Bipartisan Pro Bono Legislation Receives First Hearing In Ohio House
Legislation incentivizes lawyers, law firms to represent impoverished clients
June 07, 2017
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State Reps. John M. Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) this week testified in support of House Bill (HB) 232, his bipartisan legislation to encourage Ohio lawyers to conduct pro bono legal work. Joint-sponsored by state Rep. Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton), HB 232 allows lawyers or law firms to claim a tax deduction for engaging in pro bono work and providing certain legal services for impoverished clients through a legal aid entity. 

“Plaintiffs who have experienced harassment, divorce and many other civil injustices may lose winnable cases because they do not have the financial means to afford legal counsel,” said Rogers. “Legal aid provides an opportunity for attorneys to donate their time and skills to assist those who would otherwise be left behind in the complex web of the legal system.” 

Ohio Legal Aid provides legal assistance for in-need Ohioans who could otherwise not afford legal counsel on their own. Thousands of Ohio attorneys each year volunteer countless hours of their time through a legal aid entity when offering their assistance and professional services pro bono. 

The Ohio Supreme Court recently began offering limited Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit for pro bono work; however, according to Rogers, CLE credit seldom reflects the true amount of time and cost of the pro bonowork attorneys provide. 

“Because of limited resources, many legal aid entities have to turn away a vast amount of low-income individuals seeking help with important legal matters,” said Rogers. “I believe it is important that we continue to support pro bono entities and expand access for those who need legal representation.” 

House Bill 232 specifies a $10,000 annual tax deduction limit and includes a sunset clause six years after the bill is enacted.

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