Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Deputy Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 18, 2010

Hon. Ann Pfau
Chief Administrative Judge

Seal of the Unified Court System

Chief Judge Lippman Appoints Advisory Council to Foster Pro Bono by New York’s Most Experienced Lawyers

NEW YORK – Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has appointed an Advisory Council to promote a sea change in the already strong pro bono culture of New York's legal profession. After amending court rules effective this past January to create an Attorney Emeritus status, Chief Judge Lippman is taking this next step to leverage the demographic shift that is bringing unprecedented numbers of experienced lawyers to the verge of retirement, and to channel those enormous resources to assist the growing number of vulnerable New Yorkers unable to find legal assistance.

The Council will be co-chaired by John D. Feerick, former Dean and now Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, and Fern Schair, Immediate Past-Chair of Legal Services for New York City, the largest civil legal services organization in the country, and will consist of statewide representatives of the private bar, the legal services and pro bono communities, the court system, law schools and the nonprofit sector. The Council will monitor the Attorney Emeritus Program’s progress and advise the Chief Judge and court leaders in the following areas:

  • Ensuring that Attorney Emeritus volunteers provide high quality legal services to clients;
  • Making the pro bono experience as satisfying and desirable as possible for volunteers;
  • Developing outreach and recruitment strategies to maximize pro bono representation by experienced lawyers;
  • Collecting essential data about the program; and
  • Serving as a bridge to important constituencies, including the legal services community, the bar and the nonprofit sector.

The Attorney Emeritus Program took effect January 25 and has received an enthusiastic response from the state’s legal community. To date, 126 retired lawyers have volunteered their services and are being connected to 53 participating legal services and pro bono programs around the state. 

To be eligible for Attorney Emeritus status, applicants must be retired lawyers in good standing who are at least 55 years old and have practiced law for a minimum of 10 years. Attorneys Emeritus pledge to provide at least 30 hours annually of unpaid legal assistance to low  and moderate-income clients in various civil and family matters under the auspices of qualified programs.

The Attorney Emeritus Program was designed to make senior lawyer pro bono as convenient and comprehensible as possible. Attorneys Emeritus are not subject to the $350 attorney registration fee or mandatory CLE requirements, and training is provided free of charge by sponsoring organizations. Volunteers are afforded malpractice coverage by sponsoring organizations or covered by the defense and indemnification provisions of Public Officers Law. They also receive special recognition from the Chief Judge and the New York State Bar Association.

Chief Judge Lippman said, “The Attorney Emeritus Program is the most ambitious effort of its kind in the country, with the court system and the entire legal community working together to inspire experienced lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to low-income clients who cannot afford counsel. At a time when more New Yorkers than ever cannot afford lawyers, it is critical that we take full advantage of a great untapped resource – the many baby boomer lawyers who want to use their retirement years to serve the less fortunate in our society. I am grateful to Professor Feerick and Ms. Schair for agreeing to lead the Advisory Council. With their help, we will capitalize on the early momentum of the Attorney Emeritus Program and develop a successful blueprint for its future.”

Professor Feerick stated, “I have met so many lawyers over the years who are ready and looking to do something very worthwhile to contribute to our society. This comes at just the right time. Bravo to the courts of New York!”

Ms. Schair added, “With diminished resources, the ability to recruit, train, and support volunteers by most legal services programs is already severely challenged. This Council will support those efforts by providing best practices and shared resources to ensure quality legal services for those vulnerable New Yorkers in need.”

Eligible attorneys may enroll in the Attorney Emeritus Program by visiting and filling out a short online form, calling 877-800-0396 or completing the appropriate section on their next attorney registration form.

New York State Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council Membership Roster

John D. Feerick, Norris Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
Fern Schair, Chair, Feerick Center for Social Justice

Robert Abrams, Esq., Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Steven Banks, Esq., The Legal Aid Society
Andrew Brown, Esq., Brown & Hutchinson
Kathy Hirata Chin, Esq., Cadwalader Wickersham Taft LLP
Catherine A. Christian, Esq., NY County District Attorney’s Office
Jeannie Costello, Esq., Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project
Hon. Fern A. Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge/Director Access to Justice Programs
Natalie Gomez Velez, Esq., CUNY Law School
Stephen W. Greiner, Esq., Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Elizabeth Hubbard, Suffolk County, New York 
William F. Kuntz II, Esq., Baker & Hostetler LLP
James L. Magavern, Esq., Magavern Magavern Grimm LLP
Christopher O’Malley, Esq., IOLA Fund of the State of New York
Bettina B. Plevan, Esq., Proskauer Rose  LLP
M. Catherine Richardson, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
Alan Rothstein, Esq., New York City Bar Association
Israel Rubin, Esq., Greenberg Traurig LLP
Professor David Rudenstein, Cardozo School of Law
William T. Russell Jr., Esq., Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Patricia E. Salkin, Esq., Government Law Center at Albany Law School
Catherine Samuels, Esq., Larchmont, New York
Cynthia Schrock Seeley, Esq., Glens Falls, New York
Robert C. Sheehan, Esq., Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Kenneth G. Standard, Esq., Epstein Becker & Green P.C.
Jane R. Stern, Esq., New York Community Trust
Madeline Stoller, Esq., New York
Justin Vigdor, Esq., Boylan Brown




Web page updated: June 14, 2010