Reconnecting lawyers with the community

Your March 13 article "Law firms find new ways to help needy, for free," addresses the pressures faced by large firms to engage lawyers, litigators as well as nonlitigators, in pro-bono work. While clients from poor and underserved populations often need a courtroom specialist, they depend too on essential pro-bono commitments from entire law firms.

Millions of low-income people in this country face critical legal problems - housing, elder abuse, domestic violence, consumer fraud - and depend on free or deeply discounted legal services. Lawyers who would like to take on such work fulltime usually face low salaries and stunning law school debt, often six-figures.

To help correct this imbalance, law firms, private companies, and philanthropies have partnered in various ways to create public service jobs, and loan repayment assistance for a growing national corps of attorneys. Such partnerships provide an invaluable resource to people who are traditionally priced out of the justice system. Public interest lawyers have the potential to re-ignite the legal community's spirit of volunteerism and secure both a much-needed network of legal talent, and an accessible system of justice.

David Stern Washington Executive director, National Association for Public Interest Law

Bush's foggy leadership on CO2

My sincere thanks for your March 16 editorial "Bush's CO2 hothouse." It is greatly distressing to see our president so early in his tenure making a habit of putting his finger to the wind before making (or changing) policy. Reactive leadership is not leadership. Skepticism regarding candidate Bush's position on global warming turned out to be well-founded.

The president must look beyond the narrow confines of campaign benefactors on issues that could potentially have grave global consequences. If our "CEO" thinks that taking needed steps to curb greenhouse gasses is "bad business," then it is up to the press to prod the public to think deeply about our president's true role as leader.

Christopher Mack Conifer, Colo.

I disagree with one point in your "Bush's CO2 hothouse" editorial. There's no consensus among climatologists about global warming. This is a myth created by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One of the IPCC's lead authors, Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at MIT, said at a recent congressional briefing, sponsored by the Cooler Heads Coalition, that the "most egregious" problem with the IPCC report "is that it is presented as a consensus that involves hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scientists and none of them were asked if they agreed with anything in the report except for the one or two pages they worked on."

Mr. Lindzen also mentioned that he served as a reviewer of the first two IPCC reports. When his review comments were ignored he asked to have his name removed from the report but the IPCC refused. The so-called consensus is largely manufactured.

Paul Georgia Washington

What a 'new vision' for Harvard means

Regarding your March 13 article "Will Summers lead Harvard in a bold new direction?": As I read this article about Larry Summers as the new president of Harvard, the importance of money and an experienced money manager came through loud and clear. As far as going "in a bold new direction," a scholarly individual with no "money sense" would have signalled a "new vision for Harvard."

Walter E. Hopkins Pleasant Hills, Penn.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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