The Harvard Law School Association
of San Diego
The Honorable S. William Green Professor of Public Law
Faculty Director, Access to Justice Lab
Harvard Law School
Pro Bono Representation:
Where It Is Effective and the Obligation to Engage
How should lawyers decide which of too-numerous poor clients should receive pro bono representation? Lawyers like to say that pro bono representation should be provided if a particular case “needs” the help, but what does that mean? Professor Jim Greiner of Harvard Law School, a six-year federal trial court litigator who holds a Ph.D. in Statistics, will discuss a recent study he conducted addressing these questions. Greiner will demonstrate how his study’s findings upend accepted truths in the legal profession about where pro bono representation does the most good. He will then discuss how in the face of such findings, lawyers and judges are under a moral imperative to engage in rigorous study of how pro se individuals and families interact with the justice system. Only with rigorous examination can judges and lawyers maximize scarce resources so as to triage clients to service levels appropriate for their cases.