It appears that would-be law students aren’t turned off by the prospect of mandatory pro bono work.
Well more than half the 750 pre-law students surveyed in June by Kaplan Test Prep—68 percent to be exact—said they support a rule requiring law students to complete a certain amount of pro bono work before being admitted to the bar.
New York is the only state with such a requirement; starting in 2015, applicants to the bar there must have competed 50 hours of eligible pro bono work. Meanwhile, officials with the State Bar of California are preparing to impose a 50-hour pro bono requirement and a New Jersey Supreme Court panel has recommended a similar rule.
The reception given the New York rule when announced in May 2012 was mixed. Proponents viewed the mandate as a good way to provide much-needed legal services to those who can’t afford to pay market rates, and real-world experience for students; to critics, it amounted to indentured servitude for financially taxed law students.
In other findings, the students surveyed appeared less interested in traditional lawyer jobs. A full 56 percent reported that they planned to use their law degree for non-traditional lawyer jobs, up from 50 percent among a similar survey group in February. The tough job market for new lawyers was the single biggest factor cited by those who not aspiring to a traditional law job.
Moreover, 79 percent said that legal education “needs to undergo significant changes to better prepare future attorneys for the changing employment landscape and legal profession.”