Chief Judge Announces Civil Legal Services Task Force

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman yesterday announced the names of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York. Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief; Deborah L. Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, United Auto Workers, Local 2325; and Kevin Finnegan, political director, 1199 SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East) are among the members of the Task Force.

The Chief Judge has charged the task force to come up with permanent funding mechanisms to support "affordable representation" for low-income New Yorkers. The task force is chaired by Helaine M. Barnett, who had served as president of the federal Legal Services Corporation for six years and was the Attorney-in-Charge of the Society's Civil program. Read full New York Law Journal story.


The New York Law Journal
Lippman Names 28 to Task Force to Expand Access to Legal Services
Daniel Wise

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has named 28 people to a task force charged with spearheading a court-led effort to secure adequate state funding for the representation of low-income New Yorkers in civil cases.

Judge Lippman in a statement yesterday charged the task force to come up with permanent funding mechanisms to support "affordable representation" for the state's low income citizens. An adequate level of state funding, he said, is indispensable to enable the courts to carry out their "constitutional mission" to ensure "justice for all."

The Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York will consider information gathered at hearings held in each of the four departments of the Appellate Division. The hearings will be presided over by Judge Lippman, the presiding justice of the Appellate Division within each department where the hearing is held as well as Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau and New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger or his designee.

The task force is headed by Helaine M. Barnett, who was the president of the federal Legal Services Corporation for six years. Its counsel is Marcia Levy, special counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell for pro bono. Judge Lippman's counsel, Mary C. Mone, will serve as the panel's staff counsel.

Task force members include judges, law firm partners, union officials, heads of legal services groups and managers of corporate legal departments. Serving as ex officio members are Justice Fern Fisher, the director of the courts' Access to Justice Program, John Sampson, the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee and Helene E. Weinstein, chairwoman of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The aim of the hearings will be to determine the extent and nature of unmet legal needs throughout the state. Based on those findings and information gathered by the task force, Judge Lippman will make recommendations for increased state funding.

When Judge Lippman announced the formation of the task force in May, he said the objective was to include funding for the final recommendations in the court's budget for the state's next fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2011. The judiciary is required to submit its budget by Dec. 1, 2010.

"All this plays into getting the money," Judge Lippman said at the time. "We are not just talking about it" (NYLJ, May 4).

The members of the task force are: Justice Rolando T. Acosta, Appellate Division, First Department; Steven Banks, attorney in chief, Legal Aid Society; Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, New York State Court of Appeals; Robert N. Convissar, immediate past president, Erie County Bar Association;

Mark G. Cunha, chair, Legal Services NYC, partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Stephen M. Cutler, general counsel, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Matthew Diller, dean, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Camille Siano Enders, Women's Bar Association, State Workers Compensation Board Office of Appeals, Albany; Anne Erickson, president & CEO, Empire Justice Center; Barbara Finkelstein, executive director, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley; Kevin Finnegan, political director, 1199 SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East); Alexander D. Forger, Oak Spring Farms, LLC, New York City;

Emily F. Franchina, immediate past president, Nassau County Bar Association, partner, Franchina & Giordano, Garden City; Sheila Gaddis, executive director, Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County Inc., partner, Hiscock & Barclay, Rochester; Michael E. Getnick, immediate past president, New York State Bar Association, partner, Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, Utica; Robert J. Giuffra, Jr., partner, Sullivan & Cromwell; Taa Grays, president, Network of Bar Leaders and assistant general counsel and chief of staff, MetLife; Denise Kronstadt, deputy executive director, Fund for Modern Courts; C. Bruce Lawrence, partner, Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson, Rochester; Northern District U.S. Magistrate Judge George H. Lowe, co-chair, state bar president's committee on access to justice;

E. Leo Milonas, partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Lillian Moy, executive director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York; Christopher O'Malley, executive director, The IOLA Fund of the State of New York; Bettina B. Plevan, partner, Proskauer Rose; Michael Rothenberg, executive director, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Robert C. Sheehan, of counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Lori Slutsky, president, The New York Community Trust; Deborah L. Wright, United Auto Workers, Local 2325.