The New York City Bar Association honored Leah Margulies ’85, Project Director at Law Help/NY Project, with its annual Legal Service Award. The award recognizes those who provide outstanding civil legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers. The 23rd Annual Legal Service Awards were presented by New York Court of Appeals Justice Theodore Jones on Wednesday, June 13 at the NYC Bar Association.
Margulies has a long history of public service work and broad experience in law and public policy for projects promoting human rights, corporate accountability, and public health. Margulies enrolled in the Law School’s evening program with over 10 years of experience as the Program Director for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. After graduating in 1985, she became a staff attorney at MFY Legal Services, where she represented low-income, homeless, and indigent clients for two years. She then joined the United Nations/UNICEF UN Centre on Transnational Corporations in its Environment Unit. She went on to become a legal advisor for UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, where she developed and implemented a legislative advocacy program promoting the right to nutrition and health for mothers, infants, and young children and protecting them from exploitative marketing practices. In 2006, she became the project director of a new website for pro se civil litigants, LawHelp/NY.
For the past six years she has managed LawHelp/NY, which is the only comprehensive source of legal referral information in New York State that provides low-income residents with referrals to free legal services and information to self-represent. The site includes more than 600 free legal service projects and organizations with their contact and intake information; over 4,000 “Know Your Rights” and self-help resources covering 16 areas of law; extensive links to social service, advocacy and government organizations; information about the court system; and a Spanish mirror website and legal rights resources in more than 30 languages.
“Chief Judge Lipman announced that 2.3 million litigants are unrepresented in civil court in New York State each year. The LawHelp/NY website is trying to reach them,” said Margulies. “I am committed to making a difference. My mission is to be there for unrepresented poor litigants.”