New York’s lawyers have a proud history of helping those in need. It is in that spirit that the court system created an attorney registration status – Attorney Emeritus – to encourage retired and non-retired attorneys to volunteer their legal skills and experience to help the growing number of New Yorkers who cannot afford counsel.
The Attorney Emeritus Program is designed to facilitate pro bono services by retired and non-retired attorneys age 55 and older who are willing to provide at least 30 hours annually of unpaid legal assistance under the auspices of qualified legal services providers, bar associations and court-sponsored volunteer lawyer programs. Upon enrolling, Attorney Emeritus volunteers are connected with organizations that need pro bono lawyers in their area of the State.
To be eligible as an Attorney Emeritus, individuals must be retired or non-retired attorneys in good standing who are at least 55 years of age and have practiced law for a minimum of 10 years. Attorneys can enroll in the Attorney Emeritus Program by calling 877-800-0396 or by completing the online application, which can be found on the New York State Office of Court Administration AEP Website. Additionally, attorneys who wish to join the AEP should select “Attorney Emeritus” as their registration status on their next biennial attorney registration form.
Attorney Emeritus volunteers receive training and are mentored by the sponsoring organization. Retired attorneys who register as Attorneys Emeritus are not subject to the $350 attorney registration fee or the mandatory CLE requirements. Any training will be provided free of charge. AEP volunteers are afforded legal malpractice coverage by the sponsoring organization or are covered by the defense and indemnification provisions of Public Officers Law § 17. Upon completion of 60 pro bono hours, AEP volunteers receive special recognition from the Chief Judge and the New York State Access to Justice Director, Justice Fern A. Fisher.
For more information about the AEP, visit the New York State Office of Court Administration AEP website. If you have questions, please call 877-800-0396 or email AEP@courts.state.ny.us.
John D. Feerick
Director and Founder, Feerick Center for Social Justice
Fordham University School of Law
33 West 60th St., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10023