The Lawrence F. Klepper Legal Assistance Program for Non-Profit Organizations was established at the Government Law Center of Albany Law School in 1994 by friends of Larry Klepper. Concurrently, in keeping with the Reform Jewish community's commitment to social justice, a Larry Klepper Social Action Fund was created at Congregation Beth Emeth to support the program.
The program and fund serve as a living memorial to the spirit, eloquence, commitment, and determination that Larry Klepper brought to his practice as counsel to non-profit organizations. This special program is a unique tribute to a person who dedicated a lifetime of pro bono services and greatly reduced legal fees to the non-profit community in New York's Capital Region.
Through the generosity of those who were inspired by Larry Klepper, Albany Law School places student interns (paid a stipend from the Klepper Program) with lawyer mentors to acquire skills and an appreciation for the rewards of non-profit law. Attorneys serving as mentors use law student research assistants (mentees) to provide research and other law related work on a pro bono basis for non-profit organizations.
A 1995 study conducted by the Government Law Center, the NYS Council of Community Services and the NYS Bar Association revealed the depth of the unmet legal needs of the non-profit community in upstate New York, demonstrating the importance of the program.
As a result of the Klepper program, the Government Law Center received a grant from the Aspen Institute for a collaborative project with the Council of Community Services to study the legal issues surrounding lobbying and advocacy by New York non-profits. We continue to explore law and policy related research initiatives in the non-profit area, and the program is beginning to offer legal training programs for the non-profit sector.
Attorney's interested in becoming mentors for law students should contact Professor Ray Brescia, Director of the Government Law Center, at 518-445-2329. Anyone interested in making a donation to support this program may do so by sending a check to the Larry Klepper Social Action Fund, c/o Congregation Beth Emeth, 100 Academy Road, Albany, New York, 12208.
Larry Klepper was the acknowledged authority on not-for-profit law in
New York's Capital Region. His law practice was limited to
representation of non-profit organizations. With fairness and equal
access to justice fueling the passion for his life's work, Larry
profoundly influenced social change in the region. During the
tumultuous 1960's and 1970's, he served as Executive Director of the
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, providing free legal
services to thousands of people of limited means. Consumer fraud,
tenants' rights, police brutality, labor disputes, and lead
contamination were only some of the battles Larry skillfully waged on
behalf of his clients. Larry sat on countless non-profit boards and
chaired the Albany Community Housing Resources Board, a United Way
budget panel, and the Institutional Review Board of the Capital District
Psychiatric Center. He was a founder of the Community Health Plan, the
Whitney Young Health Center, Living Resources Corporation, and the
Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and a member of Congregation
Beth Emeth. He was a graduate of NYU, New York Law School, and studied
at Columbia University Graduate School of Business. He served in the
U.S. Air Force and was a Lieutenant Colonel (legal officer) in the New
York Air National Guard. Larry Klepper was an inspiration to those who
knew him, and his death in 1994 left a major void in the non-profit
legal community in the region and in the state.