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June 08, 2018

Statement of Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Mary F. Platt Encouraging Retired Attorneys to Apply for Emeritus Status

Commending the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its May 9, 2018 Order, Chancellor Mary F. Platt issued the following statement on behalf of the 12,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association encouraging retired attorneys to apply for emeritus status to serve low-income clients of legal service organizations.

The Philadelphia Bar Association commends the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its May 9, 2018 Order adopting Rule 403 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement, which becomes effective June 8, 2018. Rule 403 allows retired Pennsylvania attorneys to apply for emeritus status, which will make it easier for them to provide pro bono legal services under the auspices of an eligible legal aid organization.

Attorneys are a superb resource to the community, and their capabilities do not vanish when they reach their senior years. The Supreme Court’s Order allows low-income Pennsylvanians in need of legal assistance to reap the benefits of attorneys who have registered as retired from the practice of law but would like to offer their legal experience, knowledge and acumen to legal aid organizations and their low-income clients.

Rule 403 permits retired attorneys who have completed at least 6 CLE credits (including 1 ethics credit) during the preceding 12 months to apply for emeritus status and pay a $35 fee for the sole purpose of providing pro bono services to one or more specific not-for-profit organizations that provide legal services. Emeritus attorneys must renew their registration on or before January 31 each year to avoid being transferred to retired status, and will be subject to an 8-credit annual CLE requirement under Rule 105(d) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Continuing Legal Education.

In 2015, the Philadelphia Bar Association submitted a joint proposal with the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Allegheny Bar Association to create an emeritus program, and the three Associations submitted joint comments on proposed emeritus Rules in 2016 and 2017. We now look forward to supporting the emeritus program by encouraging retired members to apply for emeritus status, offering CLE programs to emeritus attorneys that will keep them up to speed on the law applicable to their emeritus practice, and partnering with legal services organizations in our community to achieve these objectives.

We thank our Senior Lawyers Committee and three of our Bar Association members who helped make emeritus status a reality. Joseph A. Sullivan, co-chair of the Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee and Special Counsel and Director of Pro Bono Programs at Pepper Hamilton, LLP; Karen C. Buck, Executive Director of the SeniorLAW Center; and Louis S. Rulli, law professor and clinical director at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; all devoted many hours to helping our Bar Association promote the concept of an emeritus license and propose the elements of the program adopted in Rule 403. It is gratifying to see that their advocacy has paid off for retired Pennsylvania attorneys, Pennsylvania legal services organizations, and for the low-income clients that will be served by the program.

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