In 2002, the Maryland Court of Appeals adopted new rules impacting pro bono service by the bar. As part of the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 19-306.1 (also Rule 6.1) refined the definition of “pro bono publico” to include an aspirational goal of 50 hours of legal service annually for all full-time lawyers with a substantial portion of those hours being dedicated to serving people of limited means. By clarifying what qualifies as pro bono legal service, the Court transformed the vague notion of doing service “for the public good” into specific, tangible, and quantifiable activities.
The Court also created a Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service (Rule 19-501, formerly Rule 16-901), established local pro bono committees in each county (Rule 19-502, formerly Rule 16-902), and mandated reporting of pro bono hours by each licensed attorney on an annual basis (Rule 19-503, formerly Rule 16-903) (as opposed to mandating pro bono service). It is through the mandatory reporting process that Maryland is able to quantify the number and type of pro bono hours being donated and evaluate how the system needs to be improved.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PRO BONO AND IOLTA REPORTING: CLICK HERE
PRESS RELEASE ON 2019 RULE CHANGES: CLICK HERE
Rule 19-503 was amended in December 2018 to require Maryland lawyers to register with the Attorney Information System (AIS), and to permit the creation of a single compliance schedule so that reporting is done on a fiscal basis. Attorneys will receive an email notification once per year, in July, advising that the Client Protection Fund assessment and Pro Bono and IOLTA reports are all due September 10. (For 2019 only, reports will reflect the prior 18 months.)
All attorneys authorized to practice law in Maryland must file an annual Pro Bono Legal Service Report of their pro bono services hours by September 10 each year, even if they did not provide pro bono services. They must also file an annual Interest on Lawyer Trust Account report (IOLTA) by September 10 each year, even if they do not have an IOLTA account. Attorneys are now required to file online. For instructions on how to file Pro Bono and IOLTA reports, please visit the judiciary’s website at www.MDCourts.gov. At this site, attorneys can also retrieve their personal ID numbers, find a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the reporting process, and find a copy of the pro bono rules. Please email any questions or comments to email@example.com.
We encourage all attorneys to set up recurring calendar appointments with pop-up reminders for July 10 of every year with the www.MDCourts.gov site noted therein; that will allow two months for compliance by the September 10 deadline. Please note that the Courts are no longer mailing notices for reporting. ALL communications regarding Pro Bono reporting and IOLTA compliance will be sent from the Courts via email, according to the amended Rule 19-503. If an attorney does not file, the Court will issue an order decertifying the attorney, prohibiting him/her from practicing. There is a $50 fee for recertification.