Mandatory Pro Bono for Admission: the Domino Effect?

The New Jersey Law Journal┬áreported late last week that New Jersey is considering implementing a mandatory pro bono requirement for admission to the New Jersey Bar. Chief Justice Rabner and the New Jersey Supreme Court have requested an evaluation of New York’s recently released rule requiring all admission seekers to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service before they can be admitted to the bar.

New Jersey has convened a 16 member group to conduct the evaluation headed by Judge Glenn Grant, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts. The group also contains members of the law school community, legal services, the Courts, the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and other organizations.

With this new development does it seem probable that more and more states will begin to consider similar mandatory pro bono requirements for admission to the bar? Both before and after the release of the details of New York’s rule there was much debate and controversy both over the decision to implement such a rule and the possible ramifications. If more states are to follow suite what approach should they take to implementing their own rule? Should the rules be more narrowly tailored or more relaxed?

A recent Thomson Reuters News & Insight article explored the question of whether New York’s rule will have significant impact on the justice gap it aims to close. Should the likelihood of actual impact be considered during the evaluation process for New Jersey and for states to come? Or should practicality of implementation be the driving force? What other issues should states consider when determining whether to implement such a rule and if so, what that rule should say? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

~Adrienne Packard

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