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Monday, January 06, 2014

Ind. Law - "Supreme Court and Indiana Bar Foundation have proposed tracking the volunteer work in hopes of encouraging Indiana attorneys to do even more"

Tim Evans has this lengthy story today in the Indianapolis Star on attorney pro bono work. Some quotes:

the need for that free and low-cost legal help is growing — so much so that the Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Bar Foundation have proposed tracking the volunteer work in hopes of encouraging Indiana attorneys to do even more. * * *

To re-emphasize the importance of the work and persuade attorneys to contribute more volunteer hours, the Supreme Court and bar foundation are finalizing details for implementing a proposed new statewide system for Indiana’s 18,000 attorneys to report their pro bono service work.

The reporting requirement, some experts say, is a simple, yet effective motivator. That’s because it keeps the topic front-of-mind and, while attorneys can’t be required to do pro bono service, few will want to be seen as slacking on the important issue. * * *

Pro bono work performed by Indiana attorneys focuses primarily on civil cases because criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire private legal counsel are guaranteed a public defender.

There are other options for Hoosiers who need free or low-cost legal services, primarily through the Indiana Legal Services Corp., a nonprofit law firm that provides free assistance to low-income Hoosiers. But demand far surpasses the group’s ability to help, Executive Director Norman P. Metzger said.

The organization has seen its funding fall by about 20 percent since 2010 while demand is up by nearly 10 percent. The result: ILS is serving fewer people — about 7,300 fewer in 2012 — at a time when demand is increasing, largely due to economic stress experienced by Hoosiers.

“Pro bono work is not going to ever fill the entire gap,” he said, “but it is one more way to get help to people who can’t afford traditional legal assistance.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 6, 2014 11:23 AM
Posted to Indiana Law