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Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, October 18, 2011

The Need and the Response

Samuel W. Seymour, President, New York City Bar Association

Like many organizations across the country, our City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association, is observing National Pro Bono Week during the last week of October. Here in New York, and across the country, the pro bono need is evident in the numbers, which are alarming. One in five New Yorkers, including one out of three children, are now living below the poverty line. Nationally, the U.S. poverty rate has increased to 14.3 percent, the highest in 15 years. As disturbing as these statistics are, they are not surprising to our staff at the Justice Center, where consumer debt-related matters, including bankruptcy and foreclosure, have for the first time topped its case mix. Among the nearly thousand calls a month fielded by our Legal Hotline, housing issues are a close second, while a great many of the remaining calls relate to long-term unemployment issues, including all forms of government benefits (e.g., veterans benefits and COBRA expirations), and job discrimination. What this means is that there’s never been a more important time to support the Justice Center’s work, by donating or volunteering.

The entire article may be read here.