The Legal Aid Society Creates a Broad Range of Pro Bono Opportunities for Law Students and Law Graduates

Friday, April 26, 2013

  • The Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society has created a diverse menu of pro bono opportunities to assist law students in completing 50 hours of pro bono work prior to bar admission. The Chief Judge’s initiative, the first in the country, became effective as of January 1, 2013 and will be applicable to candidates for admission to the New York State bar on or after January 1, 2015. The timetable enables current second and first year law students to plan their pro bono service in a meaningful and timely fashion.  

The Society's Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile Rights Practices, will partner with law students and law graduates on a number of specific 50-hour projects. Short descriptions of possible projects are listed below.  For additional information about these and other opportunities with The Legal Aid Society, interested law students and law graduates should contact the Pro Bono and Volunteer Coordinator at their law school or law firm, or visit our website at  


  • Access To Benefits/Superstorm Sandy Disaster Relief Hotline – Volunteers can help staff The Legal Aid Society’s hotline to help victims of Superstorm Sandy secure disaster relief aid and assist families and individuals in obtaining subsistence government benefits such as unemployment insurance, public health insurance (including Medicaid), public assistance, and food stamps. 
  • Class Action Law Reform Project - This project involves monitoring City and State compliance with court orders and other legal requirements affecting tens of thousands of low-income New Yorkers.

  • Disability Advocacy Project - The Disability Advocacy Project represents low-income New Yorkers in their administrative and federal court appeals concerning federal disability benefits.
  • Employment Law and Low-Wage Worker Project - This project seeks to assist unemployed workers at unemployment insurance hearings, educate workers on their rights, and monitor the treatment of workers in particular industries.

  • Family Law/Domestic Violence Projects – Among other things, this initiative assists clients with the implementation of the newly enacted New York State laws providing post-marital support guidelines, no-fault divorce and counsel fee awards, all of which are critically important to low-income clients.
  • Foreclosure Prevention and Equity Preservation Project - To monitor the mortgage servicing industry, file complaints when appropriate, and/or develop litigation strategies, this project seeks to develop systemic data and case examples showing violations of existing servicing standards and guidelines.

  • Health Law Unit Project - As the economic downturn continues, increasing numbers of low-income New Yorkers seek the Society’s assistance in addressing legal issues related to health care.
  • Homeless Rights Project – The Project is counsel to the Coalition for the Homeless and the leading legal advocate for homeless families and individuals.  Volunteers can help enforce the court-ordered right to shelter for children and adults.

  • Housing Development Unit Project - The Housing Development Unit is dedicated to preserving and expanding the supply of decent, affordable housing in New York City by providing legal representation and technical assistance to tenants and tenant organizations.
  • Housing Eviction Prevention Project - This project provides critical eviction prevention legal services to the most vulnerable families and individuals in New York City in our effort to prevent evictions and keep low-income New Yorkers in affordable housing.

  • Immigrant Defense Project - Volunteers can help some of the thousands of immigrants with long-term residency and family roots in New York who face removal from the US because of old and minor convictions and other immigration violations.
  • Mobile Outreach Unit Project - Using a specially equipped van, this project provides outreach legal assistance in remote locations where some of the most isolated and underserved City residents live.

  • Prisoners’ Rights Project/Re-Entry Project - The Project seeks to remedy unconstitutional conditions and illegal practices in the City jails and the State prisons through class action or test case litigation.
  • Project FAIR/Public Benefits/Job Center Project - Project FAIR provides access to information for pro se public benefits applicants and recipients about their legal rights in the New York State administrative “fair hearing” process concerning food stamps, public assistance and Medicaid benefits.


  • Criminal Defense - The Legal Aid Society is the primary public defender in New York City, annually handling some 220,000 cases for indigent clients accused of crimes and/or parole violations.  Volunteers can assist criminal defense and parole revocation defense attorneys with case preparation, including:  conducting legal research; gathering facts; obtaining evidence; monitoring court proceedings; and assisting with filing appeal notices.
  • The Criminal Appeals Bureau is the largest provider of post-conviction services in appellate and collateral State court and federal proceedings for indigent criminal defendants in New York City.  Volunteers can assist attorneys in reviewing transcripts, contacting family members, and reviewing research and arguments from the Bureau’s extensive brief database.
  • The Criminal Defense Special Litigation Unit initiates class action and law reform case litigation on civil rights issues affecting Criminal Practice clients.  Volunteer assistance can include case preparation; fact gathering; assistance with ongoing litigation; monitoring compliance with court orders; and research.


  • The Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP) is the country’s leading legal organization in the field of child advocacy.  The Practice represents children in child protective, termination of parental rights, PINS (persons in need of supervision), and juvenile delinquency proceedings.  Volunteers can work alongside JRP staff, assisting with case preparation, witness outreach and digesting educational records.  Volunteer assistance is also needed for adolescents in completing applications for essential services they will require after leaving care, such as public assistance, housing, and healthcare. 

  • The JRP Appeals Unit represents clients through the appellate process.  Volunteers can provide valuable research assistance to attorneys by collecting and organizing transcripts, preparing research memos, and creating a research bank on issues affecting court-involved youth.

  • The JRP Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit has initiated class action lawsuits and other litigation to address systemic problems and system-wide abuses within the juvenile justice, child welfare, and educational systems.  Volunteers can carry out data collection, which can be used to inform practice decisions for court-involved youth.  For those children who have been involved with the juvenile justice system, volunteers can assist with ensuring that their privacy rights are protected and that records sealed by the court remain sealed.