Tennessee Supreme Court to Adopt Rule Changes to Encourage and Facilitate More Pro Bono Work on Friday, April 3, 2009

April 1, 2009

On Friday, April 3, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court will adopt three amendments to the rules governing the practice of law that will encourage more lawyers to volunteer to provide pro bono legal services to Tennesseans who need legal assistance but cannot afford it. These new rules are in response to the requests by the Tennessee Bar Association in 2008 to make it easier for lawyers to help deserving persons who need legal assistance with civil matters.

These three rule changes will:

(1) encourage but not require lawyers to provide 50 pro bono hours of work each year;

(2) enable lawyers to provide limited scope legal assistance to persons without formally becoming their attorney-of-record, and

(3) enable lawyers to earn one (1) hour of continuing legal education credit for every five (5) hours of pro bono services they provide.

In addition to these rules, the Court has amended, and the Legislature has approved the rules governing class action settlements that will permit the unclaimed class action funds to be paid to the Tennessee Voluntary Fund for Indigent Civil Representation, which will provide additional funding for legal service providers across the state. This amendment will take effect on July 1, 2009.

Copies of these amended rules are included by link below.

Supreme Court Order on Rule 8

Supreme Court Order on Rule 21