To Pass The Bar In NY, 50 Hours Of Pro Bono Work Will Be Required


New York will become the first state in the nation to require pro-bono service as part of admission to the bar, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced today.

Each applicant for the bar will need to volunteer 50 hours of law service, with the aim of helping poor New Yorkers who can’t afford legal counsel.

“With this initiative, New York will lead the way in stating loudly and clearly that service to others is an indispensable part of our legal training,” Lippman said at an annual Law Day event at the state Court of Appeals.

“Before you can call yourself a lawyer in New York, you must demonstrate in a very tangible way your commitment to the ideals of our great profession.”
Lippman said New York and the nation are facing a crisis in its ability to provide legal services, particularly for those who can’t afford their own lawyers.

The state has about 10,000 prospective lawyers pass the New York Bar Exam each year, Lippman said. With the new program, 500,000 hours of legal services each year will be provided free of charge.

He said the state has increased spending for civil legal services, but the new program will provide pro bono services without costing taxpayers.
“We will not only benefit the clients who are in dire need of legal assistance, but so importantly, we will also be helping prospective lawyers to build the valuable skills and acquire the hands-on experience so crucial to becoming a good lawyer,” Lippman said.

The program will start next year and will not impact applicants seeking to join the bar this year, Lippman said.

When applying to the state courts for admission to the New York bar, applicants will be required to include an affidavit describing the pro bono work.


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  1. Debbie Gorman on

    This is so unfair. Every law student does countless hours of pro bono work in NY as a student anyway. We already have to take unpaid jobs for 3 years of law school, why do we have to do this now too?? We have already done hours and hours of free labor for NY state.

  2. Smaertporpoise on

    Most lawyers start out giving $10,000 worth of advice for $100 and end up giving out $100 worth of advice for $10,000.

  3. the consultant on

    every law student does NOT do countless hours of pro bono work unless they are in a clinical
    program and if they are that would no doubt count toward the requriement …50 hours is
    one week…that’s it…you can do it with a government agency as an intern or with a lawfirm
    or with legal aid…the experience will do you good as will helping people who cannot afford
    an attorney…and let’s face it as a graduating law student you know virtually nothing about
    how to practice in the real world..this may teach you something you need to know quciker
    than you could learn it if and when you find a job…and i appreciate the lawyer joke but
    there are plenty of lawyers who do pro bono all the time…for friends family and others
    who need help..

  4. I have a better idea. How about, instead of 50 hours volunteer work, each new lawyer be required to sign a contract, pledging to tell the truth.

  5. Steve Wagonner on

    @ pro boner Lawyers are required by their oath to tell the truth. They are not, however, required to tell your version of it. That your version is not the one they espouse does not mean they are lying. However, it may indicate just how close-minded you are.

  6. are you kidding on

    the truth is an interesting concept…lawyers are officers of the court..when they are before
    the bench and in any conversations with their clients or with other attorneys they must
    tell the other words they cannot intentionally fabricate the facts or the law or
    the consequences of any action..but different people view things through different prisms
    that is why you have two sides to any legal matter….both sides believe that they are interpreting
    the facts and the laws truthfully…and to the extent they may find that they are incorrect
    about something they have an immediate obligation to correct the record…most lawyers
    do exactly that …some lawyers of course don’t..but neither to some people in the rest
    of the population…

  7. Socrates Scaranopolis on

    How convenient that they can “unintentionally” fabricate the facts.

  8. Lets see most people coming out of law school $150K in debt are already doing volunteer work because they can’t find a job nice to see its now required.

  9. the consultant on

    way to pervert the words in the says they cannot intentionally
    fabricate the facts…if someone mistates a fact they believe to be true it is not fabrication..
    is it because fabricate means to make up…and if you learn something or believe something
    that turns out not to be correct it is hardly fabrication..go back to school

  10. Socrates Scaronopolis on

    Very funny. An attorney is telling us that we are perverting words

  11. “your version” of the truth? You MUST be a lawyer! Only another lawyer would be so ignorant and refuse to believe that lying under oath and perjury isn’t rampant in the attorney community. Lawyers do it all the time, especially when they stand to gain personally from it, and especially when they know that the entire industry is policed by other lawyers who think the same way Steve Wagonner thinks, that lawyers are not capable of lying under oath. If Chief Judge Lippman wishes to improve the public reputation of lawyers, he should start by requiring them to tell the truth.

  12. Smartporpoise on

    Attorneys are hired to represent their clients’ interests, no matter if they are guilty, not-guilty, or something in- between. Often, their exposition of the in-between is interpreted by the uninitiated lay person as “lying.” A lawyer as an accused individual might lie, just as any human accused of an illegality might lie, but his/her attorney is obligated under the implicit and very real threat of losing his right to practice to not do so. Rather, he proffers legal nuance and extenuating circumstances to protect his client, and convince the court and/or the jury (as best he can,) to eschew unexamined, untutored barnyard “justice.” Sometimes, it’s not too pretty. You, yourself, would expect no less were you the accused.

  13. are you kidding on

    your insinuation that as a general rule lawyers as a group lie is simply ignorant anti lawyer
    bias….you have nothing at all to back up what you are saying..when lawyers who are officers
    of the court lie they risk their license…or other ethics violations…for you to generalize
    is just plain nonsense…and when you find yourself behind the eightball because you were
    minding your own business and a car hit you in the rear changing your life
    someone other than a lawyer and see how that turns out for you…but be careful not
    to lie about your injuries because the doctor who examines you will catch it because he
    works for the other side

  14. I wish I was kidding. Lawyers are the most overpaid and dishonest people on earth. Lying is part of the job. They expect it from each other, with a wink, a nod, and a laugh. Problem is….who polices them? Other lawyers? Just because they don’t get in trouble for it doesn’t mean it’s not rampant. Now you know what the public thinks of your lawyers, Judge Lippman.

  15. are you kidding on

    you are not representative of the public at are someone with an axe to grind and
    you know what they say about opinions….everyone has one….you clearly have no idea
    what goes into representing a client and presenting a case and your assumptions about
    their honesty and truthfulness and whether or not they get in trouble for whatever it is you
    think they all do is an indication of your lack of perspective and your own personal issues