New York Legal Assistance Group

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1 New York Legal Assistance Group Overview of Achievements, In the past 12 months, NYLAG added 24 new legal staff positions, representing a 15% increase in its paid staff size. Partially driven by dedicated funding for Sandy relief work, this growth translated to a 40% increase in the number of cases the agency was able to handle during the reporting period. From 4/1/13 to 3/31/14, NYLAG closed 42,766 cases for 76,039 lowincome individuals throughout New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Long Island. In addition, nearly 114,900 lowincome people across the State benefited from NYLAG s successful impact litigation, either through active cases or ongoing monitoring. Over 13,945 individuals attended 306 community education workshops and professional trainings. Low -income clients received back awards totaling $15,100,986 and monthly benefits totaling $379,574 in the form of insurance payouts, public benefits, child/spousal support and other benefits. Clients avoided $9,890,919 in lump sum settlements, and obtained an additional $381,068 in ongoing monthly savings through reductions in consumer debt, mortgage payments and other expenses. The total savings to tax payers derived from NYLAG s services was $3,299,280. NYLAG s pro bono program recruited 1,245 volunteer attorneys, paralegals, law students, and others who together donated 87,200 hours of service. In the grant period, NYLAG launched several new programs to improve lowincome New Yorkers access to justice, including: Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (formerly a program of Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.): merged with NYLAG to provide civil legal services that protect access to healthcare and other benefits for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals. Unaccompanied Minors Project: A partnership between immigration and family law attorneys, this project assists qualifying undocumented youth who may have entered the foster care system and are at risk of deportation in filing for Special Immigrant Juvenile status. USCIS Naturalization Project: Provides direct representation in naturalization cases and offers citizenship instruction and ESL classes through a partnership with a Brooklyn community center. LGBT Law Project: now offers increased specialized immigration, employment, elder law, health care and public benefits assistance to the LGBT community in all five boroughs. Unchained Project: provides holistic matrimonial and family law services to help women escape arranged and forced marriages. Asian Women s Intervention Network (AWIN): provides comprehensive, culturally competent legal services and coordinated social services, housing and financial counseling Service Area: N ew York City Metropolitan and Sur rounding Area This Provider At a Glance Population Served: General Low Income Population Area Served: New York City Metropolitan and Surrounding Area Total Funding: $18,031,616 Total IOLA Grant: $740,000 Staffing - Full Time Equivalents Total Staff: Lawyers: Paralegals: Other Staff: Types of Services Provided Direct Civil Legal Representation Brief Services Extended Services Hotlines and Other Phone-Based Services Technology and Other Innovations Community Legal Education Pro Se Assistance Collaborations With Other Service Providers Major Cases or Other Advocacy Projects New York Legal Assistance Group - 1

2 Outcomes 75,982 Individuals Benefited from 42,733 Closed Direct Civil Legal Cases Dollar Benefits Achieved for Clients* - Total $34,041,594 Social Security, SSI Benefits: $18,159,627 Other Federal Benefits: $551,972 Unemployment Compensation: $90,627 Family Law - Child Support: $1,089,760 Family Law - Maintenance/Spousal Support: $284,500 Family Law - Equitable Distribution of Assets: $86,000 Affirmative Judgments: $258,927 Extended Representation Outcomes 35,173 People benefited from extended representation Brief Representation Benefits 33,537 People benefited from legal advice and counsel 2,784 People benefited from non-litigation advocacy services 4,545 People benefited by referral to other sources of help Other Benefits: $13,520,181 *Total includes back awards and total monthly benefits, estimated over 6 months (unemployment compensation), 12 months (other federal benefits, equitable distribution of assets, affirmative judgments and other benefits), 60 months (Social Security, SSI) or 120 months (child and spousal support). Examples... Outcomes for Clients fter her apartment was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Nadia received FEMA rental assistance for a hotel A room on Long Island. She was unable to return to work until August 2013 because her workplace was also damaged by Sandy, so the FEMA assistance was critical. Nadia lost personal property in the storm and also had nondamaged property that she needed to place in storage while she was living in the hotel. She used some of her FEMA rental assistance to pay those expenses, which she later learned was not an authorized use; FEMA then cut her off from funding. Nadia s finances spun out of control and she fell behind in her rent by more than $6,000. Once back at work, Nadia was able to pay her rent but she did not have the funds to pay the arrears and her landlord sued to evict her. A NYLAG attorney appeared in Nadia s housing court case in January 2014 and negotiated with Nadia s landlord to allow her to stay in the apartment if she paid the arrears in 45 days. The attorney then worked with Nadia s Disaster Case Manager so her case could be presented on an emergency basis at the Unmet Needs Roundtable. The UNR agreed to pay the arrears and Nadia was able to remain in her apartment. aria, a 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, initially entered the United States without inspection at M the age of 4 through the U.S.-Mexico border. She came to a NYLAG event to learn if she could apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). A NYLAG attorney screened Maria and discovered that she was actually eligible to apply for her green card because she and her mother had filed an old relative petition that was denied in The fact that Maria s prior relative petition was filed before April 30, 2001, allowed her to be grandfathered into an old provision of the law, known as INA 245(i), which allowed certain individuals that entered without inspection to apply for a green card. NYLAG assisted Maria and her mother to file their adjustment of status applications based on their relationship to Maria s US-citizen stepfather. NYLAG represented Maria and her mother at their adjustment interview, and two months later they were approved for their green cards. Maria is now enrolled in a job training and placement program at one of NYLAG s community-based partners. Breakdown of Cases by Legal Problem Area People Cases Total 75,982 42,733 Individual Rights 26,702 15,621 Miscellaneous 19,929 10,809 Housing 9,091 4,072 Health 5,156 3,702 Other 15,104 8,529 New York Legal Assistance Group - 2 Individual Rights 37% Miscellaneous 25% Housing 9% Health 9% Other 20%

