Date: November 13, 2009
Hon. Ann Pfau
Courts and CUNY Law School Partner on Innovative New Pilot Program
NEW YORK – The Unified Court System today announced the launch of an historic collaborative effort between the courts and CUNY Law School to provide much needed legal representation to low-income New Yorkers. LaunchPad for Justice is an innovative new pilot that will train recent CUNY Law School graduates to provide free legal services to civil litigants who cannot afford an attorney. This groundbreaking partnership – the first of its kind in the country – will give graduates the opportunity to sharpen their skills professionally and gain critical courtroom experience, while also increasing access to justice for all New Yorkers.
The six-month pilot project will focus on housing law, an area where thousands of underserved New Yorkers are in need of legal assistance. Participants will be trained and supervised by court-employed attorneys, practicing CUNY Law School alumni and lawyers enrolled in the CUNY Law School Community Legal Resource Network initiative, which trains attorneys to practice in under-represented communities.
New York State Chief Judge Lippman said, “I am pleased to announce this important partnership, the benefits of which will be numerous and far reaching. LaunchPad for Justice will provide CUNY Law School graduates the chance to build their resumes with real-world experience; the courts additional aid in dealing with heavy caseloads; and low-income New Yorkers engaged with the court system the legal counsel they desperately need.”
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the Courts in New York City and Director of the New York State Access to Justice Program Fern Fisher added, “CUNY Law School’s intensive clinic program has primed its graduates to work with litigants and to quickly grasp the skills they need to be effective in court. The LaunchPad for Justice program will further hone their legal and litigation expertise and go a long way toward addressing the unmet legal needs of indigent New Yorkers.”
“Providing legal representation to underserved communities is central to our mission. This unique collaboration with the courts is an amazing opportunity to increase access to civil justice and help graduates earn more experience in a tough job market. The LaunchPad for Justice program will allow us to play an expansive role through education and practice in making a difference in the courts and in New York City,” said CUNY Law School Dean Michelle Anderson.
CUNY Law School CLRN Director Fred Rooney said, “LaunchPad for Justice will ensure that recent graduates entering their law careers truly understand the legal issues that affect New York’s most vulnerable communities, as well as the professional obligation of all attorneys to work toward the goal of equal justice for every citizen.”
Legislative funds for LaunchPad for Justice were obtained through the efforts of New York State Assemblymen Adriano Espaillat and Hakeem Jeffries of the 72nd and 57th Districts, respectively. The pilot program will cover legal services for their constituent areas of Washington Heights, Inwood, Fort Green and Bedford Stuyvesant.
The LaunchPad for Justice program will be based at 80 Centre Street in Manhattan. Participating graduates will work in Manhattan and Brooklyn Housing Courts. For more information on the pilot program, contact CUNY Law School CLRN at 718/340-4451.