Reporting of Pro Bono Service

Overview of State Pro Bono Reporting Policies

strategies for emphasizing pro bono responsibility and gathering data

States That Allow Pro Bono Representation by Corporate In-House Counsel (from Corporate Pro Bono and the Pro Bono Institute)

Arguments For and Against Pro Bono Reporting

Mandatory: For

Mandatory: Against

Voluntary: For

Voluntary: Against

 

In Favor of Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

  • Simple mechanism for attempting to increase delivery of legal services to poor (e.g. actual increase in Florida) and level of service to community
  • Effective mechanism for collecting reliable, accurate, consistent data to evaluate delivery of pro bono legal services to the poor
  • Provides data essential for design of successful programs
  • Can increase monetary contributions
  • Creates positive peer pressure
  • Promotes increased access to justice/courts
  • Allows judiciary opportunity to safeguard constitution and individuals' rights to challenge government conduct
  • Promotes involvement in pro bono
  • Promises high rates of reporting
  • Data can send message to non-legal community about their responsibility to fund legal services for poor
  • Enables recognition of contributing lawyers
  • Can be inexpensive
  • Facilitates engendering confidence in the bar
  • Can make demographics collectible
  • Data can be used to enhance image of lawyers
  • Encourages fulfillment of professional responsibility
  • Can raise consciousness about professional responsibility
  • Can raise awareness of need for free or reduced fee legal services
  • Can raise awareness of opportunities for pro bono involvement
  • Can obviate mandatory pro bono service controversy
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In Favor of Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

  • Not a burden on attorneys because optional
  • No threat to constitutional rights
  • No need to focus energies on discipline
  • Easy to implement
  • Can collect data
  • Data can send message to non-legal community about their responsibility to fund legal services for poor
  • Enables recognition of contributing lawyers
  • Can be inexpensive
  • Facilitates engendering confidence in the bar
  • Can make demographics collectible
  • Data can be used to enhance image of lawyers
  • Can raise consciousness about professional responsibility
  • Can raise awareness of need for free or reduced fee legal services
  • Can raise awareness of opportunities for pro bono involvement
  • Can increase monetary contributions
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Against Mandatory Pro Bono Reporting

  • Violates constitutional right to privacy because publicizes private acts of charity and divulges names of recipients
  • Violates of right to be free from involuntary servitude
  • A step toward mandatory pro bono
  • Invites political opposition
  • Difficult to find support
  • Unnecessary
  • Counterproductive to goal of increasing delivery of direct legal services to the poor
  • Administrative costs involved in collecting and processing information, as well as in taking disciplinary action or imposing sanctions
  • Negative peer pressure
  • Onerous responsibility for attorneys
  • Public and press can use information to criticize the bar
  • For legislature, not judiciary to decide (not judiciary's role to encourage charitable activities)
  • Does not serve public interest
  • Difficult to determine what type of discipline is appropriate
  • Unnecessary
  • True motive: to persuade or shame lawyers into doing pro bono work
  • Judicial aspirants could be affected by information provided in past years
  • Burdens state with need to devise collection methods and penalties for noncompliance with the rule
  • Financial burden on state
  • Pro bono can become a negative rather than positive concept if bar members express opposition
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Against Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

  • Promotes low response rate
  • Collects insufficient data to draw statistically valid conclusions
  • If separate forms, 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 form not on dues statement, complete analysis of collected data impossible because inclusion of personal information optional
  • Ineffective
  • May not encourage or promote fulfillment of professional responsibility to provide access to justice
  • May not raise consciousness about pro bono or professional responsibility


 

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