NYSBA PRO BONO APPEALS PROGRAM
The New York State Bar Association has established a Pro Bono Appeals Program that provides pro bono representation for selected appeals to the Appellate Division, Third and Fourth Judicial Departments. This unique program is designed to help persons of modest means who are taking, or responding to, appeals regarding fundamental civil legal issues, such as family stability, personal safety or subsistence income. Note that the Program does not provide representation for criminal matters, is not administered by the court system, and gives preference to applicants who do not qualify for assigned counsel and cases that could have a broad impact.
The Program brochure offers further information about the program territory, financial and subject matter criteria, and the three program partners: the NYSBA Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction, The Legal Project, and The Rural Law Center of New York. We invite trial attorneys and nonprofit agencies to assist clients in completing applications and identifying meritorious appeal issues. Note that applications of persons who are appealing from an order or judgment will not be reviewed unless a notice of appeal has already been served and filed. You may also want to click on the links to a few of the decisions regarding appeals handled by the Program and to articles describing the Program.
The Pro Bono Appeals Program is made possible by the generous efforts of our many volunteers and grants from The New York Bar Foundation. We would like to thank these appellate attorneys for their outstanding pro bono contributions to the program:
addition, the Committee on Courts of Appellate
Jurisdiction thanks our vital program partners, The Rural
Law Center of NY (Susan Patnode, Esq., Executive Director) and The Legal
Project (Lisa Frisch, Executive Director).
Types of Cases
Q: What kinds of cases does the Program accept?
A: The Program offers representation in appeals involving education, family stability, health, housing, personal safety, public benefits and subsistence income.
Q. I have a divorce appeal involving child support and maintenance. Is that covered by the family stability category?
Q. I have an appeal involving the denial of unemployment insurance benefits by the Unemployment Appeal Board. Is that covered by public benefits and subsistence income?
A. Yes. Note that if you won before the Appeal Board, and the employer appealed, you could apply for an assigned attorney, paid for by the State. However, if you are the party taking the appeal, no assigned attorney is available to you.
Q: Does the Program offer representation for criminal appeals?
A: No, the Program only handles civil appeals in specified categories.
Geographic Area Covered
Q: What area of New York does the Program cover?
A: The Program covers appeals from orders or judgments rendered by trial courts in the 50 counties of the Appellate Division, Third and Fourth Departments. The counties are listed in our program brochure. The Program also covers certain administrative appeals to the Third Department.
Q: What if my appeal is to the First or Second Department? Can the Program help me?
A: No. The Program is currently limited to the Third and Fourth Departments.
Q: Why isn’t the Program offered statewide? Isn’t the Program a part of the court system?
A: No, the Pro Bono Appeals Program is not administered by the courts, and it is separate from Assigned Counsel programs. It is an independent initiative of the NYSBA Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction, in partnership with The Legal Project and the Rural Law Center of New York.
Q: I just received a decision that I want to appeal from. Can the Program help me?
A: Before the Program will review your application, the court must render an order or a judgment, and you or your attorney must serve and file a notice of appeal.
Q: I won, and the other party is appealing. Can the Program help me?
A: Yes, the Program also represents parties responding to an appeal.
Q: How do I apply to the Program?
A: Fill out the Program application, with the assistance of your trial attorney, and submit it to the Program, by fax, email or mail, as described in the Program brochure.
Q. I don’t have an attorney to help me fill out the application. Can I still apply to the Program?
A. Yes, we will consider your application, but if an attorney represented you in the trial court, it would be very helpful to have that attorney help identify appeal issues for our consideration.
Q. Do I have to apply for an assigned attorney and have my application denied before I can apply to your Program?
A. No. However, we will give a preference to applicants who do not qualify for assigned counsel.
Q. What happens once I submit my application?
A. First we check to make sure that your appeal qualifies based on the topic and the income level -- the Program offers representation to applicants who make up to 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. The income chart is available in the Program’s brochure. Then a group of attorneys from the Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction discusses which cases should be accepted, based on numerous factors, including the merits of the appeal and the potential impact of the case on creating important legal precedent. Please remember that applying to the Program does not guarantee representation. Therefore, you should continue to seek other counsel while your application is being considered.
Q. Who are the attorneys that volunteer to take cases?
A. Cases selected for representation are first offered to the members of the full Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction, which includes many experienced appellate attorneys from throughout New York State. Some appeals are handled by non-Committee members, but they must have extensive appellate expertise and be supervised by a Committee member, since offering high-quality appellate representation is a primary goal and commitment of our Program.
Q: I’m an attorney. How can I volunteer with the Program?
A: Experienced appellate attorneys are encouraged to volunteer with the Pro Bono Appeals Program. Please send an e-mail with your resume to email@example.com.
State Bar Expands Pro Bono Appeals Program, New York Law Journal, April 15, 2013
Pro Bono Appeals Program Expands to Fourth Department, April 11, 2013
State Bar Expands the Reach of Its Appellate Pro Bono Program, New York Law Journal, December 8, 2011
State Bar Association expands free legal aid program in region, Daily Freeman, December 5, 2011
NY Bar Association to offer free legal service, The Saratogian, December 4, 2011
New York State Bar Association Expands Program Providing Pro Bono Attorneys for Appeals to the Third Department, New York State Bar Association, November 30, 2011
Mother’s win in court changes laws, Post Star, July 24, 2011
State Bar committee launches pro bono appeals program, State Bar News, September/October 2010, p. 13
Related FilesNYLJ Article (Adobe PDF File)
Oswald v Oswald (Adobe PDF File)