Suits on the Ground: The ABA Rule of Law Initiative

Adam R. Pearlman
rule of law

rule of law

As in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.

—Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Philanthropy and charity are engrained in American culture, and American generosity remains unparalleled in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 63 million Americans volunteered their time performing community service in 2014. The median time they spent volunteering that year? Fifty hours. Lawyers track closely with the rest of the country—a 2013 ABA report says lawyers averaged fifty-six hours of pro bono service. That, it says, reflects the legal profession’s “longstanding and ongoing commitment to pro bono legal services as a core value.” This core value, however, is something Elizabeth Anderson, director of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) notes is not particularly prevalent in other legal traditions around the world.

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