Volunteer Opportunities

All NYLAG volunteers share a desire to promote equal access to justice for those unable to afford representation. NYLAG volunteers have diverse backgrounds, from retired attorneys, to attorneys in transition, to law students and law graduates. NYLAG also accepts undergraduate volunteers, volunteer translators and other non-legal volunteers, including volunteers to assist with administrative, development, finance and other general operations.

Volunteers commit to working minimum of 2 days or 15 hours per week either at NYLAG’s Manhattan headquarters or at community offices across the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, Rockland or Westchester. Supervising NYLAG attorneys oversee the work of NYLAG volunteers, who interact directly with clients and can expect to provide legal and factual research, litigation preparation, client advocacy, discovery, motion practice and more.

If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities available at NYLAG, fill out the short online form to let us know about your background, interests and availability. To fill out the form, click here.

If you are interested in volunteering with a specific NYLAG project, please send a resume and cover letter to [email protected].  In the cover letter, please indicate the days, hours, and duration of your availability; list the particular opportunity or project(s) in which you would be interested in volunteering; and your relevant background and experience in each area.

Immediate volunteer opportunities:

Language Access Volunteer

NYLAG is launching the Language Access Volunteer program to enhance its ability to provide high-quality, free civil legal services to poor and near-poor New Yorkers in one of the most diverse metropolitans in the world. Volunteers skilled in translation and interpretation will work closely with NYLAG attorneys to interpret during client interviews, meetings, and court proceedings, and to translate legal documents. Language Access Volunteers will significantly increase NYLAG’s capacity to work with low-income clients of diverse backgrounds.

The Language Access Volunteers (LAVs) will provide “on-call” availability time(s) and contact information, which NYLAG attorneys, paralegals and staff will use to contact volunteers directly when they require language assistance. All translation/interpretation work will occur on weekdays during normal business hours. Currently there are immediate and ongoing opportunities available for Language Access Volunteers (LAVs) with a fluency in written translation for languages listed below.

This is an excellent opportunity for bi-lingual/multi-lingual volunteers interested in law to learn about civil legal proceedings, and receive hands-on experience working with clients and in collaboration with experienced attorneys and legal staff. Law students are encouraged to apply. (More…)

General volunteer placements

Consumer Debt Defense Project 

The Consumer Debt Defense program supports unrepresented litigants in consumer debt cases in New York City’s Civil Courts. Volunteers have the opportunity to represent clients in court, negotiate with opposing counsel, and argue before a judge.

Disability Assistance Project

The Disability Assistance Project (DAP) helps people with disabilities secure entitlements such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). When individuals submit thorough, complete applications for benefits, Social Security may approve benefits within 4 months. Often, however, Social Security denies individuals who submit applications without legal counsel. When individuals are required to appeal an initial Social Security determination, they may not receive benefits for up to 2 years. Assisting clients at the initial application stage is a significant unmet need. DAP volunteers prepare initial applications for SSI and SSDI benefits by interviewing clients, preparing and processing client applications, and researching and drafting legal memoranda. Volunteers may also work on appeals of initial Social Security determinations.

Elder Law Project

The focus of the Elder Law Project is to assist seniors with a variety of legal issues, including wills, advanced directives, health care law, housing, consumer fraud, and access to public benefits. Volunteer responsibilities include maintaining and updating client files, conducting intakes, and assisting with drafting and filing client documents.

Family Law Unit (FLU)

FLU provides consultation, advocacy and representation in a wide range of family law issues, prioritizing assistance to victims of domestic violence.  Services include representation in divorces, child custody/ visitation, orders of protection, spousal and child support, as well as appeals of adverse decisions in cases involving domestic violence. FLU volunteers have extensive client contact, including drafting petitions and motions, assisting petitioners with orders of protection, and other work on a variety of active matters on FLU’s docket, including uncontested/contested divorces in Supreme Court and custody/visitation matters in Family Court and the Integrated Domestic Violence Courts (IDV). Fluent Spanish, Mandarin and Russian-speakers are encouraged to apply.

Foreclosure Prevention Project

The Foreclosure Prevention Project provides legal representation and court-based services for borrowers with subprime and unconventional mortgages facing foreclosure. The project also includes community education and financial counseling. Volunteer responsibilities will include client intakes and interviews at the Foreclosure Clinic in the Bronx, assisting with settlement conferences, and assembling modification packets. Volunteers also assist on cases for clients impacted by Sandy.

Holocaust Compensation Assistance Project

The Holocaust Compensation Assistance Project (H-CAP) provides the survivor community with accurate information and legal assistance regarding compensation and restitution programs, as well as other areas of concern. Volunteers assist Holocaust survivors in applying for and/or appealing denials of restitution and compensation from foreign countries and programs administered by the Claims Conference on Material Claims Against Germany.

