March 13, 2016 — Pepperdine Law professor Jeffrey R. Baker was recently quoted in an article in The Recorder entitled “Would-Be Lawyers May Have to Give it Away.” The article considers the effect of making would-be lawyers complete a certain amount of pro bono work before gaining admission to the California State Bar.
From The Recorder:
Many law schools already encourage their students to participate in pro bono work during their three years on campus. A handful requires them to do so. One of those schools is Pepperdine University School of Law. Beginning with the 200-member Class of 2017, students must complete 50 hours of pro bono work to graduate. Pepperdine has set out detailed criteria for what volunteer work qualifies. Many students will satisfy the requirement through the school’s clinics. Others will complete qualifying externships. Jeffrey Baker, Pepperdine’s director of clinical education, recently approved one student’s proposal to establish a high school mock trial program.
Baker said there’s been no student pushback over the pro bono requirement. It’s consistent with the school’s mission of encouraging lives of service, plus doing work that equates to roughly eight hours a semester doesn’t seem overwhelming, Baker said.
“For us right now there are plenty of opportunities because we had a solid clinical program before I got here and we have a robust program now,” he said. “There’s a little bit of anxiety in the air” about the requirements in Block’s bill and the state bar task force’s proposals, he added. “If you have every single law school trying to fill some pro bono requirement, then does that tax the system?”