For several years now, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules have allowed Pro Bono work to be eligible for CLE credit.  Under Chapter 31, attorneys may claim one general CLE hour for every five hours of pro bono legal services provided in a qualified pro bono program.  Attorneys may claim up to six hours of pro bono CLE credits per reporting period.

Whether you've recently been admitted to the practice of law in Wisconsin or a seasoned veteran, it is important to consider offering pro bono legal services.  Many people cannot afford the professional legal help they need when legal problems arise.  For them, it is an access to justice issue, and this is where you can make a difference.

The State Bar of Wisconsin has a number of resources to point attorneys wishing to do pro bono work in the right direction.  The first is a list of qualified pro bono programs.  These are programs run by WisTAF grantees, Wisconsin law schools or Wisconsin bar associations.  State and federal court appointments are also considered qualified pro bono programs.

More directly the State Bar of Wisconisn provides an online Pro Bono Portal which allows legal service organizations from around the state to share pro bono opportunities with Wisconsin lawyers and law students.  The listings include a wide array of specific legal matters requiring an attorney to legal clinics in need of volunteers.

Once you launch the Portal, "connecting with a listed opportunity is as simple as clicking a link and then filling out a short form that generates an email to the organization that posted the matter.   From there, volunteers and legal service organizations will be able to connect with one another directly."

There is also a New to Pro Bono? page that answers those important questions as "Why should you do pro bono?" and "Questions to ask before you take a case?"  There are many reasons to take on pro bono work such as the special responsibility and duty lawyers have to ensure all people have access to the justice system, as well as, professioinal development, personal satisfaction and community improvement.  The State Bar of Wisconsin also lists other volunteer opportunities lawyers may partake in.

Note: All reporting of pro bono work for CLE credit is done through the regular CLE reporting process at the Board of Bar Examiners.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on May 9, 2022

This article appears in the categories: Law Library