Lawyers Contribute to Public Good, Reap Rewards With Pro Bono Work

Phoenix Business Journal

Lawyers Contribute to Public Good, Reap Rewards With Pro Bono Work

Jennifer Cranston authored this article for the February 2012 issue of the Phoenix Business Journal.

Every Arizona attorney has taken this vow as part of the Oath of Ad¬mission: "I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed."

Therefore, we all have solemnly sworn to engage in pro bono work — a term derived from the Latin phrase meaning "for the public good." Consistent with this com¬mitment, Rule 6.1 of the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct encourages attorneys to render a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono legal service each year.

According to this rule, the service can take a variety of forms, including providing professional services at no fee or at a substantially reduced fee to the poor or near poor; engaging in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession; and financially supporting programs that provide legal services to the poor.

Rule 6.1 accurately captures the important role each form of service plays in our community. Collectively, we can provide greater access to justice by making donations to organizations such as the Maricopa County Bar Foundation, which provides much-needed funds to local groups dedicated to meeting the legal needs of our community. Likewise, we can set policies and advocate improvements to the legal system through our involvement in professional groups such as the Maricopa County Bar Association.

Yet, as one comment to Rule 6.1 points out: "Personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer." That's why, in addition to donating money and serving on boards, many Valley attorneys also elect to roll up their sleeves and provide persona11egal service to those in need.

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