New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement
The state of New York has in effect a pro bono requirement mandating that 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.
Please note: Because Georgetown Law is not the administrator of this requirement, we cannot officially verify or confirm that a particular activity will count. 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 York Rule, pro bono is broadly defined, though the work must be law-related in nature and supervised by a licensed 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, legal aid office, judge or court system, Public Defender, U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, State Attorney General, or other federal, state or local government agency or legislative body;
- Private sector pro bono work;
- Law school sponsored projects 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 rule or the Advisory Committee’s Frequently Asked Questions to determine whether a particular activity qualifies. You may also email questions to the New York Advisory Committee.
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 may be difficult.
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.
We encourage you to review the Frequently Asked Questions, which include more specific guidance on what types of work satisfy the requirement and how to properly execute the Affidavit of Compliance.
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. For Georgetown-specific questions, contact Jen Tschirch.
Additionally, we have pasted below the answers to some questions frequently raised by Georgetown students.
Will hours from the Georgetown Pro Bono Pledge be able to be used toward the requirement?
It depends – hours of law-related pro bono work used to complete the Pro Bono Pledge can also be used toward satisfying the New York pro bono requirement, provided they meet the definition of pro bono in the rule. Additionally, all hours that you plan to use to fulfill the New York requirement must be verified with an Affidavit of Compliance.
When should I complete an Affidavit of Compliance?
Our strong recommendation is that you complete an Affidavit immediately upon the completion of a qualifying project. That way, you won’t risk being unable to track down a supervisor years later. You should make a photocopy and store both the original and copy in a safe place until you apply for admission. You must submit the original hard copy, so do not email/scan your supervisor’s signature page.
On the Affidavit of Compliance, does my Supervisor’s signature need to be notarized?
No. The applicant must provide the information requested on page one of the form and then have the form notarized. After the form is notarized, the attorney who supervised the applicant’s pro bono work must then complete the Supervisor Certification. The Certification does not have to be separately notarized.
When do I submit my Affidavit(s) of Compliance?
You should retain your original hard copy Affidavit(s) until you submit your admission application packet to the Appellate Division.