New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children ProjectIn March 2014, the Feerick Center’s New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children (UIC) Project submitted its report, Findings From a Survey of Lawyers Representing Immigrant Youth Eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in NYS Family Court, to New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti. The report is based on an in-depth survey of experienced practitioners who represent immigrant youth in family court and immigration proceedings.
In January 2014, the Center launched the research component of the UIC Project in collaboration with the Vera Institute of Justice and two community-based organizations: Atlas: DIY and Catholic Charities Community Services. The study will use a participatory action research approach to engage unaccompanied youth and community-based and government practitioners to explore the youth’s circumstances and needs, addressing issues related to education, health, child welfare, employment, and contact with justice systems. Based on this data, the project partners will work with stakeholders to develop policy recommendations targeted at local and state entities.
ED. LEEAP: Volunteers Are InvaluableMichael Sacks and Jeanne Bolger '81 are two volunteers currently serving at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) Middle Schools Student Success Center (MSSSC). Sacks and Bolger were both looking for opportunities to engage meaningfully with students and signed up with the Feerick Center’s Education Component of the Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP) in order to do so.
LEEAP is a federally funded initiative made possible through a three-year grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program. ED. LEEAP is designed to address the inequities created by the NYC Public High School choice system by training volunteers to counsel students in low-income communities through their high school applications. AmeriCorps VISTA member and LEEAP Co-Director Priscilla Alabi is serving her term at the Feerick Center and oversees the Educational Component; VISTA member Katie McConnell is also providing support to this effort.
Sacks and Bolger joined the CHLDC high school application counseling team this past fall of 2013 and have since become an integral part of the group. “They are a huge part of the MSSSC family here at the CHLDC,” says Parastoo Massoumi, Director of the CHLDC Middle School Student Success Center. “The students see them as part of the MSSSC family and community; they are very dedicated to our work, and it’s really great to have them on the team,” she said.
Volunteering at CHLDC has been a valuable experience for Sacks. “I really enjoy working with the students,” says Sacks, who graduated from NYU Law and is now retired after 20 plus years as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at ADT Security Systems. Working with students in the Cypress Hills community has been a surprising joy for him. He is grateful to have been able to assist the students in “examining their true interests, and understanding, in some detail, the possible consequences of their choices.”
Volunteer with New York Needs YouNew York Needs You (NYNY) fights for economic mobility for ambitious, low-income college students by providing intensive career development, mentorship, and professional networks to enable students to realize their academic and career aspirations. By mobilizing volunteers NYNY ensures that low-income and first-generation college students have the support, information, and access necessary to realize their career goals.
NYNY volunteers are dynamic professionals from a variety of industries across the city leveraging their talent, networks, and expertise to help college students achieve academic and career success. New York Needs You scholars have a particularly strong interest in the legal field and would benefit greatly from the experience and wisdom of dedicated lawyers. Those looking for volunteer opportunities can choose from a range of time commitments. Volunteers can take on one-time or periodic commitments that take place on Saturdays and weeknights or they can volunteer to mentor student throughout NYNY’s two-year mentorship program.
If you have any questions about volunteering, please email Komal Thakkar at Komal.email@example.com. For more information about NYNY, visit the website www.newyorkneedsyou.org.
Annual Fordham Domestic Violence ForumEvery early March for the past eighteen years, Fordham Law School has hosted a two-day conference on domestic violence. The Feerick Center for Social Justice has been a co-sponsor of the conference since 2010 and the Center’s Executive Director, Dora Galacatos, has served as co-chair of the planning committee along with three other domestic violence advocates.
Over the course of two days, the conference brings together nearly 300 members of the downstate domestic violence community, including legal and social service providers, court-appointed counsel, and court personnel. The conference seeks to highlight emerging trends in policy and practice and to examine novel issues for domestic violence advocates. The 2014 conference explored issues related to post-separation abuse and how various institutions such as religions institutions, the military, and institutions of higher learning address domestic violence. Nationally renowned domestic violence survivor and advocate, Professor Sarah M. Buel of University of Arizona’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, gave the keynote address. The speakers and panels were well received by the conference attendees.
