“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 that all graduates (J.D.s and LLM’s) applying for admission by examination certify that they have performed 50 hours of law-related pro bono service. Pro bono hours to not need to be completed prior to sitting for the exam, but you must provide proof of compliance prior to applying for admission to the New York State Bar.
Qualifying Pro Bono
The New York Rule has different definitions of qualifying pro bono. Some pro bono hours that satisfy Law School’s Pro Bono Challenge may not count towards the 50 hours needed for the New York Bar.
In general, to qualify for the New York Rule, pro bono work must be law-related and performed under the supervision of an attorney or law school faculty member while the applicant is enrolled in law school. *LL.M. students may count qualifying pro bono performed outside of the U.S. during the year before beginning their LL.M. course of study. See rule (22 NYCRR 520.16).
Examples of qualifying pro bono includes:
- summer public service or governmental internships (whether or not the student receives a PILA grant or other financial compensation);
- judicial internships
- academic clinics that provide assistance to low-income clients (business law clinics may not qualify);
- most externships (including international);
- most UVA Law pro bono projects;
- private law firm pro bono
Examples of Non-qualifying pro bono includes:
- projects that do not necessitate the use of legal skills such as completing tax forms (see FAQ No. 19) or mock trial programs (Street Law) for high school or college students;
- research for a faculty member’s scholarly/academic publications;
- travel to and from pro bono work sites;
- translation or interpretation services (see FAQ No. 21);
- community service projects such as tutoring, food drives, or home build days.
- see FAQs #16 - 30 for other examples of pro bono work that may not be eligible.
The Law School and the Pro Bono Program cannot officially confirm that any project qualifies for the New York Rule. If after reviewing the information below and reading the FAQs regarding eligibility for pro bono hours, you still have questions, or if you want to seek prior approval of a pro bono project, please email the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirement at ProBonoRule@nycourts.gov.
New York State Pro Bono Opportunities Guide - Use to search for pro bono projects in New York City and State
The Affidavit of Compliance
Applicants for admission to the New York Bar must submit an Affidavit of Compliance for each pro bono project used to meet the 50-hour requirement. Every affidavit must include the signature of the project’s supervising attorney. The staff of UVA Law’s Pro Bono Program cannot sign Affidavits of Compliance.
It is best practice to complete the affidavit as you finish your pro bono project. It can be difficult to locate a supervisor months or years after your work on a project has ended. The original hard copy of each affidavit must be submitted when you apply for admission. Be sure to make a copy of the original affidavit before submitting it.
You should complete page one of the affidavit and then have the form notarized. After the form is notarized, the attorney who supervised your pro bono work should then complete the Supervisor Certification page. Supervisor signatures are not required to be notarized, but they cannot be scanned or emailed.