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A 'national service' requirement for lawyers -- and everyone else [Letter]

1:30 PM EST, November 13, 2013

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I support of letter writer Claudia Diamond's idea that new lawyer applicants in Maryland should be required to perform a set number of pro bono volunteer hours before being awarded a license to practice ("Bar exam does not a lawyer make," Nov. 7)

I would even go a step further. Each lawyer should be required to provide a set number of pro bono hours each year of practice as well. We currently require our graduating high school students to perform a set number of volunteer hours as a requirement of graduation. Let's go one step further and require everyone to serve our country in some way as a condition of adulthood.

While many could satisfy such a requirement by volunteering to serve in our country's military, others could satisfy do so by volunteering to teach in our schools or to work as a member of the Job Corps, Peace Corps or similar programs. We could extend this requirement to equal two years of full-time work, similar to a military tour of duty.

Many could satisfy this requirement without leaving their homes or cities. Some may have to relocate to another city for a few years. Many may need to work at a second job to support themselves during this time. Some may have families or spouses that will support them during this time.

Some "volunteer" positions may need to provide small stipends or salaries to support those doing the work. After all, there still will be bills to pay for housing, food, utilities, clothes and other expenses. Higher pay will be provided to those with outstanding talents and abilities or for work in more difficult environments or locations.

An internship in the Baltimore City school system may need to pay a higher stipend than an internship in a Florida school system. Area cost of living will need to be factored into the equation as well as safety and educational experience provided.

This will also provide young college graduates with a real-world work experience to list on their resume. It will assist college graduates with eventual employment as well. This could be a huge "win-win" for everyone involved.

Dean Tippett, Catonsville

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