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State bar advances pro bono reporting requirement

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Attorneys soon will be required to report the number of pro bono hours of service they provide on an annual basis under a proposal adopted Friday by the Indiana State Bar Association.

The bar’s House of Delegates approved the proposal by voice vote on the final day of the association’s annual meeting in French Lick, according to outgoing state bar president Daniel Vinovich. Chief Justice Brent Dickson championed the proposal.

Details – including when the requirement will take effect and how the information will be used – are still to be worked out. But Vinovich said the resolution stipulated that attorneys will have input on how the Supreme Court implements a rule and that its passage would not be a first step toward mandatory pro bono as some attorneys feared.

“It was a very civil, scholarly discussion on the issues,” Vinovich said of arguments preceding the vote by those for and against. He said he sensed that many concerns raised by lawyers against the requirement had been answered.    

Some attorneys, for instance, worried that reporting zero hours of pro bono service might trigger some type of disciplinary action. “That’s not contemplated in our resolution at all,” Vinovich said. “This resolution does not require any lawyer to do any pro bono work at all. You can report zero hours.”

Rather, he said the resolution is seen as a way to foster pro bono work as has been the experience of the relatively few other states where such a requirement exists. Vinovich said he believes only eight other states have such a requirement.

“It will help us assess the coordination of a statewide pro bono strategy,” he said. “If we can at least start at the reporting level, that will help.”

Also Friday, the bar installed Frost Brown Todd LLC partner Jim Dimos as president.

Read more about the pro bono reporting requirements and the challenges presented by pro se litigants in the Oct. 23 Indiana Lawyer.
 

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