Policy

Model Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 3.7

State Adoption of ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 3.7

Currently, five states (Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Utah and Wyoming) have adopted the identical language of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 3.7. Twenty-nine (29) states have similar language (AZ, AR, CA, D.C., FL, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, VA, WA, WV). Five (5) states have similar language to  3.7 but no mention of pro bono. (AK, DE, GA, MI, MS). 

States with Identical Language

Colorado

Colorado's revised judicial code can be viewed here

Connecticut

Connecticut's revised judicial code can be viewed here

New Hampshire

New Hampshire's judicial code can be viewed here

Utah

Utah's Judicial Code of Conduct can be viewed here.   

Wyoming

Wyoming's code can be viewed here

States with Similar Language

Arizona

In addition to the general language of Rule 3.7, Arizona has added section (C)(1) which states that a judge may provide leadership in identifying and addressing issues involving equal access to the justice system; developing public education programs; engaging in activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and convening, participating or assisting in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services, or the administration of justice.

In addition, Comment [6] to Arizona's Rule 3.7 states that a judge may be an announced speaker at a fundraising event benefiting indigent representation, scholarships for law students, or accredited institutions of legal education.

Arkansas

Arkansas has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

California

Canon 4C(3)(d)(i) adds language specifically allowing a judge to solicit funds from family members. Canon 4C(3)(d)(ii) is similar to the model rule and any changes are not intended to alter the meaning of the Canon, but solely to make the canon clearer by making a slight change in the wording. Canon 4C(3)(e) and commentary are based on comment 5 to the Model Rule as it applies to judicial encouragement of pro bono. Language regarding judicial promotion of pro bono is the same as the Model Rule.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Florida

According to Canon 4B of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge is encouraged to speak, write, lecture, teach, and participate in other quasi-judicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, and the role of the judiciary as an independent branch within our system of government, subject to the requirements of this code.

The comments to 4(B) make clear that support of pro bono legal services by members of the bench is an activity that relates to improvement of the administration of justice. Accordingly, a judge may engage in activities intended to encourage attorneys to perform pro bono services, including but not limited to:

  1. Participating in events to recognize attorneys who do pro bono work;
  2. Establishing a general procedural or scheduling accommodations for pro bono attorneys as feasible, and
  3. Acting in an advisory capacity to pro bono programs. 

Hawaii

Hawaii has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Idaho

Idaho has adopted language substantially similar language to Rule 3.7, but added “as long as encouragement is not coercive in nature” to the pro bono language. 

Indiana

Indiana has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Iowa

Iowa has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

Kansas

Kansas has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Maryland 

Maryland has adopted rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

Minnesota

Minnesota has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Montana

Montana has added comment [6], which states that a judge may provide leadership in improving equal access to the justice system, developing public education programs, engaging in outreach activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and convening and participating in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of legal services, and/or the administration of justice.

Nebraska

Nebraska's Rule 3.7 adds section (C) which states that, subject to the requirements in Sections (A) and (B), a judge may: 

  1. Provide leadership in identifying and addressing issues involving equal access to the justice system; develop public education programs; engage in activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and convene or participate or assist in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services, or the administration of justice. 
  2. Endorse projects and programs directly related to the law, the legal system, the administration of justice, and the provision of services to those coming before the courts, and may actively support the need for funding of such projects and programs.
  3. Participate in programs concerning the law or which promote the administration of justice.

Furthermore, Nebraska's proposed rule adds Comments [6] and [7] which state that a judge may be an announced speaker at a fundraising event benefiting indigent representation, scholarships for law students, or accredited institutions of legal education, and write, speak, lecture, teach and participate in other extrajudicial activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice and non-legal subjects.

Nevada

Nevada's Rule 3.7 adds Comment [6] which states recruitment of lawyers or law firms to provide pro bono legal services pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 191 is not membership solicitation for purposes for Rule 3.7. Accordingly, a judge may assist an organization in recruiting attorneys so long as the recruitment effort cannot reasonably be perceived as coercive. Additionally, a judge may provide an organization with general endorsement or solicitation material for use in the organization's recruitment materials.

