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Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP)

Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP)

In 2012, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center a three-year AmeriCorps VISTA grant to launch the Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP). LEEAP seeks to direct the energy, skills, and experience of senior lawyers to volunteering activities in three discrete focus areas:

• Credit-related education and identity theft assistance;
• Consumer debt defense; and
• Assistance accessing high-quality secondary and higher education.

LEEAP seeks to match senior volunteer attorneys with legal service organizations and community-based organizations to create sustainable public services such as specialized identity theft assistance programs and high school and college application workshops.

LEEAP builds on the Feerick Center’s involvement with the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) Programs, which operate clinics in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, staffed by volunteer attorneys who provide limited legal advice to low-income New Yorkers being sued by debt collectors (www.claronyc.org). In continuing to recruit, train, and place senior volunteer attorneys in a pro bono capacity, LEEAP will further strengthen the Feerick Center’s partnership with the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP)—a program established in 2010 by New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman that connects senior lawyers with legal services organization and court programs to provide legal services to unrepresented New Yorkers (www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus).

The Feerick Center is delighted to have VISTA members Elizabeth Carroll, Matthew Q. English III and Kyle English co-directing LEEAP.

If you are a legal service organization, community-based organization, or an  attorney seeking  volunteer opportunities, and you are interested in partnering with LEEAP, please contact leeapproject@fordham.edu.

Please review our VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES. After reviewing all the volunteer opportunities please click here to submit your ONLINE APPLICATION.
Time commitment will vary by opportunity; however, we will take your time constraints and preferences into consideration when determining your volunteer placement. Our menu of opportunities is currently in development; we look forward to providing you with full information either at our Informational Session or via phone consultation. Please contact Kyle Giller at 212-636-7775 with general questions.

- ASSISTANCE ACCESSING HIGH QUALITY SECONDARY AND HIGHER EDUCATION

The educational component of LEEAP was born out of the recognition that students from families with low incomes graduate from college and attend quality secondary schools at a much lower rate than their more affluent peers. To work against this inequity, LEEAP seeks to enhance the capacity of middle schools and high schools serving low-income populations and education-oriented community-based organizations to provide effective high school application and college readiness / application programming. These workshops will be staffed by trained volunteers. Examples of potential volunteer opportunities include:

• Providing one-on-one or small group high school application assistance to 7th grade students;
• Providing one-on-one college application assistance to 11th and 12th grade students.

Please contact Elizabeth Carroll at 212-636-5169 or Matthew Q. English III at 212-636-6304 with any questions pertaining to educational volunteer job opportunities.

- CONSUMER DEBT DEFENSE
This portion of the project aims to recruit experienced volunteer attorneys for placement at legal service organizations with consumer debt defense practices and the CLARO Programs. Placement opportunities may include both limited legal advice and full service representation. Judgments from consumer debt collection cases impair credit and can prevent individuals and families from obtaining and maintaining housing, employment and economic stability. These targeted legal services will help individuals and families improve their economic well-being. Further, LEEAP is exploring opportunities to assist low-income residents of the five boroughs with issues pertaining to consumer bankruptcy. Select opportunities include:

• Limited scope or full service representation of defendants in consumer debt cases;
• Staffing a hotline to provide limited scope advice on consumer debt matters;
• Assisting indigent individuals with filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions as appropriate.

- CREDIT-RELATED ASSISTANCE
This portion of the project offers experienced attorneys non-legal service opportunities to provide financial education and assistance, especially credit-related assistance. Volunteer attorneys will be given the opportunity to help financially distressed clients work towards improving security in their financial lives by assisting clients with obtaining and reviewing their credit reports and writing dispute letters. Errors on credit reports often adversely affect credit, creating barriers to employment, housing, exiting shelter, and affordable credit. Additionally, LEEAP seeks to provide specialized assistance to victims of identity theft. Identity theft affects victims financially and emotionally, often resulting in denial of credit or employment, wage garnishment, and unforeseen harassment by bill collectors. Having a volunteer lawyer as an advocate in navigating these processes can make the difference in removing errors and resolving fraud. Select opportunities include:

• Providing one-on-one assistance to obtain and review credit reports, write dispute letters, and resolve identity theft issues;
• Financial coaching in the areas of banking, savings, credit, and debt.

Please contact Kyle Giller at 212-636-7715 with any questions pertaining to consumer debt defense and credit-related assistance volunteer opportunities. **Please note that consumer debt defense volunteer opportunities may qualify for pro bono credit under New York State’s Attorney Emeritus Program.** All LEEAP volunteers are paired with host organizations that provide the training and supervision necessary for volunteer attorneys to carry out these activities.