Leslie Levin, a professor of law and the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut School of Law, has heard of instances of where immigration lawyers have paid more experienced practitioners for information on how to approach a case. In that instance, the tutoring was in a highly specialized practice area.
"I could see how there might be a market for this sort of thing among young lawyers who want to learn something, if you're just talking about where the courthouse is or how to file a brief," she said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to get or give information about practicing law in that way. And this lawyer [Beck] is trying to tap into that.
Levin continued: "But there are plenty of ways new lawyers can get that kind of information for free. The truth is, a lot of the ways that young lawyers learn to practice law is they ask questions. They ask the clerk of courts, they ask their classmates."
They also ask questions of experienced attorneys. In fact, a long-standing tradition in the legal profession has been experienced lawyers helping the less experienced, when they can. "It would certainly be a shame" if the idea of charging young lawyers for guidance "took hold," Levin said.
Jonathan Shapiro, president of the Young Lawyers Section of the CBA, was far less critical of Beck's idea. Instead, Shapiro said Beck's ad speaks volumes of the current state of the job market for recent law school grads. Many law school graduates continue to have trouble finding work, which can lead to a vicious cycle of not being able to gain enough experience to land a job. "If even a few attorneys responded, it is a few too many," he said. "Law school graduates shouldn't have to pay for this sort of opportunity."
Beck, who has logged hundreds of pro bono hours over the years, said he's still interested in the idea of helping to train young attorneys. "If I could come up with a way to do this without generating controversy, I certainly would," he said. "I feel there is a need to show lawyers what they don't learn in law school. But until then, the idea will be on the back burner."