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Lawyers volunteer less – Pressure for billable hours

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Big U.S. law firms are doing a lot less free “pro bono” work for people who can’t pay, Bloomberg news reported Aug. 17.

A July survey by American Lawyer magazine found roughly 50,000 lawyers at the 100 highest-grossing law firms in the U.S. averaged eight minutes a day, or about 36 hours a year, on charitable cases in 1999.

That’s down from 56 hours in 1992, when the magazine starting tracking volunteer time at firms, Bloomberg said, quoting The New York Times.

American Bar Association guidelines call for lawyers to perform at least 50 hours a year of pro-bono work.

Only 18 firms in the survey met or exceeded that guideline.

Pro bono work has declined in the face of growing business that outpaces what firms can handle.

And lawyers are under pressure to increase their billable hours to pay rising salaries.

For full story, go to Bloomberg.

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