New York State Bar Association Welcomes Court Order on Assigned Counsel, More Action Needed To Increase Pay Statewide
New York State Bar Association President Sherry Levin Wallach issued the following statement in response to the recent court order that increased the hourly compensation for assigned counsel lawyers in New York City for the first time since 2004:
“It is encouraging to see that after nearly two decades of inaction, which has caused a crisis in access to counsel for underserved New Yorkers, there will be a much-needed increase in the hourly rate paid to New York City’s assigned counsel representing indigent clients and minors. Advocating for a boost in the pay for assigned counsel has been a statewide Association priority for many years.
To ensure access to justice is a reality for all New Yorkers who may not be able to afford legal representation, Governor Kathy Hochul should use this decision as a baseline for increasing compensation statewide. Absent executive action, we hope the Legislature takes up this important issue again to assure the availability of counsel for those most in need.
We commend New York’s bar associations for their tireless work and advocacy to make this a reality.”
“The lack of fair compensation has led to a mass exodus of assigned counsel across the state. The resulting shortage of lawyers to represent indigent defendants and minors undermines access to justice in New York at a time when we need it most,” said Leah Nowotarski, chair of the NYSBA Committee on Mandated Representation. “Parents in Family Court proceedings, children, and indigent persons in need of an attorney for Family Court or criminal matters, should no longer be disconnected from our justice system because of the crisis that existed in our assigned counsel system.”
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, NYSBA 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.