Rule 46(f) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure allows inactive members of the Mississippi Bar and attorneys licensed in other jurisdictions to provide free legal services in Mississippi for a qualified legal services provider.
A “pro bono publicus attorney” is an inactive member of the Mississippi Bar who is not otherwise engaged in the practice of law or is an attorney licensed in a state other than Mississippi.
- Provide free legal services under the supervision of a qualified legal services provider
- Be licensed to practice law in at least one state and have no record of public discipline for professional misconduct imposed at any time
within the past 15 years.
- Cannot have resigned or retired from the practice of law with disciplinary charges pending or in lieu of discipline.
Qualified Legal Services Provider
A “qualified legal services provider” is a non-profit legal aid organization that is approved by the Mississippi Bar. A legal aid organization seeking approval from the Mississippi Bar must file a petition with the Office of General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar certifying that it is a non-profit organization and specifically stating:
- The structure of the organization and whether it accepts funds from its clients.
- The major sources of funds used by the organization.
- The criteria used to determine potential clients’ eligibility for legal services performed by the organization.
- The types of legal and non-legal services performed by the organization.
- The names of all members of the Mississippi Bar who are employed by the organization or who regularly perform legal work for the organization.
- The existence of professional liability insurance that will cover the pro bono attorney.
Attorneys may only perform acts and services in association with, and under the supervision of, a qualified legal services provider. Attorneys cannot otherwise engage in the active practice of law.
Attorneys cannot ask for nor receive personal compensation of any kind for legal services. The qualified legal services provider cannot pay attorneys, but the provider may reimburse the attorney for actual expenses incurred while rendering services. Providers are entitled to receive any court-awarded attorneys fess for representation rendered by the pro bono attorney. The qualified legal services provider must exclusively handle the collection of
any money from the client, including but not limited to reimbursement for expenses.
Application and Certification
Attorneys are required to present to the Office of General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar an affidavit containing or affirming:
- The attorney’s full name, firm name, residence address, principal business address, telephone number, jurisdictions where the attorney is admitted, and bar identification number.
- That the attorney is an inactive member of the Mississippi Bar or is duly licensed and in good standing and authorized to practice law in at least one state and has no record of public discipline for professional misconduct imposed at any time within the past 15 years and did not resign or retire from the practice of law with disciplinary charges pending or in lieu of discipline.
- That in performing all services under the authorization of this rule, the attorney will be acting as a volunteer for a qualified legal services provider.
- That all services to be performed will be at no charge or expense to the client.
- That the attorney will abide by the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct, and he or she consents to the jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi for disciplinary action; and
- That the attorney will not represent any person other than an eligible legal assistance client for a qualified legal services provider, cannot offer to provide legal assistance in Mississippi to any person or for any matter other than through a qualified legal services provider, and cannot hold himself or herself out in Mississippi to be authorized to provide legal services to any person or for any matter other than through a qualified legal services provider.