Access to Justice encourages all Louisiana attorneys to fulfill their professional obligations established by Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which set an aspirational goal of 50 hours of pro bono legal services per attorney per year.
Rule 6.1 & Pro Bono Facts
Does Rule 6.1 Apply to Me?
Rule 6.1 is an aspirational goal which applies to all lawyers who are eligible members of the Louisiana Bar.
Why Should I Do Pro Bono Work?
Volunteer attorneys are an essential part of the system that provides legal services to the poor. With resources continually decreasing it is crucial that the private bar step up to the plate.
But I'm Not Allowed to Do Pro Bono Work.
The commentary to ABA Model Rule 6.1 recognizes that there may be times when it is not feasible for a lawyer to engage in providing direct pro bono legal services. At such times a lawyer may still discharge his or her professional responsibility under Rule 6.1 by providing financial support to organizations providing free legal services to persons of limited means. The comments state that such financial support should be reasonably equivalent to the value of the hours of service that would otherwise have been provided.
What Qualifies as Pro Bono Service under Rule 6.1?
A lawyer should provide a "substantial majority of the 50 hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to: (1) persons of limited means or (2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designated primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means." Most pro bono programs use federal poverty guidelines to determine who is eligible for pro bono service.
My Client Didn't Pay. Haven't I Done Pro Bono Work?
Work for which fees are uncollectible is not pro bono work. The commentary to ABA Model Rule 6.1 states that the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of pro bono work. You should only claim hours you had no expectation of receiving payment for.
Why is this Important?
The legal problems of the poor are often magnified by their situations or lead to more dire consequences. These legal problems often affect a basic existence situation such as homelessness, domestic violence or income maintenance. If every licensed Louisiana attorney accepted just one case per year, an additional 19,661 clients would receive the legal assistance they need.