IN judges, lawyers want to boost pro bono efforts

Oct 14, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court, along with judges and lawyers around the state, are exploring ways to provide more free and low-cost legal services to a growing number of Hoosiers that need them.  Chief Justice Brent Dickson says the economic downturn has created increased need for pro bono services.

Marion County Superior Judge Mark Stoner is the chair of the pro bono commission for the Indianapolis Bar Association.  He says twice a year the IBA holds Ask a Lawyer events in the community, with around one hundred lawyers providing legal consultation, free of charge.  He says at a recent event, more than 600 people showed up, by far the highest number ever.  And Stoner says the problems they bring in run the gamut.

“A lot of landlord-tenant, bankruptcy, personal injury, some criminal, some expungement.”

Dickson says in an effort to encourage more lawyers to provide pro bono work, the state is considering offering what’s called continuing legal education, or CLE credit hours.  Lawyers must earn a certain number of hours each year.

“If a lawyer is representing a poor person in a case, they’re really getting educated themselves in the process. Why not let them get CLE hours for that and help that go toward their annual minimum?”

The Indiana Bar Foundation has also established a new website – IndianaLegalAnswers.org – where Hoosiers can submit a question that will be answered by legal professionals.