New York Requiring Pro-Bono Service for Bar Applicants


New York is leading the country in making prospective attorneys complete pro bono worker prior to applying for the state bar. In May, Honorable Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that beginning in 2012, applicants to the New York bar will be required to complete 50 hours of pro bono legal service (New York Law Journal) as a condition of admission. The requirement does not seem to be strict enabling prospective applicants to complete the service anywhere in the United States or in a foreign country and allowing them to complete the hours as part of a law school clinic for credit. The only restriction is that the service be legal oriented. It cannot be general community service.

See Committee Report (PDF)

This requirement will likely lead to New York law schools expanding their clinic opportunities. The University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania already offers a number of legal clinics in areas such as immigration, environmental law, and elder law. I imagine that this type of service would satisfy the new pro bono requirement.  It will be interesting how New York law schools adapt to this new rule.