CHICAGO (September 10, 2015) – Holland & Knight announced today that it has established a pro bono program for lawyers in financial need facing Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) proceedings. Called the “Attorney Defense Initiative,” the new program is the first of its kind in the nation.
“Holland & Knight’s national Legal Profession Team, which serves the professional legal needs of lawyers, law firms and in-house counsel, has grown significantly in the past year, especially in Chicago. Along with this growth has come a heightened awareness that many lawyers in the state who face disciplinary charges lack the resources to hire defense counsel,” said Trisha Rich, the Holland & Knight attorney spearheading the program. “We have created the Attorney Defense Initiative to provide competent and dedicated legal representation for those attorneys who qualify. This will have the added benefit of alleviating some of the congestion at the ARDC, since pro se litigants tend to be inefficient and unfamiliar with the process.”
In addition to Ms. Rich, Partners Mark Flessner and Colin Smith and associate Laura Atherstone will handle most of the cases. Holland & Knight eventually hopes to include interested attorneys from other law firms in the program as well.
“The ARDC commissioners are enthusiastic about the Attorney Defense Initiative and they commend the goal of providing competent representation to any lawyer facing a disciplinary charge,” said James J. Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel of the ARDC. “There are many talented ARDC defense attorneys and they all perform some amount of pro bono service. However, there is a real need to provide consistently available quality legal representation for lawyers in financial need. This truly is a terrific idea.”
“A significant number of respondents appearing before the ARDC are economically oppressed,” said George B. Collins, a partner with Collins Bargione & Vuckovich who has decades of experience representing attorneys before the commission. “A pro bono defense bar that, when appropriate, can defend a lawyer who would otherwise have no defense will be beneficial to many lawyers. Holland & Knight is heading up the effort to make sure that lawyers, no matter what their troubles, have due process of the law. The program is admirable.”
Holland & Knight’s Legal Profession Team is led by Peter Jarvis and Allison Rhodes, two nationally known legal ethics attorneys, and is among the largest in the country, serving the professional legal needs of lawyers, law firms and legal departments. Its national, multidisciplinary team of attorneys provides a wide range of transactional, litigation and advisory services, focusing primarily on legal ethics, crisis management, disciplinary defense, and law firm risk management, organization and dissolution.
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