Lynn M. Kelly to Step Down as City Bar Justice Center Executive Director
Lynn M. Kelly, Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center, has announced that she will step down in the first quarter of 2021 after 13 years of leading the nonprofit, legal-services affiliate of the New York City Bar Association.
Under Kelly, the Justice Center, which increases access to justice for low-income and disadvantaged New Yorkers by leveraging the pro bono work of the New York City legal community, has grown to twelve projects with 30 staff members, who coordinate and supervise the work of over 2,000 volunteer attorneys and provide direct services to over 25,000 low-income New Yorkers leveraging $17 million worth of free legal services per year.
“Lynn is an exceptional leader who has tirelessly advocated for low-income New Yorkers throughout her illustrious career,” said David Levine, Board Chair of the City Bar Fund, of which the City Bar Justice Center is the largest component. “Under Lynn’s leadership over the past 13 years, the City Bar Justice Center has become the pre-eminent pro bono civil legal services organization in New York, a distinction borne out by the extraordinary ramp up of pro bono services during the pandemic. Lynn is a superb role model and will forever be a part of the City Bar community.”
“Over the last decade-plus, Lynn Kelly has taken the City Bar Justice Center to new heights of service,” said City Bar President Sheila S. Boston. “Thanks to Lynn’s vision and exceptional work, the legal community has an increasingly varied and effective way to give back through pro bono, while the City Bar is able to forge new and vital connections with the wide and diverse communities it serves.”
Among the projects developed or expanded under Kelly are the Veterans Assistance Project, the Homeowner Stability Project, the LGBT Advocacy Project, the Planning and Estates Law Project, the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project, the Civil Court Project and the Community Economic Development Unit.
In addition to these projects and ones addressing immigration, bankruptcy, homelessness, elder law and health issues, and help for struggling small businesses, the Justice Center under Kelly has been nimble in addressing emerging issues. This has included work on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund; temporary status for Haitians following the earthquake in Haiti; young noncitizens seeking to obtain Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; and addressing the legal needs emerging from disasters like Superstorm Sandy.
Most recently, the Justice Center responded to the coronavirus pandemic by launching the Covid-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic, through which approximately 1,000 volunteer lawyers have provided pro bono help to over 1,000 small businesses in accessing government assistance; providing free, remote legal assistance for front-line health care workers with life planning documents; and ramping up its Legal Hotline, which was already the largest in New York. And the Justice Center’s report on the lack of WI-FI access for students in homeless shelters (supported by a #WiFi4Homeless awareness campaign) garnered much attention and helped secure a commitment from the City to install service in homeless shelters with school-aged children.
“While today it is hard to imagine the City Bar Justice Center without Lynn Kelly, her extraordinary management and leadership, and the strong team she has built, ensure that the organization’s great work will endure,” said City Bar Executive Director Bret Parker. “We wish Lynn all the best in her next chapter.”
“After thirteen years of leading this remarkable organization, I believe that it is time for new leadership,” said Kelly. “This unique moment presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a New York City that is fairer, healthier and more livable for everyone. I am certain that the Justice Center will play an important role in fighting to make sure that all New Yorkers have a full and fair opportunity to make the most of their lives. I have loved working with the giants of the legal profession at the City Bar and the City Bar Fund and so many terrific staff and pro bono attorneys. I could not be prouder of all that we have accomplished together.”