Policy

Pro Bono Reporting

States have developed two different models of pro bono reporting systems: rules requiring attorneys to report their pro bono activity (mandatory pro bono reporting) and rules suggesting that attorneys volunteer such information (voluntary pro bono reporting).

Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

Nine states currently require attorneys to report their pro bono hours. 

Florida
Rule 4-6.1 of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct
Florida implemented mandatory pro bono in 1993 and was the first state to do so. Hours are reported with annual membership dues.

Hawaii
Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 17(d)(1)(B).
Hawaii implemented mandatory pro bono reporting in 2007. Pro bono hours are reported in the annual attorney registration.

Illinois
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756(f)
Illinois adopted the reporting requirement in 2006. Pro bono hours are reported with annual attorney registration.

Indiana
Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.7.
Mandatory reporting implemented in 2016. Pro bono hours are reported during the annual attorney registration.

Maryland
Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 19-503. Mandatory reporting began in 2002. Pro bono hours are reported annually with IOLTA compliance.

Mississippi
Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1(e). Adopted in 2005. Pro bono hours are reported in the annual membership fees statement.

Nevada
Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1(b). Pro bono hours are reported annually as part of the annual membership fees statement.

New Mexico
New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 24-108. Implemented in 2008. Pro bono hours are reported through annual membership renewal. 

New York
22 NYCRR &118.1(e)(14). Pro bono hours are reported in the biennial registration process. 


Reasons In Favor of Implementing Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

  • It is a simple mechanism for attempting to increase delivery of legal services to poor (e.g. actual increase in Florida) and level of service to community
  • It is an effective mechanism for collecting reliable, accurate, consistent data to evaluate delivery of pro bono legal services to the poor
  • It provides data essential for design of successful programs
  • It may increase monetary contributions
  • Reporting creates positive peer pressure
  • It promotes increased access to justice/courts
  • It promotes involvement in pro bono
  • Requiring reporting promises high rates of reporting
  • Data collected can send a message to non-legal community about their responsibility to fund legal services for poor
  • It enables recognition of contributing lawyers
  • It can be inexpensive
  • It facilitates engendering confidence in the bar
  • It may make demographics collectible
  • The data can be used to enhance image of lawyers
  • It encourages fulfillment of professional responsibility
  • It may raise consciousness about the professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services
  • It may raise awareness of need for free or reduced fee legal services
  • It may raise awareness of opportunities for pro bono involvement
  • It may obviate mandatory pro bono service controversy

Reasons Against Implementing Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

  • Reporting violates constitutional right to privacy because publicizes private acts of charity and divulges names of recipients
  • Reporting violates the right to be free from involuntary servitude
  • Reporting is a step toward mandatory pro bono
  • Implementing reporting invites political opposition to pro bono
  • It may be difficult to find support
  • It may be unnecessary
  • It may be counterproductive to goal of increasing delivery of direct legal services to the poor
  • The administrative costs involved in collecting and processing information, as well as in taking disciplinary action or imposing sanctions, may be prohibitive
  • It may engender negative peer pressure
  • It creates an onerous responsibility for attorneys
  • The public and press can use the information to criticize the bar
  • It is for the legislature, not the judiciary to decide (not judiciary's role to encourage charitable activities)
  • Reporting does not serve the public interest
  • It is difficult to determine what type of discipline is appropriate for failure to report
  • The true motive is to persuade or shame lawyers into doing pro bono work
  • Judicial aspirants could be affected by information provided in past years
  • It burdens the state with the need to devise collection methods and penalties for noncompliance with the rule
  • It imposes a financial burden on the state
  • Pro bono can become a negative rather than positive concept if bar members express opposition

Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

Thirteen states have voluntary pro bono reporting systems in place. 

Arizona
Implemented in 1994. Attorneys are asked to report on their annual dues statement.

Connecticut
Adopted in 2012. Attorneys are asked to report as part of the annual electronic registration.

Georgia
Implemented in 2000. Lawyers only answer whether they have met the aspirational goal of 50 hours of pro bono work as part of the annual attorney dues and registration statement.

Kentucky
Implemented in 2005. Attorneys are asked to report with the the annual dues statement. Lawyers rendering fifty hours of donated legal services  receive a recognition award from the Kentucky Bar Association.

Louisiana
Began in 1998. Attorneys are asked to report their pro bono activity annually as part of the dues renewal process.

Montana
Implemented in 2003. Pro bono reporting is coupled with the annual mandatory IOLTA reporting. This has resulted in a high response rate for Montana attorneys.

North Carolina
Began in 2017. North Carolina has a standalone process that is not coupled with the licensure renewal or CLE reporting. Reporting is coordinated by the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center.

Ohio
Implemented in 2007. The Supreme Court partners with the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation to collect data online. OLAF files an annual report of aggregate data with the Supreme Court.

Oregon
Implemented in 2002. Attorneys are encouraged to report their pro bono time voluntarily as part of the “Pro Bono Roll Call”. Reporting is via the Oregon State Bar website.

Tennessee
Implemented in 2009. Tennessee adopted a rule requesting that attorneys who are required to file an Annual Registration voluntarily file a statement reporting pro bono service and activity.

Texas
Implemented in 2005. The State began conducting random phone surveys of 500 attorneys about pro bono work. Pro bono hours can also be reported through the State Bar of Texas website.

Virginia
Implemented in 2017. Active Virginia attorneys are asked to report as part of the annual dues renewal process, which can be done online or by mail.

Washington
Implemented in 2003. Information is collected as part of the annual licensing process.
 

Reasons In Favor of Implementing Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

  • Voluntary reporting is less of a burden on attorneys because it is optional
  • It is not a threat to constitutional rights
  • There is no need to focus energies on discipline
  • It is easy to implement
  • Voluntary reporting may enable the collection of data
  • Data can send a message to non-legal community about their responsibility to fund legal services for poor
  • It enables recognition of contributing lawyers
  • It can be inexpensive
  • It facilitates engendering confidence in the bar
  • It may make demographics collectible
  • The data can be used to enhance the image of lawyers
  • It may raise consciousness about the professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services
  • It may raise awareness of need for free or reduced fee legal services
  • It may raise awareness of opportunities for pro bono involvement
  • It may increase monetary contributions to providers of legal services

Reasons Against Implementing Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

  • Voluntary reporting has a low response rate
  • It collects insufficient data to draw statistically valid conclusions
  • If the reporting is on separate forms from bar dues/licensing renewal, it may get lost or discarded
  • Trying to track activity may be burdensome due to low response rate
  • Some activities not recognized or promoted (e.g. legal services rendered in rural communities or non-legal community service activities)
  • If the form is not on a dues statement, a complete analysis of collected data impossible because inclusion of personal information optional
  • It is ineffective
  • It may not encourage or promote fulfillment of professional responsibility to provide access to justice
  • It may not raise consciousness about pro bono or professional responsibility

Updated March 19, 2020