September 28, 2007
Supreme Court urges pro bono legal services
To underscore the important obligation attorneys have in facilitating public access to justice, the Supreme Court of Ohio has issued a statement encouraging Ohio attorneys to regularly provide pro bono legal services and to report their voluntary legal activities.
“The Court recognizes that many Ohio lawyers honor their professional commitment by regularly providing pro bono legal services or financial support to pro bono programs,” said in a Court statement and it further encouraged lawyers to continue providing these essential services and to respond to this call by seeking new or additional pro bono opportunities.
In 1997, the Supreme Court issued a Statement on Professionalism that recognized each lawyer's obligation to engage in activities that promote the common good, including the provision of and support for pro bono representation to indigent clients. Again, in 2007, in the Preamble to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, the Court reemphasized the importance of this obligation.
The Court has regularly allocated funding to the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation to aid pro bono activities throughout Ohio. Since 2003, the Court has provided more than $2.6 million to support pro bono programs and other activities of the Foundation. These funds have been allocated from the biennial licensing fees collected from Ohio lawyers.
In its statement, the Court announced that it is developing a system in cooperation with the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, by which Ohio lawyers will be able to voluntarily report their pro bono work. The information gathered through such reporting will demonstrate the commitment of the legal profession to serving the public good and also will serve as a constant reminder to the bar of the importance of pro bono service, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer said.