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.  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 related 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 University of Chicago 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.  
  • 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.
  • If you have further questions, please send an email to ProBonoRule@nycourts.gov. A toll-free number is available: 1-855-227-5482.