Requirements for the NY State Bar
The New York State Board of Law Examiners has promulgated specific rules applicable to students who began the study of law after April 1, 2012, and who wish to sit for the New York bar examination:
- Each applicant must have a minimum of two credit hours in a stand-alone course in Professional Responsibility;
- No more than 30 credits may be taken in clinical courses, field placement programs or externships, including any separately credited classroom components of such courses or programs;
- Law study must be completed in no fewer than 24 months and no more than 60 months (5 years) after commencement of law study (note that this is one year less than the 6 years allowed under UW Law School Rules);
- Per ABA rules, a student may not be enrolled at any time in coursework that would exceed 20 percent of the coursework required for the JD degree; 64 credit hours minimum must be completed in classroom study, based on 700 minutes of instruction time per credit hour.
- Additionally, the New York State courts have instituted a further requirement: Pursuant to 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals, applicants who successfully pass the bar examination in New York State must demonstrate that they have performed 50 hours of qualifying pro bono service before applying for admission to practice. Based on successful passage of the bar examination, any applicant who seeks admission to practice in New York after January 1, 2015, must satisfy the 50-hour requirement. Further information about this pro bono requirement may be found here:http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/baradmissionreqs.shtml#Information
If you have participated in a clinical course, externship or judicial clerkship as a law student, you may have already satisfied the 50-hour requirement. (See “What Sort of Work Qualifies as Pro Bono Work” below). If you want to use one or more of those courses to satisfy the 50-hour requirement, you and your supervising attorney must complete two affidavits: One that is called a “Form Affidavit as to Applicant’s Compliance with the Pro Bono Requirements, Including Certification by Supervisor;” and a second called “Form Affidavit as to Applicant’s Law Related Employment and/or Solo Practice.” There is no reason to wait until you are applying for admission to the New York State Bar to complete these affidavits – we recommend that you have your supervisor(s) complete these forms at the end of your externship or clerkship. This will avoid your having to search for supervisors who may have forgotten you or who have left their jobs. Here are links to the two forms:
- Affidavit of law-related employment to the NY State Bar.
- Affidavit as to compliance with pro bono requirements.
Do not fill in the Department to which you are seeking admission yet, unless you know for sure the area of the State in which you will be working or living. Also, you may not have your “BOLE” number yet (your number for the bar exam), so leave that blank as well.
Keep these affidavits in a file so that you have them when you need to fill out the forms necessary for bar admission after you have taken the bar exam – you will not be using them until after the bar exam, but it’s a good idea to get them now so you don’t have track down supervisors at some point in the future.
Eligible “Pro Bono Work” Under Rule 520.16
Eligible pro bono work can be performed any time after you commenced your legal education, and can be performed anywhere that is convenient for you. The work must be law related (i.e., the work must involve the use of legal skills and law-related activities that are appropriate for lawyers-in-training not yet admitted to practice, and you must avoid the unauthorized practice of law).
Your pro bono work must be performed under the supervision of (i) a member of the law school faculty, including adjunct faculty, or an instructor employed by a law school; (ii) an attorney admitted to practice and in good standing in the jurisdiction in which the work is performed; or (iii) in the case of a clerkship or externship in a court system, by a judge or an attorney employed by the court system.
Finally, the types of projects that meet the requirement are: (i) work performed in the service of low-income or disadvantaged individuals who cannot afford counsel and whose unmet legal needs prevent their access to justice; OR (ii) work that involves the use of legal skills for an organization that qualifies as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3); OR work that involves the use of legal skills for the court system or federal, state or local government agencies or legislative bodies.
It seems clear, therefore, that students who complete 50 hours of work through externships such as the Judicial Intern Clinical Program; the Wisconsin DOJ Clinical Program; LAIP; the Innocence Project; the Family Court Clinic; the Immigrant Justice Clinic; the Prosecution Program; the Defender Program; an externship at any U.S. Attorney’s Office; and a large number of other placements will be deemed to have satisfied the requirement of 50 pro bono hours. See, in particular, Question 12 on page 9 of the excellent compilation of “Frequently Asked Questions” about the Pro Bono Requirement, which is available at http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/FAQsBarAdmission.pdf, to determine whether any clinical or externship courses you have completed, or are contemplating, will satisfy the requirement. The fact that you received academic credit or a stipend or grant in connection with your participation in a law school clinic or externship does not disqualify the work.
Students who are considering pursuing admission to the New York bar are strongly urged to plan with the above requirements in mind. If you have questions about the New York requirements and your UW Law School curriculum, you should consult with the Law School Registrar, Amy Arntsen (Room 5107), Curricular Coordinator Jane Heymann (Room 5103), or Associate Dean Kevin Kelly (Room 5105).
If you are looking for pro bono placements to meet this requirement you should see either the Current Opportunities available through the Law School Pro Bono Program or contact the Pro Bono Program directly.
Please note that the University of Wisconsin Law School Pro Bono Society requirements are different from the New York State Bar pro bono requirement. Fulfillment of the requirements for one does not ensure fulfillment of the requirements for the other.