Pro bono

Pro Bono Requirement

All law students seeking admission to the New York State Bar following graduation must perform 50 hours of qualifying pro bono work.

Background on the Requirement

Former New York State Court of Appeals Judge Jonathan Lippman worked to address the need to provide more legal resources to low-income individuals in New York State in order to ensure access to justice. To meet this goal, he created a requirement that those seeking admission to practice law in New York complete 50 hours of pro bono service before applying for admission. 

Most law students meet this requirement while in law school through clinics, externships, judicial externships and practica. Law students should familiarize themselves with the requirements and the necessary documentation to meet the 50 hour pro bono requirement.

Documenting Your Pro Bono Work

To document your pro bono work, you will need to fill out your Form Affidavit for Compliance (PDF) form and have your supervising attorney verify the work and hours.

You also need to fill out a law-related employment form (PDF). 

  • You DO NOT have to fill out a law-related employment form for your pro bono work.
  • You DO have to fill out a law-related employment form for any other law-related work you have done. Even for unpaid work, such as clinics, externships and volunteer work, this form needs to be filled out.

You are responsible for keeping the completed forms until you are asked for them as part of your application for admission sent from the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court after you take the New York State Bar Examination.

In the First Department, the application is not sent until the Board of Law Examiners certifies that you have passed the bar examination and the MPRE.

Pro Bono Opportunities

The School of Law provides for-credit pro bono opportunities, and will identify not-for-credit opportunities available in the Western New York region. Any questions about not-for-credit opportunities should be directed to Vice Dean Melinda Saran.

Additional Pro Bono Work

The School of Law values student pro bono work that is not for credit, paid, or stipend/fellowship supported. 

In addition to filling out the Form Affidavit for Compliance with the 50 hour requirement for admission to practice as an attorney, we ask that you report these hours by filling out the online form so that you can receive recognition by the School of Law for your contribution.