LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF NORTHEASTERN NEW YORK
Law Clerk Opportunities 2020
The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY) provides effective, free civil legal services and education to and advocacy for people with low income or other barriers to accessing the legal system. We secure basic needs, protect and preserve legal rights, provide equal access to justice and seek fairness and dignity for all our clients. We have offices in Albany, Amsterdam, Canton, Plattsburgh and Saratoga Springs to serve low and moderate income residents of Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington Counties and the St. Regis Reservation.
Commitment to providing legal services to the poor. Excellent research and writing skills. Ability to work well under stress and time pressure. Prior relevant experience in legal services to the poor, especially law school clinical experience, and ability to speak Spanish is a plus. Must have a valid, clean driver’s license. All clerkships are unpaid. All work done with Legal Aid will count toward the 50-hour pro bono requirement for admission to the NYS Bar. Law Clerks must be willing to commit to a minimum of 10 hours per week.
Cover Letter (cover letter should state what program(s) are of interest to applicant), Resume, List of References, and Writing Sample are required. Submit your materials to:
Robert R. Romaker, Esq.
95 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
LASNNY is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, the elderly, LGBTQ, Protected Veterans and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
Below are descriptions of the various programs offered at LASNNY. Please specify which program(s) you are interested in working with in your cover letter. Clerks generally gain experience in interacting with clients; researching and writing both court documents and client correspondence; attending court appearances, administrative hearings, or other meetings, and exposure to a law firm environment.
Advocacy Coordinator – Albany
LASNNY’s Advocacy Coordinator fosters, prosecutes, and co-counsels systemic advocacy—advocacy intended to take on bad acts which affect multiple people–throughout the organization’s entire service area. Systemic advocacy includes litigation, non-litigation advocacy, informal advocacy/persuasion, community engagement, and individual cases which engage a harmful pattern or practice. Representative issues include a lawsuit against the state to enforce clients’ rights to SSP benefits; complex litigation (in tandem with other attorneys and nonprofits) on behalf of employees whose pensions were abruptly discontinued; litigation against Code Enforcement in federal and state court; and affirmative litigation against the landlords of numerous unlivable buildings.
The Advocacy Coordinator’s clerk will observe and participate in client interviews and will also contact clients and other parties as requested. Proofing, editing, and drafting paperwork—from letters to court documents—is an integral part of this position, which requires excellent research and writing skills. While the demands of this position are variable, this clerk will almost certainly participate in court appearances and/or preparation. This may include observation, conferences, mooting arguments, or appearing as appropriate under a practice order, and the clerk could appear in administrative hearings, justice or city court, Supreme Court, or federal court. This position may require daytime travel among LASNNY’s offices.
Children’s Law Project (CLP) – Albany
The CLP provides legal advice and representation for low-income children with disabilities. Issues handled include initial eligibility for special education; violations of the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the McKinney-Vento Act; school discipline; school transportation; bullying, and Supplemental Security Income. CLP clients live in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Columbia and Greene counties. Clerks will be responsible for drafting letters to clients, conducting client interviews and contacting clients, sending and following up on record requests, assessing and outlining documents received, organizing files and preparing folders for hearing, and researching and writing memoranda. Clerks will accompany the CLP attorney to client meetings, resolution meetings with school districts and hearings.
Consumer Law Project – Albany
The Consumer Law Project assists low income clients with non-mortgage consumer legal issues.
The Project assists clients in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene Counties in debt defense court actions (usually credit card, medical or student loan debts), stopping bank account freezes, stopping wage garnishments for consumer debts, and assisting clients with utility terminations. The clerk will be responsible for drafting pleadings, conducting client interviews and contacting clients, case development, and research and legal assessment. Law clerk will also accompany attorney to court proceedings.
Disability Advocacy Project – Albany and Saratoga Springs
DAP advocates represent clients with physical and mental impairments including, but not limited to clients suffering from intellectual limitations, anxiety, depression, HIV, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, musculoskeletal impairments, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. DAP advocates review medical, educational, and vocational records to argue if adults and children meet the rules for a finding of disability as defined by the Social Security Administration. DAP law clerks will have the opportunity to perform research and writing for federal court cases, administrative appeals, and administrative hearings. They will also call clients, observe meetings and hearings, and assist attorneys in preparation for hearings. All work performed by DAP law clerks are also performed by the DAP attorneys in our office.
Domestic Violence Legal Assistance (DVLAP) – Amsterdam
DVLAP services includes assistance with obtaining Orders of Protection, Child and Spousal Support, Custody and Visitation, and Divorce. We also assist survivors of domestic violence with their civil legal problems related to public assistance, food stamps, foreclosure, landlord/tenant, consumer, employment, and immigration issues. Clerks must have an understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and/or experience with domestic violence or sexual assault work. This clerkship will provide the student solid experience with client interviewing and counseling, petition and motion drafting, and family court practice. Student must be willing to occasionally travel for court appearances and client meetings.
