Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NY Bar Applicants Must Perform 50 Hours of Pro Bono Work

Last week, NY Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman provided the details of New York’s new pro bono prerequisite to applying for the NY bar. Here are excerpts from an article in the NY Law Journal:

The first-in-the-nation requirement will take effect immediately for first- and second-year law students, who will have up to 34 months to fulfill the mandate. Current third-years are exempt.

Read the new rule on pro bono practice.

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, every applicant to the bar will be required to fulfill the requirement.

Under the rule, 22 NYCRR §520.16, qualifying pro-bono work must be law-related.

"If you build houses for Habitat for Humanity, that doesn't count," Lippman said. "But if you do legal work for a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity, that could count."

Approved pro bono work includes legal services for people of "limited means"; not-for-profit organizations; individuals or groups seeking to promote access to justice; and public service in the judiciary and state and local governments.

The work must be performed under the supervision of a law school faculty member; an admitted attorney in good standing; or, in the case of a court system clerkship or externship, by a judge or lawyer employed by the court system. Participation in law school clinics for which students receive credit would count.

Several NY law deans were not excited. The new requirements will place more of a burden on law schools and their faculty members at a time when budgets are tight. Law schools that are not in NY, but have students who plan to take the NY bar will also face this added burden.


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