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 6.1refined 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.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PRO BONO AND IOLTA REPORTING: CLICK HERE
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 mandatory 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.
All attorneys authorized to practice law in Maryland must file an annual Pro Bono Legal Service Report of their pro bono services hours by February 15 each year, even if they did not provide pro bono services. They must also file an annual Interest on Lawyer Trust Account report (IOLTA), even if they do not have an IOLTA account. For instructions on how to file Pro Bono and IOLTA reports, please visit the judiciary’s website at www.MDCourts.gov. Attorneys are strongly encouraged to file online. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage all attorneys to set up recurring calendar appointments with pop-up reminders for January 15 of every year with the www.MDCourts.gov site noted therein; that will allow a full month for compliance by the February 15 deadline. (An attorney need not have received any paperwork in order to file online; however, online filing does not typically begin before the second full week of January each year.) 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.