Law firms can bill for unpaid interns’ work? Yugh

New York State Bar Ethics Panel Approves Practice of Law Firms Billing for Work by Unpaid Interns

Joel Stashenko, New York Law Journal   

A New York State Bar Association ethics committee’s opinion approving the practice of law firms billing clients for the work of unpaid student interns is drawing criticism as being unfair to interns in general and low-income minority law students.

This is so wrongheaded it’s hard for my own head to absorb it. Does the ethics panel not grasp the implications of allowing law firms to bill clients for work done by unpaid interns?

Does the word “slavery” not ring a bell among the folks on the ethics panel?

Hasn’t the panel been reading Sidebar, where I’ve gone on at length and over time about the whole unpaid intern scandal which resulted in numerous lawsuits, at least one of them class action? (One of the worst and ugliest abuses is many successful companies haven’t been paying. Same rule would apply here to law firms, wouldn’t it? If you bill clients for interns work, then you pay the interns at least some percentage of what they’ve earned for you. Gee, that was easy.)

Having been through the lengthy process of instituting and following through on a complaint about the ethics of a law firm representing me in a personal injury suit, I have had my own criticisms of the difficulties laymen face in figuring out how to do it.

And what about that touted review and series of public hearings on the lawyers’ professional code of ethics, as announced in 2015? (See below for New York Law Journal abstract on the announcement.) Is this one of the results?

Uh-oh.

Here’s the notice from 2015 which I neglected to post back then, bad me bad me:

Attorney Discipline System To Be Addressed at Hearings

Joel Stashenko, New York Law Journal   

A commission appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced Thursday it will hold three public hearings on New York state’s system of attorney discipline and ways to improve it.

I disrespectfully suggest to the panel that giving an imprimatur to slavery ain’t the way to “improve” it.

Oh and here’s the (current, as far as I know) professional code in its entirety. See if an OK to slavery is in here. I don’t have the stomach to search it myself.

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