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Foundation effort connects legal aid programs to emeritus lawyers

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The Florida Bar Foundation has facilitated an easy way for more than 30 legal aid programs to reach out and connect with new potential pro bono lawyers. Spurred by The Florida Bar Pro Bono Legal Services Committee’s desire to engage emeritus lawyers, the Foundation has created an outreach package designed to help legal aid programs recruit them. Emeritus lawyers are those who are either retired, inactive, former judges, law professors or house counsel who agree to provide legal services under the supervision of a lawyer at an approved legal aid organization.

“This is another example of a Foundation project that will impact thousands of Floridians by effectively increasing pro bono lawyer involvement with local legal aid programs,” Judge Catherine Peek McEwen, co-chair of the committee, said. “The committee pushed to get lists of emeritus lawyers into the hands of the providers with tools for outreach provided by the Foundation.”

In late December, the Foundation emailed emeritus outreach packages to 31 legal aid programs throughout the state. Each package included a letter explaining the potential service that emeritus pro bono lawyers can provide, a template letter to emeritus lawyers, a copy of Rule 12 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar that was amended in 2018 to encourage inactive and retired lawyers to provide pro bono service, a link to the Supreme Court’s Emeritus Lawyer Form Package, and a spreadsheet with contact information for the eligible emeritus lawyers in each circuit the legal aid program serves.

The Foundation and the committee hope to see an immediate increase in emeritus lawyer involvement in pro bono cases.

“We have been wanting to do a targeted solicitation to emeritus attorneys in our area but could not seem to find the time or space to do it,” Kimberly Rodgers, Executive Director of Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, said. “This packet of information makes it incredibly helpful.”