Jonathan Lippman, New York State’s chief judge, will be at
UB Law School on Oct. 3 to hear testimony about the unmet needs for
civil legal services in the state and what it will take to meet
Oral testimony at the hearing, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the
Francis M. Letro Courtroom in O’Brian Hall, North Campus, is
by invitation only, although the public is invited to attend. Among
those testifying are Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua and law
students Emily Dinsmore, ’14, and Kerisha Hawthorne,
This is the fourth year that Lippman has conducted a series of
public hearings on the issue. He has made access to justice a
priority of his judgeship, most notably by imposing a requirement
that aspiring attorneys perform 50 hours of pro bono legal services
before they can sit for the state bar exam.
Lippman will be joined at the hearing by Henry J. Scudder,
presiding justice of the Fourth Department; Chief Administrative
Judge A. Gail Prudenti; and David M. Schraver, president of the New
York State Bar Association.
Individuals and organizations appearing at the hearing have been
invited to express their views on:
- The impact of Judiciary Civil Legal Services funding, which is
set at $40 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
- How well civil legal services are being provided to low-income
New Yorkers confronting legal problems involving the
“essentials of life,” including housing, family
stability and personal safety in domestic relations, access to
health care or education, and subsistence income and benefits.
- The impact of natural disasters on the legal services that
low-income New Yorkers need, and the experience of legal services
providers in responding to those needs.
- The economic and social consequences of the lack of sufficient
civil legal services in communities and for the courts.
- The costs and benefits, to the courts and to communities, of
providing civil legal services in matters involving the
“essentials of life.”
- The particular problems affecting the availability of legal
services in rural communities.
- The potential to meet more legal needs through preventive and
early intervention services; enhanced use of technology; expanding
the availability of pro bono legal services by private attorneys;
greater law school and law student involvement through clinical,
experiential and fellowship options for students; and programs
being developed to help law students to complete their 50 required
hours of pro bono service.
Later that day, in a program to be broadcast statewide from the
New York State Bar Center in Albany, Lippman and Schraver will
offer pretaped remarks introducing a Web-streamed panel discussion
detailing the critical need for legal services among indigent New
The program from 5-7 p.m., titled “Why We Need a Right to
Counsel in Civil Matters Where Basic Human Needs Are at
Stake,” will be shown in the Cellino & Barnes Conference
Center on the fifth floor of O’Brian Hall. The public is
The live panel discussion broadcast from Albany will include
- Fern Fisher, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York
City courts and director of the New York State Courts Access to
- Bryan Hetherington, chief counsel for the Empire Justice
- Martha Davis, a professor at Northeastern University Law
- John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil
Right to Counsel.
- Andrew Scherer, senior fellow at the Furman Center of New York
University Law School, who will moderate the discussion.
Following the broadcast, a panel of local experts will continue
the discussion at UB Law School. Participants include:
- Melinda Saran, ’86, the Law School’s vice dean for
- Keisha Williams of the Western New York Law Center, who will
serve as moderator.
- Lauren Breen, ’89, an associate clinical professor at the
- Daniel Webster, ’08 of Legal Services for the Elderly,
Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York.
- David Schopp, ’82, chief executive officer of the Legal
Aid Bureau of Buffalo.
- Joy McDuffie, a housing counselor at the Western New York Law