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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

State Bar encourages attorneys to provide pro bono service and support legal aid

In response to a recent increase in attorneys seeking to do pro bono work, State Bar President James Fox and Executive Director Elizabeth Parker issued a joint statement last month in support of lawyers who commit their time and/or their money to the cause of helping those who can’t afford a lawyer.

“We applaud the recent wave of attorneys throughout California looking to provide pro bono legal services around immigration and other legal concerns. The State Bar of California strongly supports access to legal services as a core part of our public protection mission. We support the promise of justice for all, including for low-income people who too often have no choice but to navigate the legal system alone. 

We encourage attorneys licensed in California to provide pro bono support to help bridge the gap in access to justice. While upholding ethical standards for attorneys and regulating the legal profession is a core focus of the State Bar’s work, it’s equally critical to ensure that all of California’s residents have access to high-quality attorneys when the need arises.

In addition to the donation of time, a donation of financial assistance can make a huge positive impact, especially with a shifting political landscape. Please consider making a donation to the State Bar’s Justice Gap Fund or directly to your local legal aid provider to help make sure individuals and families who need legal assistance can get help when they need it.”

Information about providing pro bono legal services in California

Attorneys who wish to provide pro bono legal service in California must have active State Bar status. Status can be switched from inactive to active by completing a Transfer to Active Status form and sending it in along with payment or credit card information.

The fee for active status is waived for attorneys who participate in the State Bar of California’s Pro Bono Practice Program.

The Pro Bono Practice Program allows California attorneys who are currently inactive or retired to have active status for the sole purpose of doing pro bono work. Attorneys who are accepted to the Pro Bono Practice Program must work with a qualified legal services provider, certified lawyer referral service, or court-based self-help center. In addition to a waiver of the active status fee, attorneys who qualify for this program have access to free MCLE.

More information about pro bono opportunities is available on the State Bar website. One Justice also houses a pro bono rapid response network for attorneys.

In addition to promoting pro bono service, the State Bar also provides approximately $30 million in grants annually to legal aid organizations throughout California. These grants support groups that address immigration needs, prevent homelessness, keep kids in school, protect elders from fraud and abuse and connect veterans to services, among other critical legal assistance. 

Legal aid organizations provide direct services throughout the state. (The statewide list of legal aid providers is available.)

Attorneys who would like to provide additional support for access to justice can donate to the Justice Gap Fund when they pay their annual State Bar of California fees.

Resources for Californians on finding an attorney

The State Bar also provides resources for Californians who need help finding an attorney as well as ways to avoid fraud from notarios and other people posing as attorneys.

Find Legal Help

Finding the Right Lawyer / Como Encontrar el Abogado Apropiado

● Avoiding Fraud by Immigration Consultants

Información Legal en Español

People who think they have been a victim of misconduct by an attorney or someone posing as an attorney should file a complaint with the State Bar.

Filing a complaint against an attorney about misconduct

Filing a complaint against a notario or someone posing as an attorney

Client Security Fund application, to recover money lost due to attorney misconduct