Access to justice remains a problem across the United States. The civil legal needs of roughly 80% of low-income and 60-70% of middle-income people are not being met. However, to combat this concern many lawyers are doing their part by providing pro bono service, even those who are not actively practicing.
Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court implemented a new attorney emeritus status, allowing non-active attorneys to engage in limited legal practice to provide pro bono service. Ohio joins several jurisdictions, including our own Illinois, in making this change.
The recent change made a number of amendments to the Ohio Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar Rule VI, Section 8.
According to the rule, to be eligible for the emeritus pro bono status, a lawyer must be admitted to practice law in Ohio, have been engaged in the practice of law for at least fifteen years, and be in good standing with the courts.
Under the emeritus status, an attorney must work on behalf of a “pro bono organization” which includes, a law school clinic, legal aid, public defender’s office, and any other number of legal services organizations listed in or recognized by Gov. Bar R. X, Section 5H under the supervision of an active-status attorney.
The work he/she may provide includes appearing before any court/administrative board/agency on behalf of a client of the pro bono organization, routine legal services, and a number of other activities necessary for a legal matter in which the attorney is involved.
To register for attorney emeritus pro bono status, he/she must file an application biennially with the Office of Attorney Services of the Supreme Court, paying a fee of $75.
As far as compensation goes, a lawyer with emeritus pro bono status may not receive any form of payment, but he/she may be reimbursed by his or her pro bono organization for expenses incurred in connection with the services rendered.
The rule will officially go into effect on September 15, 2016.