March 2019 Volunteer Spotlight - Legal Aid Society Volunteer Bob Paul
When Bob Paul was in Law School at NYU, he had a keen interest in criminal law. His course load was heavy on criminal law and he even represented clients from Legal Aid in Manhattan Criminal Court through a clinical program. But upon graduation, he found that he was unable to find a good job in criminal law. He went to work for a firm and spent nearly 40 years practicing law for a variety of employers, including law firms, banks, and the federal government focusing on the regulation of financial markets and derivatives. As his career in financial services was winding down, he looked for opportunities to give back to the community, and discovered the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP). Through AEP he found a placement with The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project (PRP).
His volunteer work focuses on advocating on behalf of people incarcerated in prisons throughout New York State. For his very first case he wrote a letter to the Superintendent of Upstate Correctional Facility requesting medication for a client. Just one week later, the client reported that the medication had been received. This was an impressive outcome considering that similar claims are often denied, and a great victory for the client. He also joined Legal Aid attorneys on a trip to interview potential plaintiffs for a class action lawsuit on behalf of imprisoned people with mental health disorders, which was filed in January. He noted that is gave him the opportunity to see how his “PRP colleagues used the individual experiences of potential plaintiffs to develop large scale impact litigation.”
Asked about the impact his volunteer service has had, he said “Through my work with PRP I feel like I am making at least a small contribution to improving how our individual clients are treated in DOCCS custody. It is rewarding when I have a client transferred to safe housing or treated more respectfully by staff.” He also noted that he enjoyed the camaraderie he has with the PRP staff.
Bob has been able to expand the work the Prisoners’ Rights Project can do through his volunteering. He is a terrific addition to the team.
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