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Legal education and early career mentoring: mid-career attorneys' pro bono commitment

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Much extant research suggests that students who enter law school highly enthusiastic about public interest law and pro bono work often take mainstream jobs with minimal participation in pro bono activities. Frequently, these studies place some of the blame on law schools. This study, however, suggests that law schools, as well as mentors in first post-graduation jobs, might positively affect attorneys' level of commitment to pro bono work. This longitudinal study is unique in that it includes measures of students' attitudes during law school and in mid-career. It raises the possibility that attorneys whose level of commitment to pro bono work did not decrease since law school were substantially influenced by their law school training and early career mentors. Although some students will leave law school with less dedication to public interest law and pro bono work, this study offers hope that, through legal education and mentorship, other students will maintain their strong commitment to helping poor clients.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Law & Society Program, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Purdue University, Indiana, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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