Policies - State Pro Bono Ethics Rules

ABA Model Rule 6.1Table of State Ethics RulesStandards for Pro Bono ProgramsEmeritus Attorney RulesPro Bono Reporting
CLE Credit for Doing Pro BonoState-by-State Arguments in Favor and Against

State-By-State Pro Bono Service Rules

* See Appendix A, STATES WITH OTHER PRO BONO POLICIES, attached hereto.

State Compared to ABA Model Rule 6.1†
(Adopted 1983, Revised 1993, Revised 2002)
Date Specific Annual Goal Financial Contribution Quantified? Details or Comments Link to State Rule
Same as 1993 Revision Similar to 1993 Revision Same as 2002 Revision Similar to 2002 Revision Same as Original Similar to Original Different
AL     X  5/2/90NoNoRule 6.1AL State Rule
AK   X    7/15/93 Amended 4/03 Amended 4/0950 hrsNoRule 6.1AK State Rule
AZ       X12/1/9050 hrsNoRule 6.1
Allows for carryover of excessive hrs.
AZ State Rule
AR   X    12/16/85
50 hrsNoRule 6.1AR State Rule
CA       X*  50 hrsNoResolutionCA State Rule
CO    X   11/2/99, effective date 1/1/00 Amended 1/1/0850 hrsNoRule 6.1. Judicial Advisory Counsel rejected mandatory service proposal in 3/99.
Comment added encouraging law firms to adopt a pro bono policy.
CO State Rule
CT     X  6/23/86NoNoRule 6.1CT State Rule
DE     X  9/12/85NoNoRule 6.1DE State Rule
DC      X*  amended 8/1/06; effective 2/1/0750 hrs
$750 or 1% income
Rule 6.1. Addition of Comment 6 which parallels ABA Model Rule 6.1 comment 11.DC State Rule
FL       X6/23/9320 hrs$350 to legal aid organization alternativeRule 6.1. Excuses certain bar members and includes reporting requirement, allows for carryover of excess hours. Circuit pro bono committee system in place (see rule 4-6 5 - voluntary pro bono plan).FL State Rule
GA  X     6/12/00, effective 1/1/0150 hrsNoRule 6.1. Language added to ensure that mandatory pro bono reporting might only be adopted through court order.GA State Rule
HI  X     Effective January 1, 201250 hrs (provide at least 25 hours of legal services to persons of limited means and to organizations in matters which primarily address the needs of persons of limited means)No, but contribution suggested as alternative if lawyer is unable to provide pro bono service. In lieu of providing 50 hours of pro bono service, a lawyer should donate a minimum of $500 to the Hawaii Justice Foundation.Rule 6.1HI State Rule
ID    X   9/3/86
50 hoursNoRule 6.1.
Deletes end of (b) (1) after "in furtherance of their organizational purposes"
ID State Rule
IL        2/8/90  Preamble to Rules of Prof. Conduct states pro bono rule is inappropriate for disciplinary code. Separate mandatory reporting pro bono plan instituted via SC Rule 756. (passed 6/06)IL State Rule
IN     X  adopted
Amended 1/1/10
NoNoRule 6.1. (Comments added to define pro bono and clarify what legal services qualify.) Separate voluntary pro bono plan instituted via Rule 6.6IN State Rule
IA   X    effective
50 hoursNoRule 32: 6.1IA State Rule
KS     X  1/29/88NoNoRule 6.1KS State Rule
KY  X     Adopted 1/1/90; Amended 10/1/9450 hrsNo but "financial support" encouraged.Supreme Court Rule 3.130 (6.1). Includes optional reporting and recognition awards; Comment identical.KY State Rule
LA  X     12/18/86;
50 hrsNoRule 6.1. Omits Comments.LA State Rule
ME       X2/1/84NoNoRule 6.1.
Rule does not distinguish between Tier I and Tier II pro bono.
ME State Rule
MD  X     effective
50 hrs
For full-time
NoRule 6.1. Required reporting and State Committee and Action Plans also adopted. (Rules 16-901, 902 & 903).MD State Rule
MA  X     1/4/9925 hrs$250 to 1% annual taxable professional income encouragedRule 6.1.MA State Rule
MI       XUpdated 1/1230hrs$300 or $500
if income allows
Voluntary StandardMI State Rule
MN   X    Adopted 6/17/05;
50 hrsNoRule 6.1.MN State Rule
MS       X9/12/96;
20 hrs$200Rule 6.1. Includes mandatory reporting requirement. Allows for carryover of excessive hours.MS State Rule
MO     X  Adopted
NoNoRule 6.1.MO State Rule
MT    X   Effective
50 hrs Rule 6.1. Comments omitted.MT State Rule
NC    X   Adopted
50 hoursNoRule 6.1
Adds "group or organizations seeking to secure..." sentence to the substantial majority hours (part a).
Addition of comment 12 encouraging reporting.
NC State Rule
NE    X   2/14/96
NoNoRule 6.1NE State Rule
NV    X   Amended
20 hrs @ no fee or 60 hrs @ reduced fee$500/yr to pro bono services org alternativeRule 191. Includes mandatory pro bono reporting. Defines what does not qualify as pro bono. Establishes PB Committees by District Court.NV State Rule
NH    X   01/01/2008NoNoRule 6.1 New rule proposed by Supreme Ct, unlike 6.1. 11/99
Rule 6.1 Only changes the number of hours.
NH State Rule
NJ     X  Adopted
caption and text
amended and
NoNoRule 6.1. Minus Comment. In 1992, S. Ct. decided Madden v. Delran, requiring 25 hrs mandatory assignments in municipal court for quasi-crim., crim and traffic offenses. In 4/00, S. Ct. rejected Ad Hoc Committee's 11/98 recommendation to alter or eliminate policy.NJ State Rule
NM  X     1/1/97
50 hrs$500 or a combination of hours and financial contribution as defined by a tableRule 16-601. See also Rule 24-108NM State Rule

