Frequently Asked Questions
The following are interpretations by the Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of various provisions in Rule 19-306.1 of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct. The interpretations are promulgated by the Committee upon request of various lawyers. We have attempted to identify the most pressing questions and give our interpretation of the rule in light of its purpose, which is to address the substantial unmet need for legal services of people of limited means. We hope that these interpretations will assist lawyers in determining how to meet the rule’s objective and how to report their pro bono legal service. These interpretations are only guidelines and, ultimately, it will be up to each individual lawyer to interpret the rule in good faith with its objective in mind.
1. Who is required to file a Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report?
Rule 19-503 provides that as “[a]s a condition precedent to the practice of law, each lawyer authorized to practice law in Maryland shall file annually with the Administrative Office of the Courts a Pro Bono Legal Service Report.” The Standing Committee believes that this reporting requirement applies to all attorneys who pay dues into the Client Protection Fund because only those who pay dues to the Fund are authorized to practice law in this state.
2. How can someone get a copy of the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report form?
All lawyers licensed in Maryland who maintain their active status with the Client Protection Fund (formerly the Clients’ Security Trust Fund) should receive a copy of the reporting form with a letter from the Court of Appeals in early January each year. Additional forms can be obtained by downloading a copy from the internet by visiting: http://mdcourts.gov/probono/probonoioltareporting.html. The mail-in address for the completed form is: Administrative Office of the Courts, P.O. Box 319, Simpsonville, MD 21150-0319.
3. When must the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report form be filed and what period of time does it cover?
The next report is due February 15 of each year and covers pro bono activities from January 1 through December 31 of the preceding year.
4. Can lawyers file the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report form online?
Yes. Lawyers are encouraged to file online for accuracy, efficiency and cost effectiveness. To do so, see the instructions at www.mdcourts.gov/probono/probonoioltareporting.html.
5. How can a lawyer retrieve his/her unique identifier?
Lawyers can enter their name at this site and retrieve the unique number assigned to them.
6. How can a lawyer confirm receipt of the report?
If filing online, lawyers should print a confirmation of the report when prompted to do so after completing the form. Lawyers may also visit this site and enter their name or identification number to determine whether their forms have been received by the Administrative Office of the Courts. For further details, see How to Confirm Receipt.
7. What information does the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report ask a lawyer to give?
In the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report, a lawyer must state the number of pro bono service hours donated in the previous year, how many of those hours were in matters referred by a pro bono or legal services organization, the areas of law involved, the number of hours the lawyer devoted to activities to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession, and any financial contribution made to one or more organizations that provide legal service to people of limited means. The lawyer must also state his or her area(s) of practice, the type and size of the firm or agency in which he or she practices and whether he or she is retired or working part time.
The Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report is a short form that will not be time-consuming to fill out. The report does not require a lawyer to divulge the name of any pro bono client or matter, or of any organization to which the lawyer made a financial donation.
8. Why is a Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report required, instead of voluntary?
For nearly a decade, Maryland lawyers were mailed voluntary pro bono service reports with their Clients’ Security Trust Fund dues. Unfortunately, the response rate was very low; the highest response was 7% - - which did not allow for statistically significant data. A mandatory reporting system provides reliable and accurate information, not only about the level of pro bono service in Maryland, but also the breadth of service being offered. This information is crucial for purposes of funding legal services and for future planning.
9. What is the timeline for mailing and filing the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report and what happens to a lawyer who does not file it?
Under Rule 19-503, Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Reports for a given year will be mailed to all lawyers on the Maryland Client Protection Fund list no later than January 10 of the following year. The reports must be filed with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) no later than February 15. Shortly after May 1, the AOC will give notice by mail to every lawyer who has failed to file a Report. The AOC has discretion to provide additional notice of default. Shortly after July 1, the AOC will prepare, certify, and file with the Court of Appeals a list of the lawyers who have failed to file their Reports. If the Court of Appeals is satisfied that the lawyers received the notice of default required by the rule, it will enter an order decertifying the lawyers and prohibiting them from practicing law.
A lawyer who has been decertified for failing to file a report can be recertified by filing the delinquent report and paying a $50 recertification fee. The fee is payable to the Clerk, Maryland Court of Appeals. The report must be separately filed to the Access to Justice Department at the Administrative Office of the Courts. See http://mdcourts.gov/probono/pdfs/probono_latefiling.pdf for additional information.
