Pro Bono Program

“For the Public Good”

The origin of the term “pro bono” comes from the Latin phrase pro bono publico, which means “for the public good.” 

In the legal profession, pro bono services are performed by an attorney for free or for a substantially reduced fee to assist people with limited means.

Syracuse University College of Law’s Pro Bono Program is a faculty and student-led collaborative effort between the College of Law and local attorneys who perform public interest work to provide professional engagement opportunities to students and to serve the community.  

Syracuse College of Law Recognition Program (Optional Pro Bono Service)

The College of Law does not require any pro bono hours for graduation. However, the College of Law wants to encourage students to participate in pro bono activities and recognizes students who perform at least 50 hours of pro bono work before graduation in its Recognition Program, as set forth below.

• Students with minimum 50 hours will be listed by name in the Commencement Program.

• Students with >75 hours will receive a Blue Pro Bono Honor Cord, and will be listed by name in the Commencement Program.

• Students with >100 hours will receive an Orange Pro Bono Honor Cord, and will be listed by name in the Commencement Program.

• The top three JD graduating students and the top LLM graduating student with the most pro bono hours will be individually recognized.

New York State does not assess eligibility in the same way that the College of Law determines eligibility. See the requirements below for each.

Syracuse University College of Law Recognition Program Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Requirements:

• Work is not for academic credit or financial compensation;

• Work is law-related and necessitates the use of legal skills;

• Work is performed under the supervision of an attorney;

• Work is done on behalf of a nonprofit organization, a legal services organization, a government agency, or a private firm; and

• Work provides pro bono legal services directly to persons with limited means

New York State Bar Requirement (Mandatory for Admission to NYS Bar)

New York State requires the completion of 50 hours of pro bono work as part of the bar application process. 

Hours comply with Rule 520.16 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals and conforms to its commentary:

• Work is law-related and necessitates the use of legal skills;

• Work is performed under the supervision of an attorney;

• Hours are certified by the supervising attorney via an Affidavit of Compliance; and

• Hours are completed prior to the student’s admission to the Bar

Questions about satisfying this requirement?

The FAQ page answers most questions.

For information on submitting New York State Bar hours, see the Affidavit of Compliance. These hours do not need to be tracked with the College of Law. 

Opportunities Reporting Hours Advisory Board Handbook