Coronavirus Daily Update: NYSBA Successfully Advocates for Interim Vouchers to Help Solos & Small Firms

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

A newly launched New York State Bar Association task force assisting solo practitioners and small firms facing economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic has already successfully advocated for many state and federal courts in New York to handle interim vouchers for work performed before the non-essential court shutdown.

The Task Force to Assist Solo Practitioners and Small Firms, chaired by two solo practitioners, Domenick Napoletano of Brooklyn and June Castellano of Rochester, has seen results from the courts in the past week to help ease the financial burden faced by members, specifically for attorneys who work as assigned counsel in state and federal mandated representation cases.

There are three ways by which attorneys can receive assignments – assigned counsel programs in each of New York’s 62 counties, the Appellate Division assignment program for attorneys for the child, and Federal Criminal Justice Act panels.

It’s common practice for attorneys to submit vouchers for compensation at the conclusion of a case or when certain parts of a case have been completed but with all non-emergency mandated representation cases on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, the standard vouchering payment system has come to a stop as well.

Thanks in part to the task force’s advocacy, federal courts in the Northern and Western Districts have issued orders allowing for the submission of interim vouchers. The Northern District is allowing the minimum threshold to submit an interim voucher to be lowered to $250.

The task force has requested that each of the four presiding justices of the state appellate divisions issue orders allowing interim vouchers and the second, third and fourth departments have all agreed to do that but at different thresholds.

The task force has contacted every assigned counsel coordinator in the state to determine if their jurisdiction allows for the submission of interim vouchers. Currently, there is no uniform policy, but a significant number of coordinators have indicated interim vouchers are being processed, while others have stated vouchers are not being processed due to a lack of economic funding for their programs.

The vouchers issue is just one of many real practical matters that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated for solos and small firms. The task force will be providing additional resources to members, including how to navigate federal legislation, updating the Planning Ahead Guide, and offering CLE programs designed to be a survival guide for small firms.

Latest NYSBA.ORG Coronavirus News
We are adding new content each day to our website related to the coronavirus public health emergency and its impact on the legal community.

Today we have details about how NYSBA’s first-ever all virtual House of Delegates meeting will likely become a model for other governing bodies and bar associations around the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, in case you missed it yesterday, the state court system announced that beginning Monday, April 13 its virtual courts will begin handling some non-essential matters.

 

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