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New York 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 Penn Law Pro Bono Requirement in some very significant ways. We have assembled the essential details below.

Because your bar admission is your responsibility, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with all of this information.

To skip to specific sections, click on the topics below. If you have questions, contact Lillian Gardiner in TPIC.

The Rule

What Counts

What Does Not Count

Reporting

Penn Law Pro Bono Project Eligibility

Important Links

What Counts

  • Pro bono work must be law-related and supervised by an attorney, judge, or law school faculty or instructor. (see FAQ #11.b)
  • Law school clinics that provide legal assistance to low income clients (Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property clinics typically do not meet the NY requirements and should be evaluated on a case by case basis). (see FAQ #12.a)
  • Externships or internships (even if paid, for academic credit, or performed during the summer) for legal service providers; judges or court system; public defender and prosecutor offices; state, local, or federal government agencies or legislative bodies. (see FAQ #12.b)
  • Private sector pro bono work (even during the summer). (see FAQ #28)
  • Eligible law-related, student pro bono projects or ad hoc assignments that serve low income populations (click here for a list of possible New-York-bar-eligible pro bono projects). (see FAQ #12.c)

For complete information on New York’s pro bono guidelines, please see the New York pro bono requirement’s FAQ page.

What Does Not Count

  • Acting as an interpreter or providing translation services. (see FAQ #21)
  • Scholarly research, such as academic research for a professor or work for a law journal or publication. (see FAQ #17)
  • Community service that is not law-related, such as working at a food shelter. (see FAQ #29)
  • Pro bono work done before you started law school. However, LLMs can count some work completed prior to the LLM program. (see FAQ #8)

Reporting

  • All applicants must submit an Affidavit of Compliance confirming that they have completed at least 50 hours of pro bono work signed by their supervising attorney. Each project requires a separate affidavit and supervising attorney signature.
  • The affidavit should be completed immediately upon the conclusion of pro bono work as it will be profoundly difficult (if not impossible) to locate supervisors and/or specific information about pro bono work in the months or years after it took place.
  • Please note that only a supervising attorney or faculty member (not a TPIC staff member or student pro bono project leader) may certify pro bono hours for purposes of the New York requirement.

Penn Law 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
  • Civil Rights Law Project
  • Criminal Records Expungement Project
  • Custody and Support Assistance Clinic
  • Employment Advocacy Project
  • Environmental Law Project
  • Guild Food Stamp Clinic
  • Health Law and Policy Project
    • Please note that certain HeLPP sub-projects may not be eligible for the New York requirement.
  • Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project
  • LEARN
    • Please note that only LEARN’s pro bono section is eligible for the New York requirement
  • Pardon Me
  • Penn Housing Rights Project
  • Penn Law Advocates for the Homeless
  • Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project
    • Please note that certain PLIRP sub-projects may not be eligible for the New York requirement.
  • Reproductive Rights Law Project
    • Please note that certain RRLP sub-projects may not be eligible for the New York requirement.
  • Students Against Gender-Based Exploitation
  • Servicemembers and Veterans legal Assistance Project
  • Women’s Legal Assistance Project

Please remember that Penn Law cannot officially verify that a particular pro bono activity is eligible (or ineligible) for New York’s pro bono requirement. If you have specific questions about eligibility, please email the New York bar directly. 

This page will be regularly updated as more information becomes available.