So what do Massachusetts and Minnesota have in common? Both start with M. Sure. Four syllables per name, check. But most important? Both are considering proposals to allow in-house counsel to volunteer for pro bono cases.
Earlier this week, ACC and our chapters in each state filed letters with the respective high courts to express our support for the proposals. And in Minnesota, 14 chief legal officers in the state also signed the letter.
Both of the proposals allow in-house counsel with law licenses from other places in the U.S. to work on pro bono matters. Neither supports in-house pro bono as much as Virginia and Colorado — in those states, any registered in-house pro bono lawyer can work on her own, and can even appear in court. Massachusetts and Minnesota don’t go that far (yet!). But the proposals still represent healthy steps in the right direction.
Corporate Pro Bono, which is a partnership of ACC and the Pro Bono Institute, has been working hard to open up pro bono opportunities across the country for in-house lawyers. And expanding pro bono opportunities for in-house lawyers is ACC’s advocacy issue of the year. These proposals come hot on the heels of ACC’s and CPBO’s success this past summer helping to persuade the Conference of Chief Justices to pass a measure supporting pro bono rules like the ones Massachusetts and Minnesota are considering.
— Evan Schultz