Supreme Court Begins Program to Honor Pro Bono Work

A major component of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice initiative is promoting pro bono service among the state’s attorneys.

To encourage such efforts, the court will for the first time in 2014 recognize attorneys and law students who have demonstrated a commitment to providing legal services to those in need.

Any attorney who has performed 50 or more hours of pro bono work in 2013 will be recognized by the court as an “Attorney for Justice.” Similarly, any 2014 law school graduate who has given at least 50 hours during their law school career will be named a “Law Student for Justice.”

Recipients of the recognitions will be honored at regional events hosted by Supreme Court justices throughout the state. The court has declared that its key strategic initiative is access to justice — and pro bono work is a key component of that objective.

“Pro bono work is an important and valuable element of our service in the legal community,” Chief Justice Gary Wade said. “Ensuring accessible legal services to those who could not otherwise afford them is most deserving of this recognition.“

To be considered for the program, all service must have been provided under the provisions of Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility, which includes delivery of a substantial portion of legal services without fee or expectation of fee and delivery of legal services at no fee or at a substantially reduced fee to recognized groups and individuals. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting.

Law offices located in Tennessee also may submit applications for the honor. Information on how attorneys will report pro bono service and the law office application process is available on the Administrative Office of the Courts website, www.tncourts.gov.

The program is the result of a recommendation by the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, which is tasked with making such recommendations to the Supreme Court of projects and programs necessary for enhancing access to justice.

— by Michele Wojciechowski, Adminisrative Office of the Courts communications director