Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Deputy Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: October 25, 2010

Hon. Ann Pfau
Chief Administrative Judge

Seal of the Unified Court System

www.nycourts.gov/press

Attorney Emeritus Program Expanded, Receives ´┐ŻBright Ideas´┐Ż Award from Harvard Kennedy School

NEW YORK – Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced that the Attorney Emeritus Program has been expanded to include non-retired lawyers who otherwise meet the program's age and experience requirements. The Attorney Emeritus Program, first announced in January as a means of connecting retired lawyers to pro bono opportunities around the state, is designed to make senior lawyer pro bono as convenient as possible. 

As originally conceived, the Attorney Emeritus Program was open to attorneys who were retired from the practice of law, at least 55 years of age with 10 years of legal experience, and committed to providing at least 30 hours annually of unpaid legal assistance to low-income clients in civil and family matters under the auspices of qualified programs. 

Chief Judge Lippman said, “This recent amendment helps us to better leverage the demographic shift that is bringing unprecedented numbers of experienced lawyers to the verge of retirement, and to channel those enormous resources to assist the growing numbers of vulnerable New Yorkers unable to find legal assistance.”

The change was made in response to an outpouring from experienced but non-retired attorneys who expressed a desire to participate in the program. As confirmed by the Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council appointed this May by Chief Judge Lippman, there are large numbers of attorneys in New York who are winding down their legal careers and have more time for pro bono pursuits, but who are not yet ready to officially retire if that means foregoing all future legal practice opportunities.

While retired Attorneys Emeritus are exempt from the $350 attorney registration fee and mandatory CLE requirements, non-retired Attorneys Emeritus will continue to pay their biennial attorney registration fee and comply with MCLE requirements. A significant number of non-retired attorneys have indicated that they would not object to meeting these requirements in return for being designated Attorneys Emeritus and pledging to provide the requisite pro bono service.

Chief Judge Lippman also announced today that the Attorney Emeritus Program recently received a prestigious “Bright Ideas Award” from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The Bright Ideas Program recognizes and shares creative government initiatives around the country with interested public sector, nonprofit, and academic communities. It spotlights exemplary models of government innovation that advance efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns.

Chief Judge Lippman went on to say, “This program has captured the imagination of the legal community from the moment it was first announced in the New York Times this January. It is a truly unique initiative in which the court system is not only recruiting senior lawyers to perform pro bono legal work but is also linking them to providers who are ready and able to put them to work on behalf of low-income litigants. These efforts come at a critical time, when New York is experiencing a crisis in the availability of civil legal services. I am delighted and proud that the Harvard Kennedy School of Government saw fit to single out this program as among the most innovative and promising in the country.”

The Attorney Emeritus Program has received an enthusiastic response from the state’s legal community thus far, with nearly 200 volunteers being connected to more than 50 participating legal services and pro bono programs around the state. 

Eligible attorneys interested in joining the Attorney Emeritus Program may do so by calling 877-800-0396 or completing the online application available at www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus/index.shtml.

Web page updated: October 25, 2010