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Students Forced to Work For Free - But Only For Liberals?
Under a new rule, law students - regardless of where they studied - who want to practice law in New York State must perform at least 50 hours of unpaid (pro bono) service, a requirement most will probably try to satisfy under law school programs.
Many law schools have programs where students pick from a list of organizations they would like to volunteer to work for, or work with a law professor on a public interest project. But if the majority of the organizations on a list, or a majority of professors at a law school, are liberal or favor liberal causes, the very significant minority of law students with opposing leanings may find few if any choices when they go to sign up, or even find out that their favorite organization is not on the list of approved work assignments.
So, says Banzhaf, a student who wants to work to strike down a law banning gay marriages may find several compatible legal advocacy organizations he can work for to satisfy the pro bono requirement, while a student who wants to defend such laws, or strike down law permitting gay marriages, may find that the cupboard is bare.
Similarly, students who want to work to undo environmental regulations they believe are unwise and ineffective, or to protect Catholic universities and other institutions from being required to provide free birth control pills, may not be able to do so - and could conceivably have to settle for work on the other side of these and other issues.
Prof. Banzhaf is urging all organizations generally regarded as conservative or libertarian, traditional religious groups, and any organizations which advocate causes which are not popular on college campuses to check with area law schools to be sure they and their legal projects are included in any law school programs which students may want to use to satisfy this new pro bono requirement.
Otherwise, warns Banzhaf, these groups may soon find themselves overrun and outgunned by law student required to provide at least 50 hours of legal assistance to their opponents.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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