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.
2021 Award Recipients:
One of Robert Huberman’s significant pro bono matters this year was to work with the ASPCA to enable them, under zoning, to provide overnight animal boarding at one of their veterinary clinics. The ASPCA operates a community veterinary clinic in Brooklyn which provides preventative and basic veterinary care for small animals. In connection with these services, the ASPCA wanted to start boarding animals overnight for observation and healing. However, the Department of Buildings generally does not allow overnight animal boarding in areas not zoned for manufacturing use, and the ASPCA’s property is zoned for residential and commercial use. Thus, Rob drafted a zoning memorandum and a Zoning Resolution Determination (ZRD1) which outlined a legal strategy to allow for overnight animal boarding not just at the Brooklyn clinic, but also at other clinics they operate in the five boroughs.
Elizabeth Plowman worked hard this year to seek to petition US Customs and Immigration for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for a boy after his father passed away. SIJS is a form of immigration status for undocumented youths (under 21 years old) brought to live in the US as children who’ve had at least one parent neglect/abandon/abuse them. Before the boy could apply for SIJS, however, Liz needed to file a guardianship proceeding in NY Family Court to get his mother appointed as his guardian. Once she was able to get the guardianship petition granted, she was then able to help the boy to petition for SIJS. The SIJS petition is currently pending and hopefully will be adjudicated shortly in his favor, which would permit him to get a green card and work authorization in the United States.
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.
In 2020, the Lawyers Alliance for New York honored Karol Robinson with its Cornerstone Award for outstanding service to nonprofits that improve the quality of life for low-income New Yorkers. Karol was recognized sharing her transactional and counseling skills with Lawyers Alliance clients since 2003 on governance, fiscal sponsorship, and lease review projects.
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.
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.
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.
The City Bar Justice Center’s Veterans Assistance Project (VAP) provides disabled, low-income veterans in New York City with pro bono legal assistance on issues related to their claims for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Through its Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP), the City Bar Justice Center’s (CBJC) COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic (the CV-19 Clinic) will offer pro bono legal consultations to small business owners to help them understand and act upon options available under the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus package and other opportunities available through federal, state and local programs. Qualifying small businesses will be offered free 45-minute consultations with pro bono attorneys who will also answer broader legal questions on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The mission of the initiative is to help entrepreneurs in New York City determine the best path forward for their small businesses in these particularly challenging times.
The Door is an unparalleled model for youth development, offering a comprehensive range of integrated services within a single site for nearly 10,000 New York City youth each year. Our mission is to empower young adults to reach their full potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment. At The Door, youth can access health care and education, mental health counseling and crisis assistance, legal assistance, college preparation services, career development, housing supports, arts, sports and recreational activities, and nutritious meals- all for free and under one roof. By providing participants with our suite of integrated services, we seek to provide any motivated young person with the tools, resources, and opportunities needed to successfully transition to adulthood.
Sanctuary for Families is dedicated to the safety, healing and self-determination of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Through comprehensive services for our clients and their children, and through outreach, education and advocacy, we strive to create a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right.