Civil legal services programs are able to serve only a small portion of low-income New Yorkers who need assistance. Private attorneys who volunteer their time, pro bono, help to reach those who would not otherwise be aided.

While any lawyer can donate pro bono legal assistance, we believe that senior lawyers, whether retired or not, have a wealth of experience to contribute. It is the Pro Bono Committee’s mission to meet more of the legal needs of the public, while at the same time providing senior lawyers with an avenue for meaningful service. We welcome your participation on the Senior Lawyers Section, Pro Bono Committee. Please contact [email protected] at the New York State Bar Association if you are interested in joining.

Also, if you are currently providing pro bono service, or starting to consider it, look into the New York State Bar Association’s Empire State Counsel Program. The Program is designed to recognize members who annually donate 50 hours or more of free legal services to individuals or certain organizations. See the NYSBA Pro Bono website for details here.

In addition, The Committee encourages you to join the Attorney Emeritus Program of the Unified Court System. See nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus/rsaa/

Committee Activity in Review

As published in The Senior Lawyer

Fall 2010 The Senior Lawyer Pro Bono Committee

The Pro Bono Committee continues to work with Gloria Herron Arthur, Director of Pro Bono Affairs for the New York State Bar Association, to identify, coordinate and promote pro bono initiatives for senior lawyers.

In commemoration of National Pro Bono Week (October 24-30, 2010), the Department of Pro Bono Affairs published a special newsletter in early October. You will find a link to it on our website. The newsletter highlighted events that took place in various judicial districts throughout the state, and provided updates on different pro bono programs, including the court system’s Emeritus Program.

The Attorney Emeritus Program is designed to promote and encourage pro bono service (at least 30 hours per year) by retired attorneys who are at least 55 years old and who have practiced for a minimum of 10 years. Remember, an Attorney Emeritus is not subject to either the $350 attorney registration fee or mandatory CLE requirements. It is a great opportunity for a senior lawyer who is interested in donating his or her time in pro bono service.

If you are currently providing pro bono service, or even if you are just starting to consider it, please don’t forget about the Empire State Counsel Program. The Program is designed to honor and recognize New York State Bar Association members, who, over the course of the year, donate 50 hours or more of free legal services either to individuals or to certain organizations. The specific criteria for the Empire State Counsel designation, along with a Verification Form, can be found on the New York State Bar Association’s website. Again, you can find a link to this information, along with other pro bono information, on this Committee’s web page. Even if you will not reach the 50-hour mark this year, the Bar Association is interested in tracking the pro bono service hours of senior attorneys. Take time to fill out the Verification Form by the end of the year.

We welcome your participation on the Pro Bono Committee. Please contact the New York State Bar Association if you are interested in joining us.

Elizabeth McDonald

Fall 2009 The Senior Lawyer Pro Bono Committee

Over 50 Senior Lawyers Section members have already volunteered to serve on the Pro Bono Committee. We would welcome additional participation from others as the Committee tackles various issues touching upon pro bono matters.

The Committee meets via conference call, as needed. An initial introductory call took place in April. Another substantive call took place in July. During that call, Gloria Herron Arthur, Director, Pro Bono Affairs for the New York State Bar Association, discussed various pro bono opportunities, in general, and answered questions regarding the best methods to promote and coordinate such opportunities. The Committee anticipates working closely with Ms. Herron Arthur to ensure that pro bono initiatives for senior lawyers are readily identified, coordinated and promoted.

The Committee expects to not only focus on the support and encouragement of senior lawyers’ participation in pro bono service, but also anticipates exploring other topics, including emeritus rules, appropriate training for certain pro bono programs, possible opportunities for free or reduced rate CLEs in exchange for pro bono service, how to best advertise and promote pro bono initiatives without duplicating the efforts of other organizations, and how to make it easier to find pro bono opportunities in various locations throughout the state.

In future newsletters, we hope to identify and highlight specific pro bono initiatives that might interest you. In the meantime, please contact the New York State Bar Association if you would like to participate in the Committee. We would welcome your input.

Elizabeth McDonald

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