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Bar Buzz: Bar Association pro bono petition to get airing

Responding to a Minnesota State Bar Association petition to amend rules related to uniform reporting, the state Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on Sept. 15.

Specifically, the Bar petition would amend lawyer registration rules pertaining to uniform reporting of pro bono work and of financial contributions to organizations that provide legal services to the indigent.

The Bar petition notes that over the past 25 years, 11 states have adopted uniform reporting requirements for pro bono hours and contributions. Two have made it mandatory. Minnesota is behind the curve, the petition says.

“While Minnesota has been ahead of many states in adopting rules, structures and funding mechanisms to support access to justice for low-income people,” the petition states, “the absence of a reporting rule leaves our state lagging behind national leaders in this effort.”

Specifically, the Bar petition proposes that the Supreme Court adopt:

  • Mandatory reporting of pro bono service and contributions, as defined in Rule 6.1(a)(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • A provision that data reported publicly will not be identifiable by attorney.
  • A provision that data can be reported in the aggregate by the court.

The MSBA believes the filings should be mandatory as part of the Lawyer Registration Statement, to ensure maximum participation and data accuracy, and to reaffirm the importance and applicability of Rule 6.1, the petition says.

In an order issued on May 26, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said the court will consider the amendments after a public comment period and a review of submitted comments.

Those wishing to provide commentary are ordered to file one copy of their comments with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, using the E-MACS e-filing application if required to do so by the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure. Comments must be received by Aug. 24.

The Supreme Court hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15 in the Capitol’s Supreme Courtroom. Anyone wishing to present remarks must file a request to appear along with a copy of the material to be presented.

That material also must be filed with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts by Aug. 24.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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