Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

New Supreme Court Rule Expands Who Could Provide Pro Bono Help

A new crop of attorneys is now potentially available to provide free legal help to Ohioans after a new Ohio Supreme Court rule took effect today.

The changes to Rule VI of the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio result from recommendations made by the Supreme Court Task Force on Access to Justice, which was charged with identifying gaps in and obstacles to accessing the civil justice system in Ohio.

The new emeritus pro bono status is available to attorneys admitted to practice law in Ohio and associated with a law school clinic, legal aid, public defender’s office, or other recognized legal services organizations. The attorney may perform limited legal services only in association with and under the supervision of the pro bono organization. The emeritus attorney won’t be allowed to receive compensation beyond reimbursement for expenses from the pro bono organization.

In addition, the attorney seeking emeritus status must have been practicing for at least 15 years and be in good standing with the Supreme Court. Emeritus attorneys also must register biennially, pay a $75 registration fee, and meet the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys on active status. Emeritus attorneys are required to file for either active or inactive attorney status once the emeritus status expires or is revoked.

The emeritus status rule joins other access to justice rule changes adopted by the Supreme Court that took effect on July 1. Amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio increased attorney fees to help fund legal aid services in two ways.

Pro hac vice registration fees, which out-of-state attorneys pay if they want to appear in an Ohio court proceeding, increased from $150 to $300. The new rules also implemented a $50 voluntary “add on” fee to the biennial attorney registration. The $350 registration fee hasn’t been raised since 2007. The Court will use the money collected from these two fees to help fund civil legal aid services for low-income or disadvantaged Ohioans.