Emeritus Status Attorneys
Effective July 1, 2013, retired Minnesota attorneys are able to provide pro bono representation as "emeritus lawyers." Retired Minnesota lawyers file a retirement affidavit with the Lawyer Registration Office and no longer need to pay the annual registration fees. Those who become emeritus lawyers will be able to engage in certain pro bono representation despite their retirement status. To fulfill the emeritus CLE requirement, attorneys seeking emeritus status are eligible for free or reduced-price CLEs through Legal Services State Support. State Support offers live webinar CLEs, as well as pre-recorded "On Demand" CLEs that attorneys can watch at any time.
Most organizations approved to refer pro bono cases to emeritus practice attorneys provide malpractice coverage. This coverage is primary, since retired lawyers are not expected to have their own malpractice coverage. If you have specific questions about malpractice coverage, please contact the referring organization for full details.
If you have questions about Emeritus Status, contact Katy Drahos, Access to Justice Director for the MSBA, at email@example.com or 612-278-6330.
Emeritus Status: Basic information, rules, & forms
To attain emeritus status, retired attorneys need to complete substantive training and submit a completed "affidavit of emeritus status" to the CLE Board. The affidavit must include verification of the completion of:
- three hours of standard CLE credit in the area of law the attorney plans to do pro bono work in,
- at least one hour of ethics CLE, and
- at least one hour of elimination of bias CLE.
The courses must have been approved by the CLE Board and completed within 90 days of the application for emeritus status.
Importantly, pro bono work carried out by the emeritus attorneys must have been referred to them by "approved legal services providers", as defined in the CLE Rules. That definition was broadened by the Supreme Court's Order, and now includes:
- Grantees of the federal Legal Services Corporation;
- Grantees of MN's Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC); and
- Other LSAC designees. Organizations eligible for designation by LSAC include the pro bono programs of:
- law firms,
- law libraries, and
- bar associations.
The renewable emeritus status lasts three years from approval. You can now view if a lawyer is on Emeritus Status by searching the public database. Their fee status will show RETIRED – FEE EXEMPT, their CLE status will show EM (Emeritus), and next to Authorized to Practice Law? it will show “Limited.”
- Minnesota Supreme Court Order establishing Emeritus Status
- Rules of the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education regarding Emeritus Status
- Affidavit of Emeritus Status
If you have questions about Emeritus Status, contact Katy Drahos, Access to Justice Director for the MSBA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-278-6330
How to Volunteer
Emeritus Status and Pro Bono attorneys can find cases in several ways:
- Find Volunteer Opportunities through ProJusticeMN
- Take cases for advice through Minnesota Legal Advice Online;
- Contact your local legal aid office to find out about local volunteer opportunities;
- Find volunteer opportunities through the Volunteer Lawyers Network
- Find a non-profit funded by the Legal Services Advisory Committee
- Locate an approved project for providing pro bono for CLE credit
Essential Resources for Emeritus and Pro Bono Attorneys
Volunteer Lawyers Network- Essential Skills and Knowledge for Counseling and Problem-Solving
The Essential Skills and Knowledge for Counseling and Problem Solving manual includes information relevant to helping pro bono clients, such as understanding the different types of poverty, building rapport, helping a client overcome specific barriers to participating in the case, how race and other factors intersect with poverty, and ensuring effective communication. Many of the skills are, of course, directly applicable to paid work as well! (Last updated January 2017)