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It’s been nearly a year since the New York State court system announced its first-of-its-kind 50-hour pro bono requirement for new attorneys. No state has followed suit yet, but that may soon change. Leaders of the State Bar of California are poised this fall to adopt a similar rule, while a task force of ­judges, legal educators and attorneys in New Jersey is weighing the merits. Any move by California could well have a ripple effect throughout the country.

"Obviously California’s interest is heartening," said New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who conceived of the state’s requirement. "I think if you have the two biggest states in terms of lawyers, that covers a lot of ground as far as new attorneys in this country. When you look at the next five or 10 years, I think this will be the norm in the United States."

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