The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has a long and proud tradition of advocating for equal access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil matters through a combination of government-funded legal services programs and voluntary pro bono service by private practitioners. The Department also provides assistance and educational training programs for attorneys employed by legal services organizations and oversees a number of attorney recognition programs that promote, recognize, and honor pro bono service by individual attorneys and law firms. The Department works with many of the Association’s sections and committees to encourage their voluntary participation in pro bono projects.
- NYSBA does not generally provide direct legal services to the public.
- NYSBA is currently recruiting attorneys for pro bono work to help Veterans in the Restoration of Honor Project.
- If you need a pro bono attorney, please visit lawhelpny.org for a civil legal service organization that may be able to assist you.
- Looking to volunteer? Click here to find a pro bono opportunity that is tailored to your specific requirements.
- Click here for the Unified Court System’s website that provides info on the pro bono requirement for admission to the bar as well as the mandatory biennial reporting requirements.
- Visit Free Legal Answers website to register as an attorney volunteer. It is A Virtual Legal Advice Clinic where attorneys can answer questions from the public on civil legal issues on a limited scope basis.
- The Pro Bono Appeals Program provides pro bono representation for selected civil appeals to the Appellate Division, Third and Fourth Judicial Departments. Visit the Pro Bono Appeals program page for more information.
- New York Public Interest Research Group’s (“NYPIRG’s”) Small Claims Court Action Centers provide assistance on small claims court and consumer matters. Please visit https://www.nypirg.org/sccac/ or call (800) 566-5020 and leave a message if you need assistance.
- We invite you to submit articles showcasing excellence in pro bono service for upcoming editions of the Pro Bono Newsletter. Articles can be sent to [email protected]
Thank you to the following Law Firms and Attorneys for their dedication to the ny.freelegalanswers.org website.
They have been named ABA Free Legal Answers 2022 Pro Bono Leaders:
- Blank Rome
- Chapman and Cutler LLP
- Hunton Andrew Kurth
- Kevin Driscoll
- Michael Del Piano
- Daniel Goubaud
- Jeffrey Hoffman
- Arthur Katz
- Linchi Liang
- Jon Probstein
- Adam Proujansky
- Del Seligman
- John Suda
Thank you to the following legal service organizations!
Workers’ Compensation Board’s Injured Workers Legal Assistance Pro Bono Project
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s Injured Workers Legal Assistance Project (“IWLAP”) helps injured workers obtain medical treatment through the assistance of pro bono attorneys.
The New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”), its Torts, Insurance, and Compensation Law Section, and its Workers’ Compensation Law Division have partnered with the Workers’ Compensation Board to connect volunteer attorneys with injured workers seeking representation in medical-only claims.
In these medical-only claims, the insurance carrier or self-insured employer who pays the medical benefits has accepted liability, but is disputing the medical treatment sought by the injured worker. These cases typically pose a challenge for injured workers seeking legal representation as no attorney fees are awarded when there are no lost wages.
Are you an Injured Worker Seeking Representation in Medical-Only Claims?
Please complete the following form if you are currently not represented by an attorney (or licensed representative) and you received a notice telling you that a request for authorization for a medical procedure or medical treatment was denied, and you would like to request legal assistance in navigating the next steps: https://nysbawcb.cliogrow.com/intake/3f1c2d3abbb72c984177e16f941ea146
The New York State Bar Association does not guarantee it will find an attorney who will accept your case and does not guarantee the outcome or results of that representation.
Are you an Attorney Interested in Volunteering?
Sign up here to help injured workers obtain medical treatment: https://nysba.joinpaladin.com/nysba/opportunities/help-injured-workers-obtain-medical-treatment/
This opportunity is for attorneys who are licensed to practice law in New York State. Malpractice insurance coverage is provided for volunteers.
Lawyers who are interested in volunteering will be required to participate in a free training webinar worth 2.0 MCLE credits. The training is presented by Alex C. Dell, Esq., founding attorney of The Law Firm of Alex Dell, PLLC. Volunteers must complete the training webinar to be eligible to receive cases from NYSBA. You can access the training webinar at:
The training webinar is free for both members and non-members but you must log in to the NYSBA website to access the webinar and earn MCLE credits. Please contact the NYSBA Member Resource Center at [email protected] or 800-582-2452 should you need assistance in accessing the training webinar.
NYS Workers’ Compensation Pro Bono Training Program
This program is presented by Alex C. Dell, Esq., Founding Attorney of The Law Firm of Alex Dell, PLLC.
President’s Pro Bono Service Awards
Each year the Association proudly bestows the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards. These awards recognize outstanding pro bono contributions made by individual attorneys, law students, law firms, corporate counsel and/or government offices.
Congratulations to the 2023 President’s Pro Bono Service Award Winners.
Andrew’s primary practice is advising clients with respect to novel and complex insolvency issues, with a particular focus on cross-border and governmental restructurings. He has represented debtors, ad hoc groups, official committees, and individual investors in large chapter 11 and chapter 15 filings. He is currently a member of the International Insolvency Institute’s NextGen Leadership Program.
Andrew also has an active pro bono practice, including advising numerous tenants in the chapter 11 bankruptcies of their landlords, and has represented ICE detainees in connection with asylum proceedings.
Andrew graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School, where he served as Articles Editor on the Brooklyn Law Review.