This required reporting rule does not make pro bono service mandatory. It only makes the filing of the annual Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Report mandatory. A lawyer who has not performed any pro bono service for the year covered by the report complies with the reporting rule merely by filing the report and listing “0" hours of service. A lawyer cannot be decertified or sanctioned in any way for not performing pro bono service.
The decertification process set forth in Rule 19-503 is patterned after the decertification process that governs when lawyers fail to pay their dues to the Client Protection Fund.
10. What are the Maryland Pro Bono Rules and when did they go into effect?
The Court of Appeals revised Rule 19-306.1 of the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, and adopted three new rules pertaining to pro bono service. The effective date of revised Rule 19-306.1 and the new rules was July 1, 2002.
Prior to its revision, Rule 19-306.1 stated that lawyers have a professional responsibility to render pro bono service. As revised, Rule 19-306.1 maintains that responsibility and for guidance includes “target hours”; that is, the rule states that lawyers should strive to render 50 hours a year of pro bono service. The revised rule clarifies that the professional responsibility to render pro bono service is not mandatory. It also leaves in place an existing provision permitting lawyers to discharge their pro bono responsibility by making financial contributions to legal services organizations of their choosing.
The three new court rules pertaining to pro bono service are Rules 19-501, 19-502, and 19-503. Rule 19-501 establishes a statewide Standing Committee on Pro Bono Service, and calls upon that committee to develop a State Action Plan for Pro Bono Service. Rule 19-502 creates Local Pro Bono Committees in each county and charges them with the task of developing Local Pro Bono Action Plans tailored to the needs and resources of the community. Finally, Rule 19-503 requires every lawyer authorized to practice law in Maryland to file an annual pro bono report with the Administrative Office of the Courts. The reports, which are confidential, permit accurate documentation of the nature and amount of pro bono service rendered by Maryland lawyers, and serve to gauge the effectiveness of the local and state Pro Bono Action Plans.
11. To whom do the Pro Bono Rules apply?
The rules apply to all lawyers who are members of the Maryland bar and maintain their active status with the Client Protection Fund (formerly the Clients’ Security Trust Fund). The commentary to revised Rule 19-306.1 recognizes that some lawyers are prohibited by constitutional, statutory, rule, or other regulatory restrictions from engaging in representational pro bono service. When those restrictions apply, a lawyer still may discharge his or her professional responsibility under Rule 19-306.1 by engaging in non-representational pro bono service activities or making a financial contribution to a legal services organization. Lawyers who are retired or are not practicing full-time but maintain their license are to aspire to render a pro rata number of pro bono service hours.
12. Does the goal of 50 hours of pro bono service in Rule 19-306.1(b) apply to legal services and public interest lawyers?
If the lawyer is in the practice of law and is a Maryland lawyer, Rule 19-306.1 applies. The terms of the rule (“a lawyer in the full-time practice of law…”) do not distinguish among different types of practices. The goal in Rule 19-306.1 applies to lawyers “in the full-time practice of law” and “in part-time practice.” Recognizing the positions of legal services and public interest lawyers, the reporting form has been revised to allow everyone to identify where they practice, including legal services and public interest organizations.
13. Does Rule 19-306.1(b) apply to ALJs, judges, masters, law clerks and law professors?
The Committee believes that the goal in Rule 19-306.1(b) does not apply to Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s), judges, masters, judicial law clerks and law professors unless, in addition to their activities in those capacities, they also engage in representing clients. The “practice of law” is defined in the Maryland Code as follows:
- (1) “Practice law” means to engage in any of the following activities:
- (i) giving legal advice;
(ii) representing another person before a unit of the state government or of a political subdivision; or
(iii) performing any other service that the Court of Appeals defines as practicing law.
