President and Dean Penelope (Penny) Andrews testified about the unmet civil legal service needs of low-income New Yorkers at a public hearing conducted by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in the Third Judicial Department.
Dean Andrews addressed the role of law school, and specifically Albany Law School, in servicing people in the community who would otherwise have limited access to the justice system.
"We believe, at the core, that law schools, as significant institutions in our society, have a responsibility to instill a sense of service and commitment to justice in our students," said Dean Andrews in her testimony. "As has been the historical tradition, it is essential that law schools continue to try to inspire in future generations of lawyers and leaders the belief that our legal system will only be credible when it serves the entire population, and not just a select group."
Dean Andrews went on to cite specific initiatives at Albany Law School that seek to remedy the justice gap, including the Law Clinic & Justice Center and its sub-clinics; pro bono projects such as Senior Citizens' Law Day and Veterans' Law Day; and the law school's field placement program, with more than 140 positions available for students throughout the Capital Region.
In addition to Chief Judge Lippman, the public hearing was conducted by Presiding Justice Karen K. Peters, Third Department; Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti; and New York State Bar Association President David M. Schraver. It took place at the Court of Appeals in Albany.
At the conclusion of her testimony, Dean Andrews expressed her appreciation for the many community partners who also provide legal service to those who need it most.
"Our work at Albany Law would not be possible without the partnerships of those organizations and institutions that provide access to civil legal services in the great state of New York," she said. "The combined efforts in training, mentoring, advocacy and service with these organizations and institutions make our efforts at Albany Law possible and meaningful."
Earlier this year, Chief Judge Lippman formed the Committee on Non-Lawyers and the Justice Gap, appointing Dean Andrews as one of its 22 committee members. The committee will examine how appropriately trained and qualified non-lawyer advocates can help provide guidance in simple civil matters for the many New York state residents who need counsel but cannot pay for an attorney.