The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has a long and proud tradition of advocating for equal access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil matters through a combination of government-funded legal services programs and voluntary pro bono service by private practitioners. Established in 1991, the Department of Public Interest provides, among other things, guidance to bar associations, law firms, law schools, corporate law offices, government offices, and other entities in establishing and operating volunteer projects. The Department also provides assistance and educational training programs for attorneys employed by legal services organizations and oversees a number of attorney recognition programs that promote, recognize, and honor pro bono service by individual attorneys and law firms. The Department works with many of the Association’s sections and committees to encourage their voluntary participation in pro bono projects.
President’s Pro Bono Service Awards
Each year the Association proudly bestows the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards. These awards recognize outstanding pro bono contributions made by individual attorneys, law students, law firms, corporate counsel and/or government offices. The awards ceremony is usually held on or about May 1st as part of the Association’s Law Day Celebration.
Although nominees do not have to be members of the New York State Bar Association, to be eligible for one of these prestigious awards an attorney must be admitted to practice in New York State and must have rendered her/his pro bono service or participated in a pro bono program within the state. Nominees are evaluated based on pro bono service donated during the previous year including, but not limited, to the number of clients served, number of hours contributed, impact of the service on clients, and/or the impact of the service on a pro bono program or community.