NYSBA Joins Forces To Honor Attorney Volunteers Fighting for New Yorkers in Need
In a celebration of National Pro Bono Week, the New York State Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association and the Office of Court Administration honored 23 attorneys for their work on behalf of needy New Yorkers.
The honorees donated their time and expertise in many practice areas including child support and custody, tenant landlord disputes, consumer debt relief, disability benefits and tax law. Many of the honorees took specialized training to prepare for the volunteer work.
“For the good of those we serve, our three organizations have developed a robust partnership to work toward the common goal of delivering equal justice under law,” said New York State Bar Association President Sherry Levin Wallach.
“NYSBA provided educational training programs for pro bono volunteers and attorneys employed by legal service organizations. We encourage all of our members to participate in pro bono projects across the state,” she said.
The event also paid special recognition to those volunteers in the Special COVID Intervention Parts in the 7th Judicial District. Judges, court staff and community members joined forces to help people most at risk of eviction.
The honorees were:
Philip J. Colasanto of Agostino & Associates who gave free advice to pro se litigants in the U.S. Tax Court as part of the NYCLA Tax Court Project. He also represented some clients in cases against the IRS.
Eric J. Vath of GoldmanHarris who gave advice on housing and tenants’ rights for the NYCLA Pro Bono Legal Counseling program.
Puja Khare, associate vice president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, who represented clients with disabilities who were denied Social Security benefits. It was part of the NYCLA Pro Bono Social Security SDNY Project.
Scott Kim of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler who worked with veterans who were denied benefits because of their discharges. His work was part of the NYCLA Veterans Discharge Upgrade Project.
Jason P. Gonzalez, an attorney with the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, who helped people with criminal convictions obtain Certificates of Relief from Civil Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct. He volunteered with the NYCLA Reentry Initiative, which helps remove barriers to jobs and housing for those who have been convicted.
Alvin Li of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler who worked with the NYCLA State Central Registry Project to help people wrongly accused of child abuse.
Rhick Bose of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler who volunteered with the NYCLA Parole Prep Pilot Project to help inmates argue for parole.
Michael Fisher of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler who helped physically and mentally disabled New Yorkers access specialized transportation as part of the NYCLA Access-A-Ride Project.
Honorees from the Attorney Emeritus Program of the New York State Unified Court System were:
Jeff Adolph who assisted callers with child support and custody matters as part of Nassau Suffolk Law Services.
Pat Castellan who helped clients with legal issues from COVID related job loss, health issues and consumer debt collection as part of Mobilization for Justice.
Sally Shreeves of Legal Information for Families Today who handled intake for new clients referred by community organizations.
Alisa Swire who volunteered with My Sister’s Place to assist survivors of domestic violence and those with immigration cases.
Jesus M. Zeno who volunteered at Access Justice Brooklyn. He represented homeowners with cases before the Department of Buildings.
Mark Levine who volunteered with the New York County Lawyers Association Social Security SDNY Project. He worked with disabled New Yorkers who were seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Honorees from the Access to Justice Program of the New York State Unified Court System Office for Justice Initiatives were:
Lea Caurand, a recent law school graduate and a native of France, who volunteered with the Consumer Debt Volunteer Lawyer for the Day program. Her language skills came in handy when helping clients.
Frances Tyler, a second-year law student, who volunteered with the consumer debt program.
Reizl Halikman, a second-year law student, who volunteered with the consumer debt program.
Michael Hughes, a second- year law student who helped clients being sued for debts in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island civil courts as part of the consumer debt program.
William Gilinsky who served as a New York City Housing Court Guardian Ad Litem and advocated for mentally impaired clients at risk of eviction.
Della DeKay who served as a New York City Housing Court Guardian Ad Litem and advocated for mentally impaired clients at risk of eviction.
Erica Clark of Kirkland Ellis who volunteered with the Office of Justice Initiatives’ New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program. She focused on child support and visitation.
Hassan Ahmed, a senior staff attorney at Dechert, who volunteered with the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program. He worked on child custody, support and other family law issues.
Lili Wang, a law student and volunteer with the Office of Justice Initiatives’ Uncontested Divorce Program, worked as an interpreter of Mandarin Chinese.