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Newsletter: Winter 2011

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City Bar Justice Center Winter 2011 Newsletter

The British Are Coming! Save the Date: City Bar Justice Center's Sixth Annual Gala

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP Partners with CBJC to Help Disabled Veterans

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP Receives Beacon of Justice Award

Veterans Assistance Project Releases Veteran's Legal Resource Guide

New York City Bar Vance Center Update

Thank You! Shearman & Sterling LLP Staffs the Justice Center Legal Hotline During Busy Holiday Season

Thank You! Cadwalader and Bingham McCutchen Donate to Justice Center in Exchange for a Casual Day in the Office

What's Happening at the CBJC...

The British Are Coming! Save the Date:

City Bar Justice Center's Sixth Annual Gala
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honoring Barclays PLC and Linklaters LLP

The recipients of the 2011 City Bar Justice Awards will be Barclays PLC and Linklaters LLP, for their leadership and dedication to public service throughout both the United States and Britain.  

For more information on how to become a Benefit Committee member and purchase a table or ticket, click here or contact our Gala office at 212-249-6188 or jennifer@emgbenefits.com. Please reply before March 1st to ensure your listing in the invitation.

Thank you for supporting the important work of the City Bar Justice Center!


Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP Partners with the CBJC to Help Disabled Veterans

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLPcurrently has nearly 30 attorneys working with the Veterans Assistance Project and most have cases. In recent months, the firm has accepted seven new matters involving veterans from different periods of service ranging from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan. One such case involves providing assistance to the widow of a WWII veteran, Ms. X. Ms. X's husband passed away in 2008 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the Veterans Administration determined that his death was not service related. Mr. X, however, never smoked, which is the most common cause of COPD, and he was exposed to several noxious fumes when his ship was attacked and sunk in the Pacific. Attorneys from Davis Polk are working to connect Mr. X's experience in service to his death in order to allow Ms. X to receive dependency and indemnity compensation.

In addition to helping veterans to receive the disability benefits that they have earned, Davis Polk attorneys have assisted victims of violent crimes in legalizing their immigration status, aided individuals who have suffered persecution in their home countries with asylum applications, and helped draft wills for cancer patients, among others.

"A commitment to pro bono is a fundamental part of our culture at Davis Polk; we view it as a responsibility of the firm and our lawyers. The City Bar Justice Center is an ideal partner on our pro bono matters and we applaud the work they do to help New York's neediest. Our relationship is particularly rewarding in that we are able to work together on such a wide range of important matters for individuals who would not otherwise have access to legal representation," said Ronnie Abrams, Special Counsel for Pro Bono at Davis Polk.

In April and June of 2011, Davis Polk will be partnering with Citigroup to provide legal advice to low-income microentrepreneurs at legal clinics through the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project.

"The Justice Center is thankful for the continuing partnership of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and looks forward to their involvement in a new project, the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project," said Carol Bockner, Director of Pro Bono Initiatives.  

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP Receives Beacon of Justice Award

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association named the City Bar Justice Center's pro bono partner Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP one of the recipients of the 2010 Beacon of Justice Award in recognition of the firm's pro bono efforts for immigration assistance, advocacy and reform. The firm was recognized at an award dinner on October 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. During the ceremony, Justice John Paul Stevens was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Justice Center was proud to nominate the Fragomen firm for the award given the firm's long-standing commitment to the immigration initiatives at the Justice Center. Austin Fragomen, founding partner of the firm and Chair of the Justice Center's Board of Directors, paved the way for the relationship between the firm and the Justice Center by creating the Fragomen Fellowship, through which Fragomen sponsors a fulltime fellow at the Justice Center. Fragomen fellows have provided leadership for three pro bono projects. The first is the NYC Know Your Rights Project, which was successfully piloted in fall 2008 and formalized in January 2009, in collaboration with the City Bar Justice Center, The Legal Aid Society, and the Pro Bono Committee of the NYC Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). That Project has evolved into a full representation pro bono project (Varick III) focusing on representing detained lawful permanent resident immigrants, with cases venued in Manhattan.  

The second is the New York City Immigrant Advocacy Initiative, also a partnership with the Pro Bono Committee of the NYC Chapter of AILA, which under the leadership of the Fragomen Fellow has matured into an organized model of private volunteer immigration lawyers who staff community-based clinics hosted by The Children's Aid Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and others. The third pro bono initiative led by the Fragomen Fellow is the Immigrant Outreach Project at the CBJC. One of the main purposes of the project is to educate community members on a broad range of immigration topics, including assisting parents in obtaining citizenship for their children before they turn 18 in order to prevent their removal from the country in the face of the increasingly harsh enforcement of immigration laws including enhanced ICE cooperation with local and state law.

The leveraging effect of the Fragomen Fellow is apparent from the number of people helped. In the period from January 2009 to April 30, 2010, more than 1,000 immigrants were assisted in these efforts, and more than 200 new pro bono attorneys were recruited and trained to volunteer in immigration projects. The City Bar Justice Center is grateful for the continued partnership of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP and is delighted that they received such a deserved honor.


Veterans Assistance Project Releases Veteran's Legal Resource Guide

The Veterans Assistance Project, an initiative of the City Bar Justice Center, has released The New York City Veterans Legal Resource Guide. The 46-page guide, which is designed to be a reference for both veterans and veterans' service providers, lists organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income veterans. The guide is organized into categories and presented in the order of the most frequently requested areas of assistance, including Housing, Homelessness, Public Benefits and Debt/Consumer matters. The guide lists social service organizations as well as legal service providers and is being distributed to partner organizations and veterans' service providers thoughout NYC.

