State bar encourages pro bono efforts

The State Bar of Michigan is inviting all law firms of two or more attorneys to apply for the 2017 Pro Bono Circle of Excellence, recognizing each firm that fully complied with the State Bar's Voluntary Pro Bono Standard in 2016.

The application deadline is April 7.

The Voluntary Pro Bono Standard applies to legal services for low-income individuals and organizations, as well as financial support for eligible nonprofit organizations providing free civil legal aid for the poor. Contributions to the Access to Justice Fund count toward fulfilling the Standard.

The Standard calls for attorneys to annually take three pro bono cases, devote at least thirty hours of pro bono service or contribute $300 to a legal aid provider organization. Firms that can afford to do so are asked to make annual financial contributions of $500 per attorney and are recognized at the ‘Leadership Level’ of the Circle of Excellence.

Individual lawyers who meet the Pro Bono Standard are celebrated locally through their Access to Justice Programs, and through the State Bar of Michigan's A Lawyer Helps website.

“Last year there were a record 56 firms and corporations in the Circle of Excellence in its newly redesigned format,” SBM President Larry Nolan said. “I want to extend congratulations to all firms who have met these impressive standards and joined the State Bar in our pro bono efforts. I also want to encourage even more firms to get involved and help us build momentum and make an even bigger difference for those in need.”

To obtain an application form, visit

For more information, contact Rob Mathis at