Rule 38(e) of the Rules for Admission allows eligible attorneys volunteering pro bono services with approved legal service organizations to practice law in Arizona under limited circumstances. Please also see the Arizona Government Attorneys page for attorneys practicing on behalf of funded indigent defense office, and the Arizona Legal Services Organizations page.
Attorneys who were admitted to the practice of law for at least five years in the court of any state, district, or territory of the United States (other than Arizona) who volunteer to provide civil legal assistance to individuals who are unable to pay for such services may provide such services in Arizona under limited circumstances. Attorneys may be admitted to practice for the limited purpose of providing such assistance as an unpaid volunteer in association with an approved legal service organization so long as that organization employs at least one Arizona attorney.
Attorneys must be:
- Admitted to practice in the courts of any state, district, or territory of the United States (other than Arizona).
- Engaged in the active practice of law for at least five years before applying to participate in the volunteer lawyer program. “Active practice of law” means the attorney has been engaged in the practice of law, which includes, but is not limited to, private practice, house counsel, public employment, or academic employment.
- Members in good standing and have not been disciplined for professional misconduct by the Bar or courts of any jurisdiction within the past 15
Attorneys cannot ask for nor receive compensation of any kind for the legal services to be rendered and cannot receive compensation from the approved legal services organization, the client, or through a contingent fee arrangement. The attorney may seek legal fees and costs from the opposing party, so long as all fees obtained are received by the client or donated to a qualified legal services program with the client’s consent. An approved legal
services organization or a client may reimburse the attorney for actual expenses incurred.
Attorneys agree to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct and submit to the jurisdiction of the Arizona Supreme Court for disciplinary purposes. Attorneys are exempt from the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements.
Approved Legal Services Organizations
An “approved legal services organization” is a non-profit legal services organization that has as one of its primary purposes the provision of legal assistance to indigents, free of charge, in civil matters. The Arizona Supreme Court must approve a legal services organization. Organizations are required to file a petition with the Clerk explaining:
- The structure of the organization and whether it accepts funds from its clients.
- The major sources of the funds used by the organization.
- The criteria used to determine potential clients’ eligibility for services performed by the organization.
- The types of services performed by the organization.
- The names of all members of the Arizona Bar who are employed by the organization or who regularly perform legal work for the organization.
- The existence and extent of malpractice insurance that will cover the Rule 38(e) attorney.
Application and Certification
Attorneys must file with the Clerk of the Arizona Supreme Court an application that includes:
- A certificate that the applicant is presently licensed to practice law, the applicant has fulfilled the requirements of active bar members for at least five years preceding the date of the application, and the applicant has not been disciplined for professional misconduct by the bar of the highest court of the state, territory, or the district during the last 15 years.
- Employer Affidavit. A statement signed by an authorized representative of the approved legal services organization that the applicant is an unpaid volunteer
associated with the organization.
- A sworn statement signed by the applicant that he or she has:
- Read and is familiar with the Rules of the Supreme Court and the applicable Arizona statutes relative to attorney conduct, and the attorney will abide by those provisions.
- Submits to the jurisdiction of the Arizona Supreme Court for disciplinary purposes, as defined by the Arizona Supreme Court Rules.
- Has not been disciplined by the Bar or courts of any jurisdiction during the past 15 years.
Authorization expires if the applicant ceases to be associated as an unpaid volunteer with the organization. In such cases, the authorized representative must file a notification of cessation with the Clerk of the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Bar specifying the date the association ceased. The notification must be sent within 10 days of the cessation.