The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program joined the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to sponsor the second annual National Pro Bono Week celebration from October 24-30, 2010. Particular focus was placed on consumer credit litigation in an effort to bring attention to this important area of need, while at the same time honoring our New York Volunteer Attorneys who do so much to assist these and other litigants. In New York City, the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program co-sponsored a kick-off event, pro bono expo, and a series of training programs. The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program also sponsored an ethics program.
The National Pro Bono Celebration Week Kick-off Event and Pro Bono Expo
This event was held in conjunction with the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York and the New York State Bar Association at the New York County Supreme Court. It was attended by over 200 people. The program included remarks by Carol Robles Roman, Esq., Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs, Stephen P. Younger, Esq., President of the New York State Bar Association, and Hon. Jeffrey Oing, then the Supervising Judge of the New York Civil Court. Six organizations and eight individual attorney participants in the consumer debt program were honored for their role in partnering with the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program in serving those New Yorkers engaged in consumer credit litigation. Also recognized were 185 attorneys who have dedicated significant time to the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program's Family Court, Foreclosure, Housing Court, and Uncontested Divorce Volunteer Lawyer and Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Programs, as well as the Guardian Ad Litem Program in New York City Housing Court. Throughout this event, a Pro Bono Expo was held, during which attendees could sign up to train and serve in pro bono programs. Seventy-eight attorneys were recruited at this event.
Ethics in Pro Bono Service CLE
The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program held this event with the New York County Lawyers' Association. It was hosted by the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. A panel of distinguished speakers that included Hon. Fern A. Fisher, DCAJ for NYC Courts and Director of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program, and Jeremy Feinberg, Esq., Statewide Ethics Counsel for the New York State Courts, discussed conflicts in pro bono representation, ghostwriting of pro se litigants' legal papers, and the availability of ethics hotlines.
Pro Bono Week Training Series
During Pro Bono Week a partnership was launched with the Queens County Bar Association to conduct a series of free CLE pro bono training programs in October and November 2010 for attorneys to provide legal assistance and limited representation to unrepresented litigants in Queens Civil, Supreme and Family Courts. Free CLE programs were offered in ethics, consumer debt, uncontested divorce and family law in return for volunteer service in court-sponsored pro bono programs. Launching the series of training programs was a CLE program on ethics, featuring Hon. Fern A. Fisher, Stephen P. Younger, Esq., President of the New York State Bar Association, and Chanwoo Lee, Esq., President of the Queens County Bar Association. This program recruited and trained 267 attorneys, many of whom volunteered for multiple programs.