Ark. Supreme Court Approves CLE for Pro Bono Proposal
Today the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an order that will permit attorneys to claim Continuing Legal Education credit for doing pro bono work, effective July 1st, 2020. The Court—which has long been supportive of initiatives to increase pro bono involvement by attorneys—issued the order in response to a resolution adopted by the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission. The Office of Professional Programs, as the entity that administers the state’s CLE programs, supported the recommendations included in the resolution.
“So many Arkansans have serious legal problems that require an attorney, but many are simply unable to afford representation,” said Amy Dunn Johnson, Executive Director of the Commission. “We believe that this rule will ensure that more Arkansas families get the help that they need and deserve.”
A 2017 survey conducted by the American Bar Association in partnership with the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission indicated that attorneys believed that CLE credit for pro bono service would be the top way to increase pro bono engagement. Similar rules exist in at least seventeen other states.
What does the new rule allow?
- A maximum of three hours of CLE credit may be claimed per CLE year.
- Attorneys claim CLE credit at a rate of one hour of credit for every three hours of pro bono work.
- CLE credit may only be claimed for legal services provided directly to persons of limited means at no cost.
- Pro bono work must be performed under the supervision of a sponsoring entity. Sponsoring entities include:
- The Center for Arkansas Legal Services
- Legal Aid of Arkansas
- Lone Star Legal Aid
- AR Free Legal Answers (A program of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission)
- Any state or federal court, if the court appoints an attorney to handle a case pro bono.
- The Arkansas Bar Association or a local bar, if that bar association runs a formal pro bono program or event.
How can I sign up to do pro bono with a sponsoring entity?
- Want to take a case or volunteer at a clinic?
- Want to provide advice online?
How is credit claimed?
To claim credit, an attorney must complete an Application for CLE Credit for Pro Bono Publico Service and submit it to the Office of Professional Programs. The form must be signed by a representative of one of the sponsoring entities listed above to verify that the pro bono work was completed under their supervision.
Can I claim credit for pro bono work I have already done?
No. The rule change is effective July 1st. Credit can be claimed for pro bono work done on or after July 1st, 2020.