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Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, Jones Day LLP, Kaye Scholer LLP, Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP Join The Legal Aid Society's Adopt A Building Pro Bono Project

Monday, January 18, 2010

  • Organization: The Legal Aid Society

 

Low-income families and individuals are being are forced out of their apartments and into the homeless shelter system, or other inadequate housing situations, because of unlivable conditions in their apartments. The failure of landlords to maintain their properties result in inadequate heat and hot water; vermin infestation; structural damage to ceilings, walls, and floors; and leakage and water damage. A hazardous living environment not only threatens the health of the tenants, but also places the tenants at risk of losing irreplaceable Section 8 housing subsidies. To address this problem systematically, The Legal Aid Society has created the “Adopt a Building” pro bono project in which law firms represent most, or all of the tenants, who are being endangered by the failure to maintain the buildings. Participating pro bono counsel conduct client interviews and fact investigation, draft legal papers, engage in negotiations and trial preparation, and represent clients at relevant judicial proceedings.

 

Cooley Godward Kronish LLP is co-counsel for a ninety-eight (98) unit building whose landlord, in addition of failing to make necessary repairs, has repeatedly tried to intimidate the tenants from joining the tenants association, and has issued phony “violation” forms that allegedly are going into the tenant’s file. The firm is litigating the hazardous conditions issue and is seeking enforcement of a new City law forbidding harassment of tenants seeking repairs. Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Willkie Faar & Gallagher, working with the Harlem Community Law Office, and are representing tenants in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx who live in buildings that are in substandard condition. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP is representing tenants in the Bronx who are living in buildings with multiple violations. Jones Day is creating a firm wide pro bono project that will engage first year associates and more senior counsel. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Kaye Scholer LLP, and Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP all have legal teams committed to the project and will by trained by Legal Aid Staff in early February.

The Legal Aid Society, collaborating with community organizations, continues to hear from tenants that their landlords refuse to correct unsafe and dangerous building conditions. We are looking forward to additional law firms joining the "Adopt a Building" pro bono project. They will be playing an invaluable role in ensuring that vulnerable families and individuals are not put at risk of homelessness and that New York City's limited affordable housing stock is preserved.

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