- (2) “Practice law” includes:
- (i) advising in the administration of probate of estates of decedents in an orphans court of the state;
(ii) preparing an instrument that affects title to real estate;
(iii) preparing or helping in the preparation of any form or document that is filed in a court or affects a case that is or may be filed in a court; or
(iv) giving advice about a case that is or may be filed in a court
Md. Code Ann. Bus. Occ. & Prof. § 10-101(h). The Court of Appeals has interpreted the practice of law to include “utilizing legal education, training, and experience [to apply] the special analysis of the profession to a client’s problem.” Kennedy v. Bar Ass’n of Montgomery County, Inc., 316 Md. 646, 662 (1989). In addition, meeting with potential clients may constitute the practice of law. Id. at 666. The practice of law is “ ‘a term of art connoting much more than merely working with legally related matters.’” Attorney Grievance Commission v. Shaw, 354 Md. 636, 649 (1999) (citations omitted). “ ‘Functionally, the practice of law relates to the rendition of services for others that call for the professional judgment of a lawyer.” Id. Therefore, the Court of Appeals ruled that a bar applicant who had served as a hearing examiner for the Maryland Department of Employment & Training was not engaged in the practice of law, and therefore not eligible to take the attorney’s examination. In re Application of Mark W., 303 Md. 1, 4-6 (1985). “The hallmark of the practicing lawyer is responsibility to clients regarding their affairs, whether as advisor, advocate, negotiator, as intermediary between clients, or as evaluator by examining a client’s legal affairs.” In re Application of R.G.S., 312 Md. 626, 632 (1988).
There may be circumstances in which masters and law professionals also engage in the representation of clients. To the extent that they do so, they would be engaged in the “practice of law” and the rule would apply.
14. What is a judge’s responsibility with regard to Rule 19-306.1?
While judges cannot practice law per se, they can promote pro bono service through a variety of ways, including soliciting lawyers generally to engage in pro bono activities, training volunteer lawyers in substantive areas of the law or on practice tips, recognizing lawyers who make significant volunteer contributions, making financial donations to legal services organizations, and helping the local pro bono committees in their planning process. In fact, Maryland Judicial Ethics Opinion No. 124 specifically allows for a variety of activities by judges which encourage pro bono legal service.
15. What qualifies as Pro Bono Service under the new Rule 19-306.1?
Pro bono service under the revised Rule 19-306.1 includes representational and non-representational service. Representational pro bono service is the rendering of legal services without fee or expectation of fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, to: 1) people of limited means; 2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organizations in matters designed primarily to address the needs of people of limited means or in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, when the payment of the standard legal fee would significantly deplete the organization’s economic resources; and 3) individuals, groups, or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights. Non-representational pro bono service consists of activities to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession.
Rule 19-306.1, as revised, states that a substantial portion of the recommended 50 “target hours” of annual pro bono service per lawyer be representational pro bono service, as described above, with the balance constituting non-representational activities to improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession.
16. What is a “substantially reduced fee” under Rule 19.306.1(b)(1)?
Because the objective of Rule 19-306.1 is to increase the provision of legal services to people of limited means, the Committee believes that a substantially reduced fee must be a fee that such a person can pay. That will vary from case to case and each lawyer must make a determination, based on particular facts, as to whether the client can afford to pay a fee that is materially and extensively reduced. An example of substantially reduced fee would be a nominal, flat fee for an engagement which is considerably less than a fee that would be generated by a standard hourly rate applied to the time involved. Another example of a substantially reduced fee would be panel fees for public defender cases ($80-$90/hour). The Committee believes that, with respect to organizations designated in the rule, standard reductions that some law firms make for the representation of non-profit organizations would not qualify as “substantially reduced fees.”
17. What is an example of rendering legal services to a “charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational” organization in a matter “designed primarily to address the needs of people of limited means”?
There are many private and public organizations and entities that serve to assist the poor with their needs. A lawyer who represents such an organization or entity in a matter that has as its purpose to meet the needs of the poor is rendering representational pro bono service. For example, a lawyer who renders free or substantially reduced fee legal services to a homeless shelter or a food bank is providing representational pro bono service under Rule 19-306.1.
18. What are “people of limited means” in Rule 19-306.1(b)(1)(A)? Are there any guidelines that should be used in identifying people of limited means?
The rule does not provide any explanation as to how to identify “people of limited means.” The comment to the rule refers to “those unable to pay”, “the disadvantaged” and “those unable to pay reasonable fees.”
