New York Attorney Emeritus Program
Welcome Pro Bono Volunteers!
The New York State Unified Court System's Attorney Emeritus Program works with the organized bar and legal services programs to place attorneys in good standing, who are at least 55 years old, with a minimum of 10 years experience with pro bono opportunities. During the two-year registration period, Emeritus attorney volunteers commit to serving 60 hours of unpaid legal assistance under the auspices of a qualified legal service provider, bar association, or court sponsored volunteer lawyer program. Emeritus attorneys, who can be retired or active, can obtain up to 15 CLE credits for doing pro bono work at a rate of one CLE credit for every six 50-minute hours worked.
An Emeritus attorney involved in short-term limited legal advice clinics for homeowners in a foreclosure clinic had this to say: "The Attorney Emeritus Program is such a good idea because it provides tremendous benefits for people like me. I can go to court, and I'm making a contribution. It's a win-win situation."
For more information, please visit the Courts' Attorney Emeritus Program website.
You can change your registration status on the NY Courts' registration page.
Information on Program Eligibility
The mission of AEP is to enhance the capacity of legal service providers in New York State to provide quality legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers by encouraging lawyers of at least fifty-five years of age with at least ten years of legal experience to offer their extensive skills and expertise pro bono to registered AEP legal service providers.
The Attorney Emeritus Program requirements are as follows:
- You must be at least 55 years of age, an attorney in good standing, and have practiced for a minimum of 10 years.
- You must submit an AEP application and you must change your attorney registration status to Attorney Emeritus.
- During the two-year registration period, you must commit to performing a minimum of 60 hours of pro bono service under the auspices of an approved AEP-program, including volunteer opportunities sponsored by bar associations, legal services providers, and the Court's Access to Justice Program. All AEP-approved programs provide legal malpractice insurance, training, and supervisions for Emeritus volunteers.
Benefits of the Attorney Emeritus Program:
If you are retired you are exempt from the $375 registration fee and CLE requirements. If you are not retired, you are not exempt from either the fee or the CLE requirements.
You are eligible to obtain up to 15 CLE credits for doing pro bono work. Emeritus attorneys may earn 15 CLE credit hours entirely through an Attorney Emeritus Program host organization. Alternately, Emeritus volunteers may earn up to 10 pro bono CLE credits through an Approved Pro Bono CLE Provider and the remaining 5 CLE credits through an Attorney Emeritus Program host organization. Credit for eligible pro bono legal services shall be awarded in the following ratio: one (1) CLE credit hour for every two (2) 60-minute hours (120 minutes) of eligible pro bono legal services. Credit shall be awarded in increments of no less than .5 CLE credit hours. Ethics and Professionalism credits are not available for participation in pro bono CLE activities. All AEP volunteers receive recognition from the Program and the courts.
AEP volunteer attorneys report feeling personal satisfaction from providing meaningful legal help to low-income New Yorkers who otherwise would face civil legal issues on their own.
A list of Attorney Emeritus Program host organizations can be found on the NY Courts' Attorney Emeritus page.
Hear from John Feerick, Founder and Senior Counsel at the Feerick Center:
For more testimonials from Attorney Emeritus volunteers, click here.
How Can I Become an Attorney Emeritus Volunteer?
There are two steps to becoming an Attorney Emeritus:
1) Submit an AEP volunteer application. You can apply by calling 877-800-0396 or by completing AEP's online application form. You may submit a volunteer application at any time, even if you have not yet changed your attorney registration status.
2) Change your attorney registration status to Attorney Emeritus. You can do this on your attorney registration form, which you receive once every two years. For more information about the attorney registration form, visit the NYS Attorney Registration site or call 212-428-2800.
What Are the Requirements for This New Status?
You must be at least 55 years of age, an attorney in good standing, and have practiced for a minimum of ten years. You may register to be an Attorney Emeritus if you are retired or engaged in active practice.
You can also read our online brochure (opens PDF file.)
Range of Volunteer Opportunities for Emeritus Attorneys
AEP legal service providers use volunteers in various ways to address an array of social justice issues. In some cases, you will sit down with those seeking assistance to advise them about their rights, the legal process and which next steps they should pursue. You may provide limited help to litigants by assisting them in preparing petitions, complaints and other legal documents. Alternatively, you may provide full representation.
Whatever your legal background, whatever your availability, and wherever you are located, the AEP can try to help you find a volunteer opportunity that is right for you.
Take a few moments and browse through AEP opportunities by visiting the following link: http://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus/locations.shtml.
Training for Emeritus Attorneys
Volunteer training plays a key role in ensuring that effective legal services are available for New Yorkers in need. Many volunteers do not have experience or expertise in practice areas typically involved in legal services for low-income and working poor clients. AEP seeks to provide easily accessible resources that offer relevant and high-quality training materials that maximize and enhance the experience for AEP volunteers, the sponsoring legal service providers, and clients.
Find Training Materials
In New York City, join the NYC Pro Bono Center to find online training videos and materials in many areas, including the following:
Find Upcoming Trainings
The probono.net/ny Training Calendar has many training opportunities available for attorneys, most offering CLE credit.
Learn how you can use your skills to help other in need. Join a program like CLARO today!
Resources for Legal Services Providers and Pro Bono Managers Working with Attorney Emeritus Volunteers
The Attorney Emeritus Program supports host organizations with an array of resources and technical assistance in connection with volunteer management.
For a link to best practices resources on pro bono management click here.