Rule 24-108 outlines the number of hours of service that should be provided as well as a suggested financial contribution

NY       X04/01/201020 hrsNoRule 6.1 adopted 4/1/2009 - Similar in substance to EC 2-34NY State Rule
NC           In preamble of The Revised Rules of Professional Conduct mentions that a lawyer should render public interest legal service.  
ND     X  Adopted
NoNoRule 6.1. Added comment four mirroring ABA Model Rule Comment 11, to emphasize that law firms should encourage lawyers to do pro bono work.ND State Rule
OH       X No  No  Supreme Court Statement. No comparable rule.OH State Rule
OK      X Effective
NoNoRule 6.1.OK State Rule
OR       X* 3/10/8880 hrs
(2 cases or 20-40 hrs in direct legal services to the poor)
NoOregon State Bar Board of Governor's Policy 13.1OR State Rule
PA     X  10/16/87NoNoRule 6.1. Added comment four mirroring ABA Model Rule Comment 11, to emphasize that law firms should encourage lawyers to do pro bono work.PA State Rule
RI   X    11/1/88NoNoRule 6.1.RI State Rule
SC     X  1/9/90NoNoRule 6.1.SC State Rule
SD      X 12/15/87NoNoRule 6.1. Nearly identical but recognizes "uncomp-
ensated service in public interest activities."
SD State Rule
TN    X   Effective March 1, 2003 Amended 9/1050 hoursNo TN State Rule
TX       X* 9/22/0050 hrsNoState Bar PolicyTX State Rule
UT    X   Effective
50 hrs$10 alternative for each hour not provided.Rule 6.1. Includes voluntary reporting.UT State Rule
VT    X   Effective 9/1/2009.50 hrsNoRule 6.1. Removes "aspire to" from second sentence.VT State Rule
VA       X* 1/25/99, effective 1/1/002% of professional timeNo, but contribution suggested as alternative.Rule 6.1 (similar to ABA 6.1 1993 Revision). See also Rules 6.2 and 6.3.VA State Rule
WA    X   Amended
30 hoursNo, but contribution suggested as alternative.Rule 6.1. Includes voluntary reporting. Comments added to Rule 6.1 effective 9/1/05
Does not provide for a substantial majority of services to be provided without fee or expectation of fee.
WA State Rule
WV     X  1/1/89NoNoRule 6.1.WV State Rule
WI   X    7/01/200750.NoSupreme Court Rule 20:6.1.WI State Rule
WY    X   Amended 4/11/2006 and
50 hours$500 alternativeRule 6.1.WY State Rule
Totals 4 11 5 6 15 3 5  29 8    

StateFormDate of AdoptionSpecific Annual GoalFinancial Contribution QuantifiedDetails
CAResolution12/9/89, Revised 6/0250 hrsNo 
DCResolution of Judicial Conferences of D.C. (2)D.C. - 2009 and D.C. Circuit - 2010
50 hrs + 1 Ct appt.Yes - $750 or 1% of earned incomeRule 6.1 refers to these Resolutions in its Comment 5
OHPreamble to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct2007NoNoThe OH Supreme Court encourages each Ohio lawyer to particiapte in pro bono activities and describes ways for attorneys to get involved.
OROregon State Bar Board of Governors' Policy 13.1198880 hrs, of which 20-40 hrs of services to poor or 2 casesNo, but "comparable financial contribution" suggested as alternative. 
TXState Bar Policy9/22/0050 hrsNo 
VACouncil of the Virginia State Bar Resolution2/27/99NoNoBar agrees to: 1)provide periodic opps for attys to describe pb and other community svc work; 2)use info to inform public of work lawyers; 3)provide generic info and technical assistance upon request. Consistent with provisions in Rule 6.1

1969 : the ABA adopted the Code of Professional Responsibility, which addresses for the first time the responsibility of the lawyer to engage in pro bono work, in Ethical Consideration 2-25. It states among other things: " Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, should find time to participate in serving the disadvantaged."

1975 : the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution which formally acknowledges "the basic responsibility of each lawyer engaged in the practice of law to provide public interest legal services" (the "Montreal Resolution"). It defined pro bono in part by specifying areas in which the services should be rendered, namely: poverty law, civil rights law, public rights law charitable organization representation and the administration of justice.

1983 : the ABA adopted Model Rule 6.1, which states that a lawyer "should render public interest legal service." It specifies certain ways a lawyer can discharge the responsibility: "by service in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means."

1988 : the ABA adopted the "Toronto Resolution," which, among other things, resolves to "[R]ecognize and support the professional obligation of all attorneys to devote a reasonable amount of time, but in no event less than 50 hours per year to pro bono and other public service activities that serve those in need or improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession."
1993 : the ABA revised Model Rule 6.1 to include a quantified aspirational goal (i.e. at least 50 hours per year), a more refined definition of pro bono, and more specific ways to discharge the pro bono responsibility. The substantial majority of the 50-hour responsibility should be discharged through the provision of legal services to low-income people and groups that serve low-income people.

2002 : the ABA revised Model Rule 6.1 to add a sentence at the beginning of the Rule to give greater prominence to the proposition that every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to persons unable to pay. A new Comment [11] was also added that calls upon law firms to act reasonably to enable all lawyers in a firm to provide the pro bono legal services called for by this Rule.

Last Updated: 01/30/2012