In response to a petition that the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission filed in February, the Arkansas Supreme Court has handed down an order that permits attorneys licensed in other states who are not admitted in Arkansas to provide pro bono services to low-income clients under the sponsorship of a legal aid services provider that serves Arkansas clients. According to the Commission Executive Director Amy Johnson, nearly half of all clients who qualify for legal aid and have legal problems are turned away each year because the staff and volunteer resources are insufficient to meet the demand. “The current need is so great that any increase in the number of attorneys available to provide pro bono services will help,” she said.
According to the Court’s opinion, this practice “will give in-house, corporate counsel the opportunity to volunteer in the community and will make justice more accessible to low-income Arkansans.” Johnson says the order applies not only to corporate in-house counsel, but also to other non-admitted attorneys who reside in Arkansas and want to volunteer, but otherwise have no reason to seek admission to the Arkansas bar. The Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and Lone Star Legal Aid were all three named in the order as entities approved to sponsor non-admitted pro bono attorneys. The change, effective immediately, is integrated into a newly-revised Administrative Order Number 15.