NY Court of Appeals Announcement Welcome News for Unrepresented Immigrants
New York City – Human Rights First welcomes yesterday’s announcement by New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman that applicants for admission to the New York State Bar will now be required to contribute 50 hours of free legal pro bono service before they can practice law in New York State. Such a requirement could be a huge help to the thousands of unrepresented immigrants in need of legal assistance. As the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recognized last year, the state of immigration representation in our country is in a “dire crisis.” In December 2011, the Katzmann Study Group on Immigrant Representation reported that a large number of non-detained immigrants in New York are unrepresented in their immigration court proceedings. Nationally, there is a particularly acute need for legal representation for detained individuals: approximately 84% of immigration detainees are unrepresented in their immigration proceedings. “We hope that this announcement will encourage more attorneys in New York to take on pro bono matters, including for indigent immigrants and asylum seekers who are often left to navigate immigration proceedings without the benefit of legal counsel,” said Human Rights First’s Lori Adams. “Day in and day out, we see what a difference quality pro bono attorneys make in the lives of indigent refugees and immigrants.” Human Rights First operates a pro bono representation program that supports volunteer lawyers who represent indigent asylum seekers in their immigration proceedings. Other legal service providers that also operate programs matching pro bono attorneys with asylum seekers and immigrants in New York include The City Bar Justice Center, Immigration Equality, The Door, Kids In Need of Defense, and Sanctuary for Families. Human Rights First is a proud participant in the Katzmann Study Group on Immigrant Representation, and a recipient of the Leon Levy Fellowship to increase quality pro bono representation of indigent asylum-seekers in New York. For more information about Human Rights First’s pro bono program, click here.