Skip to main content

The Law Firm and the Public Good

Edited by Robert A. Katzmann

What can law firms do to ensure justice for all? How can they serve the needs of those unable to pay? How can law firms improve the quality of life for their lawyers? At a time when government support for legal aid is limited and under fire, when recent U.S. presidents have urged increased volunteerism, when the American Bar Association’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge is under way, and when some within the legal profession have called for mandatory pro bono work, this new book examines these important questions.

The Law Firm and the Public Good blends academic scholarship with real world experience as it brings together lawyers who have wrestled with the pressures of everyday practice. Concerned about deepening the commitment of large law firms to the wider community, the authors seek to provide a blueprint for firms concerned with creating, developing, implementing, and evaluating pro bono programs.

Moving beyond the ethical arguments which justify a law firm’s commitment to community service, the authors argue that pro bono work is in the firm’s self-interest. They show that a heightened concern with the public good can improve a lawyer’s spirit, sharpen lawyering skills, and enhance the humanistic traditions of law practice. They conclude that professional responsibility and self-interest support the same conclusion: that the law firm and the public good are inextricably linked and that each can draw strength from the other in ways that nourish both.

The contributors are William A. Bradford, Jr., Hogan & Hartson; Senior Circuit Judge Frank M. Coffin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; Anthony F. Earley, Jr., Detroit Edison; Marc Galanter, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Donald W. Hoagland, Davis, Graham & Stubbs; William C. Kelly, Jr., Latham & Watkins; Esther F. Lardent, director of the ABA’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project; Edwin L. Noel, Armstrong, Teasdale, Schlafly & Davis; Thomas Palay, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York; and Lewis F. Powell, III, Hunton & Williams.

Get daily updates from Brookings