Recession and Altruism

With American law firms shedding lawyers by the hour, things sound all doom and gloom down there. But CNN has picked up on a positive side effect of the firm layoffs: it’s an unprecedented opportunity for many lawyers to take up public-interest work.

“There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity coming out of a difficult situation,” said Esther Lardent, president of the Pro Bono Institute in Washington D.C., who began discussions this month with at least 15 corporate firms nationwide about placing unemployed attorneys in public interest firms.

Who knows, maybe this recession will even boost the legal profession’s reputation.

(Credit to David Carson for initially tweeting this story)

2 Comments on "Recession and Altruism"

  1. If only there was a Canadian equivalent to the NY but with physicians onside. The workers who are still working need it more than ever! And the injured, well in Ontario/Canada forgeddaboutit.

  2. I wouldn’t describe that as a “positive side-effect”. This is what I read:

    (1) Big firms, largely dependent on big finance or corporate litigation budgets, are slashing their staff levels in order to stay in business.

    (2) Select big firms decided to offer select associates cut-rate stipends to warm seats in NGO’s and non-profits, on the hopes that the trough will soon re-fill and they can return to the firm …maybe.

    (3) Some NGO’s and non-profits are accepting these contingent short-term bodies because NGO’s and non-profits are always over-subscribed.

    (4) This, it is said, “could transform the legal profession”.

    Perhaps the altruism referred-to is that extended to the associates, who at other firms are simply being heaved over the side? I don’t see where altruism comes into the picture at all for the NGO’s and non-profits.

    As to boosting the legal profession’s reputation — only wishful-thinkers within the profession itself would be fooled by this development.

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