Chattanooga Attorney Becomes First Pro Bono Emeritus Attorney in State

February 8, 2011

Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee Supreme Court today approved the first retired attorney in the state to take part in the Court’s new pro bono emeritus program. This program allows retired attorneys to provide pro bono legal services through legal assistance organizations that offer free services to Tennesseans who are unable to afford legal counsel.

Richard R. Ruth, of Chattanooga, is the first attorney in the state to receive pro bono emeritus status from the Tennessee Supreme Court. Ruth will provide pro bono services under the supervision of Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

“We commend Mr. Ruth for answering the call to provide pro bono services for the growing number of Tennesseans who cannot afford legal representation,” Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark said. “We hope that the approval of Mr. Ruth’s application will encourage more retired attorneys to follow his shining example and share their services with those in need.”

The pro bono emeritus program was established as part of the Court’s ongoing efforts to improve access to justice in the state. The program became effective January 1 with the adoption of Supreme Court Rule 50A.

The pro bono emeritus rule gives retired attorneys the authority to perform all legal work, without pay, on behalf of a client. Pro bono emeritus attorneys may represent the client in court with the approval of the judge hearing the case.

Retired attorneys who wish to participate in the program must file an application with the appellate court clerk’s office. They must have actively practiced law for five of the past 10 years or practiced law for 25 years preceding their application. The Supreme Court will review all applications and provide a written approval to the attorney.