In 2006, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) implemented a pro bono reporting requirement for attorneys licensed in Illinois. According to the Committee Comments to the amended Rule 756(f), the report is intended to serve as an annual reminder to Illinois lawyers that pro bono legal service is an integral part of a lawyer’s professionalism.
Summary of the Rule
Rule 756(f) requires all attorneys licensed in Illinois to report, in connection with the attorney’s annual ARDC registration, pro bono legal services provided and qualified monetary contributions made during the preceding 12 months. Pro bono legal services include legal services without charge or expectation of a fee (a) to a person of limited means; (b) to an organization designed to address the needs of persons of limited means; (c) to certain charitable, religious, civic, or community organizations; and (d) pro bono training intended to benefit legal service organizations or lawyers who provide pro bono services. According to Rule 756(f), “persons of limited means” are not only those persons with household incomes below the federal poverty standard but also those persons frequently referred to as the “working poor.” The Rule also encourages attorneys to make monetary contributions to an organization that provides legal services to persons of limited means or that contributes financial support to such an organization.
Compliance with Rule 756(f)
The reporting requirement consists of two questions that have been added to the annual Illinois ARDC registration form. All attorneys must respond to both questions, even if they did not perform any pro bono work or make a qualified monetary contribution in the preceding 12 months.
Question 1: Pro Bono Legal Services.
- Attorneys who did not perform any pro bono work in the preceding 12 months should check the “No” box on Question 1 and state whether the attorney is prohibited from providing legal services because of his or her employment.
- Attorneys who did perform pro bono work in the preceding 12 months should check the “Yes” box on Question 1 and identify the number of hours within each category of legal services listed.
Question 2: Monetary Contributions.
- Attorneys who did not make a monetary contribution to an organization that provides legal services to persons of limited means or that contributes money to such an organization should check the “No” box on Question 2.
- Attorneys who did make a monetary contribution within the preceding 12 months should check the “Yes” box and identify the approximate amount of the contribution.
Penalty for Noncompliance
An attorney’s failure to report the required information will result in an attorney’s name being removed from the master roll of licensed attorneys in Illinois.