Monday, July 23, 2007

Compassion and what passes for it

Sorry it's been so long. I would love to blog about all of the very interesting and painfully real-life stories of my clients this summer at Notre Dame Legal Aid, but client information is, of course, confidential, and that would be an ethics violation of the most basic type ("So, Rebecca, about this blogging about your clients' personal lives..."). Suffice it to say that the most ordinary of towns hides hurting people with stories that rival the great tragedies of literature. Most people don't show up at a legal aid clinic until they are at the end of their rope. I guess it's not unlike being a pastor, or an ER medic.

For something completely different, check out this story on Slate: Fifteen Dollars' Worth of Smug. Apparently some NYC firms are letting summer associates opt to trade the $60 lunch with a partner down to a $15 lunch at a less posh eatery, and the firm will donate the difference to legal aid. I think Slate pretty much says it all.

I thought about titling this post "A Summer Worth of Smug." But I kinda hope it's more like "A Lifetime Worth of Smug."


ryan said...

Yeah, I don't have any use whatsoever for this kind of hypocrisy, but unfortunately unless you do the usual song and dance about social conscience, everyone thinks your a bastard. Serving as an active member of a local church community isn't nearly as sexy as doing absolutely jack squat *ahem*... sorry..., I mean a benefit raffle for AIDS orphans, even though the former is a lot harder.

Becca said...

At the same time, hey, at least they're doing SOMETHING. It is their money, after all. It seems a little odd for the beggar to sniff at a $1 gift because it's not $5. Do they charge too much for legal services? Well, yeah. Is it a little silly how lavishly they treat their summer associates when those associates are going to accept their offers regardless because they have precious little options if they don't? Well, yeah. Are they obligated to give the excess to folks who need it more? Eh. The majority of Americans have rejected that model, as appealing as it sounds in this context.

I'm more worried about the lawyers "doing justice" for their clients and third-party stakeholders during their billed hours than them tossing their spare change toward those who represent those who suffer the collateral damage of the merger the big firm just brokered.