Mary McGrory's column about the Law Students for Pro Bono's campaign to impose a pro bono graduation requirement at accredited law schools {Outlook, Oct. 28} attempted to dismiss the claim that such programs are coercive. A mandatory program, Miss McGrory stated, "would ensure universal participation" and "bring home" preferred values to students.

Lawyers should use their skills to aid the public, but the value of performing volunteer services is not something that can or should be "brought home" or forced upon law students. It violates the very nature of pro bono activity and threatens to discourage future voluntary service. Voluntary pro bono programs can and do work, though Miss McGrory failed to mention one at the University of South Carolina in which more than 60 percent of the students perform community service without carrot or prod.

Also, by characterizing campuses as a playground for right-wing publications and monumental intolerance, Miss McGrory shut her eyes to reality. As a recent study published by the Washington Legal Foundation, "In Whose Interest?: Public Interest Law Activism in the Law Schools," demonstrated, law school public interest programs are dominated by activist students and professors who use the benign term "public interest" as a vehicle to promote their social and political agendas. Clearly, requiring students to perform service "in the public interest" will directly benefit those interest groups -- like Ralph Nadar's Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union -- with which the programs' proponents proudly identify.

The downfall of the "Great Society" that Miss McGrory nostalgically recalled was that its centralized social programs perpetuated the power of the administering bureaucracy, rather than aiding the poor. The law students campaigning for a requirement are not "idealists" but politicians seeking "Great Society" control from which they can inculcate moral values and perpetuate the liberal establishment. Mary McGrory applauds. The public should not. GLENN G. LAMMI M. J. Murdock Fellow in Law and Policy Washington Legal Foundation Washington