Albany Law School and the New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence recently launched the Immigration Project, which will offer legal services to domestic violence victims with unclear or undocumented immigration status.
Under the Immigration Project, law students of Albany Law’s existing and well-established Family Violence Litigation Clinic can address immigration issues for victims of domestic violence, in addition to the victim’s safety, custody and/or support matters in family court.
“For many years our students have been sworn in as legal interns, and under the supervision of a professor, represent victims of abuse. These victims are often women and children who face immigration issues, issues our students have not been able to address,” said Penelope (Penny) Andrews, President & Dean of Albany Law School. “Students enrolled in the clinic will now gain the unique skills to address the status issues of immigrant victims of domestic violence. Many of these graduates stay in the Capital Region to become family law attorneys, prosecutors and public defenders; they will better serve the region with the help of this program.”
“Although many immigrants face enormous legal problems based on the very fact that they are immigrants, there have been very few legal resources available to them, particularly if they are low income,” said Barbara Weiner, Senior Attorney, Empire Justice Center. “Legal services programs, the main source of legal assistance for low income families, face federal restrictions in the types of services they can provide to non citizens, particularly to immigrants whose status is an issue. The expansion in services to immigrants that this Project will bring to the Capital Region will be an invaluable addition.”
“The need for this kind of service is enormous and we look forward to referring immigrant victims of domestic violence in dire need of legal representation to Albany Law School’s Family Violence Litigation Clinic and Immigration Project,” said Lisa Frisch, Executive Director of The Legal Project.
Capital Region Immigration Collaborative, a group of immigration practitioners and advocates from around the Capital Region interested in expanding legal services to immigrant communities, housed within the Legal Project, will help refer clients for the new program. The groups already conducted a training this summer for immigration practitioners seeking to learn more about representing clients in citizenship and naturalization applications. With funds from the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, the law school will, with Legal Aid and the Empire Justice Center, conduct annual trainings for practicing attorneys interested in the intersection of family law and immigration.
“Family Court cases often involve immigration matters,” said Lillian Moy, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York. “An undocumented immigrant woman seeking protection from domestic violence may have an application for an order of protection pending in family court at the same time that she is seeking her own basis for permanent immigration status independent of her abuser, which often requires complex application processes before the United States Department of Homeland Security. Undocumented immigration status presents unique barriers to seeking safety from the abuser. Now these victims will be able to receive comprehensive legal assistance.”
Professor Sarah Rogerson will deliver a presentation on “The Gender Gap and the Pursuit of Justice: Overcoming the Barriers” in honor of Women’s History Month at an event at the New York State Bar Association on March 7.
During her talk, Professor Rogerson will cover poverty, immigration status, lack of security of employment, domestic violence and lack of child care. She will also explore recent efforts made by the courts to help respond to these obstacles and ideas for additional ways to enhance women’s access to justice.
Director of the law school’s Family Violence Litigation Clinic, Professor Rogerson’s scholarship is focused on the intersections between domestic violence, family law, international law and immigration law and policy.
Professor Rogerson joined the Albany Law faculty after a clinical teaching fellowship at University of Baltimore School of Law, where she taught and supervised students enrolled in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Previously, she represented immigrant adults and children in cases involving torture, domestic violence, human trafficking and guardianship petitions at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Inc., in both state and federal courts. Professor Rogerson also spent several years as a litigation associate practicing federal and state law in New York and New Jersey.
Professor Rogerson earned her J.D. as well as an M.A. from Seton Hall University, and she earned an LL.M. from Southern Methodist University. She completed her undergraduate work at Hillsdale College.
Following Professor Rogerson's presentation on March 7, there will be a roundtable discussion with Anne Reynolds Copps '81, Ricja Rice and Ellen Schell '93. The event is co-sponsored by the Capital District Women's Bar Association, the Gender Fairness Committee of the Third Judicial District, Albany Law School and the Albany Law School Women's Law Caucus, The Legal Project, and the Albany County Bar Association.
TV and Radio Appearances Raise Mediation Awareness
Professor Joan Stearns Johnsen will continue to raise awareness of alternative dispute resolution, particularly mediation, when she sits down for an interview next week on NBC-affiliate WNYT's Forum 13. Her appearance will air throughout the Capital Region on the morning of Sunday, March 4.
Professor Johnsen was also interviewed about alternative dispute resolution on the Schenectady Today TV program on Jan. 24. In December, she appeared on the radio program Capital District Forum, which airs on several radio stations in the Capital Region.
"As lawyers, we resolve conflicts. Historically, that meant going to court," she explained. Today, the percentage of disputes resolved by the courts is less than five percent. Everything from a personal disagreement between neighbors to a billion dollar dispute between multinational corporations can be resolved by mediation or some other alternative method. Happily, dispute resolution is no longer one size fits all.
Currently the director of the law school's Securities Arbitration Clinic, Professor Johnsen formerly practiced in the area of financial services and securities as an enforcement attorney and in-house counsel, and most recently in private practice as a mediator and arbitrator.