June 2010 Volunteer Feature: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Since early 2009, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has provided hundreds of hours of pro bono assistance to LawHelp/NY, New York State's legal aid internet portal. LawHelp/NY provides referrals to free legal services, know your rights, and self-help resources in 15 areas of law and in English, Spanish and 34 other languages. In 2009, more than 377,000 visitors viewed more than 2.1 million pages of legal assistance. With the ongoing economic crisis disproportionately affecting poor people, and as the number of unrepresented litigants appearing in court and administrative hearings on their own continues to rise, Skadden has made a significant contribution to this statewide effort and the City Bar is delighted to be able to honor them for their work.
One team of attorneys and paralegals rewrote in plain language New York City's new language access rights policies at seven City agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Social Services, the Administration of Children's Services and the Department of Homeless Services. Led by attorney Jennifer Yu, the team recruited paralegals and others to translate these policy summaries into six languages-in total 42 new language access rights resources were added to the LawHelp site.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Alain Lebon of Skadden's NY Copy Center and Famicia Coriolan of the Client Accounting office translated pages of information about free legal services into Creole for Haitians seeking Temporary Protected Status, as well as numerous other resources providing assistance and relief. They also translated key portions of the site's navigation into Haitian Creole. Similar navigational improvements were provided in Arabic by Merger & Acquisitions Associate Al Taj, and in Japanese by Eriko Nagao, Skadden's Pro Bono Administrative Coordinator.
When LawHelp/NY staff developed a new resource "What you should know about your right to information in your language in all Social Security Administration Offices," Raymond Cazeau Jr. of Skadden's Boston office Copy Center translated it into Creole, EJ Chung, a NY-based Tax Associate translated it into Korean, Tina Wang, a DC-based legal assistant translated it into Chinese, and Cecilia Maldonado, an LA-based secretary, translated it into Spanish.
Leah Margulies, Project Director of LawHelp/NY raves about the firm's assistance. "What Skadden so ably demonstrates," she says, "is that a commitment to provide pro bono services to the poor, to immigrants, and to those with limited English proficiency can be a firm-wide commitment that engages personnel across departments, staffing levels and offices around the country."
Skadden's ongoing commitment to LawHelp/NY is outstanding, and the many hours put in by multiple staff have undoubtedly had a direct impact on the thousands of struggling New Yorkers who look to LawHelp as a resource.