Proskauer Rose Donates $422,000 to NYLAG

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Left to Right: Proskauer COO Art Gurwitz, NYLAG President Yisroel Schulman, NYLAG Board Chair Abby Milstein, Proskauer Partner Claire Gutekunst, former Proskauer Chairman and current NYLAG Board Vice Chair Alan Jaffe.

On March 6, 2012, at a ceremony in its midtown offices, Proskauer Rose LLP presented NYLAG with a check for $422,000, representing the law firm’s share of legal fees received in settlement of the Belovic v. Doar action, in which Proskauer was co-counsel with NYLAG. This generous contribution honors the firm’s pro bono commitment to providing equal access to justice and recognizes its longstanding partnership with NYLAG.

Belovic is a class action lawsuit that challenged the City’s Adult Protective Services (APS)’s systemic failure to provide mandated services to mentally and physically disabled adults. In its role as co-counsel, Proskauer dedicated thousands of pro bono hours to this case since the initial filing in April 2007. APS’s dysfunction caused elderly and disabled New Yorkers to go without food, home care, medical care, and in some cases caused them to be unnecessarily placed in nursing homes. NYLAG and Proskauer claimed that the agency APS inadequately administered the program, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, New York Social Services Law, and the federal and state constitutions. “The goal was to incite institutional reform,” noted Jane Greengold Stevens, Director of NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit. The Court approved a settlement in January 2012, which requires APS to make changes and to provide information to allow NYLAG and Proskauer to monitor its compliance on an ongoing basis.

Proskauer Chief Operating Officer Art Gurwitz presented NYLAG Chair Abby Milstein with the six-figure check in front of a packed audience of Proskauer and NYLAG attorneys. Stacey Fahey, Proskauer Director of Pro Bono, and Alan Jaffe, former Proskauer Chairman and current NYLAG Board Vice-Chair, spoke about their desire to continue cultivating an ongoing partnership between the two organizations.

A portion of the donation is being used to create and fund the Proskauer Special Litigation Fellowship at NYLAG. Claire Gutekunst, lead counsel for Proskauer on Belovic v. Doar, spoke about the case and introduced NYLAG’s Eileen Connor, who is the first attorney to hold the new position. Connor updated the audience about her first two months on the job and her work on several new potential actions to protect the rights of vulnerable New Yorkers. The remainder of the Proskauer donation will support general operations and enable NYLAG to file additional class action law suits that address systemic problems.

Kicking-off another successful co-venture, NYLAG President Yisroel Schulman delivered a brief presentation on NYLAG’s new Mobile Legal Help Center. Attorneys from Proskauer plan to provide monthly volunteer staffing of this new mobile legal services office and courtroom, which was developed in partnership with the New York State Courts’ Access to Justice Program.

For more photos of the event, visit our Facebook album at www.facebook.com/newyorklag.