Poor Legal Clients Are Finally Getting a Break in New York


Professor Andrew Kent was quoted in a Talk Poverty article about reform of the American Bar Association’s Model Rule 1.8(e). A modification of the rule will now allow some lawyers to provide humanitarian assistance to clients in dire need.

When prospective pro bono clients call a lawyer about domestic violence or divorce, their legal problems are usually connected to other needs. Clients have worries about eviction, prescription drugs, and child care, not just their legal proceedings.

For example, “say there is someone who’s been beat up in jail at Rikers Island. If that client is getting pro bono legal help for their case, and let’s suppose that they have a good claim which might be expected to get decent money, maybe $20,000 or $40,000.”

“But if the city or the state comes to them and says we can give you a check for $2,000 today and that person has rent due, or needs costly medical treatment, or their kid needs diapers or whatever it is, that smaller amount of money might be attractive,” said Kent.

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