Steven Schulman Talks to Law360 on NY Pro Bono Disclosure Fight

Law360, in its article “Pro Bono Advocates Call NY Bar's Privacy Beef Overblown,” quoted Akin Gump pro bono partner Steven Schulman on an ongoing disagreement between the New York State Bar Association and NY Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman over a recently instituted rule requiring lawyers to disclose their pro bono work.

Although the NYSBA has expressed concern that the disclosure requirement could constitute an invasion of privacy, Schulman said, “I don't see any issue with disclosure. I believe, as Judge Lippman has said, that asking people to report on how they are meeting that aspirational goal is entirely legitimate. It raises one's attention to pro bono.”

Regarding the NYSBA’s equation, in its letter to the chief judge, of pro bono work to charity, Schulman noted, “I would make the distinction between pro bono service and personal charitable work. If Judge Lippman had said, 'I want every citizen of the state to disclose their charitable activity'—assuming he had the power to do so—that would be personal. But this is a different thing. I don't consider it to be personal. I consider it to be professional.”

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