Annette worked as a principal appellate court attorney at the Appellate Term, Second Department, retiring in 2021. Before that, she worked as a staff attorney for eight years at The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County.
Annette is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law, where she was a proud (and admits at times, a frazzled) working parent in the evening division.
Law became her second career; broadcast journalism is where Annette started. She was a writer and editor at CBS Radio News in New York.
Today, in addition to volunteering, Annette spends as much time as possible with her granddaughter and two daughters and sons-in-law.
Jon is a corporate attorney based in Albany, New York. His practice focuses primarily on commercial transactions, with additional focus in the areas of real estate, data security and data privacy.
Jon represents clients in a diverse range of industries, including financial services, real estate, construction, technology, renewable energy, and sports. He has particular interest in assisting clients in transaction structuring and assessment of appropriate risk-mitigation strategies.
Jon is a committed advocate to the less fortunate, providing regular pro bono legal advice to Capital Region clients under the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York‘s (LASNNY) Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) program.
Before earning his bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from Cornell University and Albany Law School, respectively.
Martin S. Finn, an attorney and certified public accountant, is a founding partner of the law firm of Lavelle & Finn, LLP. Mr. Finn advises clients on estate, financial, tax, business and elder law issues including personal and corporate tax planning, business counseling, structuring of business transactions, estate administration and estate and business succession planning.
Martin earned a B.B.A. from Siena College, a J.D. from Albany Law School, and an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University.
Martin is the recipient of the AICPA’s Sidney Kess Award for Excellence in Continuing Education, the Fr. Benjamin Kuhn Award for his contribution to Siena College, the Schenectady County Bar Association’s Lawyer in Service to the Community Award and Professional Education System, Inc.’s Excellence in Education Award.
Jennifer worked as a staff attorney for the NYS Mental Hygiene Legal Service in Syracuse.
She retired after almost 30 years as an assistant regional attorney at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, also in Syracuse.
She graduated from Jamestown Community College, Cornell University, and University at Buffalo School of Law. Jennifer served as an officer in the US Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps, stationed at Naval Submarine Base Groton, Connecticut.
She and her husband, Judson, live in Fabius, NY and have two daughters, Sofia and Carly.
Katherine A. Fitzgerald (Kate) is a member of the law firm of Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP, In Binghamton, NY, practicing Matrimonial and Environmental Law.
Kate graduated from Cornell Law School and the University of Toronto. Kate currently serves as a member of the Binghamton University B.U.S. Bucks Advisory Board and the E.L. Rose Land Conservancy Board.
Kate previously served as a member of the boards of trustees of WSKG Inc. (Past Chair) (PBS affiliate), the Broome County Bar Association, and the Broome Community College Foundation.
Kate is a member of the Broome County Chamber of Commerce and its Live Wire Club.
Carolyn is a partner in Nixon Peabody LLP’s Complex Commercial Disputes group in Rochester, NY.
She is a litigator in several specialized areas with more than 30 years of experience in the courtroom and before arbitration panels. Carolyn defends companies and their officers and directors in governance and transactional disputes and class actions alleging consumer claims.
Carolyn has been appointed by the Chief Judge to serve on the statewide Commercial Division Advisory Council to advise the judiciary of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and was appointed to the Pandemic Practice Working Group of the Commission to Reimagine the Future of NY Courts.
She is a past president of the Monroe County Bar Association and a former Trustee of the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar.
She is actively involved in the legal profession as a member of the New York Law Journal’s Board of Editors; the New York State Bar Foundation (Fellow); the New York State Bar Association (elected delegate).
Ivan has represented individuals and corporations in a wide range of complex litigation matters in federal and state courts and before the American Arbitration Association. His experience includes conducting trials in both federal and state courts and before arbitration panels.
Ivan’s recent areas of concentration have included securities fraud litigations, contract claims, business torts, and insurance coverage disputes, as well as the defense of recovery actions brought by trustees in bankruptcy court adversary proceedings.
He has also extensively counseled individuals and corporations with respect to employment and contractual matters. Ivan served as Town Attorney of the Town of North Hempstead, New York, and his practice since such time has also included the representation of clients in municipal law matters.
Ivan graduated from Hamilton College and from Columbia Law School, where he was an editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Jeannie is the principal of the Law Offices of Jeannie M. Henry, in Ronkonkoma, New York. Education Law, Matrimonial Law and Family Law have been primary areas of her practice since 2017.
Since the inception of opening her practice, Jeannie has dedicated her time and resources as a member of the Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Pro Bono Project, providing pro bono services to individuals in need of counsel in Family and Matrimonial matters. She was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Month by the Nassau/Suffolk Pro Bono Project in January 2019, and she has been nominated for the New York State Bar Association 2023 President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the hundreds of hours she has dedicated to pro bono clients.
Ms. Henry received her Juris Doctor degree at Touro Law School, where she earned awards for Exceptional Contributions to the Growth of the Law Center, the Elizabeth Gonzalez Book Award, and for academic excellence as the recipient of CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in the areas of Trial Practice, Litigation, Family Law Practice, and Law Practice Management.
Stephen has established a diverse practice with an emphasis on Family Law. The majority of his work is in the New York City Metropolitan area.
He holds a B.A. from Hofstra, an MA from Adelphi and Jurist Doctor degree from St John’s University.
Stephen has been admitted to the Bar of the State of New York for 45 years.
