Pro-bono counsel – Civil rights focus

Lawyers at many of the biggest U.S. law firms who do some free “pro bono” work tend to do it for liberal causes, a new study says.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a conservative and libertarian group, analyzed causes represented on a pro-bono basis by top firms, National Review reported March 14.

About 23 percent of the 80 firms for which data are available support civil-rights work, nearly all of it on behalf of groups that support “preferences,” such as the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Review said.

Nineteen firms listed groups involved with “reproductive rights,” “family planning,” or “abortion rights,” said the study, which the Federalist Society says is the “first comprehensive survey” of the types of groups receiving pro-bono support.

Jonathan Ross, chairman of the standing committee on legal aid and indigent defendants for the American Bar Association, criticized the study’s conclusion.
”Characterizing this as a liberal or conservative issue is the wrong w ay to go about looking at it,” he told National Review. “Lawyers tend to give their time in public-interest law to groups with whom they have some affinity or interest. I don’t know of any law firms who select clients for pro-bono work based on ideological criteria.”

For full story, go to National Review.

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