The Howard 's Voluntary Pro Bono Pledge is online via Symplicity. Please note that these hours are simply for tracking Howard’s Pledge. You should check with your respective state bars to see what documentation is needed, if any, for admission to their bar. Please refer to the links below for the NY State Bar pro bono requirements. Unlike Howard's Pledge, the NY Bar allows you to use clinics and externships towards their pro bono requirement. However, under the NY requirement, community service does not apply unless it is law related and uses legal skills; whereas under the Howard Pledge, 25 hours can be purely community service.
Current Pro Bono Opportunities
Students who want to volunteer for pro bono work can see current opportunities here.
Howard Pro Bono Pledge
Howard no longer requires documentation for proof of pro bono hours. Students will simply need to provide their supervisor’s name and contact information for verification purposes. Remember that 25 hours can be purely community service; the remainder must be law related, using legal skills with the student being supervised by a licensed attorney.
If you participate in an externship, and work in excess of the required hours for academic credit, you may count up to 10 of those hours towards your Pledge hours.
Recording Your Hours
To upload your hours, you will need to log onto Symplicity. You will see a link under “Shortcuts” on the lower right side for “Pro Bono”. Then go to “Add New” and add your hours. Begin typing in the name of the employer and you should see a drop down menu of employer names. If you do not see yours, please add it. For any technical questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NY Pro Bono Requirement
The state of New York recently introduced a pro bono requirement for all New York Bar applicants. Effective January 1, 2015, all applicants for admission by examination to the New York Bar must perform 50 hours of law-related pro bono service prior to filing their application. 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 who is barred in the jurisdiction where the work is performed. 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, legal aid office, judge or court system, Public Defender, U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, State Attorney General, or other federal, state or local government agency or legislative body;
- Private sector pro bono work;
- Law school sponsored projects 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.
You should refer to the text of the law or the Court's guidance on its implementation to determine whether a particular activity qualifies.
As proof of completion, applicants will need to file an Affidavit of Compliance for each pro bono activity used to satisfy the 50-hour requirement. Each Affidavit must be certified and signed by the appropriate supervising attorney or faculty member. Affidavits should 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 complicate and delay your admission.
You can link to a fillable Affidavit of Compliance form here: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/probono/AppForAdmission_Pro-BonoReq_Fillable.pdf.
Please note that neither the Externship Program Office, nor the Office of the Registrar may sign Affidavits of Compliance – only a supervising attorney or faculty member may certify pro bono hours.