Former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman established the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP) in January 2010 to help the growing numbers of New Yorkers with legal needs who cannot afford legal counsel. AEP is designed to enhance the capacity of New York State legal service providers—who are faced with increased demands at a time of diminished resources—by engaging seasoned lawyers in pro bono projects under the auspices of these providers. Harvard Kennedy School of Government's "Bright Ideas" program recognized AEP in 2010 as one of the nation’s most innovative government initiatives.
As of 2020, 66 legal services organizations have signed up to serve as AEP host organizations. In addition, hundreds of senior attorneys have reached out to serve as Emeritus volunteers. The Attorney Emeritus Program pledges to continue making access to justice a reality for all New Yorkers.