Civil legal service providers form a vital part of the web of programs that help protect at-risk New Yorkers and their families.  Federal and state funds support the provision of legal services to indigent persons affected by foreclosure, eviction, domestic violence, unemployment, disability and other matters that directly impact family stability and quality of life.   

Severe economic conditions swell demand for these critical services while reducing funds available to support them.  The New York Interest on Lawyer Account ("IOLA") Fund created in 1983 to expand funding for these vital programs, dramatically lost revenue in 2009 due to economic contraction and historically low interest rates.  With only $6.5 million to distribute in 2010, compared to $31 million in 2008, IOLA cannot meet soaring demand for civil legal services at the very time that at-risk New Yorkers most need them.  Absent reforms, the storm of foreclosures, evictions, unemployment and other challenges affecting families statewide will have even more severe impacts. 

For these reasons, the Senate is taking a fresh look at New York's civil legal services system, with the goal of ensuring that it remains equal to its responsibilities to at-risk New Yorkers and the cause of equal justice under law. 

 

Initiative Updates

Chief Judge Lippman to Testify at Joint Public Hearing to Address Civil Legal Service Funding Crisis

Committed to meeting the needs of individuals and families facing foreclosure, domestic violence, eviction proceedings and other civil legal issues, New York State Senators John Sampson, Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein will sponsor a joint hearing with the Assembly on Thursday, January 7, 2010 to explore the need for reform of the civil legal service system to ensure that core justice values are protected for all New Yorkers in this difficult economy. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York State Court of Appeals is scheduled to testify. 

January 6, 2010
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Senate Majority Committed to Protecting the Rights of At-Risk Families

Senators Hassell-Thompson And Sampson Sponsor Hearings To Explore The Need For Reform Of The Civil Legal Service System To Ensure That We Protect Families And Core Justice Values In This Hard Economy.

December 16, 2009
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December 15, 2009
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December 15, 2009
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December 15, 2009
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Civil legal services need New Yorkers' support

During the budget negotiations, I listened carefully to the leaders of the teachers unions, communication workers, transit workers, health care workers and scores of other hard-working unions and associations. I have also listened to leaders from corporate America and heads of federal and state agencies.

December 15, 2009
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