Rule 14-803 of the Utah Rules Governing Admission to the Bar allows attorneys that are, or were, admitted to practice law in Utah and are on inactive status to provide pro bono legal services with an approved legal services organization.
Attorneys must be members in good standing of the Utah Bar and have been approved to participate in the inactive pro bono lawyer program by the Utah Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct. Attorneys agree to be bound by the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct and submit to the jurisdiction of the Utah Bar for disciplinary purposes.
Rule 14-203 defines the various Utah licensure categories. “Active emeritus lawyers” are those lawyers who have been a member of the Utah Bar for 50 years or are 75 years of age as of July 1 of the current year and who are engaged in the practice of law. “Inactive emeritus lawyers” are those lawyers who have been a member of the Bar for 50 years or are 75 years of age as of July 1 of the current year and who are not engaged in the practice of law.
Pro bono/emeritus attorneys may practice in association with an approved legal services organization and under the general supervision of a supervising attorney. Pro bono/emeritus attorneys may:
- Appear in any court or before any administrative tribunal or arbitrator in Utah on behalf of a client of an approved legal services organization if a supervising attorney has given written approval for that appearance.
- Prepare pleadings and other documents to be filed in any court or before any administrative tribunal or arbitrator in Utah in any manner in which the volunteer attorney is involved. The volunteer attorney and supervising attorney must sign the documents.
- Render legal advice and perform other appropriate legal services. The attorney must consult and obtain express consent from the supervising attorney prior to the activities.
- Engage in such other preparatory activities as are necessary for any matter in which he or she is involved.
Attorneys cannot represent themselves to be active members of the Utah Bar or licensed to practice law generally in Utah and cannot ask for nor receive compensation of any kind. The approved legal services organizations may reimburse the attorney for actual expenses incurred while rendering services, may charge for its services as proper, and are entitled to receive court-awarded attorney’s fees for any representation rendered by the attorney.
Rule 14-407 states that lawyers on active emeritus status must comply with the MCLE requirements by participating in 12 hours of CLE. In the alternative, lawyers on active emeritus status may work in conjunction with another Utah lawyer on active status in lieu of complying with the requirement of 12 hours of CLE. Lawyers electing this option must file with the Board by July 31, following the year for which the report is due, a signed statement verifying that he or she has complied with the requirements of this rule.
Application and Certification
Attorneys must file the following with the Bar:
- A notice of authorization issued by an approved legal services organization where the attorney is currently associated stating that an attorney employed by that organization will assume the duties of the supervising attorney.
- A sworn statement by the attorney that he or she:
- Has read and is familiar with the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct as adopted by the Utah Supreme Court and will abide by their provisions.
- Submits to the jurisdiction of the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Bar for disciplinary purposes.
- Will neither ask for nor receive compensation of any kind for the legal services.
Certification as an inactive lawyer providing pro bono legal services will not affect or negate the attorney’s obligation to pay his or her annual inactive license fee.
The approved legal assistance organization may withdraw the certificate at any time without stating cause. The notice must state that the emeritus attorney has ceased to be associated with the organization, which must be filed within five days of when the association ceased, or the notice of authorization is withdrawn.
The Utah Bar, in its discretion and at any time, may withdraw the authorization.
If the certification is withdrawn, for any reason, the supervising attorney is required to immediately file a notice of such action in the official file of each matter pending before any court or tribunal where the attorney was involved. All clients must be immediately notified.