Capitol Alert

Pro bono rule for new California lawyers? Not so fast, Jerry Brown says

In this Oct. 27, 2015 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Carbon Neutrality Initiative on the campus of the University of California-San Diego, in San Diego.
In this Oct. 27, 2015 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Carbon Neutrality Initiative on the campus of the University of California-San Diego, in San Diego. AP

The California Legislature passed a bill that would have required California’s up-and-coming lawyers do pro bono work before gaining admittance to the State Bar.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a lawyer, on Monday vetoed the bill.

In a message accompanying his veto of Senate Bill 1257, Brown said that while he supports law students and lawyers providing pro bono legal services, “I don’t believe a state mandate can be justified.”

“Law students in California are now contending with skyrocketing costs – often more than $200,000 for tuition and room and board – and many struggle to find employment once they are admitted to the Bar,” Brown wrote. “In this context, I believe it would be unfair to burden students with the requirements set forth in this bill.”

Senate Bill 1257, by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would have required applicants for membership in the State Bar to have completed at least 50 hours of supervised pro bono legal service.

Instead, Brown wrote, the state should focus on lowering the cost of legal education.

“By doing so, we could actually expand the opportunity to serve the public interest,” he said.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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