Sunday, January 10, 2010

NYS Court System Institutes Volunteer Program To Attract Retired Attorneys In Effort To Reduce Lopsided Lawsuits Against Poor Defendants

The New York Times reports:

  • The recession has swelled the number of people showing up in New York State courts who cannot afford lawyers to 2.1 million annually, often turning eviction, foreclosure, debt collection and other civil cases into lopsided battles that raise questions about the fairness of the legal system.

  • In response, the state court system is beginning an unusual new program this week to try to fill the gap with volunteer retired lawyers, hoping partly to attract Baby Boomer lawyers who may be ready to slow down but are not keen on full-time golf.

  • New York’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, said in an interview that officials changed the state’s rules this week to add a new category of lawyer, attorney emeritus, that will free lawyers of some burdens of full-time practice, like paying for malpractice insurance, while channeling them to dozens of legal programs around the state that represent low-income people without charge. Until now, lawyers were required to register with the state as either active or retired.


  • In the New York program, lawyers over 55 who register in the attorney emeritus category will be trained and supervised in the work for low-income clients. [...] Bar associations and other groups around the country have worked for decades to increase lawyers’ volunteer efforts. Court officials said that at least six states, including Florida, Illinois and Nevada, have attorney emeritus programs like the one New York is adopting.

For more, see Courts Seek More Lawyers to Help the Poor.

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