Empire State Counsel® Program

History of the Empire State Counsel® Program 

 [Revised 2016]

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.  Several law firms and two attorneys will receive awards for the extraordinary nature of their pro bono contributions. 

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 individual honorees and their employers are published in a variety of Association publications.

Individual attorneys must complete a verification form attesting to the number of pro bono hours performed during the calendar year. Your name should be printed exactly as it is to appear on the certificate. Law firm pro bono counsel/coordinators must submit a single list of firm attorneys who are active NYSBA members 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 via email to esc@nysba.org.

How to Apply and FAQ:

Important Dates

  • In order to qualify as a Law Firm Honoree, a firm must submit its list of attorney hours by December 15, 2016.
  • Nominations for the Individual Attorney Honorees must be submitted by December 15, 2016.
  • To be included in the 2016 Empire State Counsel® Program, your verification form must be received on or before February 28, 2017.

Individual Attorney and Law Firm Honorees

During the Association’s Annual Meeting, Empire State Counsel® are recognized during the Justice For All Luncheon, during which awards are bestowed upon several law firms and two individual attorneys who performed exemplary pro bono service over the course of the year.

Law Firms:
Starting in 2016, awards will be presented to:

  • Two small law firms (1-50 attorneys) – one small law firm outside NYC and one small law firm in NYC.
  • Two mid-size law firms (50-100 attorneys) – one mid-size law firm outside NYC and one mid-size law firm in NYC.
  • Two large law firms (100+ attorneys) – one large law firm outside NYC and one large law firm in NYC.

The law firms will be selected based on the number of pro bono hours their attorneys performed over the course of 2016.  These hours are calculated from law firm’s Empire State Counsel submission (go to www.nysba.org/escfirm for more details on law firm submissions).  Each law firm that falls within these categories will receive an award in honor of their exemplary pro bono work.

Individual Attorneys:
Nominations must be submitted for the two individual attorney awards.  If you would like to nominate an individual attorney to be recognized for his or her exemplary pro bono service over the course of the year, please submit a 1-2 page statement to esc@nysba.org detailing why the attorney is deserving of this award.  All nominations must be submitted by December 15, 2016.  If you have any questions about the nomination process, please contact the Pro Bono Services Department at 518-487-5641.

Previous Empire State Counsel® Honorees

To view past Empire State Counsel® Honorees click HERE