Economic Justice – Albany
The goal of the Economic Justice staff attorney is to ensure that low income residents of our capital region community have sufficient income to maintain their housing and the essentials of daily living and that those in need are served by systems that are just, fair and responsive. Through the legal work of the Economic Justice attorney, households will access and secure financial supports necessary to meet basic human needs (public assistance, including emergency assistance, SNAP, Medicaid, child care assistance, unemployment insurance benefits, SSI). Through working with the individuals and families served by this project, the program also identifies and secures changes needed in the delivery of income supports and related human services so that the systems serving low income residents of the capital region respond as the law requires and in a manner that supports and develops human potential. The Economic Justice law clerk will have the opportunity to perform research and writing for fair hearings, administrative appeals, and possibly assist the attorney with Article 78 appeals. They will also call clients, observe meetings and hearings, and assist the staff attorney in preparing evidence for hearings. Clerk responsibilities will also include but are not limited to calling medical/social services providers; document review and analysis; drafting legal documents and correspondence; assisting staff attorneys in hearing/trial preparation.
Foreclosure Prevention Project (FPP) – Albany
FPP provides legal assistance to low income homeowners facing foreclosure. In addition to mortgage foreclosures, the FPP also assists eligible homeowners in tax foreclosure proceedings, and post-foreclosure evictions, as well as land contract matters and tenants residing in foreclosed properties. Clerk responsibilities include but are not limited to client contact; legal research and writing; document review and analysis; investigation; drafting legal documents and correspondence; attending client interviews, meetings, and court appearances.
HIV/AIDS Law Consortium (HALC) – Albany
The HALC program provides legal services to clients living with HIV/AIDS. HALC advocates assist with a wide range of civil matters, including Social Security, housing, end-of-life planning (wills, living wills, health care proxies, and powers of attorney), public benefits, and consumer protection. Clerk responsibilities include but are not limited to calling clients and medical/social services providers; legal research and writing; document review and analysis; drafting legal documents and correspondence; assisting staff attorneys in hearing/trial preparation; attending client interviews, meetings, and hearings.
Housing – Albany
Housing attorneys represent low income clients in Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties who are facing eviction in both city and town/village courts, termination or denial of housing vouchers (Section 8) and denial of emergency assistance by the Department of Social Services. Housing attorneys also occasionally initiate affirmative litigation to force landlords to reverse illegal evictions and/or make necessary repairs. The housing practice also includes representation in public and subsidized housing evictions, and requesting and pursuing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the Fair Housing Act, and enforcing the rights of tenants under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The clerk will be involved in drafting pleadings and correspondence, conducting client interviews and contacting clients, case development and investigation, research and legal assessment, trial and hearing preparation, and accompanying attorneys to court and administrative hearings. The clerk may also assist staff attorneys with our Attorney for the Day Program in Schenectady City Court.
Housing/Generalist – Amsterdam and Saratoga Springs Offices
The Clerk on this project would assist the Housing attorneys and intake staff to provide housing representation in the Amsterdam and/or Saratoga Springs offices. The Clerk will interview clients and witnesses, investigate claims and defenses, advocate with officials and county departments, draft responsive pleadings and affirmative defenses, and assist in trial preparation and presentation. The Clerk will work on eviction defenses, warranty of habitability cases, and administrative advocacy to secure housing-related public benefits, including ongoing and emergency cash assistance and eligibility for HUD subsidies. The Clerk may be asked to assist staff in other practices of law as needed.
The clerk on this project would assist the Housing attorneys and intake staff to provide housing representation, and would have to agree to work remotely. The clerk will interview clients and witnesses, investigate claims and defenses, advocate with officials and county departments, draft responsive pleadings and affirmative defenses, and assist in trial preparation and presentation. The clerk will work on eviction defenses, warranty of habitability cases, and administrative advocacy to secure housing-related public benefits, including ongoing and emergency cash assistance and eligibility for HUD subsidies. The clerk may be asked to assist staff in other practices of law as needed.
Re-Entry Project – Albany
The LASNNY Re-entry Project helps people overcome the adverse civil and financial impacts of criminal justice system involvement. The extern, working closely and collaboratively with a Senior Attorney, will provide legal assistance to individuals who need help sealing or correcting their criminal records and/or obtaining certificates of relief to remove barriers to employment, occupational licensing, education and other economic opportunities. The law clerk will also assist with advocacy for persons who have faced discrimination in employment, occupational licensing, housing, public benefits or other areas because of justice system involvement. The law clerk will help with place-based legal services and projects, including helping to coordinate know-your-rights trainings and legal clinics at partner organizations in the Capital District.