He and his wife Yvette (a Social Worker) and have three children and four grandchildren
Kristen left a successful career in finance to be a stay-at-home mom to her two young sons.
After many years of volunteering in her Westchester community and with the support of her husband and children, Kristen followed her long-held dream of becoming an attorney and entered Touro Law School in 2017.
Following her 1L year, Kristen interned at the Pace Women’s Justice Center in White Plains, NY – an experience which shaped her legal career. Having graduated in 2020, Kristen now regularly volunteers with PWJC’s Walk-In Clinic helping victims and survivors of interpersonal abuse navigate the legal system, stay safe, and obtain much needed legal services relating to family and matrimonial law. In the future she hopes to represent the youngest members of her community as an Attorney for the Child.
Eileen was admitted to practice in the 4th Department in 1977 after graduating from the University of Buffalo Law School in 1976.
She worked as an associate/junior partner at what was then Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Schuller, & James for 7 years. After this and for thirty-five years she worked as a staff attorney at the not-for-profit, Neighborhood Legal Services, practicing family law.
Eileen has been involved in the gay rights movement for fifty years. She is grateful for and never takes for granted the legal changes which allowed her to co-adopt her partner’s children, born during the relationship, and to marry her partner to secure legal and financial protections.
Eileen volunteers weekly on the Center for Elder Law and Justice Senior Legal Advice Helpline and babysits her granddaughter.
Felicia Gaon, Ed. D., is a law student enrolled in the Flextime program at Touro University’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.
Her primary focus is on advocating for the accessibility of free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities. She has garnered valuable experience through her roles as a clinical intern and advanced clinical intern in Touro’s Education & Youth Justice Clinic, as well as an intern and Pro Bono Scholar in the Special Education Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).
Felicia’s professional experience is complemented by her previous employment as a Director of Student Services, a position that she continued to hold during her first two years of law school. Prior to pursuing legal studies, Felicia worked in Special Education Administration and School Counseling, where she focused on programs for at-risk youth and specialized in special education.
Felicia’s passion for civil rights issues led her to complete an externship in the Civil Rights Division at the Anti-Defamation League.
Art Siegel has practiced law in the state and federal courts for the past 35 years and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Before retiring from private practice, Art served for three years as General Counsel to Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC. Over the course of his career, Art has been privileged to work with The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (“LASNNY”) as a board member, President, Co-chair of the Justice for All Campaign and Pro Bono attorney on a variety of Legal Aid matters. Art now volunteers as LASNNY’s General Counsel.
Art was also actively involved for many years as President of the New York State CASA Association, an organization of volunteers advocating for abused and neglected children within the Family Court system.
Founded in a spirit of inclusiveness, personal and professional responsibility, and compassion for the needs of others, Cleary Gottlieb is fully committed to the duties of good global citizenship.
In 2022, Cleary was proud to spend 82,000 hours serving more than 600 pro bono and public service clients globally.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP focuses on advancing racial justice, economic equity, and human rights through all of our pro bono work, including by supporting New York City’s small businesses and nonprofits in transactional matters, partnering with leading international organizations and NGOs to fight for transparency and justice, helping refugees to pursue humanitarian immigration relief, and advocating for and upholding the rights of those in our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Buffalo New York is a long way from Kabul, Afghanistan. But when the Taliban took over the city in August of 2021, it set in motion events that brought dozens of Afghan families to Western New York, all in need of asylum. The Erie County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer’s Project (“VLP”) took on the task of finding attorneys to assist, and Hodgson Russ was happy to help. After a thorough training session from VLP, 37 Hodgson attorneys, and three paralegals, worked more than 1,100 pro bono service hours over a period of just five months. At each step along the way, they went above and beyond to provide culturally competent, responsive, efficient, and effective representation to clients. They have not only prepared and filed clients’ asylum applications but have appeared at their interviews and helped on a range of complicated tax, benefits, and logistical issues, from helping Afghans procure driver’s licenses to even arranging the logistics of wedding! The impact they have had on their clients’ lives is immeasurable.
The firm is honored to have been able to assist these most worthy recipients. All of the Hodgson professionals involved learned a great deal and were reminded that service is an integral part of being a lawyer.
At Serotte Law, our exclusive focus is on immigration matters, both in the United States and Canada, and we have established a reliable network of partners located in various countries worldwide. Our team consists of nine attorneys and 22 support staff who represent a diverse range of clients, including large multi-million-dollar corporations and small startups seeking their initial funding.
Moreover, we are the designated immigration partner for Unshackled Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in startups founded by immigrants. As the only immigration counsel named Stanford StartX, we offer immigration solutions to many of their portfolio companies. In addition, we assist clients in creating company-wide immigration policies, developing job descriptions tailored to immigration requirements, and managing budgets.
Our experienced team has served more than 20,000 clients with a success rate exceeding 99%, providing innovative and effective immigration solutions.
An Ohio native, Dorian’s family moved to Hempstead, New York, when he was a child. After high school his Higher Education aspirations brought him to Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA; receiving his B.A. in Business Administration.
Dorian achieved his life-long dream of becoming a lawyer when he received his Juris Doctorate from Touro College’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Touro College (Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center) and is the school’s first President of the Nassau County Bar in its long-standing history.
Dorian established The Law Offices of Dorian R. Glover in 1998, specializing in real estate, family/divorce, criminal, wills, trusts & estates, and personal injury law.
