Thursday, June 30, 2011

As Profits Rise at BigLaw, Pro Bono Plunges - Law Blog - WSJ

As Profits Rise at BigLaw, Pro Bono Plunges - Law Blog - WSJ

It’s the stuff of cynicism.

Many corporate law firms justifiably tout their commitment to providing free legal aid to the poor.

But last year, as AmLaw 100 firms enjoyed solid profitability growth overall, their pro bono output declined.

Many lawyers, it appears, were too busy representing paying clients to counsel non-paying ones. That is the conclusion drawn by the American Lawyer magazine in its just-released July pro-bono issue, which can be viewed (click on link to view).

Charity was in relatively short supply last year, according to AmLaw, which reports a 10.8% decline in the average number of hours lawyers at the 100 highest-grossing law firms spent on pro bono work. The plunge reverses a decade of steady growth in pro bono output among those firms.

“The fact is that associates do the heavy pro bono lifting at big firms, and those [associates] who survived the recession layoffs found themselves loaded up with paid work in last year’s turnaround,” said AmLaw editor Robin Sparkman.

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