According to the Preamble of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers have obligations not only to their clients, but also to the public. The Rules state that lawyers can serve the public interest in a number of ways, including “pro bono representation of persons unable to pay for legal services”.
Access to justice is a widespread issue that remains a concern all across the United States. In fact, research shows that only 15-25% of the civil legal needs of low or modest income people are being met, which calls for lawyers everywhere to step up to the plate.
However, lawyers in most jurisdictions are not required to volunteer their services for free, even in Illinois, positioning pro bono service as a highly encouraged suggestion rather than as a formal job requirement.
Therefore, when attorneys do give their time and services, many in the profession believe recognition should be made.
Each year, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service recognizes five individuals and institutions for their commitment to the public through the Pro Bono Publico Awards.
The awards honor individual lawyers and small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that devote efforts to improving the quality and delivery of legal services to many of the disadvantaged and poor citizens of the United States.
Nominations are currently open for the awards, and will close on February 26th. The Committee will select the five winners in April, and those recipients of the 2016 award will be recognized at the ABA Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 6th in San Francisco.
For more information on nomination criteria, please visit the following link.