Rule 3.1 of the North Dakota Admission to Practice Rules allows attorneys admitted to the practice of law for at least five of the past ten years in the courts of any state, district, or territory of the United States, including North Dakota, to volunteer to provide civil assistance to individuals who are unable to pay for that assistance in association with an approved legal services organization.
Attorneys may only practice as an unpaid volunteer. The organization must employ at least one North Dakota attorney admitted pursuant to another rule.
Attorneys must have been engaged in the active practice law for at least five of the past ten years immediately preceding the application.
Approved Legal Services Organization
An “approved legal services organization” is a non-profit legal services organization in which one of the organization’s primary purposes is the provision of legal assistance to indigents, free of charge, in civil matters. The organization is required to file a petition with the North Dakota Supreme Court for approval. The petition includes an explanation of:
Attorneys cannot receive compensation from the approved legal services organization, from the client, or through a contingent fee agreement. Approved legal service organizations or a client may reimburse any attorney for actual expenses incurred while rendering services under these pro bono rules.
Attorneys are exempt from the North Dakota CLE requirements, but must fulfill the CLE requirements as may be directed by the approved legal services organization.
Application and Certification
Attorneys are required to file an application with the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners. The application includes:
There is no application fee.
The North Dakota Supreme Court or the approved legal services organization may withdraw the certification with or without cause.
Authorization terminates if the attorney ceases to be supervised as an unpaid volunteer by the organization. In such cases, an authorized representative of the organization must, within 10 days of the date of the supervision ceased, file a notification of cessation with the Clerk of the North Dakota Supreme Court and the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners specifying the date the supervision ceased.