Albany Law School's The Justice Center—as well as The Legal Project, one of the Clinic's community partners—received the Capital Region Chamber's Nonprofit Organization of the Year Award at the Tech Valley Nonprofit Business Awards Luncheon on November 16, 2018.
Recent collaborations between the Clinic and The Legal Project have included the Detention Outreach Project—a major volunteer effort to assist immigrant detainees at the Albany County jail—and a series of events offering free legal consultations to entrepreneurs and small business owners.
"We thank the Capital Region Chamber for recognizing the life-changing work of our Law Clinic and Justice Center," said Alicia Ouellette, Albany Law School president and dean. "This award is a testament to the dedication of the Clinic's students, faculty, and staff. It is especially sweet to share the honor with The Legal Project, a valuable partner and longtime friend of the Clinic and the Law School."
Each year, the Chamber recognizes individuals and nonprofit organizations whose contributions have made an impact on the community's economic vitality and quality of life. The Nonprofit Organization of the Year Award recognizes an organization or organizations that have excelled in providing outstanding service outcomes, adapting to community needs, and collaborating with partners, among other facets.
Albany Law School's Law Clinic and Justice Center has been providing free, high-quality legal representation to underserved populations and low-income residents of the Capital Region for more than three decades. During the 2017-18 academic year, law students—who perform the bulk of the work—provided law-related pro bono service in the thousands of hours; 172 students provided direct legal representation to approximately 175 clients. They helped immigrants and asylum-seekers (Immigration Law Clinic), served as a resource for budding nonprofits and startup businesses (Community Development Clinic), relieved the legal burdens from clients receiving treatment for chronic medical conditions (Health Law Clinic), represented survivors of domestic violence in the courtroom (Family Violence Litigation Clinic), helped prosecute cases for area Special Victim Units (Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic), coordinated free legal consultations for veterans and senior citizens (Pro Bono Program), assisted with legal matters in over 50 public law offices (Field Placement Clinic), and more.
Notably, this summer the Immigration Law Clinic, in partnership with The Legal Project and the New York Immigration Coalition, launched the Detention Outreach Project to help hundreds of migrants who were detained at the southern U.S. border and transported to the Albany County jail. The project's initial month involved coordinating 388 volunteers to serve migrants who hailed from 39 countries and spoke 19 languages. Volunteers screened 312 individuals to assess their most-pressing legal needs and helped 141 asylum-seekers prepare for their credible fear interviews—and the work continues.
"The Detention Outreach Project illustrates the power of partnerships and pro bono," said Connie Mayer, associate dean and director of the Law Clinic and Justice Center. "We are proud to be doing our part in the Capital Region: making an impact on peoples' lives, improving the strength and vibrancy of the legal community, and contributing to the area's growing culture of volunteerism."
To learn more about the The Justice Center at Albany Law School, visit albanylaw.edu/clinic.