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D.C. bar: Justice for all -- as long as you're not a solo

The D.C. bar has some explaining to do, given Carolyn Elefant's post, "Federal Judges Honor Pro Bono -- But Exclude Solos." Elefant, the blogger behind My Shingle, notes that a prestigious award for pro bono work specifically excludes solo attorneys. Not only does a firm have to have 25 or more attorneys to qualify to be honored by the chief justices of the D.C. Circuit, but dues-paying bar members have no access to the invitation-only event, which is a primo networking opportunity and a chance to meet those sitting the bench. Elefant writes,

"So, the bar wants everyone to play its part in realizing "justice for all" -- and yet it refuses to acknowledge the efforts of solo and small-firm attorneys who help bring about justice day by day, whether through performing pro bono outright or reducing rates to serve clients who could not otherwise afford legal services.  And in many instances, we provide that pro bono when our workloads are already full -- and without support staff to help out.

"To add final insult to injury, the tag line at the bottom of the press release says that the Judge's reception is a private event.  Meaning that no one from the bar or the public, outside of the press, can watch these large firms bask in glory or learn of their accomplishments, despite the fact that the judges hosting the reception are on the public payroll.  Why is that?  Are the achievements not worthy of public display?  Or is the reception not so much an award but rather a quid pro quo where big firms cash in on pro bono service by obtaining one-on-one access to the federal judges at an exclusive ceremony.  Sounds harsh, but let's face it -- that's how it looks from the outside peering in."

What do you think? Elefant's open to comments.

Posted by Product Team on April 20, 2005 at 03:27 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


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