On July 1, 2008, amendments to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 716 and 756 went into effect that give retired and inactive attorneys as well as corporate attorneys with limited admission status the ability to provide critical pro bono legal assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged people who would otherwise be shut out of our justice system. The ARDC posted to its website the forms that organizations (“sponsoring entities”) and pro bono attorneys must complete in order to perform pro bono work under the amended Rules.
In a nutshell, the Amendments to Rules 716 and 756:
• Provide that retired, inactive and in-house attorneys with limited admission status may do pro bono work — work without charge or expectation of a fee — for individuals of limited means or charitable, civic, community or other similar groups; and
• Include safeguards to ensure that clients are receiving high quality legal services and that the legal profession is adequately protected.
Potential Pro Bono Attorneys Covered by these Amendments Must:
• Provide pro bono services under the auspices of a sponsoring entity, which is defined as “a not-for-profit legal services organization, governmental entity, law school clinical program or a bar association providing pro bono services”;
• Register their pro bono participation, along with verification from the sponsoring entity, with the ARDC on an annual basis; and
• Participate in any trainings required by the sponsoring entity.
Legal Aid Organizations That Want to Work with These Attorneys Must:
• Submit an application to the ARDC describing the organization’s pro bono program in which retired, inactive or in-house counsel may participate;
• Certify that the organization will provide appropriate training and support to pro bono attorneys;
• Provide malpractice insurance to pro bono attorneys; and
• Submit an annual statement to the ARDC verifying the continuation of any pro bono programs and describing any changes in pro bono programs in which retired, inactive or in-house counsel participate.