He is an elected member of the Nassau County Bar Association and a believer in community service. Dorian has found a way to give back to the community.
He has served as a mentor at the Jackson Main Elementary School, Malverne High School, and now serves as mentor and coordinator at Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead. He has also served as the legal adviser for Valley Stream and Roosevelt High Schools, and as a judge in the New York State Mock Trial Competition.
Albany Law students formed OUTLaw to serve the needs of our school’s LGBTQIA+ community, and have since committed ourselves to advancing the cause of LGBTQIA+ rights in the local Albany area and beyond. A large part of OUTLaw’s mission is to educate the Albany Law community on issues relating to the queer community, as well as to provide a safe atmosphere for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals, as well as for their allies. To serve those endeavors we aim to be a visible and established presence on campus by hosting a variety of social and educational events like our educational event for National Coming Out Day, our annual luncheon with established queer legal professionals, and our bi-annual professional headshot event. OUTLaw also participates in local volunteer opportunities such as this past semester when we joined the DEI department to clean up our local Pride Center’s outdoor area for the warming weather. However, our best-loved service event is our collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York where we assist with their name change clinic for transgender individuals. Members of OUTLaw work together with lawyers from LASNNY to provide assistance with the necessary paperwork and make a complicated process more accessible to the transgender individuals who need it. OUTLaw is proud to share our “pride” beyond the confines of group meetings, to the greater network of Albany Law, the legal field, queer, and allied communities alike.
Please Note: the 2020 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards were not held due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- 2019 President’s Pro Bono Service Award Winner
- 2018 President’s Pro Bono Service Award Winners
- 2017 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards Program
- 2016 President’s Pro Bono Service Awards
- List of honorees 1990-2015
- 1990-2014 Honoree Posters
SAVE THE DATE
September 25 – 26, 2024
2024 PARTNERSHIP CONFERENCE
Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Years of Partnership Past, Present and Future
The Partnership Conference is the premier civil legal services educational and networking conference attended by leaders of civil legal service organizations and private law firms from across New York State.
Individuals and groups from all corners of the state travel to Albany, NY every other year to attend the conference, earn continuing legal education credits, and attend the Denison Ray Civil Awards dinner to honor attorneys’, directors’, and nonprofits’ extraordinary leadership and commitment to access to justice.
The theme for the 2024 Partnership Conference is Pearls of Wisdom: 30 Years of Partnership Past, Present and Future will be held from September 25th through September 26th at the Capital Center in downtown Albany.
The conference will provide over 20 workshops, covering a diverse range of subjects, including program innovation and management, technology, and substantive legal topics (immigration and Temporary Protected Status, domestic violence, consumer bankruptcy and student loan debt, and housing, among others).
Civil Legal Services Virtual Career Fair
October 25, 2023 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
We invite you to participate in this virtual event to learn more about a future career in civil legal services and to see how you can make a difference in people’s lives by helping to reduce the access to justice gap.
The Civil Legal Services Virtual Career Fair is sponsored by The Legal Services Coalition and the New York State Bar Association Committee on Legal Aid.
Here are some of the civil legal service organizations that will have a virtual booth at the fair.
- Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (Please see open positions here.)
- New York City Anti-Violence Project (Please see open positions here.)
- Advocates for Children of New York, Inc.
- Hiscock Legal Aid Society
- Journey’s End Refugee Services
- Neighbors Link
- Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
- The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, Inc.
- NYS Attorney Emeritus Program
- ECBA Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc.
- Legal Services NYC
- Legal Aid of Buffalo
- Nassau Suffolk Law Services
- Empire Justice Center
- Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.
To learn more about the various civil legal service organizations participating in this virtual career fair see the video below.
Advancing Justice- The Legal Aid Society
Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project
2021 Special Legal Services Awards Ceremony
A 2021 Special Legal Services Awards Ceremony featuring the Denison Ray Civil Award and the Phil Dailey Award was held during Pro Bono Month on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
From President’s Committee on Access to Justice Co-Chair Edwina Frances Martin, Esq.:
2021 Special Legal Services Awards Ceremony featuring the Denison Ray and Phil Dailey Award Winners
Winner of the Denison Ray Civil Legal Services Attorney Award
Laura Diane Rolnick, Esq.
Laurie Rolnick is the Program Director for the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Central New York’s Eviction Defense Program. Laurie earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University’s NY State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she was an officer of the speech and debate team and active with Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-educational service fraternity. She then graduated with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, where she was an active member of the Moot Court and President of the Trial Law Academy. Laurie worked for Jackson Lewis’ Atlanta, Georgia office, representing employers in labor law and employment litigation matters, before taking an in-house position with Medical Doctor Associates. Laurie spent several years as a disability advocate with Attorney Michael P Daly in Manlius, NY, focusing primarily on Workers Compensation and Social Security matters. She started with VLP in 2016 as a volunteer interim director of the Reentry Program and joined the staff in 2017. Laurie has held several positions within VLP, including work with the Reentry and Homeless Advocacy and Prevention Programs. She has been full time with VLP’s Eviction Defense Program since January 2018, and her goal is to promote safe and stable housing in the community. Laurie enjoys a wide variety of volunteer and recreational activities. Most recently, she has been an Academy member for the Syracuse Area Live Theater Awards.
