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Events & News


JUNE 2015

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Program CLE Training
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 and Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Program will be offering a free CLE training to those interested in serving as a Guardian Ad Litem in Housing Court. Participating attorneys are provided with free CLE credit for attending the two day GAL training (10 am- 2:15 pm each day), including one credit hour of ethics. In exchange for the credit, new GALs (attorneys and non-attorneys alike) commit to taking on a minimum of 3 pro-bono appointments over the course of the first year following training. Pro-bono appointments are appointments involving a ward that is not an Adult Protective Services client.

For more information about the Program, including the role of a GAL in Housing Court, please visit:

To learn more about how to apply to become a GAL and participate in the next training, visit:

If you need additional information, send an email to

*Note: Attorneys admitted to the NY State bar less than two years cannot receive CLE credit for watching video replays, but are welcome to participate in the GAL Program.

Free Housing CLE for NYC Attorneys & recent Law Graduates
Monday, June 29, 2015 | View Flyer for more details.

Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Program (VLFD) – Housing (legal representation)
The Volunteer Lawyer for the Day (VLFD) Program is designed to assist unrepresented tenants appearing in nonpayment cases in the Housing Court’s Resolution Part. The VLFD program is an unbundled legal services program where the representation begins and ends the same day.

Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) – Housing (legal advice)
Monday, June 29, 2015 and Friday, June 10, 2015 | View Flyer for more details.

The Volunteer Lawyers Program is designed to assist unrepresented litigants — people who represent themselves in court proceedings. Volunteer lawyers trained by the Program provide free legal information and advice to owners and tenants who do not have attorneys. .

Free Housing Court Navigator Program Training for NYC College Students
Monday, June 29, 2015 (Manhattan) | View Flyer for more details.

The Court Navigator Program helps litigants who do not have an attorney have a productive court experience through offering non-legal support. Participating volunteers serve in the courtroom under the supervision of a Court Navigator Program Coordinator. They have the opportunity to interact with judges, lawyers and litigants, and to gain real-world experience. Whatever a student's goal is in volunteering -- helping people in need, making new contacts, learning more about assisting a person in court or developing professional skills -- the Court Navigator Program sets the stage!


MAY 2015

New York County Community Law Day

On Friday, May 1st, the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program, the New York State Court Officers Association and the New York City Bar’s Legal Referral Service co-sponsored Community Law Day in New York County. Balloons, music, refreshments and free giveaways made the otherwise cool and windy day a festive event. Over 20 agencies gathered at Collect Pond Park to participate in the three and a half hour event including, Safe Horizon, NYC Department for the Aging, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, the Legal Aid Society, the Administration for Children’s Services and Sanctuary for Families. . In honor of National Law Day, the Mobile Legal Help Center, which is a traveling Help Center sponsored by NYLAG and the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program, completed 13 legal intakes which included two previously scheduled appointments and eleven walk-in appointments.  The majority of the clients seen on the Mobile Legal Help Center had housing court issues, while some had questions regarding consumer and immigration law. In addition, the Legal Referral Service offered free private legal consultations with experienced attorneys to assist members of the public with their legal and social needs. Hundreds of people stopped by to take advantage of the free information, literature and legal consultations. To view photos from our previous Law Day events, click here.

APRIL 2015

Help Center Best Practices Guide

The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program has published a new Best Practices Guide for Court Help Centers. The best practices are aimed at court administrators and personnel inside and outside New York State who are already interested in establishing a new Court Help Center or improving services in an existing Court Help Center. The guide is divided into six parts that cover initial considerations, services, set-up, staffing and responsibilities, promotion and oversight. The goal of the publication is to facilitate court help center expansion.

CourtHelp Upgrade

Continuing the November 2014 redesign of the CourtHelp website for unrepresented litigants, the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program has added several new topics and features to improve the user’s experience. This includes two new ways for litigants to find the information they need on CourtHelp. Every page now contains a search feature and a Quick Find link to a Topics A-Z page. These new search features greatly improve access and navigation to the site’s information. New topical pages have also been added on Appeals, Collecting a Judgment, and Adoption. Additional topics are planned by 2016. Finally, new What’s There? Links can be found on the Help Center page that list the services provided at each Court Help Center. Help us spread the word about CourtHelp by posting the new CourtHelp flyer.

MARCH 2015

Eighth Bridge the Gap Training Series Held

The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program held its eighth free "Bridge the Gap" training program for recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys. Training sessions in Consumer Debt, Ethics, Uncontested Divorce and Landlord & Tenant Law took place from March 24-26th. In exchange for 18 CLE credits participants will complete a 50 hour pro bono practicum assisting litigants in the NYC Housing, Civil, 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. Over 50 recent law school graduates and newly admitted attorneys participated in this initiative. The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program is grateful to all of the wonderful presenters who graciously volunteered their time.

Consumer Debt Part I - Sidney Cherubin, Esq., & Evan Denerstein, Esq.
Consumer Debt Part II - Robert Jacovetti, Esq., & Sarah Rosenthal, Esq.
Ethics - Laura Smith, Esq., Allison Schoenthal, Esq., & Meredith Heller, Esq.,
Uncontested Divorce - Baila Kamman, Esq., Kwaku Agyeman, Esq., & Lisa Zayas, Esq.
Landlord & Tenant Law - Hon. E. Pilar Sanchez, Alan Canner, Esq., Tracy McNeil, Esq., Timothy Collins, Esq., Deborah Riegel, Esq. & Hon. Sabrina Kraus.

For more information about volunteering in the NYS Access to Justice Program please contact:

Nepal Delegation Visit

On March 10, 2015, a delegation from the Supreme Court of Nepal visited Bronx County Family Court in the morning and spent the afternoon with Judge Fisher and the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program staff learning about access to justice programs and initiatives. The Nepal delegation, led by Senior Justice Kalyan Shrestha, and organized by D. Christopher Decker, Chief Technical Advisor, Rule of Law and Human Rights Programme, United Nations Development Programme, visited Arizona and Washington D.C., before finishing their judicial outreach trip in New York.

Visit from the Supreme Court of Nepal
Delegation from the Supreme Court of Nepal with Judge Fern Fisher


Lance B. Harris Wins DIY Star Award

On February 25, 2015, Kings County Supreme Court Senior Court Clerk Lance B. Harris was awarded the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program’s prestigious DIY Star Award for his contribution to the Uncontested Divorce DIY Form program’s Pilot Project and his assistance to unrepresented litigants in the Court Help Center. Read about Mr. Harris and the Star Award Ceremony.

Judicial Activism

Justice Fern Fisher, Director of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts has published an article in the CUNY Law Review. In her article she urges the judiciary to embrace a new definition of judicial activism in light of the legal needs crisis. The article, entitled "Moving Toward a More Perfect World: Achieving Equal Access to Justice Through a New Definition of Judicial Activism," discusses the various ways that judges can improve the administration of justice.


2014 Report

The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program issued its 2014 Report, entitled, "Providing New Pathways to Legal Services, Assistance and Information." The Report provides a brief overview of the Access to Justice Program's programs and resources, as well as the highlights of the Access to Justice Program's accomplishments in 2014. Thank you to all the partners, friends, volunteers and court personnel who helped make 2014 a success!

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