Whether through individual representation of an at-risk client, answering calls on the “Access to Benefits” Helpline, or bringing groundbreaking civil rights litigation, The Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Practice annually provides over 3,200 volunteers with training, supervision and mentorship which allow them to deliver life changing legal assistance to thousands of Legal Aid clients each year.
Working with legal professionals from New York's major law firms, corporate law departments as well as students from both New York and national law schools, The Legal Aid Society helps secure the fundamental legal rights of low-income New Yorkers in critical need of counsel but unable to afford it. Annually, our pro bono partners provide invaluable legal assistance to our City's most vulnerable residents – homeless and imminently homeless children and adults, senior citizens, unemployed and low-wage workers, children and adults with chronic illnesses and disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, immigrants, neglected or abused children, and persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The Legal Aid Society integrates volunteers into its overall delivery of civil legal services. All pro bono referrals are made on behalf of Legal Aid’s clients, whose cases have been screened by our attorneys for legal merit and financial eligibility. In the overwhelming majority of cases, Legal Aid continues as Attorney of Record, and law firms and their attorneys serve as Of Counsel. A Legal Aid attorney remains on the case as a mentor until final disposition. All volunteers handling Legal Aid cases are covered by the Society’s professional liability coverage.
How You Can Get Involved
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE PRO BONO OPPORTUNITIES
Click here for a list of available cases on behalf of individuals needing legal assistance. Volunteers from participating law firms and corporate legal departments will be supervised by Legal Aid Staff.
PRO BONO PROJECTS
Law Firm & Corporate pro bono programs can partner with experts in the Society’s various practices to take on a finite number of matters focusing on a specific legal need. Participating volunteers will work with colleagues on individual matters and will be provided with training and supervision. For more information, email Lou Sartori.
ACCESS TO BENEFITS (A2B) HELPLINE
The Helpline is held at the Society’s 199 Water Street location Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. A2B is a 'one-stop' resource for New Yorkers in need of legal assistance and/or referrals in matters related to:
Employment/ unemployment insurance;
Public health insurance, including Medicaid;
Public assistance, including food stamps; and
Education law/ special education.
Volunteers work alongside Legal Aid Society staff to answer the hotline, identify questions and legal issues, record basic information about each caller's issues, and provide advice when appropriate. All volunteers will be supervised by our experienced A2B Hotline Coordinator. CLE credit is available to attorneys who participate. Please email Andrew Childers for more information and to sign up to volunteer.
PRO BONO POST-GRADUATE PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIPS
The Legal Aid Society has successfully hosted many post-graduate public interest pro bono fellows. These fellowships, sponsored by law schools here in New York and throughout the country, provide recent law graduates with an opportunity to work at The Legal Aid Society while receiving a stipend directly from their law school. Post Graduate Fellows have been placed in every practice area of the Society for specified periods of time.
For more information about availability and eligibility requirements of a Post Graduate fellowship, please contact the public interest placement office at your law school. Volunteers who are eligible for post-graduate public interest fellowships should email Andrew Childers.
TRANSITIONING AND RETIRED ATTORNEYS
The Legal Aid Society has a long history of working with retired or transitioning attorneys who are looking for opportunities to start a second career as a public interest law volunteer. One of the original grantees of the Pro Bono Institute’s Second Acts® Program, the Society helped establish a national model for integrating transitioning and retired attorneys into roles as legal service volunteers.
As a host organization for the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP), established by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in January of 2010 to engage seasoned lawyers in pro bono projects, The Legal Aid Society works closely with attorneys to use their legal talent and expertise in all of the Society’s practices acting as mentors to staff, working with law firm associates who are participating in our extensive pro bono programs, helping Society staff manage special projects, volunteering part-time in a community or court-based office, or handling a specific number of matters annually. For more information about Legal Aid’s Attorney Emeritus Program, complete this Volunteer Application Form, attach a current resume and cover letter and send it to Andrew Childers.
The Society seeks volunteer applicants with a demonstrated commitment to the mission of The Legal Aid Society to ensure that no New Yorker is denied access to justice because of poverty. We also believe that our staff and volunteers should reflect the diversity of the clients we serve and encourage volunteers with diverse backgrounds and experience levels to get involved.
If you are interested in volunteering with The Legal Aid Society, please complete this Volunteer Application Form, attach a current resume and cover letter and send it to Andrew Childers The Society seeks volunteer applicants with a demonstrated commitment to the mission of The Legal Aid Society to ensure that no New Yorker is denied access to justice because of poverty.
Pro Bono Staff
Director of the Pro Bono Practice
Karen Fisher Gutheil
Supervising Attorney, Pro Bono Practice
NOTE: The Pro Bono Practice refers matters only for current Legal Aid clients. If you require the assistance of The Legal Aid Society, please go to the Civil Practice, Criminal Defense Practice, or Juvenile Rights Practice homepages to learn how to contact the practice area that is best able to handle your case.