Laurie is so thankful to Sally and Deb for the opportunity to be with the eviction defense program, and wants to especially thank Bethanie, Luz Marina, Tre’Coy, and the entire VLP family for their hard work and support. Special thanks to Alan, Rebecca, Jacob, Sky, and my mom and Dad. None of this work would be possible without you!
Eviction Defense and Tenant Rights Program Description:
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Central New York Eviction Defense Program assists tenants facing the loss of their home through eviction. Every year we represent 800-1200 tenants at court. This can only be done with the help of a wonderful and talented group of volunteer attorneys, and our amazing Housing Team members Luz Marina Zender and Tre’Coy Boyd. The program was started by the wonderful Deborah O’Shea when VLP was with the Onondaga County Bar Association. She recruited local law firms to provide volunteer attorneys at court for these important, yet summary proceedings.
Our goal is always to promote safe and stable housing in the City of Syracuse and surrounding areas. We see community education and outreach as some of the most important work we do. We work to address underlying systemic factors that have led to injustice in our community housing situation. When Covid-19 closed the courts, we wanted to continue to provide assistance to those most in need, as well as continue to engage volunteers. We started a daily virtual Tenant Rights Clinic, which has helped provide much needed advice and counsel to hundreds of tenants during these turbulent times.
Winner of the Denison Ray Legal Services Director Award:
Cindy Kanusher, Esq.
Executive Director, Pace Women’s Justice Center
Cindy Kanusher, Executive Director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center (PWJC), has focused her career on domestic violence and legal services for the underrepresented. Twenty-three years ago, she joined PWJC, a legal services provider for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse, serving Westchester and Putnam Counties.
During her tenure, PWJC has grown into a highly respected, multi-faceted legal services and training center serving over 3500 victims and survivors of interpersonal violence annually. After becoming Executive Director in 2015, she identified a need for a flexible legal service model for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse. In response, she developed a walk-in clinic concept to provide free, bilingual legal services in a safe and accessible location; the new clinic and office space was inaugurated in June 2018. Since its opening, the clinic has been serving 70-80 victims of abuse monthly, increasing services by 20%.
Prior to becoming Executive Director, Cindy was responsible for oversight of PWJC’s Legal Helpline, Moderate Means Panel of lawyers, Elder Justice Unit, and PWJC’s rural sexual assault and domestic violence training programs, through which she has trained lawyers, judges, advocates, and law enforcement agents.
Before PWJC, she worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the N.Y. County District Attorney’s office for 10 years, specializing in the prosecution of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence cases. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and received her Law Degree from Brooklyn Law School.
Cindy has strong relationships with partner agencies and community members at large, serving on various boards and councils. She was appointed to serve on Westchester County’s Women’s Advisory Board in 2018, is on the Board of the Westchester
Women’s Agenda, and serves on the Westchester County Domestic Violence Council, Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force, and Westchester County Families Task Force.
Winner of the Nonprofit Organization
Pace Women’s Justice Center
The Pace Women’s Justice Center (PWJC) is a civil legal services center within the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. Founded in 1991, we were the first academic legal center in the country devoted to training attorneys and others on domestic violence (DV) issues and have since grown to be the largest civil legal services provider dedicated to serving victims and survivors of DV, sexual assault, and elder abuse in Westchester and Putnam counties.
PWJC’s mission is to pursue justice for victims, and prevent abuse through quality legal services, community partnerships, education, and awareness. PWJC provides direct legal representation for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse, training, community education and outreach, service coordination, and referrals. With a staff of 29 and the contribution of pro bono attorneys, paralegals, and law students, PWJC provides legal services to almost 3,000 victims and survivors, and conducts over 140 training, community education and outreach events each year. PWJC serves clients in both Westchester and Putnam Counties, with a small percentage of clients coming from other parts of the NY metro area. 70% of clients served live in Westchester County.
PWJC has a long history of innovation in the provision of legal services to victims. Here are some of our key milestones:
- In 1998, we created a courthouse-based service for DV victims to receive same-day, walk-in services at two family courthouses (Family Court Legal Program), which focuses on obtaining emergency orders of protections and other legal safeguards. The program utilizes pro bono attorneys and staff attorneys and serves nearly 1000 clients annually. Clients who need ongoing representation after emergency protections are in place are referred to our Family Law Unit.
- PWJC has developed a dedicated group of volunteers in our Pro Bono Program, who enable us to serve many more clients than we could with paid staff alone. Our pro bono attorneys, law students, paralegals and court volunteers assist in our Family Court Legal Program, work in the Walk-In Legal Clinic, operate our Legal Helpline, and accompany clients to court (when safety protocols allow). The pro bono attorneys work exclusively in-house, where they are trained and supervised by PWJC’s staff attorneys. The Pro Bono Program has expanded significantly in the past 3 years with the addition of the Walk-In Legal Clinic in 2018. We now have 65 active volunteers who provide an estimated value of more than $2 million in work hours annually.
- In 2005, we were one of the first legal service providers in our area to recognize the issue of elder abuse, and to provide services to elderly victims. PWJC conducts training to professionals on this issue (police officers, healthcare providers, nurses, aides, and social workers) and conducts outreach to seniors to help them recognize abuse and educate them on how to seek help. We serve approximately 160 seniors in our Elder Justice Unit annually.
