Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of New York State’s highest court (the NYS Court of Appeals) announced today the creation of a Pro Bono Scholars Program in which certain qualified law students may sit for the February Bar Exam during their third year of law school and then spend from March to May of their third year performing 500 or more hours of pro bono legal services. He made this announcement as part of his 2014 “State of the Judiciary” address. During what the Chief Judge describes as a “challenging economic environment and legal job market” for new law grads, the Pro Bono Scholars Program is intended to facilitate “quality mentoring relationships” and provide “adequate practical training” under the direct supervision of a practicing lawyer, while “helping those who cannot afford legal services.” It also “builds upon New York’s 50 hours pro bono admissions requirement.”
Judge Lippman noted
“In New York, we are so fortunate to have stellar law schools, with innovative clinical programs and well-crafted curricula.”
The NYS Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) has already approved the initiative which “will be offered to all of New York’s 15 law schools, as well as other schools that wish to participate.” Judge Lippman also noted that the supervision will “take place through educational programs developed by law schools and their clinics, and in partnerships with legal service providers, corporations and law firms.”
Senior Associate Judge Victoria A. Graffeo will head an Advisory Committee composed of law school deans from around the state to address “the logistics of an expanded February bar exam, ensure compliance with ABA standards, and develop a more precise timetable for the implementation of the various aspects of the Program.” Judge Lippman praised Graffeo’s “tremendous expertise and formidable organizational and managerial skills” in ensuring a “smooth transition for the new protocols,” noting that Graffeo used the same strengths in leading the 50 hour pro bono requirement.
For an audio webcastand transcript of the address see:
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