Professor Victoria Esposito Honored with Legal Aid Leadership Award

Victoria Esposito


Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Victoria Esposito is bringing more than a decade of experience from her time at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY) to Albany Law School. Through her hands-on and practical approach, she is guiding students and helping them develop a strong lawyering foundation by sharing her public service experiences to the classroom.

And that is not the only crossover.

Esposito is the Ruth M. Miner Leadership Award recipient and will be honored on September 8 in conjunction with LASNNY’s Centennial celebration.

Ruth Miner, Albany Law School Class of 1920, was the first counsel to the Albany Legal Aid Society, now LASNNY, and remained a part of the legal service organization for decades.

“She was a special person, she really had a notion of justice that resonates with me,” Esposito said.

Esposito worked with LASNNY for 11 years, including six as advocacy director where she focused on systemic work that impacted all five Legal Aid offices in 16 counties. If there was a growing trend in a certain area, she’d make sure the organization collectively advocated for change. They overturned poor housing practices on appeal, fought for people on Social Security, guided people through disability claims appeals, and much more.

“You’re talking about the kinds of things that people depend on. You’re talking about their social security benefits. You're talking about housing, you're talking about public assistance. You're talking about the kinds of things that low-income people absolutely have to have, just to make it, and honestly, just to stay alive,” she said.

In a recent journal article, A Systemic Reimagining of Poverty Law, that was accepted to the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, Esposito examines poverty law dating back to the mid to late 1960s. In her research, she found that there had never been a birds-eye view approach of  the way all the various systems that regulate—and perpetuate—poverty work together.

Victoria Esposito

She argues for a new discipline called Systems of Poverty that takes a systemic approach to how the elements interlock and interact.

“For example, a person who's getting Supplemental  Security Income—the benefit for disabled, low income people—may not have a work history. Then assuming they can find housing, it’s likely to be substandard,” she said. “If they had damages or any issues with the housing and decided to sue the landlord, if they won, that person could lose their benefits because they aren’t allowed to have more than $2,000 in resources available to them at once. So how are we incentivizing, or not incentivizing, people to move beyond poverty? We need to take a global look at all these things, and we need to do it across disciplines.”

And in that hypothetical situation, the person would not have a right to counsel in civil litigation as they would if facing criminal charges.

“That's a huge power imbalance,” she said.

At Albany Law School, Esposito teaches Intro to Lawyering, a foundational course for first year students. She focuses on building strong writing, advocacy, and public speaking skills through classroom and real-world opportunities.  

“I try to work with my students the way I worked with my supervisees . I think I have a fairly clinical approach. I try to have them be very hands on. When I can, if I am doing pro bono work, I always invite them to come with me so they can see what we are learning up close,” she said. “I try to marry what I did before with what I do.”

In conjunction with LASNNY's 100th Anniversary award ceremony, Albany Law School's Government Law Center is co-sponsoring a Symposium on Friday, September 8 and Saturday, September 9. CLE credit is available. Register here.

E. Stewart Jones Jr. '66, Partner at Jones Hacker Murphy, was also honored with LASNNY's Individual Justice for All Award.