Judge Details a Rule Requiring Pro Bono Work by Aspiring Lawyers

News Story (New York)

Mosi Secret
New York Times (NYT)
September 19, 2012

Tags: Funding: State & Local, Legal Needs, Pro Bono

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


The state’s chief judge on Wednesday announced the details of a new rule — the first of its kind in the nation — requiring law students to perform 50 hours of unpaid work as a condition of practicing in New York.

The Legal Aid Society, the largest provider of those services in the state, turns away eight of every nine people seeking help, said Steven Banks, the chief lawyer of the organization. Mr. Banks said the pro bono requirement would give his lawyers some much needed assistance.

“This is literally a shot in the arm to help address a very serious gap in access to justice,” Mr. Banks said.

The chief judge also obtained $40 million in this year’s state budget to help finance civil legal services. With the rule change, the judge said, the state will set a new standard for the provision of civil legal services.

“We’re going to write the script nationally,” Judge Lippman said. “I think what we’re doing will be replicated around the country.”