Remember the beggar in Fiddler on the Roof? When a struggling tradesman turns him down, the beggar asks, “So if you had a bad year, why should I suffer?” I wonder what the beggar’s comeback would be to his predicament this year — when lawyers declare that they are having too good a year to give.

In our flush times, charities are now hearing law firms complain that they are too deluged with paying work to spare associates for pro bono projects. Officials at nonprofits have heard that line before, of course, though few remember greater generosity during the lean times. But now the charities have begun to hear an ominous new line as well. It goes: Gee, with these new salary raises, associates need to spend so many hours just paying their keep that they don’t have any time left over to devote to pro bono.

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