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  • InsideTrack
  • February 02, 2022

    50 or More Pro Bono Hours in 2021? Certify Now for Pro Bono Honor Society

    If you donated 50 or more hours of qualifying pro bono legal services to benefit low-income Wisconsin residents in 2021, you qualify as a member of the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society – certify your service by Feb. 28.
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    Feb. 2, 2022 – You’ve done the hardest part: You stood up and volunteered your time. Now, the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society would like to recognize your service and inspire more lawyers to follow your example.

    The Pro Bono Honor Society, created by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission with support from the State Bar of Wisconsin, recognizes Wisconsin lawyers who volunteer at least 50 hours of their time annually to help expand access to justice for low-income Wisconsin residents.

    Through SCR 20:6.1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court set a goal of 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year as a way of acknowledging that the legal profession has an important role to play in helping to close the justice gap in Wisconsin.

    Last year, 265 Wisconsin lawyers registered more than 13,250 pro-bono hours of service during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Despite the ongoing pandemic, volunteer lawyers have continued to donate their time to help make a difference for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable residents,” says State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono program manager Jeff Brown. “It’s been a wonderful thing to witness this year.”

    Certify Your Service by Feb. 28

    Now is the time to submit your certification. Lawyers may self-certify that they qualify for Pro Bono Honor Society status based on their service in 2021. In addition, others who have knowledge of the attorney’s pro bono work – such as law firms, pro bono programs, legal aid organizations, and judges – may submit a certification for an attorney.

    Submit certifications using the online form on the Pro Bono Honor Society webpage.

    Which Pro Bono Services Qualify?

    “Qualifying pro bono legal services” for this program means the direct provision of legal services without fee or expectation of fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, to:

    1. persons of limited means;

    2. organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; or

    3. charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights so long as a substantial majority of such services benefit persons of limited means or organizations that serve persons of limited means.

    Examples include public defender appointments, guardian ad litem appointments, and Wisconsin Judicare cases.

    What Does Inclusion in the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society Mean?

    An annual list of the honorees will be posted on the website for the Access to Justice Commission, and the State Bar’s InsideTrack newsletter and Wisconsin Lawyer magazine. The commission also works with bar associations and judges to organize local recognition events.

    Inclusion in the Pro Bono Honor Society supports and encourages pro bono service in Wisconsin. Find pro bono opportunities that fit your interests and skills through the searchable online Pro Bono Portal on the State Bar’s website at​.

    If you have questions about the Pro Bono Honor Society, feel free to send an email to Jeff Brown.

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