Fordham Law


Judge Victor Marrero Reflects on the State of Pro Bono in New York

August 21, 2013

On Thursday, June 27, the Honorable Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York  delivered a lecture entitled “Pro Bono Legal Services: The Silent Majority—A 25 Year Retrospective." 

Twenty-five years ago Judge Marrero, at the time a partner in a New York law firm, was appointed by the Chief Judge of New York State to act as chair of a “Committee to Improve the Availability of Legal Services.” The Committee included many leading members of the bench and bar, including former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, U.S. Attorney Robert Fiske, former President of Barnard Ellen Futter—now President of the American Museum of Natural History—several bar association presidents, and lawyers from throughout the state.

The main recommendation of that Committee was to propose “that all lawyers admitted to practice and registered as attorneys in New York be required to provide a minimum of 40 hours of qualifying pro bono legal services every two years.”

That proposal was not implemented, and a quarter century has now passed. Judge Marrero discussed that report and the current state of the availability of legal services.
Many of the original members of the Committee that made the proposal attended the lecture, as did the two most recent Chief Judges of New York State.

Read Judge Marrero's remarks (pdf).