Story at Mission and State. (h/t: Patrick O'Donnell) Excerpt:
Taurino Torres is lucky in one regard: Joe Allen was willing to take on his case at no charge. This makes Allen somewhat of an anomaly among the legal community here in Santa Barbara, despite a venerable tradition within the profession of donating time and energy to those who can’t afford it.
In fact, the State Bar of California has a standing resolution that urges every licensed attorney in the state to perform 50 hours of pro bono work each year “to indigent individuals, or to not-for-profit organizations with a primary purpose of providing services to the poor … with a purpose of improving the law and the legal system, or increasing access to justice.”
Fifty hours may not sound like a lot, but of the 1,385 lawyers listed by the state bar who are active in Santa Barbara County, it appears from polling, interviews and anecdotes that only a small fraction do pro bono work at all, let alone 50 hours of it. And to be clear about what is meant by pro bono work, the state bar resolution suggests the “substantial majority” of those 50 hours be given strictly “without fee or expectation of fee” to the poor or to organizations that directly serve the needs of the poor, such as charitable, religious, educational or civic groups.