Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
QOD: What would NEO be like if all lawyers here each did their 50 hours of pro bono work a year, and never sheltered corruption?
Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/22/2010 - 00:59.
In 2007 there were 1,143,358 Lawyers in the United States, which had a population of 303 million people, representing 265 people per lawyer in America. That would indicate that the 16 counties of Northeast Ohio (Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties), with a population of 4.5 million people, have approximately 17,000 lawyers.
Thus, Northeast Ohio's 17,000 lawyers should be providing at least 850,000 hours of pro bono work to this community... let's round that up to 1 million hours.
According to the ABA Model Rule 6.1, "Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year." "EC 2-25 stated that the "basic responsibility for providing legal services for those unable to pay ultimately rests upon the individual lawyer . . .. Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, should find time to participate in serving the disadvantaged." EC 8-9 stated that "[t] he advancement of our legal system is of vital importance in maintaining the rule of law . . . [and] lawyers should encourage, and should aid in making, needed changes and improvements." EC 8-3 stated that "[t] hose persons unable to pay for legal services should be provided needed services.""
Based on review of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation website it is my understanding few lawyers aspire to meet this rule of their ABA in Ohio. From their reporting of Ohio Supreme Court expectations for Ohio lawyers to provide Pro Bono services, and the lack of participation by lawyers:
What insensitivity. What unprofessional behavior. What failure to live to the standards of a profession - a profession that puts people in jail for life.
it would be worth measuring the ACTUAL level of PRO BONO compliance here and demanding better performance from those within the legal community (judges have called for such things in other communities). Certainly, if all the talented lawyers in the region actually provided nearly a million hours of pro bono work to help those in need, this community would be far less in need.
Especially as this rule allows pro bono work to include "participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession."
Especially as today's Cleveland.com featured extensive coverage of the long-time total incompetency and criminal behavior of lawyers in the office of County Prosecutor Bill Mason, which should never have been allowed by the legal community here. And this is just the tip of the injustice that evil man has caused this community, with the full support of 100% of the community's 17,000 lawyers (I've never heard one complaint from one).
And the lawyers so all in the know here have universally supported the entire corrupt power structure here, as it stands... funded it with their contributions and fund-raisers... ate from their banquets. In fact, many of the people at the core of the corruption here, like County Commissioner Jones, are Ivy League lawyers themselves.
I wonder how many hours of pro bono work our lawyers in politics and sitting on our benches - lecturing in our law schools - actually do each year. I wonder if the concept of pro bono is even part of the pledge they have taken in life.
Lawyers have advanced degrees and are supposed to be of the highest intelligence, honorable, and insightful to facts. If all the lawyers in the region bothered to take their heads out of their corner offices for one hour, pro bono, and compared notes on the criminal behavior of our leadership here, and sent email about that to the FBI... or logged onto realNEO and told the truth, there would be no corruption in Northeast Ohio. They know where ALL the bodies are burried, and who is covering them up.
Most important, they know who is crooked.
All citizens really needed was 17,000 hours of free, open honesty from the lawyers in town... they could have spent their other 833,000 pro bono hours a year playing golf in sprawlburbia, and dining at Lola's, and citizens still would have been well served.
Instead, citizens got the worst leadership and corruption in America, right before the watchful but unseeing eyes of 17,000 enabling lawyers, who certainly do not meet the standards of their pledges to the American Bar Association, and it shows.
(b) provide any additional services through:
In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
 Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer. The American Bar Association urges all lawyers to provide a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono services annually. States, however, may decide to choose a higher or lower number of hours of annual service (which may be expressed as a percentage of a lawyer's professional time) depending upon local needs and local conditions. It is recognized that in some years a lawyer may render greater or fewer hours than the annual standard specified, but during the course of his or her legal career, each lawyer should render on average per year, the number of hours set forth in this Rule. Services can be performed in civil matters or in criminal or quasi-criminal matters for which there is no government obligation to provide funds for legal representation, such as post-conviction death penalty appeal cases.
 Paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) recognize the critical need for legal services that exists among persons of limited means by providing that a substantial majority of the legal services rendered annually to the disadvantaged be furnished without fee or expectation of fee. Legal services under these paragraphs consist of a full range of activities, including individual and class representation, the provision of legal advice, legislative lobbying, administrative rule making and the provision of free training or mentoring to those who represent persons of limited means. The variety of these activities should facilitate participation by government lawyers, even when restrictions exist on their engaging in the outside practice of law.
 Persons eligible for legal services under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) are those who qualify for participation in programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation and those whose incomes and financial resources are slightly above the guidelines utilized by such programs but nevertheless, cannot afford counsel. Legal services can be rendered to individuals or to organizations such as homeless shelters, battered women's centers and food pantries that serve those of limited means. The term "governmental organizations" includes, but is not limited to, public protection programs and sections of governmental or public sector agencies.
 Because service must be provided without fee or expectation of fee, the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, services rendered cannot be considered pro bono if an anticipated fee is uncollected, but the award of statutory lawyers' fees in a case originally accepted as pro bono would not disqualify such services from inclusion under this section. Lawyers who do receive fees in such cases are encouraged to contribute an appropriate portion of such fees to organizations or projects that benefit persons of limited means.
 While it is possible for a lawyer to fulfill the annual responsibility to perform pro bono services exclusively through activities described in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2), to the extent that any hours of service remained unfulfilled, the remaining commitment can be met in a variety of ways as set forth in paragraph (b). Constitutional, statutory or regulatory restrictions may prohibit or impede government and public sector lawyers and judges from performing the pro bono services outlined in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, where those restrictions apply, government and public sector lawyers and judges may fulfill their pro bono responsibility by performing services outlined in paragraph (b).
 Paragraph (b)(1) includes the provision of certain types of legal services to those whose incomes and financial resources place them above limited means. It also permits the pro bono lawyer to accept a substantially reduced fee for services. Examples of the types of issues that may be addressed under this paragraph include First Amendment claims, Title VII claims and environmental protection claims. Additionally, a wide range of organizations may be represented, including social service, medical research, cultural and religious groups.
 Paragraph (b)(2) covers instances in which lawyers agree to and receive a modest fee for furnishing legal services to persons of limited means. Participation in judicare programs and acceptance of court appointments in which the fee is substantially below a lawyer's usual rate are encouraged under this section.
 Paragraph (b)(3) recognizes the value of lawyers engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system or the legal profession. Serving on bar association committees, serving on boards of pro bono or legal services programs, taking part in Law Day activities, acting as a continuing legal education instructor, a mediator or an arbitrator and engaging in legislative lobbying to improve the law, the legal system or the profession are a few examples of the many activities that fall within this paragraph.
 Because the provision of pro bono services is a professional responsibility, it is the individual ethical commitment of each lawyer. Nevertheless, there may be times when it is not feasible for a lawyer to engage in pro bono services. At such times a lawyer may discharge the pro bono responsibility by providing financial support to organizations providing free legal services to persons of limited means. Such financial support should be reasonably equivalent to the value of the hours of service that would have otherwise been provided. In addition, at times it may be more feasible to satisfy the pro bono responsibility collectively, as by a firm's aggregate pro bono activities.
 Because the efforts of individual lawyers are not enough to meet the need for free legal services that exists among persons of limited means, the government and the profession have instituted additional programs to provide those services. Every lawyer should financially support such programs, in addition to either providing direct pro bono services or making financial contributions when pro bono service is not feasible.
 Law firms should act reasonably to enable and encourage all lawyers in the firm to provide pro bono legal services called for by this Rule.
 The responsibility set forth in this Rule is not intended to be enforced through disciplinary process.
Model Code Comparison
There was no counterpart of this Rule in the Disciplinary Rules of the Model Code. EC 2-25 stated that the "basic responsibility for providing legal services for those unable to pay ultimately rests upon the individual lawyer . . .. Every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional work load, should find time to participate in serving the disadvantaged." EC 8-9 stated that "[t] he advancement of our legal system is of vital importance in maintaining the rule of law . . . [and] lawyers should encourage, and should aid in making, needed changes and improvements." EC 8-3 stated that "[t] hose persons unable to pay for legal services should be provided needed services."