Similarly, the Comment makes clear that Rule 3.7 does not preclude a judge from requesting an attorney to accept pro bono representation of a party in a proceeding pending before the judge.

New Jersey

New Jersey did not adopt the Model Rule's numbering system. Rule 4(D) contains language substantially similar to Rule 3.7 with regard to judicial promotion of pro bono. 

New Mexico

New Mexico has adopted language substantially similar to Rule 3.7, with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

North Dakota 

North Dakota has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

Ohio

Ohio has adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Rule 3.7 adds Section (C) which states that subject to the requirements of Rule 3.1 and Rule 3.7(A) and (B), a judge may:

  1. Provide leadership in: Identifying and addressing issues involving providing equal access to the justice system; Developing public education programs; Engaging in community outreach activities to promote the fair administration of justice; and Convening, participating or assisting in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services and/or the administration of justice.
  2. A judge may endorse projects and programs directly related to the law, the legal system, the provision of services and/or the administration of justice.
  3. A judge may participate in programs concerning the law or which promote the administration of justice.

Oregon

Oregon Rule 4.5 is similar to Rule 3.7. Section 4.5(E) states, "So long as the procedures employed are not coercive, a judge may personally encourage or solicit lawyers to provide publicly available pro bono legal services." 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Rule is similar in substance, the order and numeration of the content differs. The language on pro bono is identical to Rule 3.7.  

Tennessee 

Tennessee adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

Virginia

Virginia Canon 4 is similar in substance to Rule 3.7.  Rule 4(C) states, “A judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono publico legal services.” The commentary adds: “A judge may assist an organization in the recruitment of lawyers or law firms to provide pro bono legal services so long as the recruitment effort cannot reasonably be perceived as coercive. This includes a judge requesting an attorney to accept pro bono representation or a party in a proceeding pending before the judge."

"A judge may participate in programs concerning the law which promote the provision of pro bono publico legal services and may provide leadership in convening, participating, or assisting in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the provision of legal services to the indigent or those with low incomes. A judge may also support projects and programs directly related to the provision of services to indigent and low income individuals coming before the courts and may comment upon the need for funding of such projects and programs." 

Washington

Washington's Rule 3.7 is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7. However, it does not include subsection (A)(3) ("soliciting membership for such an organization or entity, even though the membership dues or fees generated may be used to support the objectives of the organization or entity, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice;") or (A)(5)("making recommendations to such a public or private fund-granting organization or entity in connection with its programs and activities, but only if the organization or entity is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice").

Furthermore, Section (B) ("A judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono publico legal services") is eliminated from the Rule but addressed in Comments [7] and [8], which state that a judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono legal services and a judge may provide leadership in identifying and addressing issues involving equal access to the administration of justice; and convening, participating or assisting in advisory committees and community collaborations devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, the provision of services, or the administration of justice. 

West Virginia

West Virginia adopted Rule 3.7 with no major changes regarding judicial promotion of pro bono. 

States with Different Language

Alaska

Canon 4 of the Alaska Code of Judicial Conduct is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7. Alaska's Canon 4 does not include any information regarding judicial support of  pro bono. 

Delaware

Rule 3.7 of the Delaware Code of Judicial Conduct is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7(A). Delaware's Rule 3.7 omits Section 3.7(B) of the Model Rule, which provides that a judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono legal services. 

Georgia

Rule 3.7 of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7(A). Georgia’s Rule omits Section 3.7(B) of the Model Rule, which provides that a judge may encourage lawyers to provide pro bono legal services. 

Michigan

Canon 4 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7. Michigan’s Canon 4 does not include any information regarding judicial support for pro bono. 

Mississippi

Canon 4 of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct is substantively similar to ABA Model Rule 3.7, but does not include any information regarding judicial support for pro bono. https://courts.ms.gov/rules/msrulesofcourt/code_of_judicial_conduct.pdf

Updated March 2020