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 prior year, performed 50 hours or more of  pro bono legal services either through direct legal representation of a low-income/vulnerable individual, 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. 

All Empire State Counsel® honorees receive a certificate suitable for framing and may use this honorific designation as a credential on their resume.  The names of the honorees and their employers are also published on the New York State Bar Association website and in the New York State Bar Association's Pro Bono Newsletter.

How to Apply

Law firms with over three attorneys who qualify as Empire State Counsel® honorees must submit a single list of firm attorneys who performed 50 or more hours of pro bono service during the previous year (December 1, 2017 - November 30, 2018).  This list must be submitted in excel format using this template, 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.

Individual attorneys from law firms with three or fewer attorneys can submit an individual verification form attesting to the number of pro bono hours they performed during the previous year.

Attorneys' names should be printed exactly as it is to appear on the certificate they will receive. Completed forms and lists should be submitted via email to esc@nysba.org by December 7, 2018. 

Justice for All Luncheon 

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, which takes place every January in New York City.  Several law firm honorees and two outstanding pro bono volunteer attorneys receive awards for the extraordinary nature of their pro bono contributions at this luncheon.  

Law Firm Honorees are determined based on the total number of pro bono hours completed by all Empire State Counsel® honorees within the firm.  The Law Firm Honorees include three law firms from New York City and three law from outside New York City.

Outstanding Pro Bono Volunteer Attorneys are selected through a nomination process.

Important Dates

  1. In order to qualify as a Law Firm Honoree, a firm must submit its list of attorney hours by December 7, 2018.
  2. Nominations for the Outstanding Pro Bono Volunteer Attorneys must be submitted by December 7, 2018.
  3. To be included in the 2018 Empire State Counsel® Program, an attorney or firm's verification form must be submitted on or before February 28, 2019.