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Pro Bono News

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

  • L. Beth Krueger
  • Volunteer Legal Services Project
  • Source: New York > Rochester / Finger Lakes

The New York Bar Foundation recently announced grant awards made in January to 30 programs in four focus areas. The grants summarized below are aiding services of statewide scope and in various communities. Many are collaborative projects, involving public and private bar partnerships, social service providers, other professions and entities.

Applications are due April 1 and November 1 each year. Forms and related information can be obtained from The Foundation office at One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207, fax (518) 463-8527; email;

a. Delivery of Legal Services

1. Albany County Bar Association - Pro bono services for low-income persons in family law and matrimonial matters, including conducting clinics, availability at Family Court to aid those proceeding pro se, pro bono representation and training for volunteer attorneys.

2. Association of the Bar of the City of New York Fund - Refugee Assistance Project, providing free representation in political asylum cases with pro bono attorneys receiving training and support.

3. Brennan Center for Justice - Access to Justice Project, providing representation of the indigent on civil matters, counsel, professional training of legal services advocates on advocacy and public education on the importance of civil legal services.

4. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - Recruitment and training of volunteer attorneys from major law firms to represent indigent asylum seekers in legal proceedings and assist asylum seekers detained in local detention facilities.

5. Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York - Pro se divorce clinics for low-income persons, conducted in Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties and expanded to Rensselaer County.

6. Legal Assistance for the Finger Lakes of the Monroe County Legal Assistance Corporation - Pro se divorce clinics for low-income persons in Livingston, Ontario and Seneca counties.

7. MFY Legal Services - Senior LawLine, providing low-income seniors and community advocates with advice and referrals, with emphasis on housing issues, to provide information to avoid problems, offer help with legal matters and identify cases appropriate for representation.

8. Bar Association of Nassau County Landlord-Tenant Attorney of the Day Project, providing legal assistance to eligible indigent tenants who appear in court without representation.

9. Prisoners' Legal Services of New York Resumption of publication of Pro Se, a newsletter to New York State inmates to inform and update them about the law, procedures and their rights and responsibilities.

10. Public Interest Law Office of Rochester - Access to Appropriate Educational Services for Students With Disabilities Project, providing counsel and representation of low-income students with disabilities to assure appropriate education support, including systemic matters and individual cases.

11. Trial Lawyers Care - Pro bono services to victims of September 11 attacks and their families who choose to make claims under the federal government's Victim Compensation Fund, including recruitment, matching and support of volunteer attorneys and outreach to victims and families to inform them of the government fund and the availability of free legal services.

12. Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe - Advice and brief service clinics on landlord/ tenant, family law, pro se divorce and debt collection matters.

13. Welfare Law Center - Project Fair Play, providing major impact representation to safeguard legal and constitutional rights of low-income New Yorkers on public benefit programs, seeking to promote improvements in the delivery of health and human services, ensure access to benefits, including training, education and employment services, and foster constructive changes in public administration and oversight.

b. Justice System and the Law

1. Bethlehem Youth Court - Youth Court program as a voluntary alternative for youths, ages 10-18, who are first-time non-violent offenders at misdemeanor or lesser levels.

2. Jeff-Lewis Mediation Center - Youth Court program as a voluntary alternative for first-time offenders, ages 7-15, for matters at the misdemeanor or violation levels.

3. Peacemaker Program - Custody advocate services, interviewing those involved in cases, collecting facts, reporting to the court on findings and assessing what steps need to be taken to ensure the best interests of the child are being served.

c. Professional Competence and Ethics

1. Greater Upstate Law Project (GULP) Support Center, providing multi-issue poverty law support to civil legal services offices in the community through training, technical assistance, publication and dissemination of legal documents and resource information, representation and negotiation, service as co-counsel on impact cases and policy analysis in poverty law.

2. Legal Aid Society in New York City Housing Law Practice Area and the Community Legal Education Project, developing "self-service" tools on the Internet and in print to give Legal Aid attorneys and other advocates ready access to educational materials for their low-income clients.

3. New York State Defenders Association Public Defense Backup Center, providing support services for public defenders and assigned counsel, including training, research and publications.

4. - Development of Practice Area resource information on poverty law, available on the website, including a Health Law Practice Area and provision of templates to allow legal services programs to build web sites on the server.

5. Public Utility Law Project of New York - Preparation and publication, in print and on the web, of information and resources for legal services, pro bono and other lawyers and advocates to assist them in representing low-income persons on utility matters.

d. Public Understanding of the Law

1. Albany Law School Government Law Center - Disability Law Day community service program, initiated in 2002 and conducted with various service organizations, providing persons with disabilities, their families and caregivers with information about legal issues and services available to them.

2. Neighborhood Housing Service - Antipredatory lending educational and counseling services, presented as part of its Foreclosure Prevention Program.

3. NYSBA Committee on Issues Affecting People with Disabilities, co-sponsored by the New York State Commission on Quality Care - Expansion of the Disabilities and the Law video series with the addition of a video on "Diversion of the Mentally III," to promote justice and public understanding of the needs of persons with mental illness who commit crimes.

4. NYSBA Law, Youth & Citizenship (a) Awards to high school students in each judicial district for exemplary service to their communities or schools; (b) Statewide High School Mock Trial Tournament; and (c) regional teacher training institutes, providing substantive information about the legal system and best practices in law-related education.

5. North Country Legal Services - Land Contract Advocacy Project, involving community education on how buyers can protect their rights in land contract transactions, using materials developed by North Country Legal Services for this project; and litigation on behalf of persons who risk losing their homes unfairly in such transactions.

6. Onondaga County Bar Association Participation in an Elder Law Fair, providing legal information to seniors, their families and advocates, with special emphasis on low and moderate fixed-income seniors.

7.Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) Children's Project, with lawyers working with doctors and social workers at pediatric clinics of hospitals through legal information sessions to identify legal issues, resources and actions to improve the health outcomes of poor children.

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