In an effort to increase the number of attorneys and law offices providing pro bono services to those who cannot afford legal costs, the Tennessee Supreme Court is launching an extensive recognition program.
Chief Justice Gary R. Wade announced Monday that the Court will honor all attorneys providing at least 50 hours of service annually, with a goal of increasing statewide pro bono work to 50 percent participation. Presently, it is estimated that only 45 percent of the more than 17,000 Tennessee attorneys offer pro bono services.
“Pro bono work is an important and valuable element of our service in the legal community,” Chief Justice Wade said. “Ensuring accessible legal services to those who could not otherwise afford them is most deserving of this recognition.“
In the program, attorneys meeting the Court’s minimum goal of 50 pro bono hours annually will be named “Attorneys for Justice” by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting. Attorneys’ pro bono work must be primarily for persons of limited means and/or organizations serving such clients.
Recipients will be honored in regional events throughout the state, where they will receive certificates signed by all five Justices. Each honoree’s name will be included in an Honor Roll published on the Court’s website, and recipients also will be able to download a seal indicating the honor, which may be used on firm websites or marketing materials.
Attorneys are encouraged to begin tracking service work in 2013. To be considered for the program, all service must have been provided without a fee or expectation of a fee. Law offices located in Tennessee may also submit applications for the honor. Information on the how attorneys will report pro bono service and the law office application process will be made available on the Administrative Office of the Courts website, www.tncourts.gov.
The program is the result of a recommendation by the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, which is tasked with making such recommendations to the Supreme Court of projects and programs necessary for enhancing access to justice.