3 Other Services Hotlines and Other Telephone Based Legal Services NYLAG s main intake line is open Monday-Friday, 9 am-3 pm, serving low-income New Yorkers from New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland counties. On average, the main intake line receives 275 calls per week, or 14,300 annually. While it may be necessary for callers to leave a message, every caller is receives a call-back and the opportunity to speak with a case-handler. NYLAG s separate Superstorm Sandy hotline remained busy, fielding 1,979 calls in the reporting period. NYLAG also maintains dedicated hotlines for especially vulnerable populations who may be in need of urgent service, including Holocaust survivors, DACAeligible immigrants, homeowners facing foreclosure and individuals needing legal services in consumer law, bankruptcy, unemployment insurance, employment law, financial counseling/consumer law and public benefits. NYLAG s Special Litigation Unit maintained five hotlines this period for its class action cases, including a busy hotline for students of for-profit schools. The LGBT Law Project also has its own intake line direct to the LGBT Project Attorneys. All of NYLAG s hotline numbers are listed on LawHelp. Technology and Other Innovations NYLAG provided 306 training events in the grant period, training 13,945 board members, staff, volunteers, clients, attorneys, doctors and social services professionals, including 158 trainings for 6,421 professionals and 148 trainings for 7,524 community members. For example, several members of NYLAG s Family Law Unit, including attorney Ian Harris, who co-chaired the event, moderated and presented at panels at the 18th Annual Fordham Forum on Domestic Violence, which took place March 3-4, This two day training event allowed new and experienced attorneys to learn more about domestic violence legal issues and earn CLE credits. This event allowed NYLAG attorneys to pass their knowledge of matrimonial and family law to educate others, expanding the number of competent attorneys in New York who work with domestic violence victims. In addition to this forum, NYLAG initiated a variety of new training events, including several legal clinics through NYLAG s Domestic Workers Rights Project, which represents and educates domestic workers on their rights regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, employment discrimination, retaliation and unemployment insurance claims. LegalHealth Attorney Debra Wolf has also provided training to thousands of doctors and patients through teleconferences with CancerCare clients, which provide information on legal issues that often come up in the medical community and with patients in hospitals. Legal Services Other Than Direct Legal Representation NYLAG offers community legal education, pro se assistance, assistance provided through pro bono and law school clinics, and alternative dispute resolution, including mediation. Community Education: The goal of community education is to teach low-income individuals about their rights, how to protect them, and the availability of free legal services. This helps them to avoid falling victim to unscrupulous providers or going to court without either counsel or the information needed to represent themselves effectively. All divisions regularly conduct community legal education workshops in partnership with over 600 health and human service organizations as well as the offices of elected officials, government agencies, and schools. In all, 148 community trainings were attended by at least 7,524 participants (see below for professional trainings). Financial Counseling: NYLAG s in-house financial counseling program, part of its Consumer Protection division, works alongside attorneys to provide assistance to low-income New Yorkers on public benefits, housing, debt, foreclosure, student loans, and other consumer issues that do not necessarily require an attorney. Pro Se Assistance & Volunteer Resources: Since its limited resources prevent NYLAG from representing all clients, the agency offers pro se assistance and materials to enable clients to represent themselves more effectively. For example, NYLAG runs a help desk staffed by volunteers in the Brooklyn Administrative Fair Hearing Center to answer questions on how to appeal wrongful termination or denial of public benefits and to refer complex cases for representation. In the funding period, 3,240 received pro se assistance, including 1,354 for fair hearings on public benefits matters. In addition to providing pro se assistance, volunteers help NYLAG maximize its capacity through a variety Number of People Benefited by Legal Services Other Than Direct Legal Representation Total: 285,424 People Community Legal Education and Pro Se Assistance: 37,724 People Web Usage: 227,070 People Legal Hotline Services: 20,630 People New York Legal Assistance Group - 3

