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Who’s afraid of pro bono? Seems like almost everybody in the legal profession. Many lawyers consider pro bono work indentured servitude and claim it violates the thirteenth amendment. Others imply there’s often too much access to justice, rather than not enough. “If people don’t pay their rent,” wrote Open Court contributor George M. Kraw a few weeks ago, “they’re going to get evicted no matter how many wealthy lawyers trying to avoid false gods on the path to lawyer-nirvana show up to defend them.” (“Pro Malo Publico,” S.F. Recorder, August 25, 1999.)

Law schools, where it all ought to start, argue that pro bono work is simply too expensive. Solos argue they have their hands full trying to scratch out a living. And many big firms, slaves to the billable hour, publicly extol the virtues of providing free legal services, while simultaneously discouraging their own attorneys from performing them.

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