NY Court of Appeals Rule 520.16: Beginning on January 1, 2015, all persons admitted to the New York State Bar must submit an affidavit of compliance showing that they have performed fifty hours of pro bono service (to be submitted with all other Admission Application forms).
Note: if you will take the bar exam on or after July 2014, you will probably be admitted after January 1, 2015.
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Qualifying work under the New York Rule: Is law-related Provides legal assistance, without charge, to:
• • • Persons of limited means Not-for-profit organizations Individuals, groups or organizations seeking access to justice such as civil liberties, civil rights or public rights; or
Assists in the provision of public service by a government entity, including the judiciary (judge or court system) Is appropriate for lawyers-in-training not yet admitted to practice (no unauthorized practice)
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Assisting individuals or families in matters involving the essentials of life (e.g. access to housing, health care, educational services, social services, gov’t assistance…) Representing the victims of domestic violence or elder abuse Representing persons with disabilities or mental illnesses Advocating for victims of alleged human rights violations or the protection of civil liberties Litigating on behalf of classes of individuals who cannot afford representation
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With adequate training and supervision: Helping a low-income person complete court forms Assisting an attorney with trial prep and/or helping litigants prepare for court appearances Engaging in witness interviewing and investigation Participating in a community legal education project Drafting court or transactional documents Engaging in legal research or writing Helping low-income people complete tax returns Making in court appearances (if authorized under the student practice rules)
Yes! Unlike Georgetown’s pro bono policy, under New York’s rule you MAY also receive academic credit or monetary compensation for the work.
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Consequently, you can count work done in: A clinic An externship The practicum part of a law school course or seminar
A summer job or paid internship during the academic year A summer associate position
…IF the work otherwise satisfies the pro bono criteria
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Scholarly research, unless in conjunction legal services/public service (i.e. academic research for a professor or work for a law journal does NOT count) Student-supervised pro bono work Community service that is not law-related Partisan political work Language translation or interpretation services provided separately from the actual provision of legal services Work performed prior to law school (except for LLMs) Participation as a mentor/volunteer in mock trial programs
In order to be counted, pro bono work must be supervised by: A lawyer or law school faculty member admitted
to practice and in good standing in the
jurisdiction where the work is performed; If the work is in a court system, by a judge or court attorney
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You will need to complete a separate affidavit of compliance, signed by a supervisor, for EACH qualifying pro bono activity that you wish to count. We strongly recommend that you complete the form at the time you complete your qualifying pro bono work and retain it until you submit your application for the bar OPICS or other departmental staff are NOT able to sign affidavits of compliance You need not complete 50 hours at a single project; you can piece together several projects/activities to complete your 50 hours
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Required Information: Applicant contact information Organization contact info & brief description of work Category of work performed Dates of service and hours completed Supervisor certification, contact info and bar admission Once filled out, the form must be NOTARIZED prior to submission.
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Your pro bono work can be completed in ANY state, and even outside of the United States.
Note: if your pro bono work is performed in whole, or in part, outside of the US you will be required “to explain in detail the nature and circumstances of your work as part of your application for admission” Remember, work must be supervised by an attorney
barred in the jurisdiction where the work is performed
If form is completed outside of the US and you are unable to use a notary public, you may utilize an equivalent attesting officer (but must attach a certificate of the officer’s authority to your affidavit)
LLM students are also subject to the 50 hour requirement
Slightly expanded rules for LLMs: Pro bono work can be completed during the year before commencing the LLM (in addition to during or after completing the LLM degree program) Reminder: Pro bono work abroad can qualify if it is law related and supervised by an attorney in that jurisdiction All of the other rules apply
How long do I have to complete my requirement?
Your work can be completed after you graduate from law school, but MUST be included with your application for admission to the appropriate Appellate Division of the NY Supreme Court.
Note: Bar exam scores become stale after 3 years so you likely don’t want to delay for that long…
When do I file the Affidavit of Compliance?
You will file the Affidavit with your admission packet at the appropriate Appellate Division of the NY Supreme Court (must be filed within 3 years of bar passage) http://www.nybarexam.org/Admission/Admission.htm
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Where can I learn about pro bono opportunities?
On the OPICS Pro Bono & Community Service website Through “Georgetown Gives Back” – a newsletter that you will receive when you sign up for the Pro Bono Pledge By reaching out individually to organizations doing work that is of interest to you (you can use Symplicity or PSJD to help you identify organizations in your interest area) Through student organizations and other on-campus events and activities Through your own personal or professional networks
Can hours towards my Pro Bono Pledge also count towards the NY requirement?
Yes, provided they are law-related and otherwise satisfy the NY Court’s definition of pro bono
Because Georgetown Law is not the official administrator of this program, 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 questions about specific pro bono projects or activities, especially if you are unsure whether or not they qualify.
Contact email: [email protected]
Please visit: NY Court FAQs: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/FAQsBarAdmissi on.pdf
NY Court Website: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/baradmissionreq s.shtml
NY Board of Law Examiners Admission Information: http://www.nybarexam.org/Admission/Admission.htm
Thank you for your attendance and for your pro bono service!
Sara Jackson Pro Bono Coordinator [email protected]