If the goal is equal access to justice, as it must be, the pro bono efforts of lawyers are relatively insignificant. Despite years of exhortation by an impressive assortment of judges and bar leaders and the addition of increasingly strong aspirational language in professional rules,' an abysmally small percentage of lawyers engage in pro bono representation. According to the best national estimate, lawyers provide on average less than a half-an-hour per week of assistance to the poor. Staff attorneys from federally-funded legal aid programs provide most of the civil legal services available to low-income clients. The pro bono efforts of private attorneys supplement the work of the legal aid offices. But even legal aid and pro bono efforts combined only serve, at best, twenty-percent of the civil legal needs of the poor. Not only is the situation unlikely to improve in any significant way in the future, it may be getting worse.
Blaze, Douglas A.
"Toward Equal Access to Justice: Rethinking the Role of Law Schools,"
Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://trace.tennessee.edu/tjlp/vol2/iss1/4