What I am thankful for – Thanksgiving Day, 2012

I have much to be thankful for. Over the last several weeks, I have been privileged to lead the New York Legal Assistance Group in mobilizing a relief effort to help vulnerable New Yorkers cope with urgent legal needs in the wake of SuperStorm Sandy.

NYLAG staff working in temporary offices.

NYLAG responded quickly and deftly on October 29th because we were strong and ready on October 28th. NYLAG is a mature organization with solid fundamentals, a talented management team and staff, a skilled and supportive board, dedicated partners and generous donors. Their energy, talent and support were already in place when Sandy struck, and the result has been NYLAG at its best.

I am grateful to the NYLAG staff, who were themselves displaced from their offices and in many cases evacuated from their homes or left without power, yet who somehow managed to maintain their caseloads while turning to help an entirely new group of clients affected by the storm.

I am grateful to our longstanding supporters, many of whom contacted me even before I could get to them. To UJA-Federation of New York, which not only wrote us a check, but also opened its midtown offices to our management staff and the newly created Storm Response Unit. To the Robin Hood Foundation, which provided not only immediate financial assistance, but also portable technology that is enabling our attorneys to be more productive on the ground, 24/7. And to FJC, whose response to our request for support was, as always, both swift and so generous.

The Mobile Legal Help Center in Red Hook

I am grateful to our community-based partners and to elected officials across the City and Long Island who have coordinated and promoted events in hard-hit neighborhoods where our lawyers and volunteers are providing invaluable legal assistance. Thanks to this effective network, our services are reaching the people who need them most, both onsite at local agencies and on-board NYLAG’s Mobile Legal Help Center.

I am grateful to the legal community of New York. 11 firms (listed below) have graciously provided our lawyers with temporary office space and support, while at the same time over 1,000 lawyers from across the city have signed up for our recent trainings on FEMA applications and denials, and the growing list of other legal matters arising in the wake of the disaster. My phone still has not stopped ringing with offers of help.

In the weeks and months ahead we anticipate the need for legal assistance post-Sandy will only continue to grow. We have a long road ahead.

But today is Thanksgiving – and today I am grateful.

Cooley LLP

Kaye Scholer
 LLP

Kirkland & Ellis
 LLP

Mayer Brown

O’Melveny & Myers
 LLP

Patterson Belknap 
Webb & Tyler LLP

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Robert Half Legal

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

SNR Denton

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

This is the inaugural post in my new series “Public Interest First,” a place for me to share my thoughts about issues and events that matter, for NYLAG and for me personally. I will try to be interesting and at least occasionally provocative, but most of all succinct. I invite you to check back weekly for more posts.

Blog Post by Yisroel Schulman
President & Attorney-in-Charge

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