PRESIDENT CLINTON ISSUES CALL TO ACTION TO THE AMERICAN LEGAL COMMUNITY July 20, 1999
Today, President Clinton will announce a call to action to the legal community, renewing President Kennedy's call to America's leading lawyers 36 years ago that enlisted the legal profession in the fight for equal justice. President Clinton will renew that challenge today in a meeting with leaders from every major sector of the private bar, including corporation counsels, managing partners, academics, and civil rights attorneys. President Clinton will urge the lawyers to use their skills to help achieve racial diversity, close race-based opportunity gaps and to lead our nation in the task of building One America. The President will pledge to support the legal sector's efforts through the Department of Justice and the White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America.
The President will announce the following commitments in response to his challenge:
American Bar Association will undertake a major new initiative to ensure greater racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. Under the leadership of its incoming President William G. Paul, the initiative will involve lawyers, academics, law firms and bar associations throughout the country in activities such as providing financial assistance to law students and mentoring law students and young lawyers to help them become successful practitioners. The ABA, with membership of over 400,000 attorneys, also will expand its existing programs to foster greater use of minority law firms by America's corporations and to involve lawyers in providing free legal services for the disadvantaged.
American Corporate Counsel Association will encourage its members to retain minority counsel and law firms. ACCA will work with its 11,000 members, who control billions of dollars of legal fees, to implement their initiatives. ACCA has also will promote corporate pro bono service through training and educational resources at its national and local meetings and devote practical resources to enable corporate counsel to implement diversity and pro bono initiatives at the local level.
Leading law firms will adhere to the ABA's 3 percent pro bono standard. This will mean that every lawyer will spend 50 hours per year or 3 percent of billable time on pro bono work, with full credit for time spent. In so doing, members of the bar consciously will allocate a portion of that pro bono time to putting their talents to use in assisting persons of color and their neighborhoods to fully participate in our nation's prosperity and growth.
American Association of Law Schools, will seek ways to inculcate the values of racial justice and public service in our nation's law students. Building on a brand new report, Learning to Serve, the AALS will call upon law schools to strengthen their commitment to the professional ethic of community service by giving every law student the opportunity to volunteer their legal skills in their communities.
Leaders will implement a nationwide plan of action. Presidents of the American Bar Association, the minority bar associations, the American Corporate Counsel Association, San Francisco and New York City Bars, and the co-chairs of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights will meet with each other and other interested parties every month to implement a nationwide plan of action to respond to this call.