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Judicial Promotion of Pro Bono

Judicial Home ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct
State Adoption of ABA Model Code State Codes of Judicial Conduct
Judicial District Pro Bono Committees Court Employee Pro Bono Rules
Court Based Pro Bono Programs Policies
Promotional Tools ABA Links

State of Judicial Facilitation of Pro Bono

Court involvement is essential to the delivery of pro bono legal services. Judicial support of pro bono can increase lawyers' acceptance of pro bono responsibility and increase the acceptance of pro bono as a necessary component of the delivery of access to justice. These pages provide information on current policies with respect to judicial promotion of pro bono, offer examples of how courts and judges are supporting and encouraging pro bono work in their communities, and present a library of resources that can be duplicated by other jurisdictions.

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ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct

In February of 2007, the ABA House of Delegates approved Rule 3.7 of the New Model Code of Judicial Conduct allowing judges to "encourage lawyers to provide pro bono legal services." More...

State Adoption of ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 3.7

States with Identical Language
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States with Similar Language
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States with Different Language
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State Codes of Judicial Conduct (with relevant pro bono language)

There are some states that have not yet adopted 3.7, but nevertheless include permissive language with regard to judicial encouragement of pro bono.

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Judicial District Pro Bono Committees

Learn how some states utilize judges as members of regional pro bono committees.

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Court Based Pro Bono Initiatives

Court Employee Pro Bono Rules: Courts can set an example for the bar by encouraging their own attorney employees to do pro bono work. To learn about policies and rules allowing court employees to do pro bono work select a state below or view the federal policy:


Programs: Judges may participate in and promote pro bono by creating programs within the courts. To learn about specific in-house pro bono programs select federal or state programs below:



Judges have helped to create their own programs to aid indigent parties in securing pro bono legal assistance. Examples


Judicial support for pro bono has been encouraged by a variety of policy strategies outside of judicial ethics.

State Advisory Opinions

Several states have issued advisory opinions on questions related to judicial pro bono. An advisory opinion is an interpretation of the law as it applies to a set of facts provided in writing by the individual requesting the opinion. The purpose of an advisory opinion is to provide guidance to an official or employee before the official or employee engages in an action that may be prohibited. Examples


Involving judges in promoting pro bono is included in standards developed for pro bono and legal services programs. Examples


Courts have amended their rules to promote lawyer participation in pro bono. Examples

Promotional Tools

Courts and judges can implement their commitment to pro bono in many ways, including passing resolutions, writing letters to members of the bar, etc. Examples of these and more can be found here.

Relevant ABA Links

For additional information on judicial involvement in pro bono and related matters explore the links page.

Access to Justice Commissions

Many states have access to justice commissions which address the delivery of legal services to indigent clients from a macro perspective, including the role of pro bono. Judicial leadership is key to these commissions. Visit the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives for additional information.

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Updated: 7/3/2014

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