- PWJC’s Family Law Unit, originally founded in 2005 by the federal Office on Violence Against Women (part of the US Department of Justice) was innovative in its formal collaboration with community partners, recognizing that victims require a holistic community response. The Family Law Unit provides the full spectrum of legal service and representation to Community partners complement our legal services and provide victims with shelter, counseling, health care, benefits, and immigration assistance. The Family Law Unit serves over 400 clients each year.
- In 2018, we moved our offices, opened a new Walk-In Legal Clinic, and experienced a significant increase in funding, staff and client volume, much of this driven by the success of the A high-volume program that provides limited scope legal services, the Clinic provides a safe, private, welcoming space for victims of abuse to speak to an attorney, with or without an appointment.
The most significant change for PWJC in 2021 has been continuing to accommodate to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center has remained fully operational during the Covid-19 Health Crisis, with all of our attorneys and staff working remotely from home as of mid-March 2020. We made the following accommodations to continue serving our clients without interruption during this challenging time:
- Phones: Our general office phone number remains fully staffed during normal business So that critical legal services can be delivered to clients immediately, and when they are needed, we created a new phone number for our court-based Family Court Legal Program for clients seeking help with ex-parte orders of protection. Our Legal Helpline remains fully staffed during normal business hours, and partially staffed after hours and on weekends.
- Video Chat: We have implemented 2 new web-based video platforms – Gruveo, which enables us to meet with and represent our clients remotely, and Microsoft Teams, which enables us to represent clients during remote court appearances. We upgraded our Zoom platform for more confidentiality. We have also secured software, Eversign, to enable clients to sign legal documents remotely.
- Walk-In-Clinic: Our staff and volunteers continue to meet both by appointment and on a “walk-in” basis with clients remotely. Our partner organizations also continued to keep remote “office hours” at the Walk-in-Clinic, to be available for any clients who need safety planning, counseling, and referrals for other social
- Community education and training: We are delivering our community education and training programs via audio and webinar
- Community outreach: Our dedicated staff is actively communicating with our community partners, supporters, clients, media, and the public to update them on our services and how we can continue to be a resource during this difficult
More recently, now that the courts have slowly begun to re-open, our Family Court Legal Program staff are once again serving clients on-site at the Yonkers and White Plains Family Court houses. In addition, when possible, our Training Outreach, and Education Director is engaging in in-person legal trainings, such as for police officers, and also in outreach opportunities such as National Night Out and community fairs.
We will continue to use the remote, web-based platforms to connect with clients who cannot reach us for reasons other than social distancing into the future, such as lack of transportation, or physical impairment or disability.
Winner of the Phil Dailey Award
Kelly Perine, Paralegal
Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.
Kelly Perine is a paralegal/advocate with Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. who works in LawNY’s Bath office in the domestic violence unit. Prior to joining LawNY in 2004 as an AmeriCorps paralegal, Kelly worked at Arbor Housing and Development’s Domestic Violence Program and Shelter. Kelly is a domestic violence survivor and brings that experience to her work. She also continues to work on a per-diem basis at the shelter and was a volunteer for the Sexual Assault Resource Center for 15 years.
When she became a LawNY staff paralegal in 2006, Kelly began working closely with Attorney David Pels on both domestic violence and public benefit cases. They worked together as a team to make a difference in the lives of clients who are often in desperate situations. Their model of trauma-informed representation of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault is still used by the domestic violence team. Kelly is often the first contact when a client is referred to LawNY, and from there she continues to build the relationship through on-going safety planning, court accompaniment and regular check-ins just to see how the client is doing. Kelly also participates in case strategy sessions and client meetings, drafts pleadings and correspondence, and provides whatever other support is needed by the attorneys and clients.
Kelly also works on public benefits issues, negotiating with the Department of Social Services to help clients obtain public assistance and other critical public benefits. When cases do not resolve through negotiation, she represents clients in administrative fair hearings. She has earned the respect of several hearing officers who have made direct referrals of clients to her for representation. Kelly has focused particular attention on assisting clients who face barriers to employment due to an indicated report from Child Protective Services.
In addition to her direct work with clients, Kelly coordinates and facilitates the Steuben County Domestic Abuse Review Team. DART is a multi-disciplinary team focused on victim safety, offender accountability and community education on best practices for responding to domestic violence and sexual assault. In this role, she has helped promote best practices, such as use of the Danger Assessment tool in identifying high-risk domestic violence cases. Within LawNY, she facilitates a workgroup for attorneys and paralegals working on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as other victims of crime. More recently, Kelly took over facilitation of the agency Public Benefits workgroup. She has also been instrumental in assisting with grant applications and reporting for federal, state and local grants that help support LawNY’s work on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Kelly was born and raised in Steuben County and spent most of her life in the area. She raised four children and is married to Paul Perine. When Kelly is not at work, she spends her time with her family including their 12 grandchildren. Kelly and Paul are involved in many local organizations and volunteer their time. Also, they share a love of history and spend time re-enacting both the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War time periods, along with doing school programs about the Revolutionary War.
