Legal Ethics

Mississippi Weighs Mandatory Pro Bono, to Lawyers’ Dismay

Many Mississippi lawyers are apparently unhappy with a proposal that would require them to donate 20 hours a year representing the poor or to contribute $500 to the state bar for legal services programs.

So far, the Supreme Court Rules Committee on the Legal Profession has received 64 comments on the proposal (PDF), and the “vast majority” are in opposition, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reports. The comment period remains open until Oct. 1. After that, the committee will make a recommendation to the state supreme court.

A comment letter cited on the blog MS Litigation Review and Commentary says no other jurisdiction has a mandatory pro bono requirement, and only seven require reporting of pro bono hours. Mississippi is one of the seven.

Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. told the newspaper the proposals are only a starting point for discussion. “No decision has been made with regard to the amount or the issue of mandatory versus voluntary participation,” he said.

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