4 Other Services, continued of other programs. NYLAG s Volunteer Lawyer for the Day-Consumer Credit Project, based in the Bronx and Queens Civil Courts, coordinates volunteer attorneys to provide representation to individuals with consumer credit issues on the day of their appearance in court, as well as pro se assistance to clients they are unable to represent. From 4/1/13 through 3/31/14, the VLFD program served 1,706 clients, of which 87 were pro se cases. NYLAG s LGBT Law Project also co-runs a Wills Clinic utilizing pro bono attorneys from Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe. NYLAG also works with area law schools to run clinics, with law students offering assistance with a variety of legal matters. For example, NYLAG participates in the Courtroom Advocates Project, where students working under a student practice order and supervised by NYLAG attorneys help domestic violence victims to obtain orders of protection or apply for VAWA self-petitions or u- visas. In the reporting period, students provided representation to 62 victims and advice to an additional 75 victims. Mediation/Alternative Dispute Resolution: NYLAG s Matrimonial and Family Law Unit offers a divorce mediation program on cases that do not involve domestic violence. The Project Director comediates divorces with volunteer mediators who are also attorneys experienced in matrimonial law. In the grant period, NYLAG recruited 14 consulting and review attorneys, as well as 9 volunteer mediators. Collaborations With Other Service Providers Virtually all of NYLAG s work is done in collaboration with other legal services organizations, community groups, professionals and social services providers. NYLAG attorneys and management regularly meet with the heads of major legal services providers in New York to form collaborations and co-counsel relationships and to delegate responsibilities for necessary impact litigation to avoid duplication of effort. NYLAG also regularly receives client referrals from these agencies and participates in community panel discussions, training sessions and seminars. For example, NYLAG s Robin Hood-funded Removal Defense Project is a collaboration of five legal service providers offering complementary legal services for immigrants in danger of removal or already in removal proceedings. Partners include Legal Aid Society, Make The Road, Bronx Defenders, and MinKwon Center for Community Action. Similarly, NYLAG s Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Consumer Credit Project is a partnership with the NYS Office of Court Administration s Access to Justice Program, the NY County Lawyer s Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Program, targeting lowincome unrepresented individuals with consumer debt in the Bronx and Queens Civil courts. As noted, NYLAG operates 76 community-based intake sites located at partner agencies throughout Greater New York. Twenty of these are new sites with agencies in areas badly hit by Superstorm Sandy in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. In addition, NYLAG s Mobile Legal Help Center, a partnership with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program, collaborates with dozens of community-based organizations to provide free civil legal services to their clients. The MLHC is constantly reaching out to entities in underserved areas that are unable to host legal services but are more than willing to help conduct outreach and schedule clients to visit the vehicle when it travels to their neighborhoods. Last year, this 41-foot mobile law office visited 67 different community partners and handled 2,006 legal matters affecting 4,089 household members. NYLAG operates several programs through which it provides legal services to clients of a consortium of other service providers. NYLAG is the legal services provider Sources of Funding Total $18,031,616 IOLA Grant $740,000 Foundations $5,653,163 State Funding $4,877,941 Attorney Fees $1,943,470 Other $4,817,042 Other 27% Attorney Fees 11% IOLA Grant 4% Foundations 31% New York Legal Assistance Group - 4 State Funding 27%

