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Chief Judge Puts Pro Bono Disclosure Requirement in Place.

posted May 1, 2013, 10:23 AM by Pete Weinman   [ updated May 13, 2015, 12:32 PM by Lou Bara ]

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman 
NYLJ/Rick Kopstein

ALBANY - Beginning today, New York lawyers must disclose on their biennial registration forms how many pro bono hours they provided and how much they made in financial donations to pro bono programs during the previous two years.

The new reporting requirements of Part 118 and Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct were approved by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the presiding justices of the Appellate Division's four departments on April 23.

Lippman's "Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services" recommended increasing the voluntary pro bono goal for lawyers in the state to 50 hours a year from 20 (NYLJ, Dec. 7, 2012). That proposal is also being implemented today.

In a statement released today, Lippman praised lawyers for "selflessly" providing millions of hours each year in pro bono service to the poor. But he said the civil legal needs of low income New Yorkers are "enormous and continue to grow as a result of the uncertain economy and the recent devastation of Superstorm Sandy."

"I have every confidence that the steps we take today will help increase pro bono service and narrow the enormous access to justice gap in our state," Lippman said.

An announcement of the reporting requirement from the Unified Court System said pro bono service and financial contributions are "completely voluntary."

According to a recent American Bar Association survey, the average lawyer in New York performs 66 hours of pro bono service each year.

Increasing the state's voluntary pro bono goal to 50 hours a year would also complement a new requirement that those applying for admission in New York must have completed 50 hours of pro bono service (NYLJ, Sept. 20, 2012). All new candidates for the bar beginning in 2015 must meet that requirement.

Lippman revealed the impending pro bono disclosure rule in his 2013 State of the Judiciary address in February (NYLJ, Feb. 6).

Lawyers must re-register with the state every two years and pay a $375 fee in order to practice law in New York.

@|Joel Stashenko can be contacted at jstashenko@alm.com.

By Joel Stashenko Contact All Articles 

New York Law Journal

May 1, 2013