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New York Bar Pro Bono Admission Requirement

Please see for official information.

Pro bono activity that satisfies the HLS 40-hour Pro Bono Graduation Requirement may not satisfy the New York Bar admission requirement . Please see the HLS Pro Bono Graduation Requirement for details.

The state of New York recently introduced a pro bono requirement for all New York Bar applicants. All candidates seeking admission after January 1, 2015 will need to file documentation showing that they have completed 50 hours of law-related pro bono service. As the applicable date of this requirement is the date of bar admission, not the date the exam is taken, it is anticipated that students who graduate on or after May 1, 2014 will be subject to the new rule.

Rule Overview

Under the new rule (22NYCRR 520.16), 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. 


As proof of completion, applicants will need to file an Affidavit of Compliance for each pro bono activity used to satisfy the New York Bar 50-hour requirement. 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.

Please note that neither OCP nor the Office of the Registrar may sign Affidavits of Compliance – only a supervising attorney or faculty member may certify pro bono hours.

You can link to a fillable Affidavit of Compliance form here:

Bar Exams

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

Last modified: March 20, 2015

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