NYSBA: Empire State Counsel Program

Passing along some important information from NYSBA:

New York State Bar Association

Office of the Presidentimage

Dear Jean:

I write in my capacity as the President of the New York State Bar Association to tell you about the Empire State Counsel® Program and cordially invite you to join the ranks of this elite group.  The Empire State Counsel® Program is a purely voluntary initiative which seeks to recognize those who perform significant pro bono service. 

The Empire State Counsel® designation is reserved exclusively for NYSBA members who, during the calendar year, performed 50 hours or more of free legal assistance either through direct legal representation of a low-income individual; or by 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 by providing free legal services to an organization dedicated to increasing the availability of legal services to vulnerable and/or low-income populations.   The program is open to NYSBA members even if they are employed in another state or overseas. If you are not currently a member of the Association, but otherwise meet the criteria, we hope that you will consider becoming a member. If you join the Association by February 28th, you will receive a free membership to the section of your choice and a free NYSBA tote bag. Click here to access the Membership Application.

To date, more than 6,897 NYSBA members, located in virtually every state in the United States, as well as in Europe, Indonesia, Africa, Canada and India, have achieved this distinction.  Since the program was launched by then President Mark Alcott approximately six years ago, Empire State Counsel® members, collectively, have donated 1,001,924 hours of free legal services to individuals and families. Our members’ pro bono contributions have provided critical legal assistance in the areas of mortgage foreclosure, landlord-tenant issues, bankruptcy, immigration, asylum, domestic violence, child custody, and vital government benefits. 

In recognition of the significant contributions our members make to pro bono through their law firms, the Association plans to award a plaque to the law firms enrolling the largest number of Empire State Counsel® for service during 2012.  An award will also be presented to two individual attorneys whose pro bono contribution made a significant difference during 2012.

Individual honorees will receive a certificate suitable for framing and the signature Empire State Counsel® lapel pin.  Honorees may use this honorific designation as a credential on their resume and the names of the individual honorees will be published in a variety of Association publications.  Empire State Counsel® honorees will be recognized during the Association’s Annual Meeting at the complimentary Justice for All Luncheon which will be held on Thursday, January 24th at the Hilton New York, from 12:30 to 2:00pm.

Kindly share this letter with the attorneys at your firm who are actively involved in pro bono. Hopefully they will find the program worthwhile and wish to register.  Enrollment is open now through the end of February 2013.  The 2012 Verification Form is a fillable PDF form that is available online at www.nysba.org/2012ESCVF  and may be submitted directly to the Department of Pro Bono Affairs for processing.  Alternatively, if it is more convenient, the firm’s pro bono coordinator may submit a list of attorney names and their respective pro bono hours, together with a single completed verification form attesting to the accuracy of the list.  The Department of Pro Bono Affairs will be responsible for determining the membership status of each attorney and will relay that information back to the firm pro bono coordinator.  Any questions about the program may be directed to Gloria Herron Arthur, Director, Department of Pro Bono Affairs, at [email protected]  or by telephone at (518) 487-5641.  
Thank you for your consideration of this program.


Seymour W. James, Jr., President