Past Award Winners
Civil Legal Services Staff Attorney Award Winners
2018 Mary Beth Conway, Esq. and Jennifer Metzger Kimura, Esq.
2016 Josh Cotter, Esq. and David Kagle, Esq.
2014 Susan C. Antos, Esq. and Lori M. O’Brien, Esq.
2012 Michael Hanley, Esq. and Ian F. Feldman, Esq.
2010 Pamela J. Bayer, Esq. and Jeff Hogue, Esq.
2008 Jason D. Hoge, Esq. and James T. Murphy, Esq.
2006 David E. Ralph, Esq.
2004 Sarah Betsy Fuller, Esq. and Judith Studebaker, Esq.
2001 Carole Boccumini, Esq. and Joshua Zinner, Esq.
2000 Marc Cohan, Esq. and Peter O’Brien Dellinger, Esq.
1998 Michael Hampden, Esq. and Mary M. Withington, Esq.
1997 Leslie D’Cora Holmes, Esq. and Barry Strom, Esq.
1995 Margaret H. McDowell, Esq., Douglas Roy Ruff, Esq. and Wendy H. Wahlberg, Esq.
1994 Sheryl Randy Karp, Esq., Jerrold M. Levy, Esq., and William F. Mastroleo, Esq.
Legal Services Program Director Award Winners
2018 Barbara Finkelstein, Esq.
2016 Karen Nicolson, Esq.
2014 Alan S. Harris, Esq.
2012 Michael Rothenberg*, Esq.
2010 Steven B. Telzak*, Esq.
2008 Lillian M. Moy, Esq.
Pro Bono Program Director Award Winners
2012 Richard S. Hobish, Esq.
2006 Lisa A. Frisch, Esq.
Nonprofit Organization Award Winners
2016 Community Service Society of New York Next Door Project
2014 Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
2012 New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
2010 Legal Health, a Division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
2008 The Worker’s Rights Law Center of New York, Inc.
2006 Western New York Law Center of Buffalo and its Executive Director, Joseph Kelemen, Esq.
2004 inMotion Inc.
2001 Greater Upstate Law Project (GULP), Inc.
Phil Dailey Award Winners
2018 Deborah O’Shea, Pro Bono Coordinator Onondaga County Bar Association
2016 Phil Dailey*
Empire State Counsel
The Empire State Counsel® Program recognizes NYSBA members who, during the prior year, performed 50 hours or more of pro bono legal services either through direct legal representation of a low-income/vulnerable individual, donating free legal services to an organization whose services are designed primarily to address the legal and other basic needs of persons of limited financial means, or providing free legal services to an organization dedicated to increasing the availability of legal services to vulnerable and/or low-income populations.
All Empire State Counsel® honorees receive a certificate suitable for framing and may use this honorific designation as a credential on their resume.
2022 Denison Ray and Phil Dailey Awards Winners Biographies
Denison Ray Civil Awards Civil Legal Services Staff Attorney
Catherine Callery, Esq., Senior Attorney & DAP Statewide Coordinator
Catherine M. (Kate) Callery was a Disability Advocacy Project (DAP) State Support attorneys at the Empire Justice Center in Rochester, New York, focusing on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability issues until her retirement in June 2022. She is a graduate of Smith College and the University of Connecticut Law School. Kate joined the Empire Justice Center in 1984 as a staff attorney in the newly formed DAP program with what was then Monroe County Legal Assistance Corporation. She continued in that role at PILOR (the Public Interest Law Office of Rochester) and then accepted the position of DAP Statewide Coordinator at GULP (Greater Upstate Law Project) in 2001 before GULP and PILOR merged to become the Empire Justice Center. She previously worked at Legal Aid in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Monroe County Public Defender’s office. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut (retired) and New York, as well the United States District Court for the Western District of New York and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Kate has presented trainings at the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), the New York State Bar Association, the Monroe County Bar Association and many DAP conferences and Task Force meetings. She has represented numerous clients before the Social Security Administration and in federal court, including representation of plaintiffs in the Schisler cases, one of the most well-known series of Social Security decisions in the Second Circuit.
Mallory Livingston, Esq. Director of LGBT* Rights Program, Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc.
Mallory was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in Syracuse, NY as the second oldest child in a large family. I graduated from HS in 1978 and from SUNY Cornell in 1983 with a B.S in Agricultural Economics. I graduated from Syracuse University College of Law in 1987 and have been practicing law in NYS for 33 years.
Over the years I have worked for Patton Boggs in their Greensboro, NC Office, the City of Syracuse as an Asst. Corp. Counsel, Coulter, Fraser, Bolton, Bird and Ventre as a litigator here in Syracuse, and Sassani & Schenck in Liverpool, N.Y. as a litigator.
I have been an activist for trans civil rights since 1989. I first “came-out” as trans in 1993 and shortly thereafter I was fired. I abandoned my effort to transition until 2012 when I tried again and was again fired. I completed transition in November of 2013.
In 1989 I was the Treasurer and Outreach Director for Eon, one of the largest TG support groups in upstate NY. In that capacity I helped to form the New York State Gender Coalition, the first statewide TG support coalition. During those times I worked with some of the earliest pioneers for civil rights such as Joann Roberts, founder of Renaissance. Yvonne Cook of the International Federation for Gender Education and Virginia Prince.
In 2010, my husband and I formed the Transgender Alliance, a federation of upstate and western NY transgender support groups. We successfully initiated legislative efforts to pass a TG nondiscrimination ordinance in the City of Syracuse in the fall of 2012.
I also served for 4 years on the Syracuse Citizen’s Review Board which provides citizen oversight of the Syracuse Police Department.
I started my own firm representing only trans and non-binary persons beginning in 2012. During this time I frequently was invited to speak to various organizations about trans related legal issues by the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. This lead to my being hired to serve as the Director of their LGBT Law Program which began in May of 2019.
