Gov. Cuomo Announces Court System & State Bar Association Will Assist Unemployed New Yorkers

By Susan DeSantis

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With unemployment numbers reaching historic levels due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has called upon the pro bono network formed by the New York State court system and the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) to help jobless New Yorkers during this difficult time.

“At this unprecedented moment in the life of our state and nation, I know that New York’s generous legal community will do everything it can to help suffering New Yorkers get back on their feet,” said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. “At a time when lawyers’ lives, too, have been upended, I am sure I can count on New York lawyers to put the needs of society and their clients first.”

“The governor rightly recognizes that people across the state are hurting as a result of the economic crisis caused by this unprecedented public health crisis, and we all need to pitch in to be part of the solution,” said Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association. “Just as he has issued a call for health care professionals to volunteer on the front lines of the fight against this virus, we are calling on lawyers to do what they do best — help New Yorkers put their lives back together.

“In times of crisis, lawyers and law firms have always met their professional obligation to protect the rights of those who cannot afford an attorney. We saw that during 9/11. We are seeing that again now,” Greenberg added.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, of counsel at Latham & Watkins and the coordinator of the pro bono network, expressed confidence that attorneys across New York will heed this call to action and meet the challenge the governor has laid out.

“With the backing of the New York State court system and the New York State Bar Association, our network is getting off to a strong start,” Lippman said. “I want to personally thank the governor for helping the state through this crisis and bringing attention to how our partnership can help those whose lives have been upended by the virus.”

While the network is focusing first on New Yorkers who have lost their jobs, going forward it will also address the many other legal needs that will undoubtedly arise as a result of the pandemic.

New York’s existing network of pro bono and public defense attorneys was already strained prior to COVID-19. The state court system and NYSBA are taking this action to ensure that all New Yorkers can exercise their right to legal counsel at a time when the need for legal services will likely be higher than ever before.

Lawyers who are interested in joining this cause should go to https://nysba.org/covidvolunteer/to sign up. If you have specific questions about volunteering, please contact us via e-mail: [email protected].

For more information regarding the partnership: https://nysba.org/ny-state-court-system-joins-with-new-york-state-bar-association-to-launch-pro-bono-network-to-respond-to-pandemic/

In addition, the New York State Bar Association has transformed its website and social media accounts into hubs of legal information regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more at: https://nysba.org/coronavirus.

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