Nassau Bar Association Opposes Mandatory Pro Bono Service
September 20, 2012
Organization opposes NYS Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s new rule
(Mineola, NY) Marian Rice, President of the Nassau County Bar Association, the largest suburban bar in the country, said today that while the Bar Association agrees with the importance of voluntary pro bono service, the organization opposes NYS Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s new rule that requires recent law school graduates to complete 50 hours of pro bono service before being admitted to practice in New York State.
“The Nassau County Bar Association has long been a strong proponent of voluntary pro bono service, as demonstrated by its many pro bono programs such as its mortgage foreclosure and senior citizen clinics, community outreach programs and participation in the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project. However, the Association opposes pro bono service that is mandatory, regardless of whether the attorney is already admitted to practice or just completing law school,” Rice said.
“We are nevertheless gratified that the new rule defines pro bono activities to include legal work performed for not-for-profits and government agencies,” she continued, “Although the rule defers application to those seeking admission in 2015, the Association believes a deferral until 2016 would have been preferable, as would an exception for full-time employed students attending law school at night.”
“Although information issued by the court answers a number of the obvious issues on the application of the rule, there are many remaining questions as to how law schools, legal service providers and other outlets of pro bono activities will be able to accommodate the influx of law students seeking to fulfill the mandatory pro bono requirements without a corresponding source of funding,” she added.
Founded in 1899, the Nassau County Bar Association, with a membership of nearly 6,000 private and public attorneys, judges, legal educators and law students, is the largest suburban bar association in the country. NCBA demonstrates its commitment to the community by offering a variety of services for the public, including lawyer referral services, senior citizen and mortgage foreclosure clinics, judicial screening, public education programs and support for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, which provides much-needed free legal services for the indigent of Nassau County. The WE CARE Fund, the NCBA’s charitable arm, assists children, the elderly and others in need, through countless projects and donations. For more information, call (516) 747-4070 (language translation available), email email@example.com, or visit www.nassaubar.org. A complete copy of the NCBA Task Force Report setting forth its position on the mandatory pro bono admission rule may be found on NCBA’s website.