New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement
The state of New York recently introduced a pro bono requirement for all New York Bar applicants. Beginning January 1, 2015, all applicants for admission by examination to the New York Bar must perform 50 hours of law-related pro bono service prior to filing their application. As the applicable date of this requirement is the date of bar admission, not the date the exam is taken, it is anticipated that students who graduate on or after May 1, 2014 will be subject to the new rule. Current 3Ls and 4Es will not be subject to the new rule as long as their admission date is before January 1, 2015.
Please note: Because Georgetown Law is not the administrator of this requirement, we cannot officially verify or confirm that a particular activity will count. Consequently, what we have provided here is our best advice based on the information publicly available. We recommend that you contact the NY Bar directly with specific questions.
Under the new rule (22NYCRR 520.16), pro bono is broadly defined, though the work must be law-related in nature and supervised by an attorney or faculty member. Examples of qualifying activities include: Law-school sponsored clinics that provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford representation;
- Externships or internships (even if funded or performed for academic credit) for a nonprofit provider of legal services, judge or court system, legal aid office, legal services organization serving low-income clients, Public Defender, U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, or State Attorney General;
- Private sector pro bono work;
- Law school sponsored project or programs that serve the poor or disadvantaged (provided the work is law-related and supervised in accordance with the pro bono requirement);
- Law-related work in connection with a faculty or instructor's pro bono work.
You should refer to the text of the law or the Court's guidance on its implementation to determine whether a particular activity qualifies (see link below).
As proof of completion, applicants will need to file an Affidavit of Compliance for each pro bono activity used to satisfy the 50-hour requirement. Each Affidavit must be certified and signed by the appropriate supervising attorney or faculty member. OPICS strongly recommends that Affidavits be completed immediately after the qualifying pro bono work is done, as tracking down supervisors or required information months or years after the pro bono work has been completed will be very difficult.
You can link to a fillable Affidavit of Compliance form here: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/AppForAdmission_Pro-BonoReq_Fillable.pdf.
Please note that neither OPICS, the Externship Program Office, nor the Office of the Registrar may sign Affidavits of Compliance – only a supervising attorney or faculty member may certify pro bono hours.
The new rule, some helpful FAQs, and the Affidavit of Compliance can be found at: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/baradmissionreqs.shtml.
Georgetown Specific FAQs:
If you have specific questions about the New York Bar Pro Bono Requirement, we encourage you to contact the New York State Unified Court System Directly. You can email questions to ProBonoRule@nycourts.gov, or call toll-free to 1-855-227-5482. For Georgetown-specific questions, contact Sara Jackson at email@example.com or (202) 661-6641.
Additionally, we have pasted below the answers to some questions raised by Georgetown students that may be relevant to you. We will update this section as additional questions arise.
1. Will hours from the Pro Bono Pledge be able to be used towards the requirement?
Yes – hours of law-related pro bono work used to complete the Pro Bono Pledge can also be used towards satisfying the New York Pro Bono Requirement, provided they meet the pro bono definition described above. Non law-related community service work (which may count towards the Pro Bono Pledge) cannot be counted towards the requirement.
Additionally, all hours that you plan to use to fulfill the NY requirement must be verified with an Affidavit of Compliance.
2. I'm graduating in May of 2014 – will it really take until after January 1, 2015 for me to be admitted to the NY Bar?
Georgetown Law strongly recommends that all students graduating in May of 2014 or after who plan to take the New York Bar be prepared to satisfy the NY pro bono requirement. Although it is possible that you will be admitted prior to January, 2015, there are numerous circumstances under which this may not happen (e.g. the need to retake the bar exam or delayed processing of your moral character application – which in many cases cannot begin until after bar passage). Consequently, we strongly recommend that you be prepared to satisfy the requirement if your graduation date is May 2014 or later.
3. On the Affidavit of Compliance, does my Supervisor's signature need to be notarized?
No. The completed Affidavit of Compliance must be notarized before it is submitted, but your Supervisor's certification does not need to be separately notarized.
4. Can LLM students get credit for pro bono work done prior to the time they begin their LLM program?
No. LLM students can only count pro bono work completed during or after the commencement of their LLM program.