Pro Se Assistance Program

The NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc. established the Pro Se Assistance Program in an effort to address the varying needs of pro se litigants, to help pro se litigants better understand the complexities involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal action, and to assist the Northern District of New York in the administration of justice.

Who does the Pro Se Assistance Program Serve?

The NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Inc. established The Pro Se Assistance Program to assist litigants who are representing themselves in federal court with preparing and drafting their papers in support or defense of a civil action in the Northern District of New York.

Areas Served

  • Syracuse
  • Albany
  • Binghamton
  • Utica
  • Plattsburgh
  • Watertown

The services offered by The Pro Se Assistance Program are free of charge. There are certain court costs associated with filing or defending a lawsuit in Federal Court. The Pro Se Assistance Program will not pay any of these costs.

Use of the Pro Se Assistance Program is entirely separate from any appointment of counsel by the Court. A request for appointment of counsel requires submission of a separate application and the decision whether to appoint counsel is entirely within the Court’s discretion.

What services will the Pro Se Coordinator Provide?

The Pro Se Coordinator is a qualified attorney who will assist pro se litigants (individuals who are representing themselves in a federal court action), by providing necessary information and assistance in the initiation or defense of a civil lawsuit filed in the Northern District, including

  • Information about federal court procedures
  • Assistance in the preparation of pleadings and other court documents
  • Consultation relating to discovery and motion practice
  • Assistance in accessing additional information and/or research about your legal issues
  • Referrals to other services, in appropriate cases

Is the Pro Se Coordinator my Attorney?

Although the Pro Se Coordinator is a qualified attorney, he/she is not your attorney. The Pro Se Coordinator will not

  • Appear in court on your behalf
  • Research, write, or file court documents for you
  • Conduct any investigation into the facts of your case
  • Negotiate with your opponent or your opponent’s attorney

Facts & Statistics

  • Pro se litigants file more than eleven cases per month in the Northern District
  • Civil pro se cases make up 10% of the total pending civil docket in the Northern District

What should I have with me when I meet with the
Pro Se Coordinator?

In order for the Pro Se Coordinator to best assist you, you should bring the following:

  • Any pleadings or other court documents that have already been filed and/or you have already begun drafting
  • Any documents related to your case that you want the Pro Se Coordinator to review

It is very important that you give the Pro Se Coordinator your full cooperation, and you must answer any questions that the Pro Se Coordinator asks you truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.

You can find more information in our Pro Se Assistance Program Brochure (PDF) and on the Northern District Court website for the Pro Se Program where you can download the Pro Se Handbook, the Local Rules, and any required forms.