50 Hour Pro Bono Requirement for the New York State Bar
Under the New York State bar admission requirements, all persons admitted to the New York State bar after January 1st, 2015 must file an affidavit by a lawyer admitted in the jurisdiction where the work is performed showing that they have performed fifty hours of qualifying pro bono service. If you will take the bar exam in or after July 2014, you probably will be admitted after January 1, 2015.
You will need to complete a separate affidavit form, including certification by your supervisor, for each qualifying pro bono project that you do. It is recommended that you complete the form at the time you complete your qualifying pro bono work and retain it until you submit your application for the bar. A brief summary of what counts for the New York bar is below. You should also review the Rule (Court of Appeals Rule 520.16) and the Frequently Asked Questions, which explain the new requirements. They and the affidavit form are available on the New York State bar’s website.
Please note that the guidelines for the New York State bar requirements differ in some important ways from the rules for Columbia Law School's pro bono requirement. Information about Columbia Law School's pro bono requirement is on this page.
Qualifying pro bono work under the New York rule:
- is law-related
- provides legal assistance, without charge, to
- persons of limited means
- not-for profit organizations
- individuals, groups or organizations seeking access to justice such as civil liberties, civil rights or public rights; or
- assists in the provision public service by a governmental entity, including the judiciary; or
- is under a student practice rule or the rule that governs law school graduates before they are admitted to the bar
- is not research, unless in conjunction with the legal services described above
- is supervised
- directly by a lawyer admitted to practice in the jurisdiction where the work is performed, including a law professor or
- if the work is in a court system, by a judge or court attorney
- may also receive academic credit or monetary compensation so that the State (but not Columbia) will count work done in
- a clinic
- an externship
- the practicum part of another law school seminar or course as long as it satisfies the other criteria
- a summer job or paid internship during the academic year
- may be 50 hours long but not need be - students can exceed the minimum or aggregate projects
- may be performed in the first year of law school, unless barred by a law school rule
If you have questions about the New York rule, or CLS pro bono requirements, please email Laren Spirer, Director of Pro Bono Programs.