The Center for Public Interest Law was fortunate to host Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law and former DePaul College of Law professor, on Wednesday, February 20. Students packed into the lecture hall to hear Chemerinsky speak on the value of pro bono and experiential learning in law school. His talk was of particular significance; the New York Appellate Court recently imposed a new requirement for admittance to the New York Bar. Those seeking admission must complete 50 hours of pro bono work while in law school.
Chemerinsky zealously supports a pro bono requirement for law students; he cited three reasons for his support. First, experiential learning is necessary to learn the skill of lawyering. Chemerinsky compared lawyers to doctors--would we allow doctors to practice medicine without ever having seen a patient under the supervision of a skilled doctor? Second, a pro bono requirement would provide more low-cost legal services. Because the practice of law is reserved to those admitted to a state bar, a monopoly on legal services exists. Pro bono work by law students can help correct this monopoly. Third, the requirement will promote pro bono work throughout the lifetime.
Students seeking pro bono opportunities at DePaul can contact Cheryl Price, director of the Pro Bono and Community Service Initiative, to learn about the many ways they can get involved.