New York’s top judicial official unveiled details Wednesday of the state’s first-in-the-nation requirement that law-school graduates perform 50 hours of unpaid legal work to qualify for the state bar, writes The New York Times.
The final version of the pro bono rule appears to address concerns raised when Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman made the proposal in May, including that it would put an undue burden on young lawyers or deprive needy clients of experienced professional help.
The guidelines, crafted by an advisory committee, give students three years to do the work for the poor, nonprofit or civil-rights groups, or government agencies—from the end of their first year of law school to the date they apply for the bar—and require that it be done under the supervision of a practicing attorney, a judge, or a law-school faculty member.
The rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, aims to address a widening gap in provision of legal services for the poor as the tough economy raises demand while governments cut legal-aid budgets. “We’re going to write the script nationally,” Judge Lippman said of the New York effort. “I think what we’re doing will be replicated around the country.”