New York State Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement
“The new pro bono service requirement for admission to the New York bar serves to address the state’s urgent access to justice gap, at the same time helping prospective attorneys build valuable skills and imbuing in them the ideal of working toward the greater good. It is so important that the next generation of lawyers in New York embraces the core values of our profession that so fundamentally include pro bono legal assistance.”
- Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, State of New York, Court of Appeals
The state of New York requires all applicants (including LLMs) to the New York Bar to complete 50 hours of qualifying law-related pro bono work before they apply for admission.
The New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement differs from the Law School’s Pro Bono Challenge. The definition of qualifying pro bono is not the same for both. Under the NY Bar rule (22NYCRR520.16), pro bono work is broadly defined as law-related and supervised by a licensed attorney or faculty member. Clinics and externships can qualify for the New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement although such hours cannot be logged toward the Law School’s Pro Bono Challenge. Other programs such as Virginia Income Tax Association (VITA), which qualifies for the Law School’s pro bono program are unlikely to qualify for the NYS Bar Requirement) (see FAQ No. 19).
Summer work for a non-profit organization, government agency, or judge may qualify for the New York Bar pro bono requirement if the internship is law-related and supervised by an attorney. Receiving a PILA summer grant does not disqualify the internship from qualifying for the New York Bar pro bono requirement even though it will not be counted for purposes of the Pro Bono Challenge.
***The Law School does NOT administer this requirement and does NOT certify any hours as satisfying the rule. It is your responsibility to verify that your pro bono hours will qualify as “pro bono service” as defined by the New York State Board of Law Examiners.***
In addition, the staff of the Pro Bono Program cannot sign the required Affidavit of Compliance for pro bono work used to fulfill the bar’s pro bono requirement. Affidavits must be signed by a supervising attorney. It is recommended that you complete the affidavit as soon as you complete your pro bono project since it can be difficult to locate your supervisor after the project has concluded.
New York State Pro Bono Requirement – Rule 22 NYCRR 520.16
New York State Bar Admission: Pro Bono Requirement – FAQs
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