Empire State Counsel® Program

History of the Empire State Counsel® Program

Launched in 2006 by then Association president Mark H. Alcott, the Empire State Counsel® Program recognizes NYSBA members who, during the calendar year, performed 50 hours or more of  pro bono legal services either through direct legal representation of a low-income/vulnerable individual, or donating free legal services to an organization whose services are designed primarily to address the legal and other basic needs of persons of limited financial means, or providing free legal services to an organization dedicated to increasing the availability of legal services to vulnerable and/or low-income populations. 

The contributions of Empire State Counsel® Honorees and their law firms are recognized during the Association’s Annual Meeting at the Justice for All Luncheon.  Annual Meeting takes place during late January. The 2014 Annual Meeting dates are January 27 through February 1, 2014.  Law firm plaques recognize those firms which enrolled the largest number of Empire State Counsel® during the previous calendar year.  In addition, two attorneys will receive a plaque based on the substantial volunteer hours contributed or the extraordinary nature of the pro bono contribution.

Empire State Counsel® honorees receive a certificate suitable for framing, the signature Empire State Counsel® lapel pin, and may use this honorific designation as a credential on their resume.  The names of the individual honorees and their employers are published in a variety of Association publications.   

Since the recognition program was launched six years ago, more than 7,017 NYSBA members have earned this prestigious credential, collectively donating close to 1.3 million pro bono hours. Honorees pro bono service is not limited to New York. Empire State Counsel® proudly provide free legal services in virtually every state in the United States, as well as in Europe, Indonesia, Africa, Canada and India.  Thanks to the honorees’ free legal services tenants have avoided evictions, the elderly and senior citizens have obtained vital government benefits, and asylum seekers have found refuge.

Enrolling as an Empire State Counsel® is easy.  Individual attorneys may complete the fillable, on-line verification form attesting to the number of pro bono hours performed during the calendar year. Your name should be printed exactly as how you wish it to appear on the Certificate.  Law firm pro bono counsel/coordinators are encouraged to submit a single list of firm attorneys in excel format, indicating the pro bono hours contributed by each attorney together with a single verification form, attesting to the accuracy of the pro bono information provided.  Completed forms or lists should be submitted to the Department of Pro Bono Affairs at probono@nysba.org or faxing to (518) 463-4276.  Department of Pro Bono Affairs staff will verify each attorney’s NYSBA membership. Non-members will be advised and afforded an opportunity to join the association. 

How to Apply and FAQ:

  • Individual Attorneys click HERE
  • Law Firms click HERE

Important Dates

  • To participate in the Empire State Counsel® all submissions must be received NO LATER than February 28th
    • To be included in the Justice For All Luncheon Brochure during Annual Meeting
      • Individual attorneys must submit their verification form NO LATER than January 12th
      • Law Firms must submit their attorney lists NO LATER than January 8th
    • To be included in the Empire State Counsel® Photo Gallery
      • Attorneys must submit their photo and statement NO LATER than January 12th
    • All submissions received after the above noted dates but on or before February 28th will be included in the Empire State Counsel® Edition of the Pro Bono News


Previous Empire State Counsel® Honorees

To view past Empire State Counsel® Honorees click HERE