 

Immigrant Protection Unit (IPU)

NYLAG’s IPU assists immigrants with applications necessary to obtain legal residency and citizenship, including assistance to victims of domestic violence.  IPU also helps immigrant clients obtain and retain appropriate government benefits and employment authorizations. Volunteers responsibilities include preparing applications for asylum, naturalization, self-petitions for domestic violence victims, T visas for victims of human trafficking, and U visas for victims of crimes. Volunteers also do extensive legal research and draft comprehensive legal memoranda for submission to Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit.

Justice at Work Project

The Justice at Work Project provides representation in cases involving wage and hour issues (overtime, unpaid wages, minimum wage claims), as well as a broad range of other employment law issues. Volunteer responsibilities include client interviewing, maintaining client files, legal writing and research.

LegalHealth

LegalHealth partners with medical professionals to address the non-medical needs of low-income people with serious health problems. LegalHealth complements health care with legal care – providing free legal services in medical facilities and training healthcare professionals to understand the legal issues their patients face. Volunteers conduct client intake, and develop and implement legal strategies to solve clients’ legal issues.

LGBTQ Law Project

The LGBTQ Law Project serves New York City’s low-income Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities by providing free representation and advice on a wide array of civil legal matters and offering group trainings on legal issues affecting the LGBTQ communities. The LGBTQ Law Project provides free representation in the following areas: housing discrimination, legal name and document change, immigration issues, orders of protection, public benefits, custody and visitation, living will preparation, second parent or joint adoption and more. Volunteer responsibilities include conducting intakes, interviewing clients, legal research, drafting and filing client documents, and maintaining and updating client files.

Mediation Research Project

The Mediation Project works with low-income couples who have chosen to mediate their divorce or family law disputes instead of using traditional litigation. Volunteers will conduct legal research and writing on a variety of family, matrimonial and mediation legal issues. The research will be used to compile a Mediation Research binder for pro bono attorneys who serve as consulting and review attorneys to people in mediation. Volunteers may also work on an uncontested divorce, which will involve interviewing clients and drafting documents to be filed in court.

Mobile Legal Help Center (MLHC)

The MLHC is the country’s first-ever legal services office and courtroom on wheels. The MLHC contains four private meeting areas for attorneys and clients and is equipped with high-speed Internet and state-of-the-art technology and travels throughout the five boroughs and parts of Long Island and Westchester, focusing on areas with limited public transportation options. Volunteers help staff the MLHC by conducting intakes and interviews aboard the MLHC and providing advice and representation on public benefits, housing, immigration, consumer and family law issues.

Project FAIR

Project FAIR provides access to information for pro se public benefits applicants and recipients about their legal rights in the New York State administrative “fair hearing” process concerning food stamps, public assistance and Medicaid benefits.

Public Benefits

Public Benefits volunteers will help clients secure entitlements such as food stamps, home care, and Medicaid. Responsibilities include maintaining client files, conducting intakes, and assisting with the preparation and processing of client documents.

Special Education Unit

To ensure that disabled children receive the best possible opportunities to learn and grow, NYLAG’s Special Education Unit offers consultation and representation to low income families on a variety of educational issues. Volunteers address such matters as the adequacy of child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), the appropriateness of child’s school placement, and a child’s need for related services, such as speech and language therapy.

Special Litigation Unit (SLU)

SLU monitors the delivery of government benefits and services, as well as the changes in basic entitlements. When systemic problems become evident, SLU initiates class action and other impact lawsuits on behalf of groups of individuals who experience a problem representative of a broad failure in the system. Volunteers conduct legal research and factual investigation, draft legal memoranda and court documents, and assist with motion practice and discovery in pending lawsuits. Volunteers attend court proceedings and/or case-related meetings and conferences. Spanish speakers are encouraged to apply.

Storm Response Unit (SRU)

SRU was formed in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy as part of NYLAG’s comprehensive disaster relief program to assist victims of the storm deal with a range of legal issues. SRU provides direct client representation on disaster appeals, operates a legal help line and partners with community organizations around the New York metropolitan area. Volunteers assist with various storm-related matters, including FEMA claims, housing matters, consumer matters and much more.  Intern responsibilities will include research and advocacy in support of storm victims, assistance with the Storm Relief hotline, and off-site visits.

Tenants’ Rights Unit

NYLAG’s Tenants’ Rights Unit (TRU) represents low-income tenants who are at risk of eviction in Housing Court and before various government agencies. TRU assists clients on such matters as nonpayment and holdover proceedings, Section 8, SCRIE, DRIE and other housing matters. 

Total Life Choices

Total Life Choices assists individuals in taking control of their health care wishes in the event that illness or injury renders them unable to do so. Volunteers have extensive client contact and assist with drafting Last Wills and Testaments, preparing Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives, and developing legal forms. Spanish and Cantonese-speakers preferred.