Pro Bono at Columbia Law School: The Basics
SJI is here to help guide you towards a pro bono experience that will not only provide much needed access to justice to underserved persons and communities and be meaningful to you, but also will help to shape and hone your legal skills and establish relationships that will further your career.
Most Columbia Law students do far more pro bono service than the 40 hours required by Columbia or the 50 hours required for admission to the New York bar, but it is useful to know what counts.
Under the New York State Pro Bono requirements, both J.D. and LL.M graduates admitted to the New York State bar after January 1, 2015 must file an affidavit by an admitted lawyer showing that they have performed fifty hours of qualifying pro bono service. The guidelines for the New York State bar requirements differ in some important ways from Columbia Law School's pro bono requirements. Read more details about the New York State 50-hour requirement here.
Every Columbia Law School J.D. student must complete 40 hours of pro bono work in order to graduate. Work that counts towards the mandatory pro bono requirement must be completed after the first year of law school and before April 1 of the third year. Read more about the Columbia Law School pro bono requirement here.
Any pro bono work completed beyond the required 40 hours or during your first year of law school will count as voluntary pro bono credit and will be recorded as such on your transcript as long as the proper paperwork is filed (see the Forms & Guidelines page for more details).
Columbia Law School and Social Justice Initiatives offer a multitude of existing pro bono projects and opportunities. We send frequent emails notifying you of new projects. Additionally, we encourage you to create and develop projects tailored to your own interests and needs. Information about qualifying pro bono work can be found on the Forms & Guidelines page.