The New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), which represents 7500 Attorneys, today issued the following statement:
NYCLA expresses its strong support for the lawsuit initiated by the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) yesterday, in which NYSBA seeks to increase the rates of compensation for assigned counsel in indigent representation cases in New York criminal and family courts outside of New York City. This lawsuit parallels the suit that NYCLA and other bar associations brought in which Supreme Court Justice Lisa Headley issued an injunction to increase the pay of assigned counsel in New York City. Judge Headley found “that severe and irreparable harm to children and indigent adult litigants would occur without an injunction,” and said protecting their constitutional rights is of “paramount importance.”
NYSBA’s suit involves the same considerations as the suit brought by NYCLA and seeks to extend the injunction issued in NYCLA’s case throughout the rest of the state. We applaud and offer our support for NYSBA’s effort.
Until NYCLA’s suit, assigned counsel had not received an increase in their compensation for 20 years (when they last received an increase in response to prior 2002 lawsuit brought by NYCLA and others) — and assigned counsel in New York state outside of the city have still received no increase in compensation.
Inadequate compensation for assigned counsel inevitably results in inadequate representation and a decreased pool of assigned counsel for the indigent adults and children who require assigned counsel. Increased compensation for assigned counsel is therefore not merely a matter of fairness for the counsel themselves; it is fundamental to access to justice in New York. NYSBA’s lawsuit seeks to help close the justice gap for potential and actual assigned counsel clients throughout New York State and is thus a great step forward. We stand ready to assist NYSBA in any way we can in their effort to extend to all 18B lawyers throughout the state the benefit of the pathbreaking ruling NYCLA obtained in New York City.
We also offer our thanks to Michael Dell and his team from Kramer Levin, who skillfully litigated NYCLA’s case and has taken on the pro bono representation of NYSBA.
About the New York County Lawyers Association
The New York County Lawyers Association (nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender, and has a long history of supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence. For more information on NYCLA please visit nycla.org.
# # #