State Bar seeks law firm applications for 2015 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence

The State Bar of Michigan invites all law firms of two or more attorneys to apply for the 2015 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence, which recognizes every firm that fully complied with the State Bar's Voluntary Pro Bono Standard during 2014. Application deadline is April 4.

Both volunteer legal services for low-income individuals and organizations and financial support for eligible nonprofit organizations providing free civil legal aid for the poor are included in the Voluntary Pro Bono Standard. The standard calls for lawyers to annually take three pro bono cases, devote at least 30 hours of pro bono service or make a monetary contribution to a legal aid provider organization. Contributions to the Access to Justice Fund count toward fulfilling the standard.

The standard asks firms that can afford to do so to make an annual financial contribution of $500. Firms that contributed 30 hours of service and/or a $500 donation will be recognized Circle of Excellence Leadership Level contributors. Firms that contribute $300 and/or 30 hours of service will continue to be recognized in the Circle of Excellence.

“We are extremely proud of the increased number of law firms that appeared on last year's Circle of Excellence,” SBM President Tom Rombach said. “Fifty four firms achieved that recognition, up from the previous year's 45 firms. We especially laud the 23 firms who achieved the new Leadership Level, and we continue to encourage firms to establish a presence on the Circle at either the original or the Leadership Level.” Rombach also noted that individual lawyers who meet the Pro Bono Standard are celebrated locally through their Access to Justice programs, and in the SBM A Lawyer Helps program.

The Circle of Excellence is published frequently in the Michigan Bar Journal, posted on the SBM and the Michigan State Bar Foundation websites and is distributed at the SBM Annual meeting.

To apply for the Pro Bono Circle of Excellence on-line, visit http://www.michbar.org/programs/ATJ/pdfs/CircleOfExcellence_app.pdf.

For more information, call Rob Mathis at 517-346-6412 or email him at rmathis@mail.michbar.org