Browse the latest Pro Bono Opportunities at The Legal Aid Society.
NOTE: These opportunities are only available to attorneys affiliated with firms that have an established pro bono relationship with The Legal Aid Society.
If you are interested in working on one of these matters, please contact the Pro Bono Counsel at your law firm to receive authorization and check conflicts.
Our Health Law Unit seeks assistance for our client in obtaining reimbursement from her healthcare plan and its third-party contractor for the cost and installation of a hydrotherapy bathtub.
Ms. G lives with her brother, who is also her caretaker. Her Medicare Advantage Plan (the plan) agreed to pay for a specific hydrotherapy tub and its installation in her brother’s home to alleviate the symptoms of various health conditions. A third-party vendor was contracted by the plan and received an advanced check for the entirety of the cost of the service, which included a built-in tub, installation, and shipping. The third-party vendor shipped the wrong tub to the home, which did not provide the required hydrotherapy. Complicating the problem, the bathroom had already been demolished to coincide with the scheduled delivery and installation of the built-in tub. Unable to resolve the many issues with the original delivery of services and needing to use the home’s bathroom, our client’s brother paid out-of-pocket for the hydrotherapy tub and for a contractor to complete the installation.
Despite providing extensive documentation of the incurred costs due to the third-party vendor’s failure to provide the correct tub as well as provide the family with the costs for the installation as promised, the plan stated that were closing their investigation in March 2023. The plan advised the family that although they would be seeking to pull the money back from the vendor, they would not be providing Ms. G and her brother reimbursement.
Our Health Law Unit is filing a grievance against the plan as well as a complaint against the plan and third-party vendor with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services but seeks a law firm to represent our client and/or her brother on litigation against the plan and/or third-party vendor for the wrongly incurred out-of-pocket costs.
The first of the two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) opportunities involves drafting a request to compel USCIS to respond to adjudications of U and T related applications for those with an arrest and/or conviction history and litigating a denial.
Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, Congress created the U and T nonimmigrant status programs understanding that many survivors of crime and human trafficking lack immigration status and may be fearful of cooperating with law enforcement. These programs provide legal status to immigrant survivors with very few limitations and put them on a path to lawful permanent residence. As part of this Act, Congress carved out generous exceptions to waive criminal convictions for T and U applications applicants that would deem them inadmissible and ineligible for relief. However, despite these broad exceptions, practitioners have noticed a marked increase in the number of U and/or T- associated waiver adjustment applications USCIS denied for applicants with any criminal history.
This FOIA request aims to ascertain if there are discriminatory policies or guidance to reject any or all U and T applicants who have had contact with the criminal legal system. A clear understanding of this issue will allow advocates to better serve the public interest of survivors and ensure that the adjudication of these petitions is in line with Congressional intent. The pro bono attorney will work with LAS and advocacy partners RFK Human Rights and ASISTA, would review the draft FOIA request prior to its submission to USCIS, and would act as lead counsel in any federal litigation challenging the denial of the request.
The Legal Aid Society’s Housing Justice Unit is representing a client in a Bronx Housing Court matter and during the course of our representation she has expressed the need for assistance in filing an Article 81 Guardianship for her son. Our client is a single parent to a teenager who has been diagnosed with autism. She is a tireless advocate for her son while simultaneously juggling the myriad of burdens of being working poor in an expensive city. Our client is looking to obtain advice and filing assistance in anticipation of her son’s 18th birthday in October of this year.
Our Housing Justice Unit needs assistance with legal research about whether New York City’s Housing Preservation & Development agency (HPD) can be held liable for failing to follow through with their obligations under the Third-Party Transfer (TPT) asset disposition program. This research will be used to determine whether an impact litigation matter can be filed on behalf of low-income communities of color in uptown Manhattan.
A tenant association represented by our Harlem Community Law Office (HCLO) has been part of HPD’s TPT asset disposition program for 20 years. HPD created the program in the 1990s to help tenants of delinquent and dilapidated properties create new low-income cooperatives. These Housing Development Fund Corporations (HDFCs) are created through a process of transferring ownership to third party sponsors for the purpose of stabilizing the building until tenants fulfilled program requirements.
