In 2018, NYLS students and alumni provided more than 1,000 hours of pro bono service to people using LawHelpNY’s LiveHelp program.
LawHelpNY is a nonprofit that links low-income New Yorkers to free legal service providers and other groups that can help with housing, public benefits, workers’ rights, and other legal and court issues.
The organization’s LiveHelp tool is a chat feature that allows online users to ask questions in real time. LawHelpNY staff and volunteers—including those from NYLS—chat with clients using the tool and connect them to resources based on their needs.
NYLS students and alumni participated in more than 2,200 live chats last year. One standout volunteer was Dorinda Foster ’15, who won praise for her compassion and willingness to help.
Foster was featured in a probono.net story that spotlighted her commitment to the program. In the piece, she said, “… My premier interest in pro bono legal work is to serve persons in similar socio-economic backgrounds to where I am from who do not have access to affordable legal help and information.”
She recalled a LiveHelp chat with a client who was fearful of being evicted. After Foster found a resource that would help the client resolve her issues with her landlord, the client calmed down.
“She was so appreciative, and I was relieved I was able to do something to assist …,” Foster said in the spotlight.
She also reflected, “I would wholeheartedly recommend pro bono work to others. As a member of the legal community with my J.D., it is crucial that I continue to use my resources, namely my time, to make a difference in the world and help others.”
NYLS students must complete 50 hours of pro bono service for admission to the New York State Bar. NYLS’s Office of Public Service and Pro Bono Initiatives helps connect them to projects to fulfill this requirement—including opportunities like LawHelpNY and many others. NYLS also sends students weekly newsletters with new opportunities to help New Yorkers, whether to fulfill their pro bono credit or to put their J.D. to good use in the local community.