Dear Hon. Jonathan Lippman:
I am writing to express my serious opposition to the amendments to Part 118 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator to require me to report my voluntary pro bono service and financial contributions to legal services providers, and urge that the amendments be repealed immediately. These reporting requirements dilute the voluntary nature of pro bono service. I strongly believe in the value of pro bono service, both for indigent clients and for lawyers themselves; however, lawyers should provide this service because they recognize the critical need for lawyers to assist in providing access to justice, not because they feel pressured into doing so by a reporting requirement.
While my objection is to reporting, I also strongly object to having my voluntary service and voluntary contributions made public in the future. Such service and charitable contributions are highly personal, and the laudatory goals of increasing voluntary pro bono service and legal services funding should not be achieved through violating lawyers’ right to privacy.
I sincerely hope that you consider seriously these concerns, shared among numerous members of the New York legal community. As lawyers, we understand the serious unmet needs of the indigent, and we give of ourselves voluntarily on a regular basis. Our desire to give volunteer services should not be subject to pressure from coercive reporting requirements.