"As we remember all who have served our country, we are glad to be able to express our gratitude by helping veterans get the disability and other benefits they so deserve," said New York City Bar Association President Samuel W. Seymour.

The Veterans Assistance Project provides free legal assistance by volunteer attorneys to veterans seeking service-connected disability benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since the project's inception in 2007, it has also provided referrals to over 450 veterans who have called seeking assistance that is outside of the scope of the Project.

The Project acknowledges the generous financial support of The New York Community Trust in the creation of the guide.

New York City Bar Vance Center Update

Ten years ago Joan Vermeulen and then City Bar President Evan Davis met in South Africa with leaders of the South African Bar. This was the beginning of the South African Visiting Lawyer Program, the program where lawyers from historically disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa come to New York City for one-year working fellowships at law firms and corporate legal departments to enhance their skills and assist in preparing them for leadership roles when they return to South Africa.  

This program became the first initiative of the New York City Bar's Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice.  Joan developed the vision of the Vance Center, which was to make it a force for mobilizing the legal profession globally to promote access to social justice, democracy and the rule of law.  Her efforts have inspired lawyers around the world to get involved in efforts to increase access to justice, undertake pro bono work, protect human rights and strengthen the legal profession, particularly in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. At this ten year juncture, Joan has decided to turn over her role as Executive Director of the Center and its day to day responsibilities to focus her activity at the City Bar on her original initiative, the Visiting Lawyer Program, as well as other activities in Africa.  

Elizabeth Millard has been named Acting Executive Director of the Vance Center. Elizabeth joined the Vance Center in 2006 and has served as Director of its Africa program.  Ms. Millard came to the Center from the Legal Department of Credit Suisse, where she was a Managing Director.

Thank You!  Shearman & Sterling LLP Staffs the Justice Center Legal Hotline During Busy Holiday Season

Shearman & Sterling LLP pitched in with a half dozen attorneys to answer low-income New Yorkers' consumer debt questions on the City Bar Justice Center's Legal Hotline over the busy holiday period. Their efforts allowed the Legal Hotline to stay open and staffed at this crucial time to advise debt-threatened New Yorkers on how to cope with creditor calls, threats to sue and bank account attachments. We look forward to expanding this partnership.

Thank You! Jeans Day: Cadwalader and Bingham McCutchen Donate to Justice Center in Exchange for a Casual Day in the Office

In recognition of National Pro Bono Week, several of New York City's most prominent law firms participated in "Jeans Day." For one day, attorneys at these firms made personal contributions to firm-wide pools in exchange for the privilege of wearing jeans to work. The City Bar Justice Center appreciates Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP for supporting the Justice Center's work through the generous donation of their "Jeans Day" funds.


What's Happening at the CBJC

Cancer Advocacy Project/Elderlaw Project
Tuesday, March 8 (1:30-3pm) — An elderlaw clinic at the Stein Senior Center will be staffed by volunteer attorneys from Reed Smith LLP.
Wednesday, March 9 (9:30am-12pm) — A volunteer training on Life Planning issues will be held at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.
Lawyer's Foreclosure Intervention Network
Tuesday, March 1 (1-5pm) — The Foreclosure Project of the City Bar Justice Center is holding a training for attorneys interested in providing pro bono assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure. Project volunteers represent homeowners in applying for loan modifications under the federal loan modification program, and at the mandatory settlement conferences that take place in connection with foreclosure actions. The expectation is that each volunteer who attends the training will take at least one case. The training will be held at the New York City Bar Association, 42 West 44th Street. To register, contact Benjamin Seibel at bseibel@nycbar.org or visit http://www.probono.net/nycservice.

Legal Clinic for the Homeless
The Legal Clinic for the Homeless holds regular clinics where attorneys and legal professionals meet with homeless shelter residents and conduct intake interviews. Through both informal advocacy and administrative hearing representation, volunteers help clients with their public benefits issues. A list of upcoming clinics follows:

  • Thursday, February 24 (1-3pm) — Volunteers from Herrick, Feinstein LLP will visit the Clinton Family Residence.
  • Tuesday, March 1 (1-3pm) — Volunteers from Cooley LLP will visit the Icahn House Bronx.
  • Friday, March 18 (1-3pm) — Volunteers from Hunton & Williams LLP will visit the Children's Rescue Fund House East.
  • Thursday, March 24 (1-3pm) — Volunteers from Reed Smith LLP will visit the Clinton Family Residence.

Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project
Thursday, February 22 (6-7:30pm) — A volunteer from Duane Morris LLP will give a presentation on "Determining the Best Structure for your Business" at the Brooklyn Business Library. The presentation is held in partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at New York City College of Technology and the Brooklyn Business Library.

Tuesday, March 22 (5:30-8:30pm) — A small business legal clinic for individuals participating in Goldman Sach's 10,000 Small Businesses Program will take place at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.


Veterans Assistance Project
Monday, March 14 (1-4pm) — The Veterans Assistance Project is holding a training on veterans benefits law for attorneys from Barclays Capital and Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Thursday, March 24 (2-4pm) — The Veterans Assistance Project, in conjunction with Barclays Capital and Shearman & Sterling LLP, is holding a clinic where volunteer attorneys will meet with veterans to assist them with their service-connected disability claims.