The Idaho Pro Bono Commission
Nationally, a renaissance in pro bono service is underway and Idaho has signed on. Notably, collaboration between the Idaho Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court of Idaho and the Idaho State Bar created the Idaho Pro Bono Commission. Its founding resolution lays out specific recommendations for increasing pro bono work across the state.
- History about the Commission.
- Q and A about the Commission.
- Read about the Commission in this Aug. 16 story by the Idaho State Journal.
- Download a brochure about the Idaho Pro Bono Commission.
The Task of the Commission
The Commission’s goal is encourage a culture of pro bono service in Idaho. The Commission has three goals:
- To increase pro bono participation by private sector attorneys in both private firms and in corporate legal departments.
- To increase pro bono participation by public sector attorneys including deputy attorneys general, prosecuting attorneys, public defenders, city attorneys and judicial clerks.
- Finally, the resolution urges judges to adopt “best practices” to encourage and support pro bono participation by attorneys under their jurisdiction.
Limited Pro Bono Appearance. Rule ll(b)(5) was adopted in January 2012 and allows for Pro Bono Attorneys only to apply for limited appearance. These court approved forms are for use by attorneys who wish to file in state court cases.
The members of the Idaho Pro Bono Commission have developed templates to guide legal firms and offices in the creation of a pro bono policy for their organizations.
- Private Law Firm Policy Template
- Corporate Legal Department Policy Template
- Public Sector Policy Template
The Members of the Commission
New! Menu for Local Pro Bono Committees Click Here
Help For Attorneys To Preform Pro Bono Service
- IVLP provides malpractice insurance for your work through the Program. That includes representing IVLP clients in cases as well as other IVLP activities (e.g. clinics, presentations, etc.). This policy gives primary coverage for corporate, government or other attorneys without malpractice insurance. Although malpractice claims against volunteer attorneys are extremely rare, should a claim ever arise in Idaho against an attorney who also has her own coverage, the insurance companies would have to work out how the two policies apply.
- The Family Law Mentor Project links experienced family law practitioners as mentors with new attorneys who have agreed to accept a family-law related pro bono referral from the IVLP and is co-sponsored by the Family Law Section. This Project allows a greater number of families in crisis to have access to legal assistance provided by an attorney during a divorce, custody or modification action, and allows new attorneys to represent their clients more confidently.
- Recorded Continuing Legal Education Courses designed to give non-experts quality training to be able to accept pro bono cases in the areas of greatest need are available.
With a pro bono pledge to the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program, the rental charge is reduced from the regular rental costs and in many cases free.
- IVLP Can Help You Manage Requests For Pro Bono Help: Many Idaho lawyers tell us that they are “inundated” with people calling and walking in, often with compelling stories, asking for pro bono services. Others tell us they like to choose their own cases and do not want referrals. IVLP can help you manage your pro bono work load in both situations.
A. Use us as an excuse. If you are being asked to take pro bono work by walk-ins, callers, or even people you know, feel free to tell them, “I only do pro bono cases that have been screened by IVLP. Give them a call.” We will screen the caller to determine if they really meet low-income guidelines. After that, depending on what you tell us you want, we can either let you know about the caller’s economic status OR take the further steps to investigate the case and provide you with relevant documents and a summary (including our take on whether it is a good case for your pro bono involvement).
Either way, we will tell you what we learned; you make the choice as to whether you want the case.
B. Use us for traffic control. If you have an open or recently closed pro bono case, we will not ask you to take on anything else (except in the rare situation in which there is no other choice). If you like to choose your own cases you can still have those cases opened through IVLP. We will then know you are busy and we won’t attempt to refer pro bono work to you. Using IVLP will benefit you in that you will receive IVLP’s legal malpractice insurance coverage (secondary if you already carry a policy) and will entitle your client to an automatic waiver of the filing fee.
On the other hand, if you have some time and want to take on a pro bono matter, we can refer a case that has been screened for income and reviewed for merit.
C. Working with IVLP promotes access to justice. As you and your fellow Bar members look at the question of how to improve access to justice in your area, it is very important that good information be collected as to what is being done by Legal Aid, the Courts and the Bar members, what gaps exist, and what resources can be found to close those gaps. If your pro bono work is done through IVLP, it enables us to keep track of the hours, the kinds of work provided and the attorneys participating. But, even if you choose not to have your cases go through IVLP, we encourage you to use our Volunteer Attorney Hours Report Form to help us develop good information on what is being done in your community. It takes only a minute of your time and it helps all of us in making justice accessible to Idahoans.
Contact the Commission
The Idaho Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal District Court and the Idaho State Bar are committed to ensure that justice reaches the poorest, most under-represented and most hidden corners of our society. The Idaho Pro Bono Commission hopes that our efforts will assist your efforts in achieving our common aspiration. Please contact Mary Hobson if you wish to hear more about how you can participate.