Ethics and the Arkansas Pro Bono Lawyer
D'lorah L. Hughes
February 1, 2011
Arkansas faces a critical need for the provision of legal services to people with limited financial means. Statistics from the 2000 Census indicate that 21% of the population of Arkansas qualifies for legal aid services. There are two legal aid programs in Arkansas, Legal Aid of Arkansas, serving 31 counties in northern and eastern Arkansas, and the Center for Arkansas Legal Services, covering the remaining 44 counties in central and southern Arkansas. Each year these programs receive approximately 25,000 calls from Arkansans qualified to receive assistance. Between 30% and 45% of these calls are turned away. The primary reason for almost a third of the need going unmet: a lack of resources.
A Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”) study concluded that the “minimum standard of access” required for the adequate delivery of legal assistance to those with limited financial means is one legal aid attorney for every 5,000 low-income residents. Currently in Arkansas, the ratio is one legal aid attorney to every 12,250 low-income residents. To achieve the LSC’s minimum standard of services, Arkansas would need to hire at least 67 attorneys, plus additional support and administrative staff, at a cost of over $6.4 million dollars annually. While it is unlikely that this $6.4 million dollar financial need will be met anytime soon, licensed attorneys volunteering their services on pro bono cases can bridge the legal services gap and get Arkansas closer to meeting the national minimum standard of access.
This article aims to provide the attorney who wishes to help bridge this gap by meeting their pro bono obligations under Rule 6/1 with an overview of the ethical considerations most related to pro bono work.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: Ethics, Pro Bono, Arkansas
JEL Classification: K00, K1, K19, K4, K42, K39
Date posted: May 28, 2011