Should Law Students Do Pro Bono Work As A Compulsory Component Of Their Law Degree?

1618 words - 6 pages

Introduction.Recommendation 38 of the Australian Law Reform Commission should be acted upon. Undertaking Pro bono work would enhance appreciation of ethical standards and professional responsibility among law students. This appreciation in light of its importance to the legal community and public is essential for law students to have. Additionally, consideration should be given to limitations, practical benefits and the importance of undertaking pro bono before practicing.1. Would Law Students Undertaking Pro Bono Work have an Enhanced appreciation of Ethical Standards and Professional Responsibility?a. Students Undertaking Pro Bono work would have the Opportunity to Apply and Extend issues they have discussed in University.Undertaking Pro Bono work is a good opportunity for students to apply and extend the concepts of ethical standards and professional responsibility covered in courses. Students have a tendency to view the content of ethics courses as lacking application in real life, being fairly self evident and simply a matter of "common sense." During university, law students' orientation towards professional responsibility can experience a marked decline. However those given the opportunity of practical experience are likely to have a different perception. For instance, Murdoch University Law Students placed in a community legal center finished both "more sensitive to social justice issues...and more interested in offering pro bono legal services" than their fellow students. In another program a student stated, "...Working in a legal service allows me to apply my theoretical knowledge to real situations and legal problems..." This of course not only relates to theoretical legal knowledge on substantive law but to applying ethical standards. It would seem that experience of ethics in practical application and real life situations is beneficial. This student also refers to his interaction with practicing solicitors, it is apparent that in unstructured or relatively unsupervised pro bono placements the benefits of application might go amiss, for it is not uncommon even among qualified lawyers who understand ethical standards well to apply them incorrectly. Adequate guidance and discussion from experienced lawyers would be an important factor in the students experience and without it many difficulties may arise. This guidance is important to draw the attention of students to the importance of ethics in practice and leave them with a healthy knowledge of application.b. Students Undertaking Pro bono Work will have a Broader Understanding of Professional Responsibility.Students undertaking pro bono work gain a wider understanding of the different forms public interest law can take and thus increase their understanding of professional responsibility. Professional responsibility can be defined in the context of public service including a range of different areas: campaigning to improve the law, providing free or reduced fee legal services to clients...

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