A Message from The President

Lesley Rosenthal

Lesley's headshot 2014.USE AS OF 6.1.17.jpg



The New York Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the New York State Bar Association. Through our grantmaking, we improve access to justice and enhance public understanding of the law all around the state.  We provide seed grants to innovative legal projects to pilot new ways of helping those in need, as well as legal assistance for new kinds of legal problems.


We accept contributions from lawyers and non-lawyers alike, who believe in the causes we support.


What do we fund? Recently, our grants have:

  • Helped a disabled veteran in Syracuse launch a new small business

  • Resettled a Syrian refugee family in the Buffalo area

  • Assisted a teenager from Geneva, NY with school attendance problems related to mental illness get the EAP she needed to continue her education

  • Aided a Brooklyn grandmother in restructuring her mortgage to avoid foreclosure and homelessness for herself and the grandkids she’s raising.

In partnership with the Sections of the Association and the Chief Judge of the State of New York, we also fund scholarships for worthy up-and-coming law students, including those coming from underprivileged or diverse backgrounds and those who are committed to public interest work.  

Because we are privileged to practice law in New York State, many of us are aware firsthand of the vast extent of unmet legal needs.  The NY Bar Foundation is known for our rigorous grant-making process, carried out by uniquely knowledgeable and seasoned attorneys who select the most promising and worthy programs. Our governance has been recognized with awards time and time again. This quality of expertise, local New York knowledge, and caring comes at no cost to the grant funding, since ours is an all-volunteer board.   

The Foundation’s Board of Directors is working under a 3-year strategic plan, June 2018 - May 2021, with a theme of enhancing the Rule of Law in New York.  In these fractious times, the Rule of Law - the principle that ours is a government of laws and not of men - is one of the few things we can all agree upon.  In partnership with NYSBA, we will be probing the question how our grantmaking and educational activities can best serve Rule of Law adherence in New York, striving to perfect the promise of a just and fair system for all.  

Our grantmaking, scholarships and communication get funded through donations:   

  • Individuals can make a tribute gift to our general grantmaking fund in honor or in memory of an attorney they admire.

  • Those concerned about specific causes, such as ensuring legal aid to victims of natural disasters, child migrants or veterans, may donate to a restricted or special-purpose fund set up for that purpose.  

  • Members of NYSBA can check off the box when paying your annual dues, increasing the resources available to the Foundation for regranting.

  • The top 1% of attorneys in New York State may be invited to become Fellows of the Foundation and pledge support over a 10-year period.  

  • Fellows who have completed their initial pledge commitments may move into a Circle of Giving, building on their prior support.

  • Those making an irrevocable estate gift or planned gift join our Legacy Society, remembering the Foundation and those in need with gifts of perpetual duration.  

Our work is joyful and meaningful, and donating can be fun as well.  For example, if you shop on Amazon.com, you can designate ½ of 1% of your purchase price as a donation by Amazon to the NY Bar Foundation.  It does not increase the cost of your purchase. Please set up the Foundation as the default charity in your Amazon account for all your purchases!

Finally, if you are a litigator, judge or law clerk involved in cases in which there are remaindered funds, please consider the Foundation as a worthy recipient and capable re-granting organization in cy pres cases.

If you are motivated by the possibility of helping us achieve a more fair and equal playing field for all New Yorkers through access to justice, scholarships, and public education programs about the Rule of Law, please join us - click here to contribute today!