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LAS Testimony Highlights Importance of Funding Civil Legal Services

The Legal Aid Society testified on Monday before Chief Judge Janet DiFiore at the Court of Appeals to explain why the continued funding of civil legal services is so important, as reported by the Queens Daily Eagle.

Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society, and Susan Horwitz from Legal Aid’s Education Law Project spoke to the ongoing challenges low-income clients face. Clients like Aaron Morris.

Aaron, a Brooklyn high school student, testified about how Legal Aid was able to help him navigate his virtual classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Aaron was living in a shelter, which presented numerous challenges including connectivity issues with his school-issued device.

“Eventually I missed most of my classes; I felt angry and ashamed of the city’s Department of Education [was] not doing their job to provide every kid with a working iPad,” Morris said.

Aaron’s attorney was able to secure devices that worked, but he and his father also joined Legal Aid’s class action litigation (E.G. v. The City of New York) which was filed on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless and shelter residents with school-age children against the de Blasio Administration for its failure to provide students who reside in City shelters access to reliable internet service so they could attend school remotely.

“They helped thousands of other students get an education during this pandemic,” Morris said. “In December of 2020, my shelter was finally wired for my internet access… my grades skyrocketed from a C average to an A average.”