Statement of City Bar President Carey R. Dunne on Chief Judge Lippman’s Proposal for a Pro Bono Scholars Program

The New York City Bar Association applauds Chief Judge Lippman’s initiative to establish a Pro Bono Scholars program, permitting students to take the New York State bar exam during their third year of law school and gain accelerated admission to the Bar, as long as they use the latter half of that third year to provide full-time legal services to the poor. This initiative is consistent with the recommendations in the recent report of the City Bar’s Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession, which urged that law schools seek to provide “practice ready” lawyers and that the third year of law school provide practical experience or otherwise better prepare graduates for their legal careers. The Chief Judge’s plan would accomplish these goals while addressing another crucial concern: providing legal services to the vast numbers of people who, despite the best efforts of legal services providers and the Bar generally, are unable to gain access to legal services and thus either do not pursue their legal rights or try to do so on their own. Studies show that increasing access to civil legal services provides the added benefit of saving the State money. We look forward to supporting the Chief Judge in undertaking this effort.