The notice for Michigan Supreme Court's administrative public hearing that begins at 9:30 today at the Hall of Justice in Lansing says that the Court will announce its decision on amendments to the Pro Bono rule (6.1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The State Bar, through its Representative Assembly, had asked the Court for changes to clarify and fortify the aspirational standard for pro bono. In response, the Court published a revised version for comment:
2010-18 Proposed Amendment of Rule 6.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct
Alternative A is the current version of MRPC 6.1 with the addition of proposed language that would clarify that lawyers would not be subject to disciplinary action or any other process to enforce their responsibility to provide pro bono services. Alternative B, modified slightly by the Court for publication, was submitted by the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly, and is based largely on the American Bar Association’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1. The proposed amendments would clarify that each lawyer has a responsibility to provide pro bono legal services, and would establish in the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct an aspirational goal for a lawyer to donate 30 hours or handle 3 cases per year, and/or make a financial donation of $300 or $500 per year. The requirements are similar to the existing standard adopted by the SBM Representative Assembly in 1990, which recommends Michigan lawyers provide civil legal services to three clients, provide 30 hours of service, or contribute $300 to programs providing civil legal services to the poor. The proposal would create a professional responsibility for lawyers that would require them to provide legal services to those of limited means, but would state in the rule that the responsibility to do so is voluntary and not intended to be enforced through a disciplinary process or by any other means.