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Firms with state contracts must make ‘good faith' effort to do pro bono work

Law firms that contract with the State of California for legal services in excess of $50,000 are now required to certify that they will make a good faith effort to provide pro bono services during each year of the contract.

New §6072 of the Business & Professions Code, which took effect Jan. 1 after passage of legislation authored by Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, uses a formula to determine the minimum number of pro bono hours expected and provides that failure to make a good faith effort could result in the non-renewal of a contract.

Although it is not known how many firms are affected by the statute, State Bar officials estimate that at least 50 firms have contracts with agencies ranging from the Department of Consumer Affairs to the Department of Transportation.

Any firm renewing a state contract this year or entering into a new contract with the state for more than $50,000 falls under the new law. If firms have any questions about the new law's effect on their contract, the contract manager for the state agency receiving the services should be contacted.

The bar's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services can assist the affected firms in finding local legal services or pro bono programs that need help. Information is available from staff liaison Sharon Ngim, 415-538-2267, or sharon.ngim@ calbar.ca.gov.

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