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NY State Bar Pro Bono Requirement

All graduates seeking admission to the New York Bar must complete and document 50 hours of pro bono legal service.

This requirement is different from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Pro Bono Requirement in some very significant ways. Because your bar admission is your responsibility, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with all of this information.

For complete information on New York’s pro bono guidelines, please review:
NY Bar Pro Bono Rule
NY Bar Pro Bono FAQs 

How To Determine If Your Work Is Eligible

  • Please review FAQ#12 regarding what type of work is likely eligible.
  • Pro bono work must be law-related and supervised by an attorney. (FAQ #11.b)
  • Hours can be for academic credit or performed during the school year or summer employment.
  • What type of work is typically eligible?
    • Externships or pro bono with non-profit legal service providers, 501(c)(3);
    • Judicial externships or work with a court system;
    • Public defender and prosecutor offices (state or federal);
    • State, local, or federal government agencies or legislative bodies. (FAQ #12)
    • Private sector pro bono work. (FAQ #27)
    • Law-related work for an international non-profit organization/foreign government (NGO) must in be connection with economic development objectives that assist the poor. (FAQ #12g)
  • Law school clinics that provide legal assistance to low income clients. (FAQ #12.a)
    • Most Gittis Legal Clinics are eligible. Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property clinics may not meet the NY requirements and should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Please contact your Clinic Professor directly. 
    • If you intend to use work with a law school clinic, please read here. 
  • You may receive a stipend, scholarship, compensation or other funding (FAQs #16, 27, and 28).
  • Please remember that Law School cannot officially verify that a particular pro bono activity is eligible for New York’s pro bono requirement. After you have engaged in the above analysis and reviewed the FAQs regarding pro bono eligibility, at that time, if you have additional questions, please reach out to probono@law.upenn.edu.

What Does Not Count

  • Acting as an interpreter or providing translation services. (FAQ #21)
  • Scholarly research, such as academic research for a professor or work for a law journal or publication. (FAQ #17)
  • Pro bono work done before you started law school. However, LLM students can count eligible work completed prior to the LLM program. (FAQ #8)
  • Political and/or election related work- Please see FAQ #24 which indicates that activities of a political nature or for a political organization, or legal research for a political organization will not qualify.
  • Please see additional FAQs #16 - 30 for work that may not be eligible.

How To Complete Your Affidavit of Compliance

  • Affidavit of Compliance
  • Each project requires a separate affidavit and supervising attorney signature.
  • You must submit an original Affidavit signed by your supervising attorney.
    • As of November 2021, while not considered a permanent rule change, the First, Second and Third Departments are accepting digital signatures on the affidavits. The Fourth Department accepts digital signatures from supervisors  but the applicant must also include an affirmation confirming that the signature is authentic, and applications must also be submitted in hard copy. (If you have questions about a specific department and these new guidelines, please reach out to the NY Bar Office directly.)
  • Type, do not handwrite your Affidavit.
  • Notarization: Once you have completed your information, make an appointment with a local notary. Sign your form in the presence of a notary.
  • Supervisor signature: After notarization, your supervising attorney must sign. Only a supervising attorney (not a student pro bono project leader) may sign your Affidavit.
  • Once your affidavit is signed by your supervising attorney, keep it in a safe place until you are ready to submit to the Bar. When do you submit your completed affidavit? Please review FAQ #9. 
  • Do not wait until you pass the bar exam to complete your affidavit(s). Please take steps during the school year to obtain signatures to lessen the burden on staff/supervising attorneys.
  • TPIC has developed a helpful reference guide in completing the Affidavit. Please read this guide before drafting your Affidavit.

The Law School’s Pro Bono Project Eligibility

Based on the information provided by the New York bar thus far, the work performed with these projects is expected to be eligible for the New York pro bono requirement:

  • Animal Law Project (ALP)
  • Civil Rights Law Project (CRLP)
  • Criminal Records Expungement Project (C-REP)
  • Custody and Support Assistance Clinic (CASAC)
  • Employment Advocacy Project (EAP)
  • Environmental Law Project (ELP)
  • Health Law and Policy Project (HeLPP)
    • Certain sub-projects may not be eligible for NY Bar Pro Bono.
  • If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
    • Certain sub-projects may not be eligible for NY Bar Pro Bono.
  • Innocence Project at Penn Law
  • International Human Rights Advocates (IHRA)
  • International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
  • Pardon Project
  • Penn Housing Rights Project (PHRP)
  • Penn Law Walk-in Legal Assistance (WILA)
  • Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project (PLIRP)
    • Certain sub-projects may not be eligible for NY Bar Pro Bono.
  • School Discipline Advocacy Service (SDAS)
  • Youth Advocacy Project (YAP)

Please remember that the Law School cannot officially verify that a particular pro bono activity is eligible (or ineligible) for New York’s pro bono requirement.

This page will be regularly updated as information becomes available.