New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman delivered remarks at the 2012 NYLAG Gala.

The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) held its second annual Gala on April 24, 2012 at the historic Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. The elegant affair honored Joseph Polizzotto, General Counsel of Deutsche Bank Americas and longtime NYLAG Board member; and Amy Schulman, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Pfizer Inc, and President & General Manager of Pfizer Nutrition. Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York, delivered the keynote address. Nearly 550 people attended the benefit, which raised over $1.25 million to support NYLAG’s mission of providing high-quality, free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford attorneys.

This year’s Gala focused on “Improving Health through Legal Assistance” by celebrating the diverse health-related aid NYLAG provides to its clients, including a commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the agency’s LegalHealth division. Attendees enjoyed a cocktail reception and silent auction, with music provided by artists from The Julliard School. Guests then moved to the Grand Ballroom for the dinner program hosted by award-winning journalist Jane Hanson, which included the premiere of a new video about NYLAG’s work to improve its clients’ health. Watch the film here.

In his remarks, Attorney General Schneiderman highlighted his personal engagement with NYLAG, stating, “There really is no organization that works better with my office, and has worked better with me in every phase of my career […] than NYLAG.” He went on to add, “NYLAG is the most creative of all legal services organizations in combining pro bono work with public funding in creative ways and aggressive ways, and in filling this gap to provide services to the truly poor and to those who would otherwise fall through the cracks or are not eligible for other legal services.” Mr. Schneiderman concluded by expressing his heartfelt admiration: “The creative and innovative strategies of NYLAG should be […] emulated by other organizations all over the state. You are a model; you are an example; you are a success.” Watch the full speech here.

2012 NYLAG Gala Honorees were Joseph Polizzotto of Deutsche Bank and Amy Schulman of Pfizer, Inc.

As the recipient of the 2012 Corporate Leadership Award, Amy Schulman spoke about Pfizer’s longstanding partnership with NYLAG. Lawyers from Pfizer and its Alliance firms work together in the Pro Bono Alliance at NYLAG’s clinic at the NYU Cancer Center to address the life-planning needs of patients. Ms. Schulman articulated, “We are very grateful for the partnership we have with NYLAG that allows members of our firms and within the Pfizer community to really touch the lives of so many people. We have worked with Samantha, a Lupus victim who wanted to stay at work because she needed to keep the health insurance that came from full time employment, but her employer was unwilling to extend the appropriate benefits. We explained her rights to them and she was able to continue getting access to the health insurance that she needed.”

To close the evening, Joseph Polizzotto received the 2012 Visionary of Justice Award, in honor of his dedication and leadership during his six-year tenure on NYLAG’s Board of Directors. Mr. Polizzotto summed up his feelings by saying, “The most impressive part of the organization is its reach. NYLAG shoots for the fences. There’s a lot of high profile litigation that they have successfully prosecuted in this State, but when you look at the metric of around 60,000 people served last year – anything from a nettlesome family law issue to an immigration problem – NYLAG has been there to support our community, and their uplifting of our community in NYC benefits all of us in this room.”

Gala Underwriter Proskauer Rose LLP received an award in recognition of its pro bono and financial contributions to NYLAG.

Underwriting for the Gala was generously provided by Proskauer Rose LLP, which was recognized with a special award during the dinner for its pro bono and financial support of NYLAG. The evening’s Co-Chairs were Joseph Allerhand, Senior Partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Gary Hattem, President, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation; and Bradley Lerman, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Pfizer Inc. More than fifty law firms participated as event sponsors.

For photos of the event, please visit http://www.facebook.com/NYLegalAssistanceGroup.