U.S. District Court Revises Pro Bono Reimbursements

pro bono reimbursementsAs Pro Bono cases rise in the Northern District of Illinois, revisions to Pro Bono reimbursements appeared to be a top priority for the federal court. According to the October 2015 survey of the Northern District of Illinois trial bar, lawyers consistently claimed that the reimbursement rate wasn’t enough to cover the costs incurred in pro bono representation.

As a result, the District Court of the Northern District of Illinois decided to increase reimbursement expense limits in all Pro Bono cases filed on or after February 1, 2016.

According to the Court’s press release, the judge assigned to the Pro Bono case in question is authorized to approve reimbursements up to $2500, not including the cost tied to hiring a court interpreter.

If expenses exceed $2500, the judge must forward a request to the chief district judge, who may then approve expenses up to $5000.

Likewise, in special circumstances where expenses are more than $5000, the Pro Bono attorney may petition the Executive Committee of the district court to approve additional expenses. In this case, the lawyer can submit a written request for preapproval to the assigned judge, who upon approval will forward to the chief district judge. After the chief district judge approves, the original request will be passed on to the Executive Committee for review and approval.

Prior to this amendment, Pro Bono reimbursements were capped at $1000, including interpreter costs. If expenses exceeded $1000, the judge could forward the request along with a recommendation to the chief judge, who could approve reimbursement costs only up to $3000.

Bob Glaves, Executive Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation and Chair of the Northern District of Illinois Pro Bono Advisory Committee, sees it as a win-win for all.

By streamlining the reimbursement process and increasing the reimbursement caps, we are making it easier for Pro Bono lawyers to more effectively represent their clients, which benefits everyone.

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