5 Other Services, continued for UJA Federation s Safety Net, Single Stop, and Connect-to-Care programs, serving over 50 affiliated agencies across all five boroughs and Long Island. NYLAG is also the ONA Legal Services Provider for the NYS Office of New Americans network of Opportunity Centers, providing legal services in citizenship and deferred action for eight centers in Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island. NYLAG s LegalHealth Division operates 24 formal medical-legal partnerships in hospitals, where it trains healthcare professionals and offers onsite legal clinics for patients, including two partnerships with Veterans Administration hospitals. Due to the unit s great success over the past 12 years, the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation recently renewed its contract with NYLAG, increasing the number of clinics and adding new hospital sites. NYLAG now operates at least one legal clinic in every HHC facility. Through its collaborations, NYLAG implements joint services, enhances outreach and community education, coordinates referrals for complementary services, learns about emerging community needs, and engages in crosstraining. NYLAG attorneys train social workers, healthcare professionals, community advocates and other stakeholders on the legal rights and options of lowincome New Yorkers across a spectrum of legal areas, as well as how to identify their legal needs and make appropriate referrals for legal services, and conduct more effective advocacy. Through such training, NYLAG again maximizes its impact, leveraging its partners to help more individuals in need get access to justice. In the funding period, NYLAG held 158 staff trainings for 6,421 professionals. Backup or Support Services NYLAG is a pioneer of community-based lawyering. In addition to the aforementioned Mobile Legal Help Center and LegalHealth hospital clinic programs, which are collaborative by nature, NYLAG provides backup and support services in several ways. In order to best provide comprehensive services to low-income New Yorkers, the UJA Federation of New York runs Single Stop sites, where clients are able to receive several types of services in one place. Through the Single Stop program, NYLAG provides the legal services for all four of the Single Stop sites. The goals of the program, which NYLAG consistently meets, are to provide immigration, housing, public benefits and family law services to 1,350 clients of these four agencies annually; to train agency staff at 17 UJA-Federation network agencies; and to provide community education to at least 100 people. Similarly, through UJA s Safety Net program, NYLAG provides legal services to meet the food security, housing stability, and aging in place needs of 1,500 chronically poor, working poor, fixed-income, and newly poor clients of UJA s other umbrella agencies each year. NYLAG is also a main legal services provider for New York City s Build It Back program, which assists Sandyaffected New Yorkers with issues including disaster benefits programs, housing, homeowner s and flood insurance and consumer matters. The goal of the program is to provide legal remedies to storm-related issues and remove the roadblocks that individuals face in qualifying for and receiving assistance through Build it Back. Major Cases or Other Advocacy Projects Johnson v. Shah / Spitzer v. Shah These consolidated class actions were filed in 2011 against NYS Department of Health, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and five Certified Home Health Agencies ( CHHAs ), alleging that Defendant CHHAs were reducing patients services without a medical justification and without notice or an opportunity for a Fair Hearing or Aid Continuing, and that the State Defendants failed to prevent Defendant CHHAs from engaging in such practices. Plaintiffs also challenged state regulations that deprive patients of their Fair Hearing rights when a reduction is undertaken allegedly pursuant to a doctor s order. Plaintiffs negotiated a settlement with all five CHHAs, which was approved by the Court earlier this year. NYLAG obtained substantial damages for many of Named Plaintiffs as well as attorneys fees. Milestones: During the reporting period, NYLAG has been negotiating a settlement with State Defendants. Impacts: The stipulation of settlement protects approximately 9,700 CHHA patients. Thousands will be protected if Plaintiffs win or settle the case against State Defendants. Pro Bono Volunteer Involvement NYLAG s pro bono program has three components. First, NYLAG recruits in-house volunteer attorneys from private law firms, retired lawyers, and law graduates who work on-site under NYLAG supervision at least three half-days per week. In the funding period, NYLAG hosted 107 pro bono attorneys who donated 13,519 hours. Second, NYLAG offers an off-site, programspecific group component. As part of this, NYLAG has begun offering webinars as a superior way to train large numbers of pro bono attorneys rapidly, conveniently, and cost-effectively, allowing NYLAG to leverage volunteer resources to launch a large-scale response to urgent community needs. Third, NYLAG maintains New York Legal Assistance Group - 5

6 Other Services, continued relationships with over 60 top NY law firms, and refers thousands of pro bono cases to these firms in their respective areas of expertise, providing supervision. NYLAG also hosts non-attorney volunteers to handle a variety of tasks depending on their education and skill level. In the funding period, NYLAG hosted 156 such volunteers. NYLAG also has a renowned law school internship and externship program that attracts the most talented law students for summer and year-round placements. NYLAG also operates formal law school clinical programs with multiple law schools. In the funding period, NYLAG hosted 182 law students who donated 29,321 hours. Together, all in-house volunteers worked 87,200 hours at a value of $3,452,275. We estimate that outside volunteers and pro bono attorneys contributed hours valued at more than $11,000,000. This information will be available in NYLAG s upcoming internal audit report. The number of pro bono hours reported this year is lower than the previous year due to space constraints that limited the number of in-house volunteers NYLAG was able to host. Even by doublingup offices and creating mobile hot desks for volunteers, NYLAG was temporarily forced to cap its volunteer recruitment until additional workspace was obtained on a second floor of the building. Beginning in February 2014, NYLAG is once again able to recruit new additional volunteers and expects an increase in pro bono hours in FY Pro Bono Statistics During , the following volunteers provided services in our program: Attorneys: 907 Volunteers 39,166 Hours Law Students: 182 Volunteers 29,321 Hours Other Volunteers: 156 Volunteers 18,713 Hours Total Cases Completed by Attorneys: 413 Cases Dollar Value of Attorney Services*: $9.79 million *estimated at $250 per hour New York Legal Assistance Group - 6

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