Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday nominated April Newbauer, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society's Queens Neighborhood Office, to the Court of Claims. April joined the Society's Civil Practice in 1991 as a supervising attorney in the Harlem Neighborhood Office. While in Harlem, April supervised the housing and government benefits practice. After she distinguished herself quickly as an excellent litigator and mentor, April was appointed Attorney-in-Charge of the Queens Neighborhood Office in 1997, where she has worked tirelessly to ensure that low-income residents of Queens have access to comprehensive representation in civil matters and has, in fact, expanded the range of services provided by the office which represents the entire borough of Queens.
April received her J.D. from New York University Law School in 1983 and began her legal career in the New York State court system, serving as a court attorney to the Honorable Elliott Wilk , a former Legal Aid attorney, in both the Civil and Supreme Courts in New York County. April was also a staff attorney at MFY Legal Services, an associate in private practice with Hartman, Ule, Rose & Ratner all before joining the Society in 1991.
April is a city-wide leader in addressing the sub-prime loan, foreclosure and consumer crisis. She identified these issues when they first arose in Queens and engineered creative legal theories to address them. As a result, the foreclosure and consumer practices are now city-wide projects at The Legal Aid Society. In addition, April has focused on the impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters, and helped secure citywide funding on behalf of The Legal Aid Society to assist the tenant victims of foreclosed owners who abandon properties, and of indifferent lenders who seek to evict them but do not provide essential services. Sudden relocation or homelessness are the real threats for these tenants and their families through no fault of their own, and she has also made these clients a priority in our eviction prevention representation. In addition to her advocacy with Legal Aid, April is immediate past Chair of the Civil Court Committee of the New York City Bar, Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the Queens County Bar Association, and a former Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Women’s Bar Association, Queens Chapter. She has also served on the Housing Court Committee and the Housing Court Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project and a member of the Consumer Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
With the help of the Office of Court Administration and three area law school clinics, April established a pilot consumer debt advocacy project in the Brooklyn Civil Court in 2006 (“CLARO”) which expanded to Manhattan and Queens in 2008. April chaired the bimonthly Consumer Advocates Task Force and served on the planning committee for the first Consumer Debt Working Conference, sponsored by the Feerick Center for Justice at Fordham Law School.
In 2009, April began the first homeowners’ assistance pilot screening project in the State, a joint Legal Aid and pro bono partnership to assist homeowners in the foreclosure crisis. Part of the original Access to Justice team of the New York State court system, April has helped establish numerous other legal assistance projects, including the Foreclosure Pilot Conference Project. Most recently, April has been involved in the foreclosure initiatives sponsored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. Recognizing the critical importance of homeowner access to legal expertise in foreclosure proceedings, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced in his 2011 “State of the Judiciary” address a program “to ensure, over time, that all homeowners who cannot afford a lawyer will be provided with legal assistance or representation at foreclosure settlement appearances.” At the Chief Judge’s request, The Legal Aid Society is leading the program’s pilot effort in Queens which April helped to set up in collaboration with the Office of Court Administration. April recently was named to the Special Task Force on Foreclosures.