Chief Justice Baer Encourages Increased Support for Legal Aid and Pro Bono
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Max Baer has addressed a letter to the attorneys of Pennsylvania thanking them for their financial support of legal aid and encouraging them to provide pro bono service.
In sending the letter Chief Justice Baer continues the custom of outgoing Chief Justice Thomas Saylor of addressing the bar in support of legal assistance for the indigent. He recognized the financial support provided to legal aid organizations as a component of the annual attorney registration fee and encouraged each of Pennsylvania's more than 75,000 attorneys to provide pro bono service through direct representation. He also encouraged additional financial support for the Commonwealth's legal aid programs.
He noted that this year, the need is especially acute. The global pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income groups, and the resulting financial and familial stressors are exacerbating the need for civil legal aid among those who cannot afford private counsel.
The Supreme Court supports civil legal aid programs in a variety of ways, including creating a continuing legal education pilot program to increase support for those programs, enacting rule changes to facilitate the provision of bro bono services by retired lawyers, funding a loan forgiveness program, and celebrating the work of pro bono volunteers.
The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network works in conjunction with a range of regional and specialty legal aid providers, and these structures offer myriad opportunities for volunteer lawyers to donate their time and legal skills as well as their financial support.
The Chief Justice thanked attorneys who are already donating their time and expertise and joined with Pennsylvania Bar President Kathleen Wilkinson in asking attorneys to commit to the goal of Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which calls upon lawyers to render public interest legal service.