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Friday, August 8, 2008

Coordinating Public Interest or Public Cover Up?

With New Hire, Pace Law Launches Public Interest Center
The New York Law Journal by Thomas Adcock - August 08, 2008

On Monday, Jennifer Friedman will report to work at Pace Law School as director of the Public Interest Law Center, an initiative long in the talking stage among faculty and students at the White Plains campus and now finally made real by Dean Michelle Simon. "We need to bring under a single roof all the various public interest activities already going on, and expand into areas that are not strong at the moment," said Ms. Friedman, an attorney with the nonprofit Sanctuary for Families for the past 10 years.

At Sanctuary, Ms. Friedman was founding director of the Courtroom Advocates Project, which brokered pro bono representation for victims of domestic violence in New York City's Family Courts and 10 other jurisdictions around the state. The project trained some 6,200 law students and private firm summer associates at 45 Manhattan firms in advocating for battered women. Ms. Friedman's portfolio at Pace Law is "wide open," said Dean Simon. She said Ms. Friedman was hired over 100 other applicants in large part because "she's built these kinds of things before." Rachel Littman, an attorney and assistant dean for career development at Pace Law, credited Ms. Simon, a longtime faculty member who became dean in May after serving as interim dean since last August, with giving the final push needed to establish the Public Interest Law Center. "Ideas about it had been batted around for years, but for whatever reason we never consolidated a center," said Ms. Littman. "Dean Simon picked up the reins and pulled everything together." The absence of what Ms. Friedman terms a "clearinghouse" for public interest law, which exists in one way or another at New York state's other 14 law campuses, was "just a gap that always seemed to be there," according to Ms. Simon, who promoted the matter as a priority.

"When I became interim dean and gained a little power - not much, but a little - I started talking seriously with the faculty and students, and I managed to find the money," said Ms. Simon. "The idea was there, so it didn't take my convincing people. Like many things, it just took somebody to make it happen." For the moment, the new center's budget encompasses only Ms. Friedman's salary, described by Ms. Littman as "less than a first-year associate at a major firm." Eventually, there will be additional salaries to pay, as well as stipends for summer internships and a loan forgiveness program for graduates entering low-paying public service jobs. Students at Pace Law represent clients through faculty-supervised clinics and field externship programs in environmental litigation, disability law, criminal defense, investor rights and immigration law - as well as special Pace Law programs in environmental law, land use and real estate law and women's justice. Ms. Friedman indicated one of the big areas of pro bono legal help she might add to the school's existing agenda.

"One of the huge legal needs now in Westchester County is related to the mortgage crisis," she said. "There are people in danger of losing their homes, people whose only equity was their house. They can't sell their homes for as much as they borrowed. These are people just a step away from poverty, and we should keep that from happening." She added, "There are a number of social ills that follow from losing a home. Families go into a downward spiral, which is extremely destabilizing. It's not in society's interest to have that happen." In addition to formulating the new center's mission and individual initiatives as its inaugural director, Ms. Friedman will serve as associate director for public interest counseling and placement at Pace Law's Center for Career Development. She will also serve as Pace Law's liaison to the Westchester County Pro Bono Local Action Committee, co-chaired by Francis A. Nicolai, administrative judge of the Ninth Judicial District; Westchester County Surrogate Anthony A. Scarpino Jr.; and Erin Noelle Guven, pro bono coordinator for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. -


Anonymous said...

Instead of the fox looking out for the public chickens, we'll have a weasel looking out for the interest of the fox.

Anonymous said...

I can't stop laughing. This woman will be working with Westchester's two biggest hoodlums: Nicolai and Scarpino. Who said the mob isn't alive and well?

Anonymous said...

It was assumed when they took the Sopranos off the air!

Anonymous said...

I know the feds raided the matramonial court in white plains.... and it's been kept pretty hush-hush. anyone know what happened? anyone talking to the federal agents?

Anonymous said...

I think they may have created this center so they know what's coming down the road. Pace is up to its eyeballs in everything that is wrong with the courts in Westchester. Among their faculty are all the scum attorneys and judges that control what is supposed to be the legal system there.
I have met many who have gone to them for help from other "centers" they have created. They haven't done anything to help anyone. You can tell them what the problem is, but they never can do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

these are the public enemies that have destroyed our legal system

Anonymous said...

Good idea...let them get used to the BACK DOOR!

Anonymous said...

nothing will happen.
They are using this as a clearinghouse to say what is going on is legal. Another one of thier rubber stamped clearinghouses is the ACLU. A few years ago I contacted the ACLU i told them what my former lawyer did was illegal violated my civil rights. The woman that answered refused to listen she said what ever the lawyer did could not have violated my civil rights. She refused to listen and said they would not look into charges against a lawyer. Remember the Manhattan ACLU is the same people that defended the rights for the KKK to
hold a march in N.Y.C a few years ago. I must be worst than the KKK

Anonymous said...

ACLU in upstate NY is just as crooked! I called them regarding some very intense discrimination issues, 3 yrs ago, that had real documenatation. The male lawyer that answered, not only appeared angry and annoyed and refused to even listen to the complaint, but hung up when I asked him what it is he did handle!
This agency just likes publicity for dramatic newsworthy items. They are as bad as the EEOC...federal hack agencies that are fronts for supplying jobs to political groups, that employ women and minorities!

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion, the "women's rights group," Sanctuary for Families, is nothing more than a man-hating feminazi group designed to unfairly castrate all men in the Family Court system.

As an Attorney in New York, especially in the Family Court setting, it is commonly heard on the rumor-mill amongst attorneys that Sanctuary for Families routinely engages in illegal and unethical ex-parte communication with Family Court Judges, Divorce Judges, and Child Custody Judges. There a few official court complaints posted online stating that Sanctuary for Families is known for actively obstructing justice by unfairly and illegally interfering with the proper administration of justice with little to no concern for the truth or facts in a case.

It is also suspected amongst many Family Court Attorneys that there are a great deal of illegal business ties, financial transactions, "favors" done for people by Sanctuary for Families, and money bribes that are cleverly covered up and disguised by and between Sanctuary for Families and Family and Divorce Court Judges, Clerks, and others involved in the process, sometimes for political purposes against targeted individuals whom they want to hurt or destroy.

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