News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Board of Professional Responsibility released data showing that more than 46 percent of Tennessee attorneys reported performing free (“pro bono”) legal work for deserving Tennesseans, an increase of six percent from last year.
This is the highest percentage of pro bono reporting since attorneys began to voluntarily report pro bono in 2009 and more than twice the level of reporting during the initial year. The figure released does not include attorneys who that have yet to renew their licenses and report hours.
“It is great to see more attorneys taking time to volunteer and to make sure Tennesseans continue to have access to justice,” Justice Janice M. Holder said. “We applaud these attorneys and the various legal services agencies, bar associations and others for their efforts. I encourage all attorneys to consider pro bono work because it’s a truly rewarding experience.”
Each year, when attorneys renew their law license, the renewal form includes a section where attorneys are asked to voluntarily report the pro bono work they did in the previous calendar year. So far, approximately 3,860 lawyers with Tennessee law licenses residing in Tennessee reported 329,285 hours of pro bono work.
Increasing pro bono participation is a priority of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission’s 2012 Strategic Plan.
“The commission’s goal is to ensure all Tennesseans have access to justice by knowing their rights, having access to counsel and understanding the judicial system,” ATJ Chair George T. “Buck” Lewis said. “This is very encouraging news, and next year we hope to see that number over 50 percent.”
The Tennessee Supreme Court announced its Access to Justice campaign in Dec. 2008. This was in response to a growing legal needs gap in Tennessee as indigent and working-poor families faced more legal problems caused by unemployment, predatory loans, uninsured medical bills, domestic violence, evictions and foreclosures. As part of the campaign, the Court created the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission, which is made up of ten members from across the state. The members are appointed by the Supreme Court and serve staggered terms of 1-3 years.
For more information on how you can help or to get more information, visit http://justiceforalltn.com/.
For more information on Access to Justice Commission, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/programs/access-justice.