STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA ENCOURAGES ATTORNEYS TO PROVIDE PRO BONO
SERVICE AND SUPPORT LEGAL AID
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1, 2017 – In response to a recent increase in attorneys seeking to do pro bono work, State Bar President James Fox and Executive Director Elizabeth Parker said today:
“We applaud the recent wave of attorneys throughout California looking to provide pro bono legal services around immigration and other legal concerns. The State Bar of California strongly supports access to legal services as a core part of our public protection mission. We support the promise of justice for all, including for low-income people who too often have no choice but to navigate the legal system alone.
We encourage attorneys licensed in California to provide pro bono support to help bridge the gap in access to justice. While upholding ethical standards for attorneys and regulating the legal profession is a core focus of the State Bar’s work, it’s equally critical to ensure that all of California’s residents have access to high-quality attorneys when the need arises.
In addition to the donation of time, a donation of financial assistance can make a huge positive impact, especially with a shifting political landscape. Please consider making a donation to the State Bar’s Justice Gap Fund or directly to your local legal aid provider to help make sure individuals and families who need legal assistance can get help when they need it.”
Information about providing pro bono legal services in California
Attorneys who wish to provide pro bono legal service in California must have active State Bar status. Status can be switched from inactive to active by completing a Transfer to Active Status form and sending it in with payment or credit card information.
The fee for active status is waived for attorneys who participate in the State Bar of California’s Pro Bono Practice Program.
The Pro Bono Practice Program allows California attorneys who are currently inactive or retired to have active status for the sole purpose of doing pro bono work. Attorneys who are accepted to the Pro Bono Practice Program must work with a qualified legal services provider, certified lawyer referral service, or court-based self-help center. In addition to a waiver of the active status fee, attorneys who qualify for this program have access to free MCLE.
More information about pro bono opportunities is available on the State Bar website. One Justice also houses a pro bono rapid response network for attorneys.
In addition to promoting pro bono service, the State Bar also provides approximately $30 million in grants annually to legal aid organizations throughout California. These grants support groups that address immigration needs, prevent homelessness, keep kids in school, protect elders from fraud and abuse and connect veterans to services, among other critical legal assistance.
Legal aid organizations provide direct services throughout the state. (The statewide list of legal aid providers is available.).
Attorneys who would like to provide additional support for access to justice can donate to the Justice Gap Fund when they pay their annual State Bar of California fees.
Resources for Californians on finding an attorney
The State Bar also provides resources for Californians who need help finding an attorney as well as ways to avoid fraud from notarios and other people posing as attorneys.
People who think they have been a victim of misconduct by an attorney or someone posing as an attorney should file a complaint with the State Bar.
The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system since 1927. All lawyers practicing law in California must be admitted to the State Bar.