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 public benefits, 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 carry their own public benefits caseloads, with the objective of independently representing clients in several fair hearings by the end of the second semester of the clinic. The students will also 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 where public assistance benefits, SNAP benefits (?food stamps?), housing subsidies and Medicaid have been adversely affected by agency action. Students will work with clients and meet with their supervising attorneys at NYLAG's offices - one stop away from the Law School - and are expected to spend 12-15 hours a week on clinical casework. Student work stations, client interview rooms, and conference rooms will be available at NYLAG offices for the purpose of this casework at NYLAG?s offices. 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 hearings. 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. John?s Law School.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade only based on performance in the seminar and fieldwork.