Pro Bono at Columbia Law School: The Basics
SJI staff is here to help guide you towards a pro bono experience that will not only provide much needed access to justice to underserved persons and communities and be meaningful to you, but also will help to shape and hone your legal skills and establish relationships that will further your career.
Most Columbia Law students do far more pro bono service than the 40 hours required by Columbia or the 50 hours required for admission to the New York bar but it is useful to know what counts. Here is a very brief summary.
Under the New York State Pro Bono requirements, persons, including both J.D. and LL.M graduates, 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. The guidelines for the New York State bar requirements differ in some important ways from Columbia Law School's pro bono requirements. Read more details about the New York State 50 hour requirement here.
Every Columbia Law School J.D. student must complete 40 hours of pro bono work in order to graduate. Work that counts towards the mandatory pro bono requirement must be completed after the first year of law school and before April 1 of the third year. Otherwise qualifying pro bono work completed during your 1L summer will count for mandatory pro bono credit as long as the proper paperwork is filed. Read more about the Columbia Law School pro bono requirement here.
Any pro bono work completed beyond the required 40 hours or during your first year of law school will count as voluntary pro bono credit, and will be recorded as such on your transcript as long as the proper paperwork is filed (see the Forms & Guidelines page for more details).
Columbia Law School and Social Justice Initiatives offer a multitude of existing pro bono projects and opportunities to you. We send weekly emails notifying you of new projects seeking student help. Additionally, we encourage you to create and develop projects tailored to your individual interests and needs. Information about qualifying pro bono work can be found on the Forms & Guidelines page.