Planning for the 2015 conference and the 2016 20th anniversary conference is already underway. Professor Clare Huntington will serve as the faculty advisor for the Forum.
Feerick Center Founder HonoredThe most humble man at Fordham finally got his due.
John D. Feerick, aka “St. John the Good,” was feted by alumni, faculty, and friends on April 2 at a raucous, standing room-only ceremony in the McNally Amphitheatre.
Professor Feerick served as Dean of Fordham Law School from 1982 to 2002 and is currently the Sidney C. Norris Professor of Law and the Founder and Senior Counsel to the Law School's Feerick Center for Social Justice.
During his deanship the Law School saw many advances, including the following:
Professor Feerick is the author of 5 books—one of which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in history—as well as numerous articles, papers, and presentations. He was a draftsman of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The occasion was the unveiling—23 years after its creation—of an official portrait of Feerick, who was dean of the Law School from 1982 to 2002. It was the first time the painting had been seen in public since it was created in 1991 by artist Franklin Petersen.
Petersen had been commissioned by Feerick to paint portraits of law school professors as part of the University’s 150th anniversary, but when asked to sit for a portrait himself, the famously humble Feerick declined. So Louis Stein ’26, for whom the schools’ Center for Ethics and Public Interest Law is named, asked Petersen to surreptitiously observe Feerick in meetings and paint one of him.
When he discovered it, Feerick instructed his staff to lock it in a closet.
On April 2, William Michael Treanor, Ph.D., who succeeded Feerick as dean, joked that Michael M. Martin, the current dean of the Law School, had many successes, but he was most envious of Martin for finally getting Feerick to relent.
“I heard about this picture. I never saw it. I didn’t talk to anyone who had actually seen it. I talked to some people who knew of people who’d seen it. So it was like the Loch Ness monster of my deanship,” Treanor said.
Martin lauded Feerick, who graduated from Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1958 and Fordham Law School in 1961, for his willingness to “take thankless tasks that lesser mortals just wouldn’t touch,” such as chairing state commissions on governmental integrity.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, likewise cracked wise about how little the portrait would resemble Feerick today, noting that “we know John’s goodness is forever young.”
“He is for Fordham and Fordham Law, the iconic ram, the man who summarizes in his life everything that we encourage students to be and to become, and he does it with effortless ease, because the inner man and the outer man are completely at one,” he said.
Feerick dedicated the award to his family. His parents, both immigrants from Ireland, would have been astonished to see this portrait, he said.
“We all grew up seeing ourselves in small black and white pictures, usually taken by my mother on the roof of the six-story apartment house where we lived in the Bronx. I still have her pictures, and I might indicate they also bear no resemblance to the person here.”
Working with students (now members of the audience) who once called him “Dean” was the greatest aspect of the job, he said.
“That is the greatest opportunity a dean has. There’s no greater joy than the privilege to get to know young students and to help them, as I was helped,” he said.
Fordham Sex Trafficking ConferenceOn June 17, 2014, Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice convened an all-day conference titled “Sex Trafficking – Developments for Professionals Working in the Field.” In an effort to facilitate holistic problem-solving models and best practices across fields and disciplines, the conference engaged a broad spectrum of professionals and advocates. The conference explored emerging issues affecting service provision, such as the neurological effects of trauma and new developments in trauma-informed care, new legal paradigms and legislative solutions, the role of law enforcement, and the work of New York State’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts. New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis delivered opening remarks. The Center is privileged to have worked with an extraordinary planning committee with representatives from a broad array of stakeholders. Members include advocates, bar association representatives, court administrators, social service providers, and other experts.
