The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. (OnVLP) has been honored with the New York State Bar Association’s 2018 Angelo T. Cometa Award for its work facilitating legal referrals for residents of Central New York.
“OnVLP’s program is built on a foundation of collaboration and the recognition that appropriate legal representation is an essential element of our justice system,” said State Bar President Sharon Stern Gerstman, who presented the award at the Association’s House of Delegates dinner in Albany on April 13. “Their devoted team of lawyers and staff have developed a highly effective model for working seamlessly with local law firms, programs and agencies to ensure that residents of Syracuse and surrounding areas get the most appropriate and best possible referrals for legal services.”
OnVLP provides free legal help and referrals to low-income community members and served 3,100 clients in 2016 through a panel of 750 volunteer attorneys, law students and non-lawyer volunteers.
The organization maintains a referral guide that is available at all of the programs and legal clinics it operates around the Syracuse area. The comprehensive and frequently updated referral guide helps OnVLP direct clients to the individual or entity that can serve them most effectively and affordably.
OnVLP collaborates closely with the Onondaga County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Program and other legal services groups in the area to further streamline the referral process and also to monitor the need for specific legal services and help providers avoid offering overlapping services.
Samantha Aguam, a staff attorney at OnVLP, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. The award, sponsored by the State Bar’s Committee on Lawyer Referral Service, recognizes individuals or groups in New York that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment toward advancing the goals of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS).
The LRIS is a public service of the New York State Bar Association. Among its goals are to serve the public by administering a coordinated lawyer referral and information system throughout New York State and to provide information to the public about community and legal services available, including local bar referral services, legal aid societies, legal service programs, public interest law organizations and other appropriate service providers throughout the State of New York.
The award was created in 2007 in the honor of Angelo T. Cometa, who served as president of the State Bar in 1990-1991. During his presidency, the Association created its Lawyer Assistance Program, Pro Bono Department and Department of Law Practice Management.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Christian Nolan