Shook, Hardy & Bacon Director of Pro Bono Services and Of Counsel Jolie Justus was quoted in a July 20 Missouri Lawyers Weekly article about making adjustments to Missouri’s pro bono system.
Missouri doesn’t have a recommended number of pro bono hours for attorneys or require attorneys to report hours. The Missouri Bar has a “wall of fame” that features attorneys who reported more than 40 hours of pro bono work per year. Out of 30,000 bar members, 204 attorneys are featured in 2014’s wall of fame.
Many law firms, attorneys and legal aid organizations would like more structure for the state’s pro bono program. Justus, who gets to see different approaches to pro bono across the country, shared some ideas of how Missouri could reshape pro bono work.
Pulling from other state’s pro bono requirements, Justus suggests a consequence for attorneys who don’t fulfill the allotted pro bono hours. Borrowing from a Florida rule, Justus suggests that Missouri ask all attorneys to complete 30 hours of pro bono work each year, or contribute $350 to a legal aid organization.
“I like that model. I know that would be a tough sell and I get that,” Justus said, going on to explain that she likes the model because it allows attorneys to choose between a time and monetary donation.
While discussing Shook’s pro bono efforts, Justus explains that Shook allows attorneys to count pro bono hours toward billable hours.
“I think it’s further proof that our commitment to pro bono isn’t just word or deed, it’s institutionalized,” Justus said.