The American Bar Association is contemplating an amendment to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(e), which today forbids lawyers to “provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation,” with exceptions for advancing “court costs and expenses of litigation” and, in the case of indigent clients, paying “court costs and expenses of litigation” outright. The amendment would make a third exception, in cases where the client is indigent and the lawyer is working pro bono or “through a nonprofit legal services or public interest organization” or a “law school clinical or pro bono program.” Under the new exception, the lawyer “may provide modest gifts to the client for food, rent, transportation, medicine and other basic living expenses if financial hardship…

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