The State Bar of Michigan is proud to announce the 2014 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence, which recognizes every firm that fully complied with the State Bar Voluntary Pro Bono Standard during the 2013 calendar year.
Both volunteer legal services for low-income individuals and organizations and financial support for eligible nonprofit organizations providing free civil legal aid for the poor are included in the Voluntary Pro Bono Standard. More specifically, the Pro Bono Standard calls for lawyers to annually take three pro bono cases, devote at least 30 hours of pro bono service, or make a monetary contribution to a legal aid provider organization. Contributions through the Access to Justice Fund for eligible legal aid programs or to the statewide ATJ Fund Endowment count toward fulfilling the Voluntary Pro Bono Standard.
"Lawyers have a unique ethical responsibility to support legal services for the poor, and the law firms recognized today in the 2014 Circle of Excellence are our leaders in this important obligation," said SBM Executive Director Janet Welch.
The Voluntary Pro Bono Standard was amended in 2011 to increase the annual financial contribution from $300 to $500 for those whose income allows a higher contribution. Due to this change, the Circle of Excellence includes two tiers of recognition. The Excellence Level recognizes law firms of two or more attorneys with a per attorney average of contributions of 30 hours of pro bono service or $300 in financial donations. The Leadership Level recognizes law firms of two or more attorneys with a per attorney average of contributions of 30 hours of pro bono service or $500 in financial donations.