Our tenant association clients have been stuck in the process of transferring ownership despite the fact they completed rehabilitation benchmarks between 2020-2021, which was a time of increased financial difficulty. Despite their advocacy, the sponsoring agency has not offered a plan to transfer ownership and HPD has not provided guidance nor staffing to further the process.
HCLO Housing Justice staff need legal research assistance to determine what if any legal claims we can bring against the City and HPD on behalf of our clients for their unwillingness to proactively ensure that buildings are pushed through the pipeline toward eventual cooperative conversion and home ownership. Although this request is strictly for research, the volunteering firm would have the opportunity to co-counsel on future impact litigation if they have interest and capacity to do so.
Our Housing Justice Unit is defending our client in an eviction action that cannot continue until two property disputes in Supreme Court are resolved. They seek pro bono assistance on those two matters.
Our client and her family lived in the property subject to dispute for over thirty years without issue. After a period of financial strain, our client and two other claimants to the property’s title entered into a contract with a property management company to sell the property. However, the other two claimants recorded inconsistent deeds and ultimately decided not to close. These two claimants then brought an eviction action against our client, which is when The Legal Aid Society became involved.
The first Supreme Court case is an action for specific performance on the fully executed contract brought by the property management company with Legal Aid’s client named as a co-plaintiff. Legal Aid filed a motion in the Supreme Court action asking for a stay or preliminary injunction of the eviction proceeding so the title dispute could be resolved first.
Soon after the motion was filed, however, our Housing Justice Staff discovered a separate Supreme Court action from 2016. This second action was a tax lien foreclosure involving the same property. Our client was never directly named or even allegedly served. The party seeking to foreclose filed a summary judgment motion in 2020 which appears to have been granted in March of 2022.
Our client needs help identifying defenses to the tax lien foreclosure and to undo the default judgment recently entered in that action. Additionally, in the action for specific performance, Pro Bono Counsel needs to evaluate whether our client has a way to reform the contract to match her understanding or, if that is not possible, then get the best result possible under the circumstances.
Our Brooklyn Office For The Aging (BOFTA) is looking for pro bono assistance in the form of advice and consultation to a Legal Aid attorney working on behalf of an incapacitated senior whose home was stolen through fraud.
BOFTA is working on a tragic case in which title to a building on St. Marks Place was stolen from a senior citizen. He is 88 now, with diminished capacity and is in imminent danger of being evicted. The Legal Aid Society is working with counsel who were retained by our client’s Article 81 guardian to try to prevent his eviction and, hopefully, restore title to him.
Mr. C and his wife bought the building in the 1960’s. His wife died in 1975. In the early 2000’s someone tricked Mr. C into transferring title with the promise that title would be restored to him. Indeed, two deeds were signed, one with Mr. C as grantor to the fraudster, the second listed Mr. C as grantee. Both deeds were given to the fraudster who recorded only the deed granting himself title. The fraudster then took out a mortgage for roughly $670,000, pocketed the money and did not pay the mortgage. The second deed transferring title back to Mr. C was never filed. Years later, the mortgagee filed a foreclosure action. Mr. C was not named in the action but when he learned of it, he retained counsel. However, the motion to intervene in the foreclosure action was denied. As a side note, the fraudster and his lawyer were both convicted in federal court of felonies unrelated to this matter and served time in prison.
The building was sold at auction following the judgment in the foreclosure action. It was bought by a company that did not legally exist at that time. That company subsequently filed with the secretary of state. Now, the company is trying to evict Mr. C.
Mr. C has guardian pursuant to Article 81. The Guardian has retained counsel to save Mr. C’s home. Counsel brought an action in NYS Supreme Court seeking a judgment that our client re-acquired title by adverse possession after being scammed. They also are suing the lawyer who represented our client when he attempted to intervene in the foreclosure action, for malpractice. Legal Aid is handling the holdover eviction matter in Housing Court and has moved to remove the case to Supreme to consolidate it with the adverse possession case.
We are not seeking pro bono counsel to take on full representation of Mr. C. We are looking for someone who has experience in real property, foreclosure, and or consumer protection work to consult with our attorneys to help us understand whether there are legitimate issues that can be raised.
