Contact: Jon Sullivan
Manager, Media Services & Public Affairs

November 28, 2007


New York State Bar Association President Kathryn Grant Madigan (Levene Gouldin & Thompson LLP) today announced the expansion of the successful Empire State Counsel program, honoring attorneys who volunteer their services to people who cannot afford legal representation.

Following the remarkable success of the initial Empire State Counsel Program, which recognizes lawyers who provide free legal services to individuals, President Madigan said the Association will expand the program to include lawyers who donate free legal services to not for profit, governmental or public service organizations - provided the organization's services are designed primarily to address the legal and other basic needs of persons of limited financial means.

"We introduced the Empire State Counsel program last year and I am proud to say it has been a resounding success and truly demonstrates how New Yorklawyers are helping the less fortunate," Madigan said. "By expanding this program to recognize attorneys that provide pro bono work to organizations that help the less fortunate, we can honor additional attorneys who generously donate their time and effort. Whether it is helping victims of flood damage in the Southern Tier, providing legal care to a single mother in need, or helping a family who is struggling, voluntary service is contagious and we are proud to recognize those providing these vital services."

Created by Immediate Past President Mark H. Alcott (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP) in 2006, more than 460 attorneys accepted the challenge to donate at least 50 hours of pro bono services to the poor - qualifying them for the honorable distinction of Empire State Counsel. More than 23,000 pro bono service hours were provided by honorees, each of whom receives the honorific title "Empire State Counsel", which can be used as a credential. Participating lawyers are recognized by the Bar Association in a variety of ways, including mention on the Association's website, and in press releases. They are also feted at the Association's "Justice for All" luncheon during the Association's Annual Meeting week in New York Cityin January.

Despite considerable pro bono representation provided by New Yorkattorneys every year, the state still meets only a fraction of the need-- especially in civil matters. The expanded version of this program will honor those lawyers who are already working to meet this need, and serve as a reminder to other attorneys that there are many pro bono opportunities which they can take part in.

The 2007 Empire State Counsel honorees will be recognized at the Association's annual meeting in New York Cityin January of 2008. More information, including application forms for the award, is available on the Association's Web site at

The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association, founded in 1876, is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.