public interest law center

New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement

Under the New York State Pro Bono requirement, persons applying for admission to the New York State Bar must file an affidavit showing that they have performed fifty hours of pro bono service.

You will be required to complete the affidavit form, including certification by your attorney supervisor, for the qualifying pro bono project(s) that you do. If you do more than one project to make up the 50 hours, you will need to file affidavits for each project. It is recommended that you complete the form(s) at the time you complete the pro bono work. You can find the affidavit form, Rule 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals (which explains the requirement), and Frequently Asked Questions, on the NY Courts website. We strongly suggest that you review the rule and Frequently Asked Questions before completing the affidavit to ensure that your work qualifies.

What counts:

  • Pro bono work must be law-related and supervised by an attorney, judge, or law school faculty or instructor in order to qualify.
  • Internships with a broad range of organizations including legal services providers; public defender and prosecutor offices; not-for-profit organizations; state, local, or federal government agencies or legislative bodies; and judges or court systems can all count if the work is law-related and properly supervised.
  • Pro bono work abroad can also qualify if it is law-related and properly supervised. You will be asked to explain the nature and circumstances of the work in detail.
  • Pro bono work at a law firm can qualify as long as no fee is being paid, and the work is duly supervised and law related.
  • Many, though not all, NYU Law clinics qualify.
  • You are allowed to receive funding or academic credit for qualifying pro bono work and still satisfy the requirement.

What does NOT count:

  • Scholarly research, such as academic research for a professor or work for a law journal or publication.
  • Student-directed pro bono. At present, work of student organizations such as REACH, Unemployment Action Center, and the Suspension Representation Project does not qualify because students are not supervised by an attorney.
  • Community service that is not law-related, such as serving food at a shelter.
  • Pro bono work done before you started law school. However, LLMs can count some work completed prior to the LLM program.

How to get credit for your pro bono work:

  • After you have completed the qualifying pro bono work, you will need to do the following in this order: (1) Download and fill out the form affidavit (found here); (2) Sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary public; and (3) Have your supervisor fill out the supervisor certification at the end of the affidavit. Your assigned Judicial Department will contact you after the Bar exam, asking you to submit the pro bono affidavit along with all other admission application materials. Only original, hard copy versions of the pro bono affidavit may be submitted (not electronic versions or photocopies).

For more information:

  • The text of the rule and a detailed FAQ can be found here.
  • You can watch PILC's NYS Pro Bono Rule Information Video here.
  • If you are a current student or alum, contact David Glasgow, Associate Director (david.glasgow@nyu.edu)