Legal Aid’s client is a 54-year-old working woman whose wages, combined with her husband’s income, and help from her daughter cover their mortgage in Queens. Our client and her husband plan to leave the family home to their adult daughters. However, the value of this asset would prevent the parents from qualifying for Medicaid and they do not wish to choose between healthcare and providing a long-term home for their daughters. The family wishes to create a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT), which would prevent the home from being considered an asset for eligibility purposes and would protect the home from Medicaid liens after the passing of our client and her husband.
The Legal Aid Society does not have the expertise to prepare a trust, so we are looking for pro bono counsel with trust and estate experience to help this family create the MAPT.
Our client is 62 years old, is permanently disabled and a recipient of SSI & Medicaid. She has a number of ailments, including diabetes and is currently on dialysis. She resides in a rent stabilized apartment. She is expected to receive a share of her husband’s retirement pension and annuity as part of the divorce. The pension will be paid in a monthly amount and the annuity will likely be paid in a lump sum. Her husband, who is currently eligible to retire under the rules of his retirement plans, intends to retire once the divorce is finalized. My client has no resources of her own, other than what she is expected to receive in the divorce. The monies in the divorce will help the client cover her rent and other basic necessities. Presently, her adult children are contributing towards her support, including her monthly rent. Since Medicaid has a resource & income limit, the client will likely lose both her SSI & Medicaid benefits once the settlement monies are paid out. This would be devastating given her poor health and costly medical treatment. The client will qualify for Medicare when she reaches the age of 65. Medicare has no income or resource limits. A special needs trust (a/k/a supplemental needs trust) where the divorce proceeds can be deposited would enable her to keep Medicaid and bridge the gap until she is eligible for Medicare.
The Legal Aid Society is representing the client in the ongoing matrimonial matter, but we do not have the experience to draft a Supplemental Needs trust. We are seeking pro bono assistance from an attorney who has experience drafting and filing a Supplemental Needs (aka Special Needs) trust.
Our client, M and her husband were married in June 1986. They had been married for approximately 32 years in 2018, The husband chose to relocate to California to live near a daughter from a previous marriage and advised M that he did not wish for her to relocate with him. M remained in the parties’ co-op apartment in the Bronx (purchased jointly in 1988) and our client’s husband continued to pay the mortgage and maintenance until about October 2019. When M’s husband stopped making the payments, he knew M had no way of making the payments on her own as her only source of income consisted of social security benefits of $1,000 per month. He, who enjoyed pension and social security income totaling about $90,0000.00 per year, was prepared to let the apartment be lost to foreclosure.
When our client’s husband stopped making payments, M filed for divorce. While she did not truly want to file, she did so on the advice of an attorney who told her that it would be the only way to secure any support and her marital share of her husband’s pension.
The divorce, commenced in October 2019, was litigated from approximately 2019 through early 2022. M’s husband was in poor health for much of 2021 and until his death in April 2022. The parties were near to settlement, which would allow M exclusive occupancy of the marital apartment and the financial means to maintain it, when her husband had a stroke in February 2022, and then later passed away in April 2022. The divorce is (to be) abated, but M will now have to contend with estate issues.
In 1988, M and her husband respectively executed wills in which each left his/her ownership interest in the co-op apartment to the other in the event of death. It seems, however, that our client’s spouse executed another will in California in 2021, in which he bequeathed his interest in the apartment to his daughter. Unfortunately, M and her husband held the apartment shares as tenants in common (instead of by the entirety or joint tenants with rights of survivorship) because when they purchased the apartment in 1988, co-op apartments were considered personal property instead of real property under NY law. Although the law later changed in this regard, they never took the necessary steps to revise the title/certificate of shares.
Consequently, M is in need of advice from pro bono counsel on the law and process of probate in California and seeks advice on her rights and how she might navigate any such proceedings, particularly if she wants to hasten things along and find some resolution sooner rather than later, especially since her home of 34 years is at issue.
Right now, M is largely being held hostage by her stepdaughter with whom she shares an incredibly acrimonious relationship. Since our initial outreach, M received a copy of her husband’s death certificate and the divorce action has been abated. It turns out that the death certificate was instead made out to reflect (falsely) that Mr. Lang’s daughter did not know if her father was married and/or to whom.
Last Updated: 1 June 2023
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