Department of Public Interest

About the Department of Public Interest

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has a long and proud tradition of advocating for equal access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil matters through a combination of government-funded legal services programs and voluntary pro bono service by private practitioners. Established in 1991, the Department of Public Interest provides, among other things, guidance to bar associations, law firms, law schools, corporate law offices, government offices, and other entities in establishing and operating volunteer projects. The Department also provides assistance and educational training programs for attorneys employed by legal services organizations and oversees a number of attorney recognition programs that promote, recognize, and honor pro bono service by individual attorneys and law firms. The Department works with many of the Association’s sections and committees to encourage their voluntary participation in pro bono projects.    

The Director serves as the Association liaison to the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, Committee on Legal Aid, and the Pro Bono Coordinators Network to develop and implement the Association’s policies and proposals on access to justice issues.

Have questions about the New York Attorney Registration Pro Bono Reporting Requirement?  Please visit here for more information.  Please note that the New York State Bar Association is a voluntary bar association and has no statutory or regulatory role relating to the admission, certification, or discipline of attorneys in New York State.  

I want to volunteer

Attorneys seeking volunteer pro bono opportunities are encouraged to use the Pro Bono Opportunities Guide. The Guide contains information about statewide volunteer opportunities and is searchable by areas of legal interest and location. Attorneys can also views these videos to hear about pro bono opportunities across New York State. A prospective volunteer can follow up directly with programs of interest to determine if pro bono opportunities are available. 

Attorneys can also volunteer through Free Legal Answers, an online version of the pro bono walk-in clinic model where clients request brief advice and counsel about a specific civil legal issue from a volunteer lawyer. Lawyers provide information and basic legal advice without any expectation of long-term representation. The purpose of the website is to increase access to advice and information about non-criminal legal matters to those who cannot afford it. There is no fee for the use of the system nor for the advice and information provided by the lawyer. Sign up to be a volunteer today at NY.freelegalanswers.org

i am looking for a pro bono attorney

The Department does not provide legal representation, assistance, or advice. If you are seeking pro bono representation, please visit www.LawHelpNY.org to access a comprehensive list of legal services providers in your area who may be able to assist you with your legal needs for free or at a reduced cost, or call the Pro Bono Services Department for referral to an appropriate legal services organization.  

I do not qualify for legal aid but i am in need of legal representation

Our Association and a number of county and local bar associations in New York also operate lawyer referral services, which may be able to assist you.  Contact information for referral services is available on our website at http://www.nysba.org/lawyerreferral/. Please note that there are costs associated with this service. 

If you are looking for brief legal advice from an attorney concerning a non-criminal matter, go to NY.freelegalanswers.org to see if you qualify for this free service and post your question online so that a pro bono attorney may assist you. 

contact information

Department of Public Interest    
New York State Bar Association
One Elk Street
Albany, NY 12207  
518-487-5641