National Pro Bono Celebration Week 2017

The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program joined the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to sponsor the ninth annual National Pro Bono Celebration Week from October 22-28, 2017. The Access to Justice Program held events all over the state for lawyers and litigants to celebrate pro bono! The 2017 events included:

  • Free Court Help Center presentations and workshops held at many courthouses.
  • Free CLE trainings for attorneys
  • Pro Bono Awards Recognition Ceremony

Court Help Centers

In celebration of National Pro Bono Week, Court Help Centers around New York State provided free presentations and workshops for the public. The events were held from October 24 to October 27. The 7th Judicial District Court Help Center, located in Monroe County gave two separate presentations. The first covered the relevant law and court procedure for a small claims case, the second presentation focused on Guardianship Article 17A cases. The New York City Civil Court, Kings County gave a presentation on housing court proceedings that may be started by landlords and tenants. The Queens County Supreme Court Help Center, in partnership with the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc., offered a presentation on foreclosure. The Bronx Housing Court gave a presentation on starting a roommate holdover. The Nassau County Supreme Court Help Center partnered with the Nassau County Bar Association once again, to provide people with an overview of the resources and services that the Court Help Center provides. The Bronx County Supreme Court Help Center held a two-part workshop for couples with and without children under the age of twenty-one who seek to divorce. The New York County Surrogate’s Court Help Center gave a presentation on the nuts and bolts of a small estate proceedings. The Richmond County Surrogate’s Court Help Center wrapped up National Pro Bono week by throwing a Court User/Pro Se Appreciation Day Celebration. Attendees learned about court resources over light refreshments..


Bridge the Gap Training Series

The Office for Justice Initiatives Access to Justice Program held a free "Bridge the Gap" training program for recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys. Experienced attorneys were also welcome to attend. Training sessions in Consumer Debt, Ethics, Landlord & Tenant Law, Family Law and Uncontested Divorce took place Tuesday, October 24th through Thursday, October 27th 2017. In exchange for 21 CLE credits participants will complete a 60-hour pro bono practicum assisting litigants in the NYC Housing, Civil, Family and Supreme Courts. This training series encourages graduates and newly admitted attorneys to get involved in pro bono work early in their careers by bridging the gap between law school and the realities of practicing law. Thirty recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys participated in this initiative.


Pro Bono Awards Night

The Office for Justice Initiatives, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), and the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) co-sponsored a pro bono volunteer recognition event and dinner on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 at the New York County Lawyers Association. NYCLA President Michael J. McNamara, Edwina Martin, Co-Chair, NYSBA’S President’s Committee on Access to Justice and Justice Edwina Richardson-Mendelson Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives all spoke and presented awards to the exceptional volunteers. Special recognition was given to a number of exceptional attorneys and non-attorneys for their dedication and commitment. The Office for Justice Initiatives honorees were: the 8th and 9th Judicial Districts’ Pro Bono Committees that received Pro Bono Star Awards for their innovative access to justice programs and the following attorneys received plaques for their dedicated services in the Courts’ Access to Justice Programs: Tatyana Siegel and Marc Silverman for service in the Consumer Debt Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Program, Jose Gonzalez and Stanley Pruszynski for service in the Uncontested Divorce Program; John Gross and Grissel Mercado for service in the Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program, Nelly Isaacson and Emilie Schwarz in Court Navigator Program; Peter Bartlett Wu for service in the Housing Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Program; Richard Landman for service in the Housing Volunteer Lawyer Program; and Stuart C. Adler for service in the Guardian Ad Litem Program. All of the Access to Justice Program honorees performed over 50 hours of pro bono services in a court-based program throughout 2017. See the Reception Program for a complete list of all the volunteers who were recognized for their outstanding pro bono service. A photo gallery from the event is posted on the Access to Justice Program Facebook page: