Clinic - Economic Justice: NYLAG Public Benefits

Credits: 3.00
Faculty: Christopher Portelli, Camille Zentner

This clinic provides students an in-depth experience of welfare benefits practice and economic justice advocacy. Students work to ensure that individuals and families access and maintain basic survival necessities to which they are entitled, helping individuals and families navigate the City's complex public benefits bureaucracy.

Students in this Clinic, working under the supervision of two NYLAG (New York Legal Assistance Group) attorneys, will staff the Project FAIR Legal Help Desk and the Mobile Legal Help Center to conduct intake, interview potential clients, and investigate cases for hearing representation by students where public assistance, food stamps, shelter allowance, housing subsidy and Medicaid have been adversely affected by agency action. Students will meet with clients and their supervisors at NYLAG's offices - one stop away from the Law School - and are expected to spend 12-15 hours a week on this fieldwork. Student work stations, client interview rooms, and conference rooms will be available at NYLAG offices for the purpose of this fieldwork. Student work will be focused on representation of clients at administrative fair hearings (administrative mini- trials against City representatives at which students deliver opening and closing statements, examine witnesses, and submit memoranda of law). Students will also engage in informal advocacy for clients with state and local agencies and agency attorneys. At the end of the year, a student is likely to have upwards of 20 cases, many of which proceed to hearing. Students also will participate in other activities of the NYLAG public benefits practice, including community outreach and education programs and identification of possible issues in the practice to be pursued through impact litigation work.

Seminar Credits: 2.00

At the weekly seminar, students will learn substantive law, lawyering skills relevant to their work, and will have to opportunity to hear from a wide range of speakers and specialists from government, legal service providers and the bench. The seminar will include students from both BLS and St. Johns Law School.

The benefits practice intersects with areas of family law, in particular child support and domestic violence issues, immigration law, in particular immigrant access and complicated benefits budgeting, and disability law, concerning ensuring equal access to benefits for people with disabilities, among many others practice areas. Seminar: Mondays, 3-5 pm at NYLAG Offices, 7 Hanover Square, NY, NY

Enrollment Notes: This clinic requires a two-semester commitment.