During his 2012 Law Day Remarks this morning, Chief Judge Lippman announced an impending requirement for “each and every applicant for admission to contribute 50 hours of participation in law-related and uncompensated pro bono service before they can practice in New York State.”
The requirement would not go into effect until 2013 and could be accomplished in a myriad of ways. As Judge Lippman stated, “it will not be solely the responsibility of law schools to provide pro bono opportunities, although there are law schools that already require some pro bono service to graduate, and most law schools today have an impressive array of clinical programs to offer their students.” Other suggested methods included working with legal service providers, internships and working with local bar associations to find pro bono opportunities. The Chief Judge also acknowledged that “while most applicants to the bar will want to complete their pro bono service during the law school years or over the summers, they will also have the option to do so after graduation, or even after taking the bar exam or after beginning a paid legal position in a law firm or elsewhere.”
The specifics of the requirement are forthcoming but what is currently evident is that applicants will be required to submit an affidavit describing the nature of their pro bono work, the organization and individual lawyer who provided supervision and the dates and hours of service.
In support of this new endeavor, the Chief Judge pointed out that each year nearly 10,000 prospective lawyers pass the New York bar and that requiring 50 hours of pro bono service from each of these individuals could create almost a half million hours of service to benefit those in need of legal help.
What do you think about this new and innovative requirement? Is it a step in the right direction? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.