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NY Is First State to Require Law Students to Do Pro Bono Work to Get Licensed After Graduation

Posted Sep 19, 2012 1:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a move that is expected to improve access to the civil justice system for low-income individuals, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced at a press conference Wednesday a new Court of Appeals rule requiring all law graduates to complete 50 hours of pro bono work before they will be admitted to practice in New York.

It is expected that many will complete the pro bono requirement while they are still law students, according to Reuters. However, the pro bono requirement can also be met after an individual earns his or her law degree.

The pro bono requirement doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, so it does not apply to current third-year law students.

What qualifies as pro bono work is broadly defined, the article notes, alleviating concerns by law school deans that the program would be difficult to administer.

A 15-member advisory committee that helped draft the new pro bono rule will also oversee its implementation and evaluate how well it works, the news agency notes.

The New York Law Journal (reg. req.) provides a link to a copy of the new pro bono rule (PDF).

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Should All Lawyers Be Required to Do Pro Bono or Monetarily Contribute to Legal Services Offices?"

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