Effective May 1, 2015, and for the first time in the state of Louisiana, every lawyer who does pro bono work can receive up to three hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit each year, under an order signed by Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson of the Louisiana Supreme Court. This followed a proposal by attorneys from law firm Adams and Reese LLP—Martin Stern, Jeff Richardson and Ron Sholes—working together with retired Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Harry T. Lemmon, on a project for Louisiana Appleseed.
Under the new rule, attorneys who provide pro bono legal representation can receive one hour of CLE credit for every five hours of pro bono representation, up to a maximum of three hours of CLE credit per year. Every lawyer in Louisiana is required to earn 12.5 hours of CLE credit to maintain his or her license. The committee charged with implementing this requirement, the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee (MCLE), is preparing to implement the rule effective May 1, 2015.
“Louisiana now joins a small group of states in which lawyers can earn CLE credit in return for doing pro bono work,” said Stern, a Louisiana Appleseed board member and Partner in the Adams and Reese New Orleans office. “Our belief and hope is that this will help significantly to increase the number of lawyers providing legal services to many in need who otherwise would have gone without representation.”
Adams and Reese and its attorneys have been long-time supporters of Louisiana Appleseed, which uncovers and corrects injustices through structural reform. As part of the national Appleseed network, Louisiana Appleseed attacks problems at their root cause through policy-oriented initiatives. Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana Appleseed was reconstituted to meet needs across Louisiana. Since 2007, Louisiana Appleseed has enlisted hundreds of pro bono attorneys who have donated thousands of hours to help preserve homeownership, increase access to financial institutions, implement standards for court interpreters, advocate for policy changes to feed thousands of school children, and most recently, to develop the new statewide CLE pro bono initiative.
“The pro bono legal services provided under this rule will have a positive effect on many in need across our state – but the systemic change brought about by Louisiana Appleseed will have a positive impact for generations to come,” said Christy Kane, Louisiana Appleseed Executive Director.