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April 13, 2009

Are any Skadden lawyers doing sentencing work with their "time off"?

I see from this New York Times article that Skadden, Arps is offering "all of its associates — about 1,300 worldwide — the option of accepting a third of their base pay to not show up for work for a year ... [and] is helping associates find pro bono work, and is encouraging them to do so."  In addition to thinking Skadden has come up with an interesting way to try to weather the downturn, I cannot help but wonder if some of this lawyer talent might be encouraged to shift into the sentencing universe. 

With more nearly 2.5 million people already in prison, another 5 millions under some form of supervision, and millions more dealing with the consequences of old or new felony charges, there are no shortage of pro bono opportunities in the criminal justice system.  So, Skadden associates, if you are looking for good pro bono work (that can often get you real courtroom experience), think about heading to your local prison.

Some (arguably related) recent posts:

April 13, 2009 at 09:27 AM | Permalink

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Doug, I am working with a Skadden Arps associate in the pro bono program on a significant criminal sentencing project in North Carolina. We are mounting an attack on the way the NC appellate courts evaluate cruel and unusual punishment claims due to excessive length.

In my view, NC completely ignores the three step analysis for Eighth Amendment claims set forth in Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in Harmelin v Michigan. Rather, NC says simply that if a sentence is within the range allowed by the statute, it is not cruel and unusual.

The Skadden Arps associate is researching how other states approach cruel and unusual punishment claims to lay the groundwork for a cert petition to the Supreme Court, arguing that different states do it differently, some right and some wrong.

Hopefully, other associates will do sentencing work, as well.

Bruce Cunningham

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Apr 13, 2009 3:18:14 PM

I'm offering a pro bono position to attorneys taking the year off (from Skadden or elsewhere). The attorney will litigate indigent-criminal appeals with me, primarily in the Sixth Circuit. (I have an appellate-boutique practice.) More info is in this press release: http://www.millsfederalappeals.com/press_releases/Pro_Bono_Attorney_Position.pdf

Posted by: David Mills | Apr 13, 2009 5:17:23 PM

Skadden has always been unusually good with pro bono. Strangely, this economic downturn and Skadden's clinging to its core values relating to giving back through encouraging associates to do pro bono may in the long run return to it (and its clients) much better lawyers & people. Hopefully, those associates will reach to both sides of the legal divide, civil & criminal, prosecutor & defender.

Posted by: karl | Apr 13, 2009 9:47:50 PM

With respects to Professor Berman, we don't need this young talent in sentencing even half as much as we need it in federal post-conviction work (like challenges to conviction or sentence under 28 USC 2255) and administrative issues involving inmates of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. We also need a team of lawyers working the Freedom of Information Act against the FBOP, to see whether the inmates are as well managed and fed and medically treated as FBOP claims. That FOIA review would also help the understaffed, overworked, and dangerously outnumbered correctional officer corps. Still, nothing but bankruptcy awaits anyone wanting to help prisoners for a living, and if we're talking about pro bono service, here are several groups without resources who need it.

Posted by: Jay Hurst | Apr 14, 2009 7:57:57 AM

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