New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association has recently launched a task force to help lawyers better serve clients with mental health challenges. Co-chaired by Sheila Shea, director of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service and deputy commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, the task force includes attorneys from all over the state.
Lawyers are subjected to a variety of stressful circumstances. Time pressures, high expectations, and the need to manage work and client expectations all contribute to an overall high level of stress, which can lead to substance use disorders and mental illness. The Lawyers Helping Lawyers program aims to reduce the pain and suffering associated with substance use disorders and mental illness among lawyers. According to a 2016 study from the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 28% of attorneys reported using alcohol or other substances that had problematic effects.
Bronx Defenders is a nonprofit public defender that represents people of low income in the Bronx in the justice system. They are working to change the justice system and empower low-income residents. By offering free legal counseling, Bronx Defenders helps those who are indigent navigate the criminal justice system.
Bronx Defenders attorneys provide holistic legal counsel to people accused of crimes. They evaluate the charges against their clients as a whole and address any other problems that may arise from the criminal charges. The nonprofit is staffed by 135 pro bono attorneys and operates Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They can be reached via email as well.
Her Justice offers free legal services for low-income women in family and immigration law. These services are designed to empower and protect women and prevent tragedies. Their work changes lives. Her Justice attorneys assist women with family law cases and prepare court documents. Volunteer attorneys also appear in court for clients and handle mediations and settlements.
During the pandemic, Her Justice has been collaborating with volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono legal services. Her Justice has also released a policy report addressing the impact of the pandemic on New York City’s Family Court system. The report, written by Her Justice’s Supervising Attorney, Anna Ognibene, highlights the obstacles to justice in the NYC family court system and makes recommendations for modernizing the system.
Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society provides free legal counsel to individuals and families who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The society handles a wide variety of legal issues, including criminal defense, civil rights, and juvenile rights. The nonprofit relies on the voluntary efforts of more than 1,000 attorneys from law firms, neighborhood courthouses, and other organizations.
The Society provides one-on-one supervision to participating attorneys. They are screened for financial eligibility and legal merit, and receive case file duplicates, training manuals, and sample papers. In addition, pro bono lawyers who are new to their fields can participate in the Society’s annual Pro Bono CLE training series.
Pension Rights Center
The Pension Rights Center is an organization that provides free legal services to those who have a pension and are concerned about their retirement. The center was founded in 1976 and works to improve the security of retirement for working people. It plays a leading role in identifying pension inequities and formulating reforms. It also works to protect the benefits of workers and retirees and advocates for legislative changes that will benefit all Americans.
The Pension Rights Center provides free legal services related to pensions, profit sharing plans, and retirement savings plans. Its website features an Eldercare Locator, where you can enter your zip code to find legal services.
Volunteer Lawyers Program
The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income individuals and small not-for-profits in Western New York. Its mission is to provide quality free legal assistance and involve lawyers as volunteers in the delivery of those services. It is run in partnership with NY Appleseed and the New York County Lawyers Association.
The program trains, mentors and supports volunteer lawyers. It also provides free legal advice and information to battered immigrants and low-income women. These attorneys help low-income women obtain orders of protection from abusive partners, as well as help mothers obtain legal custody and child support.