Pursuant to legislative direction, the Maryland Legal Services Corporation has established maximum income levels for client eligibility “based on the financial inability of a client to engage and compensate competent private counsel and to provide all other necessary expenses of representation.” Because of the consistency of purpose between Rule 19-306.1 and the MLSC, the Committee believes that the MLSC guidelines at www.mlsc.org are valid guidelines for attorneys to use in determining whether they are representing “people of limited means” pursuant to Rule 19-306.1(b). The Committee does not believe that it is necessary for attorneys to apply the guidelines in all cases. In many cases, it may be obvious to the attorney who is being engaged that the client is unable to afford legal services and therefore qualifies as a person of limited means. As with all applications of the rule, a good faith determination that the person is qualified would suffice.
19. What if a lawyer practices out of state?
Pro bono service rendered out of the State of Maryland counts as pro bono service under revised Rule 19-306.1. Thus, when a member of the Maryland bar practices out of state and performs pro bono service there, the service counts toward the “target hours” recommended by the rule.
20. If a lawyer handles a pro bono matter that was not referred by an organized pro bono program, does that still count as pro bono service?
Yes. Whether or not a pro bono matter comes to a lawyer from an organized program, it still qualifies as pro bono. A lawyer who, without assistance from an organized program, comes into contact with a person of limited means and performs legal services for that person with no expectation of payment or at a substantially reduced fee is performing pro bono service. The benefit of an organized program is that it can assist lawyers who wish to give of their time, but are not aware of particular people who are in need of pro bono services. Programs pre-screen clients for eligibility and legal need, assist volunteer lawyers with litigation costs and support staff, provide training, and often offer malpractice insurance.
21. Does the recommended target of 50 hours of pro bono service apply to all lawyers, regardless of their circumstances?
No. Revised Rule 19-306.1 states that the target hours apply on a pro rata basis, depending on whether the lawyer is practicing law full time, part time, or not at all. In addition, the commentary to the rule explains that the 50 hour annual target is intended as an average amount over a lawyer’s career.
22. How should legal services or public interest lawyers report their representation of people of limited means which they perform as part of their job?
The Committee believes that the goal in Rule 19-306.1(b) applies to legal services and public interest lawyers. The rule does not differentiate based on types of practice but simply applies to lawyers “in the full-time practice of law” and “in part-time practice.” The rule contains no guidelines for how legal services or public interest lawyers should report their time. The Committee recognizes the extraordinary dedication of legal services and public interest lawyers throughout the State and believes that dedication is a commendable example to other Maryland lawyers. The reporting form will now allow everyone to identify their type of practice, including those in legal services and public interest organizations. Having legal services and public interest lawyers report all of their time under 6.1(b), however, would significantly skew the reporting results for Maryland lawyers. The Committee recommends, therefore, that legal services or public interest lawyers only report pro bono work they do outside of their jobs on the reporting form pursuant to Rule 19-503.
23. What activities constitute improving the law, the legal profession, or the legal system?
Some examples include: teaching legal education courses, public speaking on legal issues, volunteering as a mediator or settlement facilitator, serving as a faculty member for the MSBA Professionalism Course, serving on court created committees (such as Local Pro Bono Committees), and serving on a board of a legal services organization or other law related entity. This list is only by way of example, as there are many other activities that qualify as improving the law, the legal profession, or the legal system.
24. Does the provision of ADR, mediation services or services through other court-based projects, where the service is done without a fee or at a substantially reduced fee, qualify pursuant to the rule?
Providing mediation services or ADR services pursuant to court-based projects without a fee would qualify under Rule 19-306.1(b)(2) as “activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.” The purpose of many of these projects is to move cases through an overburdened legal system in an expedited way while accomplishing a just result. Clearly, providing such services is an activity which improves the operation of our legal system.
25. Does board service for organizations enumerated in Rule 19-306.1(b)(1)(B-D) qualify as pro bono publico legal service under the Rule?
Although the Committee cannot respond to every situation in which a lawyer is also a director, as a general matter lawyers who are directors and who are discharging the duties of a director are not providing legal services. Therefore, even if the organization is one identified in Rule 19-306.1(b)(1)(B-D), service on the board would not qualify as providing “pro bono publico legal service” pursuant to the rule. The duties of directors or trustees of various organizations formed under Maryland law are generally defined in the Corporations and Associations Article of the Maryland Annotated Code. See Corporations and Associations, § 2-401, 2-405.1, 5-204. Directors provide direction regarding the management of the business and affairs of the organization and are required to perform their duties in good faith, in the best interest of the corporation and with ordinary care.
