We proudly provide pro bono services to the community, and actively encourage our attorneys to take on pro bono matters. We partner with several organizations, many of which are included below, to passionately represent their clients and causes.
Some of the issues we regularly tackle involve domestic violence, homelessness, immigration, and the protection and preservation of community-based organizations without the financial means to do so themselves. We also take on pro bono matters on a case-by-case basis, when our core areas of legal expertise align with the needs of a particular organization, issue or cause.
Many of our lawyers devote significant time to improving their local community. To honor their commitment, each year we bestow the Hon. Milton Mollen Pro Bono Award, named after our colleague, a remarkable man whose life was defined by public service.
2020 Award Recipients:
Ben Oklan: Through Lawyers Alliance of New York, Ben worked with InnovateEDU. This Brooklyn-based non-profit’s mission is to eliminate the achievement gap by accelerating innovation in Common Core-aligned, next generation learning models and tools that serve, inform, and enhance teaching and learning. Ben helped them preserve their tax-exempt status and continue to pursue their not-for-profit mission, while partnering with significant for-profit institutions that wanted to invest in, and broaden, InnovateEDU’s impact. In addition, Ben worked with a City Bar Justice Center client to address his historic income tax liability and to help him become tax-compliant, hopefully on a prospective basis.
Kaylie Scheinman: Through Volunteers of Legal Services’, Kaylie worked with The Elderly Project, an organization designed to provide free legal advice, information, and document drafting, (including wills, powers of attorney, and other essential life-planning documents) to low-income New York City residents aged 60 and over. Each of the clients with whom Kaylie has worked has specific requests that they would like documented, and doing so helps them to live out their years with dignity. While money is rarely involved, they often have important, sentimental, physical possessions they want to be sure are dealt with in a certain manner (an old sofa, or a lamp, for example). Others have specific requests as to their burials and/or what happens to their bodies after they pass away.
We also honored many other Herrick lawyers who dedicated a significant amount of time and commitment to pro bono during the past year. Louis Goldberg, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ben Oklan, Kaylie Scheinman, Bill Fried, Darlene Fairman, Janice Goldberg, Steven Smith, Doug Heller and Joann Birle.
Founded in 1976, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is a nonprofit, civil rights law firm that strives for social justice and serves the legal needs of underserved, underrepresented New Yorkers and their communities. In partnership with member law firms like Herrick, NYLPI helps underrepresented people develop legal strategies to serve their vision for themselves and their communities. Through their partnerships, they work to provide community members with the resources and training to one day serve as their own representatives, advocates and organizers.
Lawyers Alliance is a leading provider of business and transactional legal services for nonprofit organizations that are improving the quality of life in New York City neighborhoods. By connecting lawyers, nonprofits, and communities, they help nonprofits to develop affordable housing, stimulate economic development, and operate vital programs for children and young people, the elderly, recent immigrants, and other low-income New Yorkers.
VLA delivers legal services and legal information to over 10,000 members of the arts community each year and plays an important role in educating individual artists, arts professionals within arts and cultural institutions, attorneys, students and the general public about legal and business issues that affect artistic and creative endeavors. From its inception, VLA has played an important role as an advocate on behalf of the arts community in different ways, ranging from participation in litigation, making public statements about matters of interest to the arts community, and making recommendations about pending legislation.
The Legal Clinic for the Homeless has been providing free legal assistance to the homeless since 1991. This program reaches out to individuals and families through legal clinics held at homeless shelters and drop-in centers and through presentations to community groups and to staff and residents of shelters. Staff and volunteer attorneys offer advice, advocacy and representation on issues such as accessing and challenging denials of public benefits, including public assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing and public housing subsidies.
NYLAG is a non-profit law office providing free legal services to low income New Yorkers. NYLAG helps both the poor and near poor in New York City access legal rights of vital importance, including, but not limited to, obtaining government benefits such as food stamps and home care, securing orders of protections and divorces, and handling immigration matters. NYLAG's clients include seniors, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, at-risk children, people with disabilities, people moving from welfare to work, Holocaust survivors and individuals suffering from chronic and serious illnesses.
PILPG, a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is a non-profit organization that operates as a global pro bono law firm providing free legal assistance to states and governments involved in conflicts. To date, PILPG attorneys and volunteers from law firms have provided legal counsel for over two dozen states and governments on the legal aspects of peace negotiations and post-conflict constitution drafting, as well as over two dozen states and War Crimes Tribunals in Europe, Asia and Africa concerning the protection of human rights, self-determination and the prosecution of war crimes.
Her Justice offers low-income women free legal services in matrimonial, family and immigration law. The organization is on the front lines working to protect women and their children—preventing tragedies and changing lives. Its staff of legal professionals annually trains, mentors and supports volunteer attorneys who handle over 1,500 legal cases in three major areas: matrimonial (by providing free legal services to low-income women who wish to file for a divorce or who have been served with divorce papers by their husbands), immigration (by providing free legal services to low-income, battered immigrant women who seek to become legal residents of the United States), and family law (wherein Her Justice helps hundreds of low-income women go to Family Court in New York City to get orders of protection against their abusive husbands and partners and also helps mothers get court orders giving them legal custody of their children and requiring fathers to pay child support).
West Harlem Community Organization, Inc. is a nonprofit community-based organization that has been educating young children for over 50 years in Harlem and Washington Heights. Through the Head Start Program & Family Child Care Network, we provide safe, nurturing, creative high-quality educational environments for children from birth to five years old while empowering their families to be advocates in the community. Visit us on Facebook.
Herrick lawyer Joann Birle was honored with a Lawyers Alliance for New York 2017 Cornerstone Award for outstanding pro bono legal services to nonprofit groups that are improving the quality of life for low-income New Yorkers.
Since 2012, Joann has been assisting Iris House, which provides support for women and families affected by HIV/AIDS and other health issues, with a particular emphasis on supporting women of color. Joann also assisted Workforce Professionals Training Institute (WPTI) in negotiating a license agreement with its landlord to access approximately 1,000 square feet of additional space. The organization uses its space to deliver training, leadership institutes, and customized technical assistance to more than 350 workforce development organizations in New York City. Joann has also helped several other nonprofit organizations with their real estate needs, including Heights and Hills with a lease extension for space used to house its senior services center; the Committee for Early Childhood Development with a lease negotiation for space in Jamaica, Queens for a Head Start center; and Hospital Clinic Home Center Instructional Corp. Ace Integration Head Start with a leasing matter for an early childhood Head Start program located in Bedford Stuyvesant/Bushwick, Brooklyn.