OSB Pro Bono Certification Program

Purpose of Pro Bono Certification Program

The purpose of the certification program is to encourage and facilitate volunteer service by OSB members to meet their Professional Responsibility and the OSB Aspirational Standard for Pro Bono and to provide access to the justice system for low-income Oregonians. Oregon State Bar Bylaw 13.2 outlines the procedure, criteria and volunteer recognition for certified pro bono programs.

OSB Bylaw Section 13.2 Program Certification

Subsection 13.200 Procedure

In order for a pro bono program to obtain bar certification, the program must submit an application and meet the applicable criteria set forth below. The Bar’s Executive Director determines whether a program is eligible for certification and this determination is final.

Subsection 13.201 Criteria

(a) Purpose:
The pro bono program must be sponsored by a national, state or local bar association, a court with jurisdiction in Oregon or an incorporated, non-profit or governmental organization, and must provide legal services without fee, or expectation of fee, or for a substantially reduced fee to one or more of the following:

  1. Persons of limited means.
  2. Underserved populations with special legal needs.
  3. Charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means or underserved populations with special legal needs.

(b) Compensation:
The pro bono program must not provide any compensation to the participating lawyers, except to cover filing fees or other out-of-pocket expenses or to provide professional liability insurance for the pro bono activity.

(c) Fees:
The pro bono program must deliver legal services to clients at no fee or for a substantially reduced fee. Nominal administrative fees are allowed. Donations from clients, whether encouraged or not, are not considered fees. The pro bono program should prohibit or limit the handling of cases that are clearly fee-generating, and provide for the referral of such cases.

(d) Quality Control:
The program must demonstrate that it has the necessary expertise and quality control to administer a program involving volunteer lawyers. This should include appropriate matching of pro bono lawyers to cases, an effective grievance procedure and adequate tracking and record keeping systems regarding pro bono involvement.

(e) Diversity:
The program must comply with Article 10 of the Bar’s Bylaws (Diversity), both in regard to participating lawyers and clients.

(f) Professional Liability Coverage
The program will provide professional liability coverage for otherwise uncovered attorney volunteers when those attorneys provide legal services to pro bono clients.

Subsection 13.202 Volunteer Recognition

Recognition under this paragraph is intended to provide encouragement, in tangible form, to those Oregon Pro Bono programs and their volunteer lawyers, who meet the need for legal services by providing direct representation to low-income individuals. As part of its annual planning process, the Board will consider the ways in which the Bar can acknowledge the volunteer efforts of Oregon lawyers, particularly those lawyers who provided at least 40 hours of pro bono services through programs certified under this policy. In so doing, the Board will seek input from bar staff and appropriate bar committees.

PLF Policy 3.800 Coverage for Pro Bono Programs

(A) The PLF will provide malpractice coverage without charge for claims made against PLF-exempt Oregon attorneys arising from their work for OSB certified pro bono programs under the specific provisions of this policy. This policy may be amended or rescinded at any time.

(B) As used in this policy:

(1) The words "Pro Bono Coverage" mean the PLF coverage provided to a Pro Bono Program through a PLF Master Plan pursuant to this policy.

(2) The words "Pro Bono Program" mean an organized program which has been certified by the Oregon State Bar as an OSB Pro Bono Program under Bar Bylaw 13.201(a)(1), (2) or (5).

(3) The words "Volunteer Attorney" means an active member of the Oregon State Bar who has claimed exemption from PLF participation at the time of providing legal services to clients without compensation through the Pro Bono Program.

(C) A Pro Bono Program may apply to the PLF for Pro Bono Coverage under a PLF Master Plan by providing the following information:

(1) A copy of the application submitted to the Oregon State Bar in connection with its request for certification as an OSB Pro Bono Program under BOG Policy Manual Chapter 15 and all supplemental and renewal applications;

(2) A list of all staff officers and staff attorneys, as well as a list of all Volunteer Attorneys who have provided services through the Pro Bono Program within the prior 12 months;

(3) A projection of the likely number of Volunteer Attorneys who will participate in the program during the coming 12 months, the number of matters or clients which the Volunteer Attorneys will likely handle, and the estimated percent of volunteer attorneys who will not have regular PLF coverage;

(4) Details of the Pro Bono Programs existing malpractice coverage, including a copy of the declarations sheet and policy; and

(5) Such other information as the PLF may request.

(D) Upon receipt of the information listed in subsection (C), the PLF will issue a Master Plan to the Pro Bono Program at no charge providing malpractice coverage for Volunteer Attorneys who provide legal services to clients through the Pro Bono Program. The exact scope and nature of the Pro Bono Coverage will be as provided in the master policy, as such master policy may be modified by the Board of Directors from time to time in the future. Pro Bono Coverage may be terminated by the PLF at any time upon notice to the Pro Bono Program, and will automatically terminate at such time as any Pro Bono Program ceases to qualify as an OSB Pro Bono Program under BOG Policy 15.400 or 15.500.

(E) Each Pro Bono Program receiving Pro Bono Coverage will submit an annual report in such form as the PLF may request listing the names of the Volunteer Attorneys who provided services to clients through the Pro Bono Program during the prior calendar year as well as details of the number of clients and matters handled and the nature of the services provided.

(F) Malpractice coverage provided under this Policy 3.800 may be terminated by the PLF at any time upon 30 days notice to participating Pro Bono Programs.