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The Legal Aid Society Prepares New Generation of Law Firm and Corporate Leaders Through Law Firm Initiative

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  • Organization: The Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society’s New Leadership Program (“NLP”), comprised of emerging leaders from the legal, financial, business and arts communities in New York City, provides critical assistance to the Society by participating in various community service and pro bono projects.  The NLP is the next generation of support for the Society, providing a variety of programming to raise awareness for the Society’s Civil Practice and to develop volunteer opportunities that help build a sense of community and teamwork among these emerging leaders.

For its first pro bono initiative, on April 27th, the NLP Board hosted “Access to Justice—A Community Service Day”.  The event, a training for the Society’s Access to Benefits (A2B) helpline, kicked off the NLP’s year-long volunteer commitment to staff the Society’s Access to Benefits Helpline.  The Access to Benefits Helpline is a ‘one-stop’ resource for low-income New Yorkers in need of legal assistance in matters related to unemployment insurance, public health insurance, public assistance, and food stamps—programs that are critical to the Society’s clients.

More than 50 law firm attorneys, corporate members, and legal professionals were trained on the basics of unemployment insurance, public health insurance, and public assistance, and were taught how to interact with the Society’s clients on the helpline.  The NLP members will be staffing the Society’s helpline every third Thursday of the month.  Training participants, including volunteers from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, already have staffed over 40 hours on the helpline providing critical assistance to the Society’s clients.  The A2B project’s partnership with the NLP is a prime example of how the new generation of law firm attorneys, legal staff, corporate members, and other emerging professionals can provide access to justice.

“As a legal services attorney for 20 years it is always inspiring when new people join the Helpline,” said Liliana Vaamonde, Director of Training for the Society’s Civil Practice.  “We definitely need volunteers and look forward to working with them to ensure that there is one less household that is hungry at the end of the month and one less vulnerable individual or family who is frightened because they may lose medical services they need.” 

Special thanks to Svetlana Eisenberg, of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and New Leadership Program Co-Chair, for hosting the training event. 

More information on volunteering on the Society’s Access to Benefits Helpline can be found at the New York City Probono Center website.  If you are interested in learning more about The Legal Aid Society’s New Leadership Program, please contact Susanna Bonilla-Bowman at

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