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Rule 6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service

ABA RULE 6.1


Adopted, Effective Jan. 1, 2008

PUBLIC SERVICE
Rule 6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service

Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (30) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:

    (a) provide a substantial majority of the (30) hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:

        (1) persons of limited means or

        (2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and

    (b) provide any additional services through:

        (1) delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization's economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;

        (2) delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or

        (3) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

       In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.


NEW HAMPSHIRE COMMENTS

New Hampshire’s Rule differs from the ABA Model Rule as follows: 

  • in the second sentence, by deleting the reference to a specific number (such as 50) of aspirational hours of pro bono service, and in its place, inserting “an appropriate number of hours, consistent with the lawyer’s circumstances”; and
  • in (a), by deleting the reference to the 50 hours, and inserting “such legal services consistent with the lawyer’s expertise and interests”.
 While a specific number of hours—such as 50—does provide an admirable goal for the lawyer,  given the great diversity of circumstances among the practicing lawyers in this State, the “appropriate number” of hours that each lawyer should provide will vary depending upon each lawyer’s situation.  And as noted in ABA Comment 1, the amount of time will also vary from year to year, again based upon the circumstances of each lawyer.  Consequently, no set number of hours is incorporated in the New Hampshire Rule.
 
There are many factors that will reasonably impede a lawyers compliance with the preferred delivery of pro bono services as provided in (a).  As stated in ABA Comment 5, there may be, in fact, practice situations that prevent a lawyer’s ability to participate in such services.  By further adding the clarification “consistent with the lawyer’s expertise and interests” the New Hampshire Rule recognizes that an attorney’s specific practice area and competence may also affect compliance with this provision, or the manner of compliance (as illustrated in ABA Comments 2 and 3).
 

The elimination of a specific number of aspirational hours of pro bono service, or the added clarification in (a), however, should not in any way dilute the attorney’s professional responsibility, clearly stated in the first sentence of this Rule, “to provide legal services to those unable to pay”.

 

ABA RULE 6.1

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