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61 A.B.A. J. 1388 (1975)
The Public Interest Activities of Private Practice Lawyers

handle is hein.journals/abaj61 and id is 1390 raw text is: The Public Interest Activities of
Private Practice Lawyers

The private practicing bar's contribution to public
interest practice comes mainly from sole
practitioners, not from big-firm lawyers, and it
includes little litigation challenging thestatus quo. If
the public interest commitment the bar professes is
to be met, it will have to come from public interest
firms and groups supported byfoundations orthe bar
byJoel F. Handler, Ellen Jane Hollingsworth, Howard
E. Erlanger, and Jack Ladinsky
D URING THE 1960s there was a rapid growth of
organizations practicing a variety of public interest
(pro bono publico) work. Most of the organizations were
supported by the government or by charities. Although
mo st of the publicity was focused on these organizations,
the private bar was also affected by the reform spirit of
the decade. Several major law firms began to offer public
interest opportunities to their members and associates,
although in part this was an attempt to meet competition
for bright, young lawyers. Various committees both
within and outside bar associations were organized to
facilitate public interest efforts. In 1971 the Section of
Individual Rights and Responsibilities of the American

Bar Association formed a project to assist interested law
firms in pro bono publico programs, by gathering infor-
mation and offering technical assistance. In 1973 the
project was replaced by the Special Committee on Public
Interest Practice, indicating a further commitment by the
Association. State bar associations also have expressed
interest in these activities.
During 1974 the leadership of the Association in-
creased its concern about the public interest respon-
sibilities of the bar. Chesterfield Smith, the president for
1973-74, repeatedly urged lawyers to participate in pub-
lic interest activities. The special committee submitted a
report in 1974 affirming the obligation of every lawyer to
provide public interest legal services and, not unex-
pectedly, found that the quantity of public interest prac-
tice supplied was far less than the need. To encourage
greater efforts, the special committee proposed to define
public interest practice to include (1) legal services for
the poor, (2) representation without fee or at a substan-
tially reduced fee in cases seeking the vindication of an
individual's fundamental civil rights and rights be-
longing to the public at large, and (3) representation of
charitable organizations. The committee urged the or-
ganized bar to clarify, in quantitative terms, what each
lawyer's obligation should be.

1388 American Bar Association Journal

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