ILNews

Task force makes recommendations for pro bono reporting

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

As the Indiana Supreme Court continues to consider mandating all Indiana attorneys report the number of pro bono hours they work, a task force has proposed that the donated hours be disclosed publicly only in an aggregate form rather than identifying the number of pro bono hours performed by an individual or a firm..

The disclosure proposal was one of five recommendations made by the Indiana Pro Bono Commission’s Pro Bono Reporting Task Force. The Supreme Court asked the Commission to appoint an ad hoc task force to make suggestions on how a mandatory reporting requirement would be implemented.

Indiana Tax Court Judge Martha Blood Wentworth, chair of the commission and leader of the task force, emphasized that the task force has only offered proposals. How any reporting requirement would be implemented has not been determined.

“We are recommenders, we are not deciders,” Wentworth said. “We have been asked to recommend only.”

The Supreme Court also underscored that the recommendations have not been adopted. At this point, the justices have not discussed the report and the court is not expressing any opinion on any of the recommendations.

Task force members were unanimous on the public disclosure recommendation. The task force concluded giving the total number of pro bono hours worked instead of listing hours by attorneys would still serve the purpose of the reporting rule to more accurately determine how many pro bono hours are provided annually in Indiana.

In addition, opposition to publicizing the hours by attorney has been strong. The task force believed an aggregate approach would ease fears that the reporting rule was the first step toward auditing reported hours, disciplining noncompliance or mandating pro bono service.  

The five recommendations made by the task force are as follows:

1)    CLE: Do not waive continuing legal education requirements in exchange for pro bono legal service. Forgiving CLE hours for pro bono work could send the wrong message that donating legal services is more important than keeping abreast of practice techniques and changing laws.
2)    Public Disclosure: Publicly report the pro bono hours only in an aggregate manner. Do not identify the number of hours donated by individual or by firm.
3)    Definition of Pro Bono: Do not change the definition of “pro bono publico service” in the Professional Rule of Conduct 6.1. Although attorneys had requested the meaning of “pro bono” be clarified and broadened, the task force recommended against a rewrite because pro bono programs have been developed with the current definition in mind. However, the task force proposed a Frequently Asked Questions supplement should be widely available to give real world examples and guidance on the distinction between “pro bono” activities under Rule 6.1 and reportable “pro bono” activities under the proposed Rule 6.7.
4)    Draft Rule 6.7: Identify which pro bono legal services are reportable in the proposed Pro Bono Reporting Rule (Professional Rule of Conduct 6.7). Allow attorneys to make a financial contribution to a qualified entity as an alternative to providing pro bono service.
5)    Implementation: Add a field to the annual online attorney registration for Indiana attorneys to report their pro bono hours and/or a financial contribution. Noncompliance would be impossible. Each attorney would have to enter a number for either pro bono hours or financial contribution in order to proceed. Entering zeros would technically comply with the reporting rule.

The Indiana State Bar Association and the Indiana Pro Bono Commission are accepting comments on the proposals through Aug. 8. Attorneys can contact the ISBA at 317-639-5465 for further information. Attorneys can submit written comments to the Indiana Pro Bono Commission at 615. N. Alabama Street, #122, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

All comments will be forwarded to the Supreme Court administrator.  

Attorneys can access the report through the ISBA website by clicking here.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

ADVERTISEMENT