NYCLA Special Masters Program

Special Masters Logo

About the Special Masters Program

NYCLA first launched the Special Masters Program in 1976 to help the New York court system manage its congested calendars during a statewide budget crisis. 350 NYCLA lawyers volunteered to act as Special Masters of the courts to relieve the burden.

This year, we are relaunching our Special Masters Program with a focus on creating a pipeline for attorneys of color and other underrepresented communities to volunteer in the courts and inspire them to become judges. The new program will be administered in partnership with the Unified Court System and the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission.

Special Masters will work closely with an assigned Justice of the Supreme Court and assist with various tasks based on the needs of the Court. Tasks may include handling discovery conferences, settlement conferences, conducting legal research, drafting memos of law advising the Court on pretrial and trial issues, prepare written recommendations on resolving motions, etc.



In order to be considered for the Program, applicants must:
• Be members of NYCLA as of the application date.
• Have practiced law for at least five years as of the application date.
• Submit a complete application
• Be able to volunteer for a maximum of 12 hours per month for up to one year.
• Be able to complete mandatory training before starting as a Special Master.


How to Apply

In order to apply to the Program, please submit your resume and a one-page letter indicating why you are interested in serving as a Special Master and how you are qualified for the role. Email the documents to the attention of L. Austin D’Souza, the Special Masters Coordinator at: Current Application Period is CLOSED. Please check in the Fall of 2022 for details regarding application deadlines.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Special Masters compensated for their work?
The Special Masters Program is a volunteer program; however, participants will receive approximately five hours of complimentary CLE credits as part of their training. Additionally, special masters will have a unique opportunity to work closely and be mentored by a Justice of the Supreme Court.

What training is involved to be a Special Master?
As part of the Program, applicants are required to complete training sessions covering topics such as ethics, drafting decisions and orders, handling discovery and settlement conferences, and other important topics.

Does NYCLA offer membership discounts to new members?
Yes. NYCLA offers a variety of membership discounts, which include discounts if you are a member of an affiliate bar association. Check out our current membership fees and list of participating affiliate bar associations

Where will Special Masters be assigned to volunteer?
Special Masters will be assigned to volunteer with a Justice of the Supreme Court, Civil Term in New York County. Assignments include helping Justices in the general IAS parts and specialized parts, including the City Part, Transit Part, Motor Vehicle Part, and others. Assignments will depend on the needs of the Court, the candidate’s legal experience, and history of volunteering as a special master.