David Bookstaver Communications Director
Arlene Hackel, Deputy Director (212) 428-2500

Date: May 22, 2012

Hon. A. Gail Prudenti
Chief Administrative Judge

Seal of the Unified Court System

Chief Judge Names Advisory Committee on Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements

NEW YORK—Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced the formation of an advisory committee, co-chaired by Court of Appeals Associate Judge Victoria A. Graffeo and Alan Levine, a partner at Cooley LLP and former chair of The Legal Aid Society, to facilitate the implementation of a new prerequisite that will require prospective lawyers to show they have performed at least 50 hours of pro bono service before being licensed to practice law in New York State. The Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements will receive and solicit input from all of the affected constituencies in New York State, providing its recommendations to the Chief Judge and the Presiding Justices of the four Appellate Departments—whose respective Committees on Character and Fitness oversee and approve all admissions to the bar—by Fall 2012, when the new requirement will be put into place (effective January 1, 2013).

The new bar admission pro bono service prerequisite is the latest in a series of measures instituted by Judge Lippman to help address the unmet civil legal needs of low-income New Yorkers, making New York the first state to require New York bar applicants to perform pro bono service prior to admission to the bar.

“The new pro bono service requirement for admission to the New York bar serves to address the state’s urgent access to justice gap, at the same time helping prospective attorneys build valuable skills and imbuing in them the ideal of working toward the greater good. It is so important that the next generation of lawyers in New York embraces the core values of our profession that so fundamentally include pro bono legal assistance. I am immensely grateful to the Advisory Committee’s esteemed co-chairs, Judge Graffeo and Alan Levine, and its distinguished members for their willingness to contribute their talents and time to facilitate the implementation of this critical measure,” announced Judge Lippman, speaking at a conference convened by the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York to examine ways in which law schools can work collectively to help address the civil legal needs of low-income New Yorkers.

“I am honored that Judge Lippman has asked me to help spearhead this important effort and look forward to working with him, the Presiding Justices, Co-chair Levine, the other distinguished members of the Advisory Committee and our various legal system partners to help implement this new pro bono requirement that aims to instill in our next generation of lawyers a career-long commitment to public service,” said Judge Graffeo.

“The new bar admission pro bono service requirement takes a crucial step in addressing the unmet legal services needs of the most vulnerable in our society, which have grown exponentially in recent years, also providing vital practical experience to aspiring attorneys and instilling in them an ongoing dedication to our profession’s deeply rooted tradition of service to others,” said Mr. Levine. “I am delighted that Judge Lippman has requested my participation on the Advisory Committee and look forward to my role in making pro bono service the norm for all aspiring attorneys in New York.”

The Advisory Committee’s specific methodology for soliciting and receiving information, questions and suggestions will be announced in the coming weeks on In the interim, all correspondence and requests should be sent to

A full roster of the Advisory Committee on New York State Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements follows.

Advisory Committee on New York State
Pro Bono Bar Admission Requirements

Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo

Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals

Alan Levine

Partner, Cooley LLP; former Chair of The Legal Aid Society.


Hon. Luis A. Gonzalez

Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, First Department    

Hon. William Mastro

Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Hon. Karen Peters

Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Third Department

Hon. Henry  J. Scudder

Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Department


Steven Banks

Attorney in Chief, The Legal Aid Society

Helaine Barnett

Chair of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York; former President of the Legal Services Corporation

Betty Weinberg Ellerin



Senior Counsel, Alston & Bird; Vice Chair of Character and Fitness, First Department; former Presiding Justice of Appellate Division, First Department 

John D. Feerick

Norris Professor of Law; former Dean, Fordham University School of Law; former President, New York City Bar Association

Hon. Fern A. Fisher

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts; Director of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program

Sharon Katz

Special Counsel for Pro Bono, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Hon. George H. Lowe

Of Counsel, Bond, Schoeneck & King; Co-Chair, New York State Bar Association President’s Committee on Access to Justice; former United States Magistrate for the Northern District of New York

Makau Mutua

Dean, SUNY Buffalo Law School; SUNY Distinguished Professor

Lillian M. Moy

Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc.

Jerold R. Ruderman

Of Counsel, Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP; President, Westchester County Bar Association 

William M. Savino

Managing Partner, Rivkin Radler LLP; former President, Nassau County Bar Association; former Chair, United Way of Long Island

Samuel W. Seymour

Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; former President, New York City Bar Association

Stephen Younger

Partner, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP; former President, New York State Bar Association


Web page updated: May 22, 2012