The ABA (THE leader in lawyer advocacy and law school accreditation) continues its fight for justice, as President Laurel G. Belows (real name!) is begging the U.S. Labor Department for its full blessing to let large law firms take on unpaid interns:
“The ABA agrees that exploitation of law students and other interns is unacceptable; however, the FLSA uncertainty inhibits law firms from offering students the opportunity to work on pro bono matters in a real-life practice setting.”
She also said a ban on such internships would curb “access for future employment prospects” and squeeze the “potential supply of legally trained women and men willing to spend their time working on behalf of persons without the resources to pay for legal counsel.”
Partner 1: What is with the group of 20 dorks in the sub-basement?
Partner 2: That's our new pro bono program. They'll all unpaid interns.
Partner 1: What pro bono matter are they working on?
Partner 2: Benefits for veterans and widows.
Partner 1: Really?
Partner 2: Sort-of. You know that chemical explosion class action thing?
Partner 1: They're doing doc review, aren't they?
Partner 2: Oh, no, sir! It's our pro bono program. The feds say it's okay!
That's your ABA, fighting for the American lawyer.
Of course, there's nothing stopping students from interning with a legal aid or with a school program that does the exact same thing. For some reason, the ABA, large firms, and schools want to get them into large law firms instead of the large firms simply donating the operating capital to legal aid programs.
I wonder why...