Service is an essential component of the Law School experience, and of the legal practice. New York Law School sponsors community-wide public service opportunities, administers the Public Service Certificate Program, and serves as an information hub for the public service activities of the Justice Action Center, the Diane Abbey Center for Children and Families, the Lawyering Skills Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Student Life and student organizations.
The Law School's Public Service Certificate program recognizes students who have committed substantial time to working in the public interest, and students who earn the Public Service Certificate receive a notation on their transcript.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups and Specialized Law Education Projects
Domestic Violence Project - Through the Domestic Violence Project, students organize and provide training for participation in the Courtroom Advocates Program. The program gives students the opportunity to provide direct advocacy, education, and services to domestic violence victims in New York City's Family Courts.
Unemployment Action Center - The UAC provides free representation to people in New York who are trying to claim their unemployment benefits. Students help claimants by presenting their cases in front of administrative law judges at the Department of Labor. This assistance includes researching unemployment insurance law and conducting direct and cross-examination. Students also appeal adverse decisions.
Street Law – Students in the Law School’s Justice Action Center’s Street Law Program teach middle and high school students about the law and their legal rights.
Faculty Run Pro Bono Projects
Safe Passage – Immigration
Status for Youth – The Safe Passage Immigration Project matches
unaccompanied minors eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status with
pro bono attorneys, who are assisted by law students. Safe Passage
conducts immigration screenings at NYLS and in conjunction with nonprofit
and foster care agencies throughout NYC. Students participate in Safe
Passage through the Law School’s Justice Action Center.
The International Mental Disability Law Reform Project – The International Mental Disability Law Reform Project promotes a wide range of advocacy initiatives in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. It is involved in legislative reform, lawyer and law student training, pro bono legal assistance, and the full range of law reform projects that relate to the practice of mental disability law in other nations. In furtherance of those efforts and the effort to create a Disability Law Tribunal in Asia and the Pacific, we have established the Disability Law Tribunal in Asia and the Pacific, we have established the Disability Rights Information Center, which will host a website dedicated to collecting, cataloging and continuously updating mental disability case law, statues, policy reform and academic collaboration for ten nations in the Asia/Pacific region.
The Racial Justice Project – The Racial Justice Project is a legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of people who have been denied those rights on the basis of race and to increase public awareness of racism and racial injustice in the areas of education, employment, political participation, and criminal justice. The Racial Justice Project’s advocacy includes litigation, training, and public education.
Certificate and Curriculum Programs
The Law School has nine academic centers, six of which offer the opportunity to specialize in various aspects of public interest law:
Public Interest Clinics:
Public Interest Career Assistance
The Office of Career Services also has a designated Public Interest Advisor, an alumni mentoring program that includes alumni participants currently practicing within the public sector, and networking luncheons highlighting alumni who work in various segments of the public sector. The Office of Career Services also has a Resource Center that contains public interest career and informational resources.
One of the most significant benefits is the School’s robust summer funding program, where students are awarded 8-10 week stipends to work in otherwise unpaid government and non-profit positions. For the Summer of 2011, the School funded more than 250 first and second-year students working in these fields.
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
The New York Law School Public Service Career Recognition Program honors the commitment made by graduates to pursue careers in public service. New York Law School recognizes the importance of community-based legal services, encourages its students to participate in public service activities, and promotes the pursuit of public service legal careers. We are mindful of the financial sacrifice made by many graduates to pursue these careers, and this program is designed both to recognize this choice and to relieve a portion of the student loan debt carried by graduates who have chosen this route.
In order to assist graduates who have chosen public service careers, loan repayment assistance loans are provided by the Law School to refinance part of existing education debt. The loans are fully forgiven immediately after the end of the calendar year in which they are made, providing the recipient is still employed in qualifying employment. Recipients may renew the loans for up to three years as long as they remain in qualifying employment.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
Awards and Recognition
In addition to the Public Service certificate, there are several awards given for public interest work or pro bono service to graduatiing students: