Rule 6.1. Voluntary Pro Bono Legal Service.

Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:

(a) provide a substantial majority of the 50 hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:

(a)(1) persons of limited means or

(a)(2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and

(b) provide any additional services through:

(b)(1) delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;

(b)(2) delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or

(b)(3) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

(c) A lawyer may also discharge the responsibility to provide pro bono publico legal services by making an annual contribution of at least $10 per hour for each hour not provided under paragraph (a) or (b) above to an agency that provides direct services as defined in paragraph (a) above.

(d) Each lawyer is urged to report annually to the Utah State Bar whether the lawyer has satisfied the lawyer’s professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services. Each lawyer may report this information through a simplified reporting form that is made a part of the Bar’s annual dues statement.

(e) In addition to providing pro bono legal services , a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.

Comment

[1] Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. Personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. All lawyers are urged to provide a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono services annually. It is recognized that in some years a lawyer may render greater or fewer hours than the annual standard specified, but during the course of the lawyer’s legal career, each lawyer should render on average per year, the number of hours set forth in this Rule. Services can be performed in civil, criminal or quasi-criminal matters for which there is no government obligation to provide funds for legal representation, such as post-conviction death penalty appeal cases.

[2] Paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) recognize the critical need for legal services that exists among persons of limited means by providing that a substantial majority of the legal services rendered annually to the disadvantaged be furnished without fee or expectation of fee. Legal services under these paragraphs consist of a full range of activities, including individual and class representation, the provision of legal advice, legislative lobbying, administrative rule making and the provision of free training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means. The variety of these activities should facilitate participation by government lawyers, corporate counsel and others, even when restrictions exist on their engaging in the outside practice of law.

[3] Persons eligible for legal services under paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) are those who qualify for participation in programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation and those whose incomes and financial resources are slightly above the guidelines utilized by such programs but nevertheless cannot afford counsel. Legal services can be rendered to individuals or to organizations such as homeless shelters, battered women's centers and food pantries that serve those of limited means. The term "governmental organizations" includes, but is not limited to, public protection programs and sections of governmental or public sector agencies.

[4] Because service must be provided without fee or expectation of fee, the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2). Accordingly, services rendered cannot be considered pro bono if an anticipated fee is uncollected, but the award of statutory attorneys’ fees in a case originally accepted as pro bono would not disqualify such services from inclusion under this section. Lawyers who do receive fees in such cases are encouraged to contribute an appropriate portion of such fees to organizations or projects that benefit persons of limited means.

[5] While it is possible for a lawyer to fulfill the annual responsibility to perform pro bono services exclusively through activities described in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2), to the extent that any hours of service remain unfulfilled, the remaining commitment can be met in a variety of ways as set forth in paragraph (b). Constitutional, statutory or regulatory restrictions may prohibit or impede government and public sector lawyers and judges from performing the pro bono services outlined in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2). Accordingly, where those restrictions apply, government and public sector lawyers and judges may fulfill their pro bono responsibility by performing services outlined in paragraph (b).

[6] Paragraph (b)(1) includes the provision of certain types of legal services to those whose incomes and financial resources place them above limited means. It also permits the pro bono lawyer to accept a substantially reduced fee for services. Examples of the types of issues that may be addressed under this paragraph include First Amendment claims, Title VII claims and environmental protection claims. Additionally, a wide range of organizations may be represented, including social service, medical research, cultural and religious groups.

[7] Paragraph (b)(2) covers instances in which lawyers agree to and receive a modest fee for furnishing pro bono legal services to persons of limited means. Participation in judicare programs and acceptance of court appointments in which the fee is substantially below a lawyer's usual rate are encouraged under this section.

[8] Paragraph (b)(3) recognizes the value of lawyers engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession. Serving on bar association committees, serving on boards of pro bono or legal services programs, taking part in Law Day and other law related education activities, acting as a continuing legal education instructor, a mediator or an arbitrator and engaging in legislative lobbying to improve the law, the legal system or the profession are a few examples of the many activities that fall within this paragraph.

[9] Because the provision of pro bono services is a professional responsibility, it is the individual ethical commitment of each lawyer. Nevertheless, there may be times when it is not feasible for a lawyer to engage in pro bono services. At such times a lawyer may discharge the pro bono responsibility by providing financial support to organizations providing free legal services to persons of limited means. In addition, at times it may be more feasible to satisfy the pro bono responsibility collectively, as by a firm's aggregate pro bono activities.

[9a] The Utah Rule, unlike the Model ABA Rule, contains paragraph (c), which explicitly allows lawyers to discharge their pro bono services responsibility by annually contributing at least $10 per hour for each hour not provided under paragraphs (a) and (b). While the personal involvement of each lawyer in the provision of pro bono legal services is generally preferable, such personal involvement may not always be possible. The annual contribution alternative allows a lawyer to provide financial assistance to increase and improve the delivery of pro bono legal services when a lawyer cannot or decides not to provide pro bono legal services through the contribution of time. Also, there is no prohibition against a lawyer’s contributing a combination of hours and financial support.

[10] Because the efforts of individual lawyers are not enough to meet the need for free legal services that exists among persons of limited means, the government and the profession have instituted additional programs to provide those services. Every lawyer should financially support such programs, in addition to either providing direct pro bono services or making financial contributions when pro bono service is not feasible.

[11] Law firms should act reasonably to enable and encourage all lawyers in the firm to provide the pro bono legal services called for in this Rule.

[11a] The Utah Rule, unlike the Model ABA Rule, contains paragraph (d) concerning voluntary reporting to the Utah State Bar. Voluntary reporting is designed to provide a basis for reminding lawyers of their professional responsibility under this Rule and to provide useful statistical information. The intent of this Rule is to direct resources towards providing representation for persons of limited means. Therefore, only contributions made to organizations described in subsection (a) should be reported. Reporting records for individual attorneys will not be kept or released by the Utah State Bar. The Utah State Bar will gather useful statistical information at the close of each reporting cycle and then purge individual reporting statistics from its database. The general statistical information will be maintained by the Bar for year-to-year comparisons and may be released, at the Bar's discretion, to appropriate organizations and individuals for furthering access to justice in Utah.

[12] The responsibility set forth in this Rule is not intended to be enforced through disciplinary process.