NYCLA Pro Bono Programs for New Yorkers

NEED LEGAL PRO BONO HELP?

New York County Lawyers Association offers pro bono programs to help New Yorkers.  For information about legal services contact Hannah Sears, Pro Bono Programs Administrator at hsears@nycla.org  or call 212.267.6646 ext. 217.

US Tax Court Project

The Problem:  Most taxpayers who appear in front of the U.S. Tax Court are unrepresented and cannot afford to pay an attorney to represent them. While some calendar call locations have Low Income Taxpayer Clinics, such clinics in New York only provide representation to taxpayers who are already clients.  This leaves many pro se taxpayers at calendar call without access to legal advice.

How NYCLA Helps:

The Tax Court Project provides limited legal assistance to those unrepresented pro se petitioners at calendar call.  The volunteer attorneys help taxpayers navigate the unfamiliar process of calendar call.  They (1) consult with the pro se petitioners regarding the merits of their cases and assist in the evaluation of any settlement proposals from the Internal Revenue Service, (2) provide procedural advice to pro se petitioners who decide to proceed to trial, and (3) act as communicators or mediators between the parties in an effort to assist in resolving each case.

Project Restore

The Problem: Unemployment is the persistent factor most strongly correlated with recidivism.  Obtaining gainful employment, however, is typically difficult for a person with a criminal history, particularly one who seeks to enter a vocation requiring state licenses.  Routinely, the New York Department of State, which has the authority to grant the necessary licenses, denies them to individuals solely on the basis of their prior criminal convictions.

How NYCLA Helps:

Project Restore provides pro bono representation to individuals who have been denied vocational licenses and who are challenging the denial.  Advocacy includes representing license seekers in administrative law proceedings, appealing adverse Administrative Law Judge decisions to agency commissioners and when warranted, appealing commissioners’ decisions to the New York State Supreme Court via Article 78 Petitions.

Manhattan CLARO
(Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office)

The Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) is a free, weekly walk-in clinic that provides limited legal advice to pro se litigants with consumer debt matters in the New York Civil Courts.  CLARO was created in response to the growing number of low-income individuals being sued in Civil Court by collection agencies.  The volunteer attorneys at CLARO provide unrepresented litigants with information and resources to help them represent themselves effectively.

How NYCLA Helps:

The Manhattan CLARO Project addresses the needs of unrepresented debtors who are being sued by their creditors, by providing pro se litigants the opportunity to meet with an attorney to discuss their case and obtain limited legal advice.  Rather than representing individuals in court, the CLARO volunteer attorneys meet with individuals at evening clinics at the New York County Civil Court and advise them on how best to represent themselves in their court cases.  The volunteer attorney explains the court process, review the client’s case file, prepare court papers, and give advice on other consumer debt issues.

Veterans Discharge Project

The Problem: Military discharges that are not characterized as “Honorable” can disqualify veterans from substantial government benefits. These discharges are often the result of undiagnosed mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or the experience of sexual assault.

How NYCLA Helps:

The Veterans Discharge Upgrade Pro Bono Program provides certain veterans who have received a less-than-honorable discharge with legal assistance to appeal their discharge status. Volunteer attorneys prepare written applications through investigation and record-building. If a written application is denied, attorneys have the opportunity to represent the client at a hearing before a Discharge Review Board.

State Central Registry Project

The Problem: When the New York State Office of Children and Family Services receive a call regarding suspected abuse and neglect, a report is entered into the State Central Register. If an individual listed on the Register wishes to remove their name from the list, they have an opportunity to request the report be labeled as “unfounded” and if the Register refuses to remove the person’s name, they have a right to an administrative review and fair hearing.

How NYCLA Helps:

Through the State Central Registry Project, volunteer attorneys provide counsel and representation to individuals who seek to amend, seal or expunge indicated reports from the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

Social Security Disability Program

NYCLA Attorneys can volunteer to represent plaintiffs whose applications for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income were denied by the Social Security Administration. Volunteer attorneys will prepare opposition briefs in response to motions for judgment on the pleadings filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Volunteer attorneys will then argue the motion in front of the district or magistrate judge if the judge chooses to hold argument. If the case is remanded to the Social Security Administration, the volunteer attorney can choose whether to continue representing the client in front of the Social Security Administration.

How NYCLA Helps:

Through the State Central Registry Project, volunteer attorneys provide counsel and representation to individuals who seek to amend, seal or expunge indicated reports from the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.