With the sharp downturn in the economy, the number of unrepresented litigants appearing in the New York State Courts has increased dramatically. In response, the court system has established the Volunteer Attorney Programs as a free service designed to ensure that these litigants have access to competent legal advice to guide them as they represent themselves. There are also programs that provide limited scope representation in courtrooms.
Under the supervision of court staff, volunteer attorneys, law graduates, and law students spend full days or parts of days in a courthouse, and are available to provide legal advice and assistance to unrepresented litigants in:
- answering questions and inquiries
- completing petitions and other court forms
- preparing for court hearingss
- interpreting court orders
Volunteers also may assist litigants in settling their cases.
Participating attorneys select the court where they wish to serve and the types of cases on which they wish to consult. Matters in which legal assistance is needed include:
- consumer debt cases
- family matters (including custody, visitation and child support)
- landlord/tenant cases
- uncontested divorce
In each of these areas, the court system will provide free training, with CLE credit.
Attorneys can volunteer just a few hours a week or as frequently as every day on a schedule that is convenient to them.
To get started, complete the online Application.