Denver Bar Association
February 2012
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From the President: What You May Not Know about Pro Bono

by Ilene Lin Bloom

Ilene Bloom, DBA President

 

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ast month, my column discussed some of the results of the member survey regarding pro bono. This month, I am focusing on some of the written comments to the survey. I am hopeful this information will be useful in your further consideration of getting more involved in pro bono (if you are not already).

CLE Credit for Pro Bono

Many of you may not know that you can obtain CLE credit for participating in qualified pro bono or pro bono mentoring activities. If you provide pro bono legal representation, you may apply for and receive one unit of general CLE credit for every five billable-equivalent hours of representation, up to a maximum of nine CLE credits in each three-year compliance period. Credit also is available for lawyers who act as mentors for other lawyers and law students providing pro bono representation. See Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 260.8 for more information.

 

Pro Bono Emeritus Status

Many of you also may not know about Rule 223, which provides a “licensing status to allow retired or inactive attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to the indigent” through nonprofit entities “whose purpose is or includes the provision of pro bono legal representation to indigent or near-indigent persons.” The rule also applies to lawyers from other jurisdictions who have moved to Colorado. Pro bono emeritus attorneys are not required to pay annual attorney registration fees but must file an annual registration statement identifying the entities for which they have volunteered or, alternatively, pay the registration fee applicable to registered inactive attorneys.

 

Malpractice Insurance for Pro Bono Work

Several attorneys who responded to the pro bono survey, including government attorneys and in-house counsel, indicated they were hesitant to take pro bono cases because they lack malpractice insurance. What many lawyers do not realize is that as long as they take a pro bono case through an organized pro bono program, they will be covered by the program’s malpractice insurance.

 

Unbundling

When an attorney is said to be providing unbundled legal services, it means that he or she is providing the client only certain components of the full bundle of legal services during the course of the representation, or limited representation (see “Ethical Considerations When Providing Unbundled Legal Services” by Adam J. Espinosa in the September 2011 issue of The Colorado Lawyer). This is very helpful with assisting pro se parties, who often are indigent and really in need of pro bono representation. Thankfully for many pro se litigants, C.R.C.P. 11 allows for such limited representation and sets forth the parameters and requirements for the limited representation of a client by an attorney. Specifically, it allows attorneys to draft or prepare pleadings on behalf of pro se parties for filing with the court. Colorado Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.2 also clarifies that an attorney may ethically provide such limited representation.

 

Transactional Opportunities

Many survey respondents expressed desire for more transactional opportunities. They do exist! The Colorado Lawyers Committee Nonprofit Working Group provides many opportunities for transactional pro bono assistance. Real estate and transactional lawyers and other non-litigators are needed to provide transactional-type pro bono representation to community nonprofit organizations that serve children, the indigent, and other underserved populations and whose operating budgets do not permit them to retain legal counsel. For more information and to get on an email list that is sent when such opportunities arise, please contact Peter Schwartz at peter.schwartz@dgslaw.com. Also, MVL occasionally will receive a request for assistance with creating a will.

 

Mentor or Be Mentored

MVL will match those who are interested in mentoring an attorney for a pro bono case with those who are seeking a mentor. And, mentors get free CLE credits when they help mentees with a pro bono MVL case.

 

Firm Presentations

Recently, I was invited to speak to a firm about pro bono opportunities and other bar association volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in a firm presentation, please contact me at ilenebloom@hotmail.com. D


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