New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman unveils pro bono service requirement

The Honorable Jonathan Lippman '68, chief judge of the state of New York, announced at NYU Law the rules for the new 50-hour pro bono service requirement for admission to the New York state bar. 

“I’m very proud that we are the first state in the country to implement such a requirement,” said Judge Lippman. “The new generation of lawyers must understand that they must embrace the core values of our profession before they can be admitted to the bar in New York state. It is my hope that from this experience they will be hooked for life on serving others.”

The prerequisite for New York bar admission goes into effect January 1, 2013 and will apply to law students who expect to be admitted to practice in New York after January 1, 2015. In a nutshell, students must complete 50 hours of pro bono work that is law-related and requires legal skills, and the work must be supervised by a faculty member, a lawyer admitted to practice, or a judge or attorney employed by a court system. The supervisor will be required to certify the number of hours worked on the Affidavit of Compliance with the Pro Bono Requirement as part of the student’s admission application to the Appellate Division department of the New York Supreme Court.

The pro bono work may be performed in the U.S. or abroad, and may take place anytime after the commencement of legal studies and before the filing of an application for admission to the New York state bar. For details, consult the New York State Unified Court System's page for the pro bono requirement.

“Dedication to public service has been part of the fiber of NYU Law for a very long time,” said Dean Richard Revesz. Because of the 35 clinics at NYU Law, the Root-Tilden-Kern scholarships and the law school’s funding of summer jobs in public service for two-thirds to three-quarters of 1L students, said Dean Revesz, the vast majority of NYU Law students already meet the new pro bono requirements.

The Advisory Committee on Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements developed the recommendations for implementing the new rules. Alan Levine '73, partner at Cooley LLP and co-chair of the advisory committee, noted that the requirements were designed to be inclusive and practical. The advisory committee also included Helaine Barnett '64, who served as president of the Legal Services Corp. from 2004-2009 and is now chair of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, and Judge Betty Ellerin '52, former presiding justice of the Appellate Division, First Dept., and now senior counsel at Alston & Bird.

“The impact of this initiative goes far beyond the next few years of crisis, even the 500,000 hours of pro bono work every year. It will result in generation after generation of new lawyers with a strong pro bono ethos in New York and around the country,” said Esther F. Lardent, president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute.

Brandi McNeil ’13 spoke at the event about working in clinics at NYU Law to represent New York City public school students, families seeking special education services for their children, and youths accused of committing crimes. “Pro bono work isn’t always about winning or losing in court. Sometimes it’s about something more important. Win or lose, you’ve given your client a voice,” said McNeil.

Other speakers included: Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo, associate judge of the Court of Appeals, and co-chair of the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements; Michelle J. Anderson, dean of CUNY School of Law; and CUNY law student Miranda Junge.

Watch the full video of the announcement (1 h 7 min):


Posted on September 19, 2012