Have you reported your 2020 pro bono hours yet?
Don’t worry, it’s not mandatory to report your pro bono efforts – or even to do pro bono work at all.
But Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 says North Carolina attorneys should “aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services” annually to clients who are unable to pay, with no expectation of compensation. And if you did any pro bono work last year, regardless of the number of hours, you’re encouraged to report it to the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center.
Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono service will be inducted into the 2020 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their achievement (you can opt out of recognition if you wish).
“Throughout one of the most difficult years any of us can remember, North Carolina attorneys went above and beyond in their service to those unable to pay for legal assistance,” says NC State Bar President Barbara Christy. “I have heard many of your stories and they reaffirm the statement in the Preamble to our Rules of Professional Conduct that ‘personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.’ I ask now that you report these pro bono services so that we can demonstrate and celebrate the impact of your service during a year of extraordinary needs, and that your example might serve as an inspiration to others.”
The deadline for reporting 2020 pro bono hours is March 31, 2021. Click here to report.
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Four Reasons to Report Your Pro Bono Service
The following is from the NC Pro Bono Resource Center:
- It’s a way to showcase attorney volunteerism in North Carolina — we want to share the good work being done by the legal profession in our state.
- It’s an opportunity to encourage your peers to grow their pro bono involvement by sharing about your own engagement.
- It’s a mechanism to identify areas to grow pro bono efforts in North Carolina.
- It’s an opportunity for recognition.
Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service
Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:
(a) provide a substantial majority of the (50) hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:
(1) persons of limited means;
(2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; or
(3) individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate.
(b) provide any additional services through:
(1) the delivery of legal services described in paragraph (a) at a substantially reduced fee; or
(2) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.
In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which offers confidential, one-on-one consultations to sharpen your firm’s mission and design an excellent Law Life. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.