National Center for Access to Justice

Center Supports Conference at Cardozo Law School on Legal Education and Access to Justice

On May 22, 2012, the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York (established by New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and chaired by Helaine Barnett) hosted a national conference at Cardozo Law School on the role of law schools in helping to meet the essential civil legal needs of low-income New Yorkers.  This conference is important and was unprecedented in that it:  

 i) deliberately examined how law schools can help to respond to the justice gap, including through law student pro bono, law clinics and externships, law graduate fellowships, and curriculum reform,

 ii) brought together judges; legal services attorneys; law school deans, faculty, pro bono coordinators and students; law firm attorneys and law firm pro bono coordinators, and leaders of the organized bar; and 

 iii) brought together national and local leaders knowledgable about concerns regarding access to justice in the American legal system.

 David Udell of the National Center for Access to Justice served as a member of the Conference planning committee and as a co-facilitator of the Working Group on Law School Pro Bono (with Dora Galacatos of the Feerick Law Center at Fordham Law School), guiding members of the Working Group in discussion about ways to increase the impact of law school pro bono.

 At the conference Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivered a speech announcing creation of an advisory committee to guide implementation of New York’s new public service requirement (which the Chief Judge had announced in a separate speech delivered on Law Day, May 1, 2012).  It is widely anticipated that the committee will clarify numerous aspects of the new requirement, including such matters as the following: the requirement’s definition of pro bono, the effective date of the new requirement, whether the requirement will apply to lawyers newly arrived in New York, and whether exceptions will be authorized for people unable to afford to complete the 50 hours.

 The Center will be contributing to the Task Force’s work to produce its annual report in fall 2012.  The Center is also researching and writing a national report on law student pro bono.

 For more on Chief Judge’s speech, and more on the conference itself, see The New York Law Journal.

(originally posted May 25, 2012 by David Udell)