I have two children, both in theatre, one in school and one recently graduated from Syracuse University. My husband and I live with our two dogs, Mazie and Gerty in the city of Syracuse.
Program: The LGBT Rights Program of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of CNY, Inc. began in 2019 with the modest goal of providing direct representation for LGBTQNB+ persons in a 13-county area in Central New York. Initial projections were for 45 name changes a year and 10-15 discrimination cases. In its first three years, the program has completed 408 trans and non-binary name changes, 50 discrimination cases and has done work in 42 counties north of the Bronx.
In addition to direct representation, the program supports local organizations to assist them in providing for the needs of the LGBTQNB community by staging presentations on relevant areas of the law. Thus far, the program has reached over 2,600 members of the community, our allies and our care providers.
Our program is supported by Cornell University Law School where each semester 4-8 students are selected to provide legal services and assistance through the LGBT Law Clinic practicum. The students have regularly volunteered their time on weekends on their vacations to help us amplify the program to assist as many persons as possible.
The program has also participated in creating and supporting new legislation of vital importance to the community including the Gender Recognition Act and the Fair Share Insurance Law. The program originated the idea of making eligibility for bidding on state contracts conditioned on would be contractors having health insurance policies which provide the gender affirming care required by NYS Law.
Legal Service Director
Jill Bradshaw-Soto, Chief Program Officer, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
Jill Bradshaw-Soto joined Legal Services of the Hudson Valley in 1998 as a housing attorney in the White Plains office. In the first few years, Jill practiced in the areas of housing, family and disability law and was subsequently named Managing Attorney of the Yonkers office. A few years later, Jill was promoted to Attorney-in-Charge of the Mt. Vernon office which had recently opened. In this role, Jill prioritized community legal education and engagement and during her tenure managed to triple the size of the office prior to assuming her current position as Chief Program Officer. As Chief Program Officer, Jill oversees the programs and supervisors of 9 local offices and has focused her efforts on staff training and merging the areas of program and grants to ensure high quality, accessible and sustainable legal assistance.
Prior to joining LSHV, Jill’s experienced included a position as a Special Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York’s Administration for Children’s Services and as a Legal Advocate in the Osborne Association’s Alternative to Incarceration Program in the Bronx. Jill also studied abroad at the International Court of Justice in Holland as a Ford Foundation Fellowship Scholar where she focused on international human rights law.
Jill earned her BS degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC and her paralegal certification from Mercy College prior to entering law school at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, where she was a member of the Criminal Law Clinic which is currently known as the “Innocence Project”.
In addition to her legal work, Jill is active in her community by having served on her Village’s Taxi Commission and currently on the Ethics Committee. She is also passionate about giving back and has participated in various mentoring programs that focus on mentorship for young woman of color. One of Jill’s favorite quotes is “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime” Throughout her legal career Jill has prioritized community legal education and empowerment believing that providing legal knowledge enables underserved communities to be heard, to protect themselves and demand justice.
For the last 24 years Jill has been married to her husband, Hector Soto, and they have four children and three grandchildren.
Pro Bono Program Director
Jacqueline Adorno, Managing Attorney, Mobilization for Justice, Inc.
Jacqueline Adorno is Supervising Attorney of MFJ’s Kinship Caregiver Law Project, which works to prevent children from entering the traditional foster care system by helping relatives to secure orders of custody or guardianship or to adopt the children in their care. As a staff attorney, Ms. Adorno expanded the Project’s work in the Bronx, conducting regular legal clinics at Bronx Family Court and developing a collaborative project with Bridge Builders, a coalition of Bronx social service organizations, to expand services to Bronx families. She serves as the co-chair of the NYC Kincare Task Force, a coalition of kincare service providers working to promote policies to better address the needs of the kincare community.
Ms. Adorno creates new pro bono initiatives, thus expanding the scope of services offered at MFJ. Ms. Adorno leads MFJ’s efforts in recruiting pro bono counsel. She also plays a direct role with training pro bono volunteers by developing comprehensive training manuals, leading CLE trainings, and offering ongoing mentorship to pro bono counsel. A 2011 graduate of Fordham University School of Law, Ms. Adorno served as the Notes and Articles Editor of the Environmental Law Review. Before joining MFJ,
Ms. Adorno was a post-graduate fellow in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Domestic Violence Bureau and worked in private practice.
Phil Dailey Award Winner
Ronald Nellons, Legal Assistant, Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc.
Ronald Nellons was born in Syracuse, New York in 1950. He attended the Syracuse City School District and graduated from high school in 1968. He then attended Cortland State University for two years, and took courses at the University College in Syracuse, New York. In March 1971 he began his career at Onondaga Neighborhood Legal Services, which later became Legal Services of Central New York (LSCNY), as a legal assistant. For many years, Mr. Nellons served as a court services monitor, and represented low-income clients in Medicaid and SNAP fair hearings, Social Security disability hearings, and Unemployment Insurance Benefit hearings.
In January 2004, LSCNY and the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. (LASMNY) reorganized, and Mr. Nellons joined LASMNY as a senior legal assistant. Since 2004, Mr. Nellons has continued to represent clients in Social Security disability hearings. With over fifty-one years of representing low-income clients, Mr. Nellons has assisted thousands of individuals in obtaining and preserving their public benefits. He is also married with three children, eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and continues to reside in Syracuse, New York.