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Lemons urges participation in pro bono reporting

For the first time, Virginia lawyers are being asked this year to voluntarily report their pro bono contributions, and the chief justice is encouraging participation.

In a letter going to all Virginia lawyers in the mid-June license renewal statement, Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons asks lawyers to both engage in pro bono service and to voluntarily report their activities.

“Pro bono legal service is an important professional obligation and can also be a source of great personal satisfaction. If you were able to engage in pro bono practice or make contributions in 2018, I hope that you will take the time to report your contributions so that we can gather reliable data regarding this important effort in Virginia,” Lemons wrote in the letter, dated April 10.

Lemons reminded lawyers that Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct sets an aspirational goal of at least a two percent contribution to the public good. The court enacted a voluntary reporting measure last year, effective in December.

On the annual dues statements being mailed in June, Section 5 provides a place to make voluntary reports.

Lawyers with concerns about the skills needed to take on a certain pro bono case can access a free pro bono learning portal from the Virginia Law Foundation.

The Virginia State Bar last year published answers to frequently asked questions about voluntary pro bono reporting.

A proposal for mandatory pro bono reporting in Virginia was rejected by the court in 2017 after an unfavorable reception by the VSB Council.