Depending on the purpose of the organization, service on its board may qualify pursuant to Rule 6.1(b)(2). If the organization itself is devoted to activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, service on the organization’s board would also qualify as such activity.
26. Does service for lawyer referral services qualify as pro bono publico legal service under the rule?
Volunteering for lawyer referral services is an activity devoted to improving the law and the legal system because it assists potential clients with legal problems in finding representation. Therefore, time spent in volunteering to handle phone calls for lawyer referral services is reportable under Rule 19-306.1(b)(2). Any portion of the volunteer’s time which is spent actually rendering legal advice to people of limited means would be reportable under Rule 19-306.1(b)(1)(A).
27. What if a client fails to pay a lawyer's fee in a given case, or if a lawyer loses a contingency fee case and therefore does not receive a fee? Would the lawyer's representation in these cases be considered pro bono?
The answer for both situations is no. Pro bono service is not merely unpaid legal service. A matter is pro bono when the client is a person of limited means (or an organization as described in revised Rule 6.1) and the lawyer undertakes representation of the client without the expectation of being paid a fee, or with the expectation of being paid a substantially reduced fee.
28. Can a pro bono lawyer accept counsel fees at the conclusion of a case?
A lawyer in a pro bono case may seek an amount of counsel fees, and if they are awarded, may accept them. The matter remains a pro bono case even though fees are awarded, as long as the lawyer did not have an expectation of receiving a fee when he or she took the case. A lawyer may also donate the fees or a portion of the fees to the legal services organization which assigned the case.
If a pro bono lawyer obtains an award of fees pursuant to a fee shifting statute, can the lawyer’s time on the case count as pro bono time?
If the lawyer accepted the engagement on behalf of a person of limited means without expectation of any fee and without the client having any obligation to pay a fee, the lawyer may accept a fee under a fee shifting statute and count the time spent as pro bono time. A pro bono lawyer may identify a cause of action of behalf of a pro bono client pursuant to a fee shifting statute. The lawyer has nevertheless provided services to a person of limited means without expectation of a fee or without any obligation on the client to pay. The award of a fee pursuant to a fee shifting statute is contingent on obtaining success on behalf of the client and is frequently subject to discretion on the part of the court in determining the amount of the award. The fact that the lawyer has taken the risk of obtaining no fee and has represented an indigent client serves the purpose of Rule 6.1 in increasing access to justice.
29. Can a lawyer utilize Rule 19-306.1(b)(3) by instructing his or her law firm to contribute financial support to qualifying organizations and designate any such contribution in the name of the individual lawyer?
A lawyer can comply with Rule 19-306.1(b)(3) by having his or her firm make a financial contribution to qualifying organizations. The firm should determine an equitable way to allocate the contribution among its lawyers for reporting purposes pursuant to Rule 19-503.
30. What guidance exists as to potential conflicts regarding pro bono representation by attorneys who are employed by a public defender’s office, state attorney’s office, attorney general’s office, political subdivisions or other public type entities? Asked in another way: Could the Standing Committee generate guidelines for public sector attorneys regarding possible pro bono conflict issues?
The Standing Committee’s role does not include rendering advice on potential conflict issues. A number of governmental agencies have developed pro bono policies for their employees and provide mechanisms for handling the issue of conflicts. For samples or a copy of a model governmental pro bono policy, contact the Standing Committee at Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, 520 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Committee suggests that lawyers use the various resources available to interpret the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct regarding conflicts.
31. Where can a lawyer go for answers to questions regarding what activities qualify as pro bono service or whether it is representational or non-representational pro bono service under revised Rule 19-306.1?
The Standing Committee on Pro Bono Services is tasked with, among other things, providing guidance on issues of this sort. Questions can be directed to: email@example.com. In addition, the Local Pro Bono Committees may be able to provide assistance with these matters or one can request that his or her Local Committee seek guidance from the Standing Committee.
32. Who has access to the Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Reports?
Rule 19-503 specifies that Lawyer Pro Bono Legal Service Reports are confidential, under the Maryland Public Information Act, and may be released only by order of the Court of Appeals. The reports are filed with the AOC and are not disseminated thereafter. Only the non-identifying data culled from the reports is passed on to the Standing Committee. That non-identifying data is not confidential and is expected to be widely disseminated.
