Pro Bono Publico -- for the public good -- could be the motto for a new kind of law school sponsored by the Association for Trial Lawyers of America and the National Community Education Association. The People's Law School has had an eight-year trial period in Michigan, and the verdict is so good that the sponsoring associations are planning to establish a school in every state by the end of 1986.

The People's School in Michigan offers courses taught by local lawyers and judges on everything from the rights of the accused to real estate law for $1.00 each. Students are awarded a graduation certificate and a class photograph if they complete six out of the eight courses. People's Law School graduates come away with a fundamental knowledge of the courts that they can use in everyday circumstances, said ATLA President Peter Perlman. Remarking on the ideals of the school, he said, "The law affects everybody, and if we expect people to live under our system of law, then it is imperative that they understand the system."

Aside from the public-service aspect, the People's Law School also is a way to dispel some of the "myths" that a lawyer's advice is never free, said Robert Grosvener, the founder of Michigan's circuit of schools. Grosvener also keeps a list of lawyers who will answer basic legal questions free of charge.

The chairman of ATLA's national committee to promote the People's Law School to state trial lawyers associations is Hugh Moore, a Kentucky trial lawyer who is also head of Kentucky's People's Law School program.

ATLA, with 50,000 trial lawyer members in the United States and Canada, has its headquarters in Washington. TRADE

The American Air Transport Association has announced plans for a major staff reorganization. With the approaching retirement of ATA's chairman and chief executive officer, Paul R. Ignatius, ATA has chosen a president and vice president and has promoted its industry services president to a new vice presidential position. William F. Bolger, a vice chairman of Gray and Co. Public Communications International, who served as postmaster general between 1978 and 1984, has been chosen as ATA president. William W. Hoover, assistant for defense programs for the Department of Energy in 1984-85, has become vice president for operations and safety, a new position for ATA. And Gabriel Phillips, ATA industry services president, will become vice president for administration and industry services programs.

The Agriculture Council of America has chosen former Minnesota governor Orville L. Freeman as its president. The council's founding president, Allen Paul, is leaving the 12-year-old group to study trade policy in Bologna, Italy. Freeman served as Minnesota governor from 1954 until 1961, when he was named to John F. Kennedy's Cabinet. After that, he worked as president of E.D.P. International Inc. for a year. He then served as president, chief executive officer and chairman of New York's Business International Corp. from 1971 until his retirement in 1984. Freeman vowed to increase agricultural exports during his presidency. The council plans to work with the administration and Congress to promote a long-term comprehensive agricultural export policy. PROFESSIONAL

The newly formed American Tort Reform Association plans to battle the liability insurance "crisis" from the state level by combining the efforts of business, consumer and trade groups to reform existing laws through state legislatures. ATRA was founded by the American Consulting Engineers Council, whose executive vice president, Jim Coyne, is coordinator of the coalition. Other ATRA members are the American Legislative Exchange Council, American Business Conference, American Trucking Associations, American Society of Association Executives, National Federation of Independent Business and the Mechanical Contractors Association.

A former White House communications director has been chosen to head public relations for the American Association of Retired Persons. James R. Holland, a veteran communications director, worked in a similar capacity for former presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.