Tennessee lawyers have something to be proud of.
According to a recent report by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, the state’s lawyers are providing free and reduced-fee legal services to those in need to the tune of 800,000 hours. The report, which reflected the time Tennessee lawyers spent on pro bono projects in 2011, nearly tripled what it was in 2009.
“This is exactly what we had hoped to see,” Buck Lewis, chairman of the Access to Justice Commission, said in a statement. “The profession is stepping up and contributing more than ever before to assist those in need of legal services. It is extremely encouraging to see this level of participation.”
The reports says that 9,736 Tennessee lawyers provided pro bono services for 804,961 hours, which equals 83 hours per lawyer. Tennessee had 21,111 licensed lawyers in 2011, which means 46 percent of the state’s lawyers participated in pro bono work. That is a huge leap from only two years prior, when in 2009 only 18 percent of Tennessee lawyers reported participating in pro bono work.
The Access to Justice Commission, which tries to reach a goal of 50 percent of state lawyers completing at least 50 hours of pro bono work per year, is pleased with the results.
“The Supreme Court considers access to justice for all citizens one of its highest priorities,” said Justice Janice M. Holder, the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Access to the Justice Commission. “Pro bono work is critical to meeting the legal needs of Tennesseans. It not only provides a much needed service but also helps strengthen communities. When legal needs are met, our citizens can refocus on their jobs and families.”
For more recent InsideCounsel stories about pro bono work, see: