Here we address the most commonly asked questions the CLE Board has received about pro bono providers & the availability of NY CLE credit for the performance of legal services under the pro bono rule.
Q: Some of our attorneys volunteer their time answering telephone hotline calls. Are these attorneys eligible for pro bono CLE credit?
A: Under the CLE Board Regulations and Guidelines, a program is eligible for pro bono CLE credit only if the recipients of the legal services provided by the program have been screened for financial eligibility. Therefore, attorneys who participate in a telephone hotline where callers do not have to demonstrate financial need before receiving legal advice are ineligible for pro bono CLE credit.
Q: We are a pro bono provider that provides free legal services primarily through volunteer attorneys to community-based nonprofit organizations serving indigent persons. Are we eligible to become a New York Approved Pro Bono CLE Provider?
A: A pro bono provider that provides legal services to nonprofit organizations serving the indigent and who otherwise meets the eligibility criteria enumerated in section 3(D)(11)(c) of the CLE Board Regulations and Guidelines, is eligible for designation as a New York Approved Pro Bono CLE Provider.
Q: Some of our firm's junior associates take on pro bono matters but require guidance and assistance from our firm's senior associates in their representation of pro bono matters. Can attorneys who provide guidance and support to these junior attorneys receive pro bono CLE credit?
A: An attorney who assists another attorney in representing an indigent client may be eligible for pro bono CLE credit.
Q: We are a pro bono provider that requires our clients to pay court costs, out-of-pocket expenses or a minimal fee to offset our administrative costs of providing legal services to our clients. Does this fee violate the CLE Board's requirement that pro bono legal services be uncompensated?
A: The imposition of minimal administrative and court fees on the client by the pro bono organization does not violate the requirement that pro bono legal services be uncompensated. An attorney who is providing legal services under these circumstances, therefore, is not precluded from receiving pro bono CLE credit. Please note that pro bono CLE credit may not be awarded if any fee is paid by the recipient to the attorney providing the legal services.
Q: May an attorney who serves as an arbitrator in fee disputes earn pro bono CLE credit?
A: Fee arbitration is not eligible for pro bono CLE credit.
Q: We are a pro bono organization comprising attorneys who volunteer their legal services to effect policy changes that benefit the indigent. Does this qualify for pro bono CLE credit?
A: Pro bono CLE credit is not available to attorneys working to effect policy change, even if the policy they support might benefit the indigent.
Please do not hesitate to call the CLE office if you should have any questions. You may contact us at (212) 428-2105 or toll-free for calls from outside New York City at 1(877) NYS-4CLE.