The Washington County Bar Association passed the following resolution on March 25, 2002.
This Association is mindful of the historic role of the legal profession in the development of this society, the protection of individual rights of all citizens, the development of the law and the profession. The association also acknowledges and supports the codification of the lawyer's role in such matters in the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
Rule 6.1. Pro Bono Publico Service. A lawyer should render public interest legal service. A lawyer may discharge this responsibility by providing professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations, by service in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal service to persons of limited means.
The Association believes that it is appropriate for it to assist its members in fulfilling their responsibilities to render public interest legal service through the development and operation of appropriate public interest legal service programs. The association has determined that a continuing need exists among the indigent of this County for the provision of free legal services. A Direct Service Pro Bono Project has been developed by the appropriate committee of the Association.
Further, the Association believes that meeting the legal needs of indigent persons not serviced by the local goernmentally funded legal service organization is a priority need in our community and must be addressed as a special project by this Association in addition to all other forms of public interest legal service.
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by this Bar Association and it is hereby resolved by and with the authority thereof as follows:
Assurance of the meeting of the legal needs of all indigent citizens of this County is adopted as a priority special project of this County Bar Association.
The goal of fully addressing the legal needs of the indigent of this County shall be accomplished through expanded cooperation between this Association and Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services and through immediate implementation of the attached Direct Service Pro Bono Project that is hereby approved and adopted as an ongoing special project of this Bar Association.
All members of the Association shall be notified of the adoption of this resolution and the establishment of the Direct Service Pro Bono Project through the provision of true and correct copies hereof.
All members of the Association are urged to participate in the program hereby adopted in addition to any other public interest legal services rendered by them.
The program shall be supervised and administered by the Pro Bono Committee which shall consist of seven (7) members and one Chairman, all of whom shall be appointed annually by the President of the Bar Association.
DIRECT SERVICE PRO BONO PROJECT
To insure increased availability of legal representation for cases involving conflict-of-interest situations in accordance with the Subgrant Agreement between Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services and the Washington County Bar Association.
To assist the members of the Washington County Bar Associationin in fulfilling their responsibilities to render public interest legal service.
To more fully address the legal needs of the indigent of Washington County.
To promote high standards of practice and encourage the highest quality of legal service.
Persons are eligible for service under the Pro Bono Project if they meet the eligibility requirements for free service of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid. Intake, screening and referral of prospective clients to WCBA will be the responsibility of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid.
The Pro Bono Project shall be administered by the Association's office of the Executive Director ("Administrator") in accord with the written and available procedures, policies and standards from time to time established by the Pro Bono Committee. Copies of all approved policies and standards and amendments thereto shall be sent to the Legal Service to the Public Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
The Pro Bono Committee Chairman will appoint from the membership of the committee a Monitoring Attorney who shall, in accordance with the Subgrant Agreement, 1) assume responsibility for insuring the quality of legal services provided, 2) have the authority to authorize payments in reduced-fee cases, and 3) shall investigate and review grievances of clients represented and provide recipient with notice of each such grievance/outcome.
All members of the Association shall initially be assumed to desire to be participants in the Pro Bono Project. All members shall be requested to file an information form (attached as Exhibit "A") with the Pro Bono Committee. The information form shall include verification that participating attorneys 1) agree to the Private Attorney Conflict Program Representation Agreement in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Subgrant Agreement between Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services and the Association and 2) are covered by Professional Liability Insurance. The Administator shall complete an information form for any participant who fails to return a completed information form. In completing forms for such participants, it shall be assumed that any such member is available for unlimited service in all areas of law. Prior to referring cases to such a participant, the Administrator will verify the participant's Professional Liability Insurance coverage and concurrence with the Representation Agreement.
5. SERVICE GOAL
It is the goal of the Project for each participant to accept and complete representation in at least two cases in each year of Project operation. Appropriate legal education and training will be provided for participating attorneys in specialized areas of law useful in providing pro bono civil legal services to insure that the Project meets this service goal.
OVERSIGHT: The Committee shall consist of seven members and one chairman all of whom shall serve for one-year terms and be appointed annually by the President of the Association.
EVALUATION: The Committee shall annually evaluate the Project with respect to number of participating attorneys, cases represented, and eligible clients that are unrepresented due to lack of funding; identification of the current civil legal needs of Washington County; and provision of incentives, support and training for participating attorneys.
PROFESSSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE: The Pro Bono Committee shall ascertain and assure that the Association and its members are protected by reasonable professional liability coverage for all acts and omissions that occur during the operation of the Project.
ADJUNCT PROGRAMMING: The Association may adopt expansions and modifications to this Pro Bono Project as may, from time to time, be deemed appropriate.