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Pro Bono Appointments in Civil Cases

The oath of admission to The Florida Bar includes the promise:

"I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed."

Rule 4-6.1 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar provides:

"Each member of the Florida Bar in good standing, as part of that member's professional responsibility, should (1) render pro bono legal services to the poor and (2) participate, to the extent possible, in other pro bono service activities that directly relate to the legal needs of the poor."

The local chapters of the Federal Bar Association maintain a list of members of the court's bar willing to represent civil litigants in federal court on a pro bono basis. If a judge finds that appointment of counsel in a civil case is necessary (usually only in an exceptional case), he or she will ask the clerk to determine if a lawyer on the list will accept the appointment.

The court has adopted a plan for appointments. The plan includes provisions governing reimbursement of expenses incurred by a lawyer appointed under the plan. The plan includes a list of expenses eligible for reimbursement. The court will determine appropriateness of reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. The plan does not apply to a lawyer who has not been appointed under the plan.

If you have been appointed under the plan and want to be reimbursed for expenses, you must complete a petition for reimbursement within 45 days of the end of representation or closure of the case. Note that you must obtain pre-approval for any expense that is more than $1,500 if you expect to be reimbursed for it.

Lawyers who have questions about the plan or who want to be added to the list of lawyers willing to accept pro bono appointments in civil cases should call Susanne Weisman, (904) 549-1304.