UCS Mission Statement

NY State SealThe mission of the Unified Court System (UCS) is to deliver equal justice under the law and to achieve the just, fair and timely resolution of all matters that come before our courts.

In the service of our mission, the UCS is committed to operating with integrity and transparency, and to ensuring that all who enter or serve in our courts are treated with respect, dignity and professionalism. We affirm our responsibility to promote a court system free from any and all forms of bias and discrimination and to promote a judiciary and workforce that reflect the rich diversity of New York State.


Please be advised that some of the New York State Unified Court System Office for Justice Initiatives’ volunteer attorney programs are now available online.

We are working hard to restore all of our volunteer programs. Please check this page regularly to receive updates.

Find Free LEGAL ASSISTANCE during the Coronavirus crisis by phone and online

New and easy to follow instructions for making phone and video court appearances are here:
Virtual Court Appearances for the Public



The New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives led by Honorable Edwina G. Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, is charged with directing the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program. The Office for Justice Initiatives (OJI) also oversees child welfare and juvenile and adolescent justice initiatives, including implementation of legislation raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York (commonly known as the “Raise the Age” law). The Office for Justice Initiatives works closely with the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, as well as with the Advisory Committee on Access for People with Disabilities, the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), the Division of Technology, the Grants Office, the Office of Language Access, Office of Legal Information and law schools.


Law Day Report

Office for Justice Initiatives 2021 Law Day Report

Law Day, celebrated every year on the first of May, offers us the opportunity to celebrate the role of law in our society in protecting our liberties and pursuing justice. In celebration of Law Day, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson and the Office for Justice Initiatives (OJI) are issuing the attached inaugural Law Day Report. This report, the first in a series of planned annual issues, reflects this year’s Law Day theme of “Advancing the Rule of Law Now” and the Office for Justice Initiatives’ mission to ensure meaningful access to justice for all those who pass through the doors of every New York State courthouse. The report is principally comprised of two sections: “The Landscape of Office for Justice Initiatives Programs,” detailing the existing programs and projects of the OJI as they have operated over the past several years, and “Reimagining Justice,” describing those programs and initiatives that have been developed over the unprecedented events of the past year, or are scheduled for release in the near future.


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Judge Edwina G. Mendelson, DCAJ for Justice Initiatives

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives
Hon. Edwina G. Mendelson Profile

Chief of Staff
Michelle Smith, Esq.


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