Chemerinsky Defends Merits of Pro Bono Work
Judge Dennis Jacobs, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s upcoming School of Law, released opposing statements about the ethics of pro bono work.
Jacobs reportedly denounced the merits of pro bono legal work at a Rochester Federalist Society meeting on Oct. 6. He stated in his speech that pro bono work can have “anti-social effects” and is often “self-serving.” He claimed that pro bono work is often abused and used to promote ulterior agendas, train newer lawyers and assist in recruiting for large firms.
On the other hand, Chemerinsky responded in an article for the National Law Journal protecting the merits of pro bono work. Chemerinsky writes, “I work hard to encourage my students to use their legal training to make society a better place and to help those who cannot afford legal services.” Chemerinsky also expressed the fear that Jacobs’ statement would discourage law firms from supporting legal volunteerism.
Jacobs, however, claims to have been taken out of context. As reported by the Wall Street Law Blog, Jacobs clarified that his speech “identified abuses” in the pro bono system and that he “supports, endorses, and solicits pro bono work.”
Part of the planned curriculum for UCI’s School of Law will be experiential learning projects involving students in real cases under close supervision by faculty, typically in the interest of the community or pro bono.
Local Professors Show Support for Professor Bill Ayers
In light of the current attacks on Bill Ayers’ past affiliation with the Weather Underground, a radical activist group from the 1970s, professors have gathered to sign a statement of support for him as an educational figure.
Created Sept. 24, 2008, the online statement currently has 4,090 endorsements and includes 3,000 signatures from professors, including professors from UC Irvine, Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton.
The document states that the attack on Ayers is “dishonest” and “slanderous McCarthyism.” Moreover, the document has gained recognition in the education community for its stance on free-thinking and critical dialogue. It states, “The attacks on the character assassination of Ayers threaten the university as a space of open inquiry and debate.”
Ayers, who is currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was a prominent member of the subversive radical group in the 1960s and 1970s. His affiliation with President-elect Barack Obama has brought many of his actions from 35 years ago back into question, and in turn suggesting that Obama is radical by association.
Highlighting his career in education, the document states that “his participation in political activity 40 years ago is history; what is most relevant now is his continued engagement in progressive causes and his exemplary contribution to the field of education.”