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Report: Lawyers’ pro bono activity increases in Indiana

April 12, 2019

Pro bono activity is increasing among Indiana attorneys, with more than half of all non-exempt lawyers licensed in the state contributing time, money or both, according to a report released Friday by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The report is based on the data collected as part of the pro bono reporting rule. Since 2016, attorneys are asked if they have provided any legal services to the indigent or made any financial contributions to legal aid agencies. Answering the question is voluntary with attorneys being allowed to put zero as the amounts.

According to the most recent data, 8,445 attorneys contributed time and/or money to civil legal aid in 2017, which is 55 percent of the 15,388 non-exempt lawyers in Indiana. In total, 442,585 hours were contributed, offering help either at no charge or a reduced charge. Also, $1.89 million was donated either as a monetary contribution or in-kind donation of tangible property.

Comparatively, the number of attorneys reporting and the donations have been climbing.

Attorneys who gave either time and/or money started at 7,895 in 2015 and rose to 8,280 in 2016. Likewise, the total dollars rose from $1.06 million to $1.28 million in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

However, the total hours worked actually slipped in 2017.

Attorneys reported offer 377,346 hours of pro bono help in 2015 and 448,909 hours in 2016. In 2017, the upward trend reversed, with 442,585 hours being reported.

Because attorneys report what they donated in the year prior to their registration, the data looks back at past years. When lawyers registered in the fall of 2018, they would have reported their pro bono activity for 2017 and when they register in the fall of 2019, they will provide the donations they made in 2018.

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