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New York Bar Pro Bono Requirement

If you plan to take the New York State Bar Exam, please read the following information carefully, and make sure that you visit all relevant links. All individuals who are admitted to the New York bar after January 1, 2015 must demonstrate that they have completed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono work. If you are planning to take the New York bar examination in July 2014, and your admission occurs after January 1, 2015, you will need to satisfy the Pro Bono Requirement.

It is important to understand that the New York Pro Bono Requirement is different from the Penn Law Pro Bono Requirement. There are many ways to satisfy the New York Requirement (i.e. clinics, externships, summer internships, law firm pro bono work during the summer, and judicial internships) that do not satisfy the Penn Law Requirement. Similarly, there are countless ways to meet the Penn Law Pro Bono Requirement that may not count towards New York’s. 

The information on this page is intended to help those of you navigating New York’s emerging state guidelines better understand how they relate to the many opportunities available through our pro bono program. Please note, New York’s guidelines are continually evolving, and we will keep this page updated, but we encourage you to utilize this resource in conjunction with, not instead of, the resources provided by the State of New York. As other states consider pro bono requirements, we will post that information as well.

If you have questions about navigating the New York Bar Requirements in relation to Penn Law’s Requirement and/or about specific Penn Law pro bono opportunities, please contact all-tpic@law.upenn.edu.  If you have questions specifically about the New York bar 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.

Important Links

What Counts for New York’s Pro Bono Requirement? 

Highlights are below. For more comprehensive information on New York’s pro bono guidelines, please see the New York pro bono requirement’s FAQ page.

  • 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)
  • Externships or internships (even if paid, for academic credit, or performed during the summer) for a legal services or legal aid organization, judge or court system, Public Defender, U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, or State Attorney General 
  • Private sector pro bono work (even during the summer) 
  • Eligible law-related, student pro bono projects or ad hoc assignments that serve low income populations (see the list of possible New-York-bar-eligible pro bono projects below)

What Counts for Penn Law’s Pro Bono Requirement? 

Highlights are below. For more comprehensive information on Penn Law’s pro bono guidelines, please see the Penn Law pro bono FAQ page.

  • Pro bono work performed as a member of one of TPIC’s student pro bono projects 
  • TPIC approved ad hoc or self-initiated assignment/project 
  • 1 clinic credit when exchanged for 35 hours of pro bono (with Registrar’s and TPIC’s approval) 
  • Any pro bono (from the categories above) performed during the academic year (summer work is not eligible for Penn Law’s pro bono requirement) 

Pro Bono Projects

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.
  • International Human Rights Advocates
    • Please note that certain IHRA 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
  • International Human Rights Advocates
    • Please note that certain IHRA sub-projects may not be eligible for the New York requirement.
  • 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

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

  • BLSA’s Project Peace
  • Financial Literacy Project
  • James Wilson Project
  • Legal Education Partnership
  • Prisoners’ Education and Advocacy Project
  • Street Law
  • Urban Ventures Project
  • Youth Courts 

Reporting

New York bar applicants must submit an Affidavit of Compliance for any pro bono work used to fulfill the state’s pro bono requirement. Each affidavit must be signed by the student’s supervising attorney. It is very important that the affidavit 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.

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

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