33. What are some of the functions assigned to the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service?
The Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service, established by Rule 19-501, receives the Local Pro Bono Committees’ Action Plans and annual reports from those committees detailing how their plans are being implemented and the results that are being achieved. In addition, the Standing Committee serves as a clearinghouse for information, so Local Pro Bono Committees can share materials and ideas. The Standing Committee provides technical assistance to the Local Pro Bono Committees, examines long range pro bono issues, and receives aggregate data from the Lawyer Pro Bono Service Reports about pro bono service being rendered by Maryland lawyers. (The Standing Committee will not receive the reports themselves, which are confidential). Finally, the Standing Committee is charged with using the information it receives and any additional materials it obtains to develop a State Pro Bono Action Plan. That plan was submitted pursuant to court rule to the Court of Appeals for consideration. The Plan was published in the Maryland Register in February 2007. The Standing Committee regularly updates the Court of Appeals on its work and the progress of the local pro bono committees, reporting of pro bono and rules related to the delivery of pro bono services to those in need.
The Standing Committee meets bi-monthly and has developed a comprehensive Resource Manual for Local Pro Bono Committees. The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland is charged with staffing the Standing Committee and assisting the local pro bono committees.
34. Who are the appointed members of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service?
The Court of Appeals appointed the 18 members of the Standing Committee. The eight lawyer members representing each appellate judicial circuit are: Karen Murphy Jensen as Chair, (1st) Patrick J. Palmer, (3rd) Miriam Sincell Burton, (4th) Manuel R. Geraldo, (5th) Makeba Gibbs, (6th) Robert D. Anbinder, and (7th) Michael Goecke, with one current vacancy. The Circuit Court representatives are Judge Angela M. Eaves of the Circuit Court for Harford County and Judge Cathy Hollenberg Serrette of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. The District Court representative is Judge Miriam Brown Hutchins of the District Court for Baltimore City. Also selected are Sharon E. Goldsmith of the Pro Bono Resource Center, Shawn Boehringer of the Legal Aid Bureau, Bonnie Sullivan of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service, and Johanna Leshner of the Office of the Public Defender. The public member is Joan Bellistri; the at-large member is June White Dillard. There is one vacancy for a pro bono referral organization.
35. What functions are the Local Pro Bono Committees serving and who are its members?
The Local Pro Bono Committee for a county assesses the needs in the jurisdiction for pro bono legal services, determines what resources exist in the county to address those needs, and develops a Local Pro Bono Action Plan to connect lawyers willing to give of their time with clients whose pro bono needs are unmet. The committees are comprised of between 7 and 11 people including lawyers appointed by the president of the local bar association, a representative of the public defender’s office, and members of legal services organizations active in the community and the general public, appointed jointly by the Circuit Administrative Judge and District Administrative Judge. Although membership is limited, the Committee is free to call upon other interested members of the bar, Judiciary, legal services organizations, and the general public, as well as key court personnel to serve as consultants. The Local Pro Bono Action Plans are submitted to the Standing Committee, and the Local Pro Bono Committee should devote much of its effort to implementing the Plan and reporting on the results.
The Court has requested the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) to serve as a resource for the local pro bono committees. To that end, PBRC has prepared a Resource Manual for local committees, coordinates and publicizes events and programs with local committees for National Celebration of Pro Bono Week (now in actuality Pro Bono Month), offers technical assistance and advice, suggests project ideas, attends meetings to serve as a resource, and encourages networking and support between local and Standing Committee members.
36. Can counties develop joint plans?
The Rule provides that with the approval of the Standing Committee, a single joint Pro Bono Action Plan may be developed for two or more adjoining counties by collaboration of the Local Pro Bono Committees. On the eastern shore, five counties have joined to form one pro bono regional group (known as Mid-Shore Pro Bono).
37. How can a lawyer find out about relevant pro bono opportunities?
The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc. (PBRC) was established as the statewide pro bono support and information center for pro bono activities. PBRC has a wealth of information about various legal services organizations across the state with short and long-term pro bono opportunities. The Resource Center also incubates pro bono projects targeting specific underserved populations or communities and coordinates free and discounted training seminars for volunteer lawyers and legal services providers. To sign up for pro bono work or for more information about pro bono opportunities and training, contact Annie Brinkmann, Director of Volunteer Services for PBRC at 410-837-9379 or 800-396-1274, extension 3051; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the website at www.probonomd.org.