Legal Aid Society

Fighting for Racial Equity

New York is one of the most diverse cities in the country. We demand equal justice for all New Yorkers—regardless of who they are or where they come from.

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Every day, in courthouses and communities across the city, we advocate for the rights of all New Yorkers. Learn more about the services we provide.

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Making a Difference

Projects, Units & Initiatives

Our specialized teams have experience working on nearly every area of law that impacts New Yorkers. Explore the ways we fight on behalf of clients and communities.

Our Impact

A National Model for Marijuana Legalization

New York’s groundbreaking Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a law The Legal Aid Society helped draft, was signed into law in March 2021. The bill provides a national model on how to shift from excessively punitive approaches to restorative social justice.

The legislation legalizes adult personal use of cannabis and drastically downgrades penalties for illegal use, eliminating many of the most harmful and destructive effects that had characterized marijuana prosecutions of otherwise law-abiding New Yorkers. It creates and regulates a legal marketplace for cannabis sales that ensures that revenue from the legal sale of marijuana is reinvested into communities targeted by prohibition.

The law also provides for the automatic expungement of hundreds of thousands of cannabis-related convictions, the vast majority of which involve Black and Latinx individuals, allowing them to move forward with their lives unencumbered by the legacy of the disastrous War on Drugs.

Our Work with Partners

Challenging Landlord Discrimination

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP co-counseled a class action lawsuit filed challenging a Brooklyn landlord’s alleged discrimination of Latino tenants and fraudulent deregulation of rent-stabilized apartments at two buildings in Sunset Park.

Cahill’s outstanding work led to a settlement that forced the landlord to re-regulate over 60 apartments in two buildings, obtain a new management company and refrain from engaging in a wide range of discriminatory behavior.

Altagracia Tejada  Class Action Plaintiff  

By the Numbers

Our work touches the lives of the most disenfranchised groups in New York City, and pushes our society closer to racial equity through individual and systemic anti-racism representation and advocacy.

87%

Of clients served by the Civil Practice identify as BIPOC.

88%+

Of clients served by the Criminal Defense Pratice identify as BIPOC.

90%+

Of incarcerated New Yorkers identify as non-white.

A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.

Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.

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