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A view that fewer opportunities exist for pro bono services in-house than in law firms

Yale Law School’s Career Development Office posts online a guide for its law students who may be interested in working in a business setting, one of which is to practice in a law department. The high-level description of corporate practice is good, but one comment about obstacles to pro bono involvement rings false.

In a list of disadvantages to working in-house, the author puts down pro bono opportunities (See my post of Aug. 24, 2008: pro bono programs of law departments with 12 references.). “Finally, in-house positions offer fewer, and perhaps no, opportunities to provide pro bono legal services. Corporate charity is usually a marketing function involving executives and the economic and legal structure of a four-profit company do not lend themselves easily to pro bono work.”

The author is mistaken, I suspect. Corporations and their sensitivity to good corporate citizenship may in fact encourage more pro bono contributions per lawyer hour than do billable-hour hungry law firms.

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