Thursday, August 03, 2006

A common problem, eh?

A very telling quote from a very different system: "But it gets to a point where you'd rather do no work than work that's trivial."

Ontario has strict limits on billing and hours for legal aid lawyers, to the point that many lawyers are getting out of the system. In part, it's because it's simply not economically possible to make a living doing it, and in part because of the reasons behind the above quote. Eventually, if you're just going through the motions and are so limited by regulation that you can't represent the client fully, is it really worth doing at all?

There are a number of programs, from loan assistance/forgiveness to increased salaries, designed to make a public interest career more attractive to law school graduates. In NY, though, changes have been slow to develop, either at the state level or in each individual agency. Aside from the money, though, I think there's a very important question for lawyers in the field about the value of the work being done. If a legal services lawyer got into the business to help people or "make a difference", he or she isn't likely to stay long once the feeling of usefulness passes.


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