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Half Court Press, by Scott H. Greenfield, Simple Justice Blog


That law is a profession, not just a business, has long been a theme here, and I haven’t been shy about pounding that theme whenever possible. And yet, I’m particularly wary when the theme is used in ways that blow beyond professionalism as a weapon against lawyers.

Aric Press, retiring from his 16 years as Editor in Chief of ALM (formerly American Lawyer Media), offered his parting thoughts in a paywalled post that was partially copied by Kevin O’Keefe. Among his ‘lessons’ learned while getting his ALM big guy paycheck was this:

Pro bono isn’t charity. I cringed recently when I heard a longtime public interest lawyer refer to pro bono work as what big-firm lawyers do so they’ll have something to put on their tombstones. I’m not that cynical. I think it’s work that lawyers do because they belong to a profession, and professions have obligations to the broader society in which they operate. Otherwise they don’t deserve the privilege of self-regulation and the honor of a special status in our courts. Part of the price for that status is serving those who can’t afford legal services. It’s a duty, in my view, but also an act of self-protection. With outside investment money beginning to slosh around the legal world, the question of bar regulation will be visited again in your futures. If you want to maintain the current framework, you have to pay the dues. It’s a profession, if you choose to keep it one. . . .