Justice Center Secures State Funding

By Lauren Mineau
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On April 21, New York State lawmakers announced that $3.5 million of the 2021-2022 state budget, adopted earlier this month is earmarked to support civil legal services in upstate New York including a substantial contribution to The Justice Center at Albany Law School.

This funding will help The Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASSNY), Rural Law Center of New York, and The Legal Project provide legal services and public safety programs to low-income families and help individuals with housing, government benefits, employment, domestic violence orders of protection, custody issues, and educational services.

“The Justice Center is pleased to build on the programming it developed with Legal Aid around the COVID Justice Corps when the pandemic began last year. Building on the success of that model, we hope to reach even more New Yorkers impacted by COVID, particularly undocumented immigrants. From housing insecurity and discrimination, to accessing benefits such as the recently created Excluded Worker’s Fund, to obtaining any other state or federal benefit to help low-income immigrant New Yorkers access the benefits that they are legally entitled to,” said Professor Sarah Rogerson, Director of The Justice Center. “We are particularly excited to be working with long-time partners, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, The Legal Project and the Rural Law Center of New York.”

New York State Senators Sean Ryan, Neil Breslin, and Michelle Hinchey, and New York State Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy, John McDonald, and Phil Steck made the announcement.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Albany Law School students helped LASSNY’s clients with employment issues, wrongful evictions, and accessing stimulus payments. More recently, students within the Immigration Law Clinic helped asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border with applications and spoke directly with them about the impact of legal assistance.

The Justice Center at Albany Law School combines theory and practice through its in-house public interest law firm, providing free legal services to eligible clients in the Capital Region. Annually, more than 200 students participate in clinic projects, representing hundreds of clients and assisting many more individuals and organizations through technical assistance and community education activities. The Justice Center's mission is to provide high quality legal representation and to teach students to be skilled professionals who practice law with compassion and sensitivity to individual client needs.

“This funding represents a commitment to access to justice by the New York State legislature under the leadership of Senator Sean Ryan, a former legal aid lawyer himself. As we emerge from the pandemic, the legal needs of impacted individuals will be immense,” Rogerson said.