The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program joined the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to sponsor the fourth annual National Pro Bono Celebration Week from October 21 - 27, 2012. The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program sponsored the free legal information and advice on the Mobile Legal Help Center event, a Bridge the Gap CLE pro bono training series, a student intern training and a Pro Bono Awards night volunteer recognition event.
Free Legal Information and Advice on the Mobile Legal Help Center
In honor of National Pro Bono Celebration Week, the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program partnered with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) to bring civil legal services to New Yorkers aboard NYLAG's Mobile Legal Help Center. The Mobile Legal Help Center traveled to a different county of New York City each day of the week between October 22 - 26, 2012. Members of the public were able to enter the MLHC vehicle and receive free private legal consultations with volunteer attorneys and legal and procedural information from Court Clerks on custody and visitation, child support, divorce, domestic violence, consumer debt, small claims, housing, foreclosure, bankruptcy and immigration law topics. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, priority was given to legal services pertaining to domestic violence. During National Pro Bono Celebration Week, the first family offense petition was filed on the Mobile Legal Help Center and a temporary order of protection was issued directly from the vehicle.
Bridge the Gap Training Series
The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program held a "Bridge the Gap" training program which focused on recruitment of new graduates and newly admitted attorneys to encourage them to get involved in pro bono early in their careers and to fulfill their first or second year mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. From October 22 - 26, 2012, training was conducted in ethics, uncontested divorce, housing, and consumer debt. Over 175 recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys participated in this initiative.
Student Intern Training
In conjunction with Pro Bono Celebration Week, the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program hosted a webinar exclusively for St. John's University School of Law students introducing them to the eight New York City Housing Court DIY Form programs. The goal was to train law students to be able to assist Housing Court litigants with the DIY Form programs when interning in the courthouses.
Pro Bono Awards Night
The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program, the New York State Bar Association, the New York County Lawyers' Association and the Office of the Mayor co-sponsored a pro bono volunteer recognition event on Thursday, October 25, 2012, at the New York City Civil Court. Attorneys received awards for their outstanding pro bono service. The event also highlighted the volunteer service of law students and recent law school graduates to further encourage pro bono by new attorneys.
The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program honored 230 volunteers for their work in the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program's Consumer Debt, Uncontested Divorce, Housing, Family Law and Guardian Ad Litem programs. All of the honorees performed over 50 hours of pro bono services in a court-based program throughout 2012. During this event, a Volunteer Opportunity Expo was held for attendees to learn about the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program's volunteer programs. After the event, honoree were featured on the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NYCourtsVLP.
The program included remarks by Hon. Fern . Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts and Director, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program; Claire Gutekunst, Treasurer, New York State Bar Association; Stewart Aaron, President, New York County Lawyers' Association; and David B. Goldin, Administrative Justice Coordinator, Office of the Mayor of the City of New York.