Taught by NYLAG Senior Staff Attorney and Project FAIR Co-Director Christopher Portelli, and NYLAG Senior Staff Attorney Camille Zentner, the Economic Justice Clinic is a two-semester clinical program available to second and third year law students at St. John’s University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. Through this partnership between NYLAG and the two law schools, students learn the basics of economic justice and the law, including how to address the needs of low income, disabled, and homeless New Yorkers attempting to navigate the social safety net.

Skills and areas covered:

  • Basic legal advocacy skills
  • Substantive areas of public benefits law
  • Assisting individuals in obtaining and maintaining their public benefits (including food stamps, public assistance, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and others)
  • Representing public benefits recipients at due process hearings
  • Challenging adverse agency actions to discontinue, reduce or deny clients their benefits.

Students have a wide variety of opportunities to interact with the economic justice community in New York City. They represent clients at fair hearings under the supervision of an attorney in the public benefits practice at NYLAG. Working alongside seasoned welfare advocates and benefits lawyers, students also learn how to provide pro se assistance and legal information to clients. Project FAIR, a coalition of legal services and social service organizations, works with the students to staff legal help desk in New York City’s central fair hearing center.

Seminar classes are held at NYLAG, St. John’s and Brooklyn Law School.