legislate social policy.  And even when it extends legal services to the poor, it frequently does so at the expense of the middle class.

We worked with the U.S. Justice Foundation to oppose such an effort in Virginia to impose mandatory pro bono work reporting by filing extensive comments against the proposal.  In the end, the proposal was defeated both by the Virginia Bar Council (on a vote of 29 to 25) and its Executive Committee (on a vote of 6 to 4).  While the Virginia Supreme Court will have the final say, one would hope that the justices would respect this vote by refusing to take any action on this flawed proposal.

Link to comments