This Article uses the ethicist Peter Singer's principles to examine and critique the legal profession's pro bono efforts in the face of the persistent gap between the public's legal needs and their ability to meet them. Singer argues that adults should jump into a pond to save a drowning child. Using the drowning child as an analogy, this Article argues that lawyers are morally obligated to (1)increase the amount of their pro bono efforts, (2) be more selective in the cases they take, and (3) be significantly more generous in their financial support for legal services providers. These obligations are especially acute for the largest, most profitable firms.
Specifically, this Article suggests that (1) pro bono be mandatory but at a lower yearly figure than is currently suggested, (2) law firms should sometimes eschew high profile pro bono cases in favor of less visible but more impactful work, and (3) extremely profitable law firms and their partners should donate significantly more money to effective legal services organizations.
John M.A. DiPippa, Peter Singer, Drowning Children, and Pro Bono, 119 W. Va. L. Rev. 113 (2016).