New York State Bar Pro Bono Requirement

Under the New York State Pro Bono requirements, persons who are admitted to the New York State bar after January 1st, 2015 will be required to file an affidavit showing that they have performed fifty hours of pro bono service, even if they apply for admission before January 1, 2015.

You will be required to complete the affidavit form, including certification by your attorney 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. You can find the affidavit form, along with Rule 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals which explains the new requirements, and Frequently Asked Questions, on the New York State bar’s website. We strongly suggest that you review the complete guidelines.  

Because the requirement is new, the Court of Appeals is still working on defining exactly what counts and what does not count.  NYU Law is actively engaging with this process in order to clarify the requirement and make it as easy as possible for our students to satisfy it.  Below is a working list of what we already know.

What counts:*

  • Pro bono work must be law-related and supervised by an attorney 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 all count as long as the work is law-related and supervised by an attorney.
  • Pro bono work abroad could also qualify if it is -elated and supervised by an attorney in that jurisdiction.  You will be asked to explain the nature and circumstances of the work in detail.
  • Pro bono work at a law firm qualifies as long as no fee is being paid, and the work is duly supervised and law related.
  • All NYU Law clinics count.
  • You may receive funding or academic credit for work you do to satisfy the requirement.

* This list may expand once the court system clarifies its guidelines.

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.
  • Pro bono work done before you started law school.

How to get credit for your pro bono work:

  • All applicants to the NY Bar will be required to furnish an affidavit/s signed by their attorney supervisor/s confirming that they have completed 50 hours of pro bono work.  The affidavit can be found here.

For more information:

  • The text of the rule and a detailed FAQ can be found here.

How to track pro bono hours on Symplicity:

             How to Activate the Pro Bono Module on Symplicity

  1. Log onto your Symplicity profile. From your Symplicity homepage, click on “Pro Bono Hours Tracking” link on the right-hand side of the homepage.
  2. If you have not previously registered to activate pro bono hours on Symplicity, then you will be directed to the Pro Bono Hours Tracking “Terms of Use” page. Read the information carefully on the page and check the box next to “I understand” and click on the “Submit” button.
  3. You will then have access to the “Pro Bono Reporting” tab.

How to Add Pro Bono Hours on the Pro Bono Module on Symplicity

  1. From your Symplicity homepage, click on “Pro Bono Hours Tracking” on the right-hand side of the homepage.
  2. Select the “Pro Bono Reporting” tab.
  3. Click on “Add New” button.
  4. Review the instructions on the page and fill in all the required information. When you are finished, click on the “Submit” button.

How to Upload your form Affidavit of Compliance on the Pro Bono Module on Symplicity

  1. From your Symplicity homepage, click on “Pro Bono Hours Tracking” on the right-hand side of the homepage.
  2. Select the “Pro Bono Reporting” tab.
  3. Click on the “Edit” button next to the Employer to which you wish to upload an Affidavit of Compliance.
  4. Click on the “NYS Pro Bono Rule Affidavit of Compliance” tab.
  5. Click on the “Choose File” button to upload a saved electronic copy of the Affidavit of Compliance from your computer to the Pro Bono Module on Symplicity. Select the file you wish to upload.
  6. After you have selected the file you wish to upload, click the “Save” button.
  7. A link will appear the page with the name of the file you selected to upload signaling the successful upload of the file.

How to Retrieve a Previously Saved Affidavit of Compliance

  1. From your Symplicity homepage, click on “Pro Bono Hours Tracking” on the right-hand side of the homepage.
  2. Select the “Pro Bono Reporting” tab.
  3. Click on the “Edit” button next to the Employer from which you wish to retrieve your previously saved Affidavit of Compliance
  4. Click on the “NYS Pro Bono Rule Affidavit of Compliance” tab.
  5. Click on the link with the name of the file you previously uploaded to begin download of the file.