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RULE 19-306.1. PRO BONO PUBLIC SERVICE (6.1)

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 300. Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct
Public Service [Rules 19-306.1 to 19-306.5]
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-306.1
RULE 19-306.1. PRO BONO PUBLIC SERVICE (6.1)
(a) Professional Responsibility. An attorney has a professional responsibility to render pro bono publico legal service.
(b) Discharge of Professional Responsibility. An attorney in the full-time practice of law should aspire to render at least 50 hours per year of pro bono publico legal service, and an attorney in part-time practice should aspire to render at least a pro rata number of hours.
(1) Unless an attorney is prohibited by law from rendering the legal services described below, a substantial portion of the applicable hours should be devoted to rendering legal service, without fee or expectation of fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, to:
(A) people of limited means;
(B) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organizations in matters designed primarily to address the needs of people of limited means;
(C) individuals, groups, or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights; or
(D) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes when the payment of the standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization's economic resources or would otherwise be inappropriate.
(2) The remainder of the applicable hours may be devoted to activities for improving the law, the legal system, or the legal profession.
(3) An attorney also may discharge the professional responsibility set forth in this Rule by contributing financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
(c) Effect of Noncompliance. This Rule is aspirational, not mandatory. Noncompliance with this Rule shall not be grounds for disciplinary action or other sanctions.
Cross reference: For requirements regarding reporting pro bono legal service, see Md. Rule 19-503.
COMMENT
[1] The ABA House of Delegates has formally acknowledged “the basic responsibility of each attorney engaged in the practice of law to provide public interest legal services” without fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, in one or more of the following areas: poverty law, civil rights law, public rights law, charitable organization representation, and the administration of justice. This Rule expresses that policy but is not intended to be enforced through the disciplinary process.
[2] The rights and responsibilities of individuals and organizations in the United States are increasingly defined in legal terms. As a consequence, legal assistance in coping with the web of statutes, rules, and regulations is imperative for persons of modest and limited means, as well as for the relatively well-to-do.
[3] The basic responsibility for providing legal services for those unable to pay ultimately rests upon the individual attorney, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of an attorney. Every attorney, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, should find time to participate in or otherwise support the provision of legal services to the disadvantaged. The provision of free legal services to those unable to pay reasonable fees continues to be an obligation of each attorney as well as the profession generally, but the efforts of individual attorneys are often not enough to meet the need. Thus, it has been necessary for the profession, the government, and the courts to institute additional programs to provide legal services. Accordingly, legal aid offices, attorney referral services, and other related programs have been developed, and more will be developed by the profession, the government, and the courts. Every attorney should support all proper efforts to meet this need for legal services.
[4] The goal of 50 hours per year for pro bono legal service established in section (b) of this Rule is aspirational; it is a goal, not a requirement. The number used is intended as an average yearly amount over the course of the attorney's career.
[5] An attorney in government service who is prohibited by constitutional, statutory, or regulatory restrictions from performing the pro bono legal services described in subsection (b)(1) of the Rule may discharge the attorney's responsibility by participating in activities described in subsection (b)(2) of this Rule.
Model Rules Comparison: This Rule substantially retains Maryland language as amended April 9, 2002, effective July 1, 2002, and does not adopt Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Credits

[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-306.1, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-306.1
Current with amendments received through August 1, 2019.
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