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The state of New York requires all applicants to the New York Bar to complete 50 hours of law-related pro bono service before their time of application.

Pro bono activity that satisfies the HLS Pro Bono Graduation Requirement may not satisfy the New York Bar admission requirement. For questions, please contact the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

What type of work qualifies?

Under the rule (22NYCRR 520.16) amended September 16, 2015, pro bono is broadly defined, though the work must be law-related in nature and supervised by an attorney or faculty member. Examples of qualifying activities include:

  • Law-school sponsored clinics that provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford representation;
  • Externships or internships (even if funded or performed for academic credit) for a nonprofit provider of legal services, judge or court system, legal aid office, legal services organization serving low-income clients, Public Defender, U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, or State Attorney General;
  • Private sector pro bono work;
  • Law school sponsored project or programs that serve the poor or disadvantaged (provided the work is law-related and supervised in accordance with the pro bono requirement);
  • Law-related work in connection with a faculty or instructor’s pro bono work.

Please Note: Because Harvard Law is not the administrator of this requirement, we cannot officially verify or confirm that a particular activity will count. We recommend that you contact the NY Bar directly with specific questions.

certifying your pro bono hours

To prove that you have completed the 50-hour requirement, you will need to submit
Affidavit(s) of Compliance (PDF) for each pro bono activity.

Neither the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs nor the Office of the Registrar may sign these Affidavits – only a supervising attorney or faculty member may certify pro bono hours. Each Affidavit must be certified and signed by the appropriate supervising attorney or faculty member.

It is recommended that Affidavits be completed immediately after the qualifying pro bono work is done, as tracking down supervisors or required information months or years after the pro bono work has been completed will be very difficult.

Bar Exams

For official information please visit the New York Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirement.

For more information about taking bar exams, please visit Career Services website.