This seminar will focus on the intersection and tension between the economics of large law firm practice and the public service obligation of the profession. In recent years, the legal market has undergone tremendous change, from law firm mergers and failures to laid off and deferred associates. At the same time, both law firms and in-house corporate legal departments have substantially increased their commitments to pro bono client service. Are these two trends sustainable? Only by understanding the law firm business model and the forces behind the legal profession's commitment to providing free legal services can this question be answered.
The seminar will focus on how law firms interact with other legal institutions, such as corporate counsel departments, law schools, legal media, bar associations and non-profit legal services organizations, to advance the professional obligation of pro bono publico. The seminar will also feature an array of guest speakers, including economists, law firm consultants, law firm managing partners, and legal services leaders.
The seminar will be open to any student interested in issues concerning the legal profession and professional responsibility, and should be of interest to anyone who expects to work at or interact with major law firms, either from a fee-paying client or public interest organization perspective. Based on the knowledge gained from class discussions and readings, each seminar registrant will develop a pro bono business plan designed either to increase the amount of pro bono undertaken at their future firm or to gain support for and implement a new pro bono project at the firm.