At a gala Volunteer Recognition Event hosted by TD Bank in Brooklyn Heights on December 8, 2010, Brooklyn Law School’s Director of Public Service Programs, Elizabeth Kane, was recognized for her commitment to public service. The Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) presented The Letica Award to Kane “in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the development and expansion of pro bono legal services” to poor and low-income residents of Brooklyn.
VLP’s Executive Director Jeannie Costello said, “Kane has been an ardent and influential advocate of pro bono service by law students to serve the diverse and complex civil legal service needs of our New York community.”
Kane has established her role both in and outside of the Law School community by advising and mentoring students as well as by her work as a founding member of the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO). Kane played an integral role in creating CLARO Kings County, a courthouse clinic in which students assist Brooklyn residents being sued by creditors. The CLARO model is a highly respected city-wide program and is now being duplicated in other states.
Along with her in-depth, work in preparing BLS students for careers in public service, Kane has a successful track record fostering commitment among students to pro bono service. Many of the graduates whom Kane counseled as students are now among the most active pro bono volunteers at the VLP and at pro bono organizations throughout New York City.
“Brooklyn Law School has a long tradition of educating lawyers who serve the public. Each year, our students perform some 30,000 hours of pro bono work. Betsy is a wonderful role model for our students. She literally practices what she preaches and we are proud of her efforts,” said Interim Dean Michael Gerber.
The Law School’s pro bono program has expanded to seventeen in-house pro bono projects. Initially students began offering support to clients in the areas of domestic violence and public assistance programs. As the needs expanded, the Law School met them. Now students also provide guidance to veterans, low-wage tax payers, the elderly, street vendors, tenants at risk of eviction, inner city high school students at risk of suspension or expulsion, and others.
The VLP is the only borough-wide legal services program providing pro bono legal assistance from the private bar to the Brooklyn residents who need it most. Past recipients of the Letica Award include State Assemblywomen Joan Millman and Helene Weinstein; SNR Denton Partner Sandra Hauser; and the Honorable Ellen Spodek, Justice of Kings County Supreme Court.