Saturday, November 17, 2007

Forced Pro Bono Service for Lawyers

Kip from A Stitch in Haste has a discussion about what he sees as the ultimate result of socialized medicine: forced provision of medical services by doctors- also known as forced labor, or in his view, slavery. To prove that this is not pure hyperbole, he points to a recent decision out of Arizona in which the 9th Circuit upheld a program in which lawyers with at least 5 years service are required- if asked- to act as arbitrators. The compensation for the selected attorneys is a whopping $75 a day- or about 10-30 minutes worth of billable time for most attorneys.

This is similar to a program that exists here in NJ, in which we attorneys are required to provide pro bono services whenever the state so asks. Except in NJ, the program is even worse than the Arizona program: to my knowledge, attorneys selected for the program don't get reimbursed at all, except for, if you're lucky, out of pocket expenses made as a result of the program. Worse yet, all attorneys are required to pay a fee- over and above regular bar dues- to cover the "administrative expenses" of the program. So, quite literally, attorneys here in NJ are forced to pay for the right to be forced labor!