Attorney Emeritus ProgramThe Feerick Center is privileged to provide administrative and programmatic support to Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP). The AEP is administered by the New York State Unified Court System’s Access to Justice Program. Through the AEP, attorneys 55 years and older, whether active or retired, pledge to volunteer through court-sponsored volunteer programs and approved legal services providers to assist low-income New Yorkers with civil legal needs. The AEP is part of Chief Judge Lippman’s comprehensive drive to address New York State’s “justice gap” through enhanced and expanded access to justice initiatives: Currently, an estimated 2.2 million New Yorkers navigate civil legal services without the benefit of counsel each year.
On March 19 and May 1 the Feerick Center hosted information sessions aimed at bringing together AEP volunteers and representatives from more than ten different AEP pro bono providers, such as The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC–Bronx, and the New York Legal Assistance Group. Representatives from the attending organizations gave brief presentations on particular areas of need and available volunteer opportunities. In addition, several active AEP volunteers spoke about their experiences in the program and the transition from private practice to pro bono services. After the presentations, attendees were able to talk individually with active volunteers and legal services organization representatives to learn more about specific volunteer positions. Given that the program’s attendees had a wide range of practice backgrounds and most had not previously provided pro bono services, the presence of numerous speakers was essential in connecting prospective volunteers with appropriate volunteer positions.
This year Feerick Center staff has been putting special energy towards growing the Attorney Emeritus Program across New York State and in particular assisting with the matching and placement of AEP attorneys with volunteer opportunities. The Center’s work has involved collaborating with regional bar associations and legal services organizations to better publicize the Program and draw in new participating attorneys. The Center supported the planning of two AEP events held early this summer in Monroe and Albany counties. These events will showcase local volunteer opportunities and bring together attorneys emeritus in a social setting for refreshments and conversation. For more information on the AEP, please contact Katie McConnell, AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-636-6304.
What's New with CLARO?The Feerick Center has engaged in a number of efforts to expand capacity at CLARO to assist consumers with increasingly complex motion practice and related issues that affect low income populations such as credit reporting errors and consumer bankruptcy.
Development of CLARO Videos. The Feerick Center received a $10,000 Flom Memorial Incubator Grant to develop a video regarding consumer debt collection and the CLARO Program as well as a $5,000 grant from the New York Bar Foundation. In addition, the Center pledged $10,000 toward this effort and received a grant of $7,500 from a generous Law School graduate. The Center partnered with New Media Advocacy Project (N-MAP) to develop an educational documentary-style video, which was completed in January 2013, focusing on the experiences of New Yorkers facing debt collection issues, defending themselves in civil court cases, and working with the CLARO program. Efforts are currently underway to pilot and release a second video, an animation that guides New Yorkers through the steps of consumer debt cases in civil court. We believe this animation video could serve as a pioneering model for delivering legal information to litigants.
Advanced CLARO Training Programs and Specialized Identity Theft Assistance. On April 28, 2014, the Feerick Center launched the first of a series of Advanced CLARO trainings scheduled for the 2014-2015 calendar year. This series, hosted in collaboration with MFY Legal Services, Pro Bono Net, and Legal Services NYC, will be presented as simultaneous live classroom and webinar trainings that are then taped and uploaded to Pro Bono Net where they will be indefinitely accessible to CLARO volunteers and other consumer advocates. The training schedule is as follows:
The Center is also engaging in a number of collaborative efforts to expand and enhance the provision of services to identity theft victims. In response to an increased number of complex cases flagged at the Bronx CLARO Program and citywide, the Center trained and currently supports a cohort of LEEAP and other CLARO volunteers to a) provide specialized assistance to victims at the Bronx CLARO Program and b) staff a once monthly clinic at the New York City Bar Association’s Monday Night Law Program to provide one-on-one assistance to victims identified through the Legal Referral Service.
Development of Model Papers and Interactive Forms. Increasingly, CLARO is assisting visitors with more complicated legal papers, including motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, motions for summary judgment, and responses to discovery requests. Center staff members have been working with other colleagues in preparing model papers and forms to meet the needs of visitors. Pro Bono Net has created a web-based consumer debt defense practice to include these model papers, interactive forms, and other tools. The Center is also in the process of developing a CLARO Litigation Manual for attorneys, which, when complete, will be featured on the website.