If you can’t afford a lawyer, try Legal Aid

For years I’ve known about and admired Legal Aid and the other public defender offices around New York City. In fact, several of the really brilliant lawyers I worked for started their careers at Legal Aid. So whenever someone sneers to me about the skills and intelligence of legal aid lawyers, I give vehement protest.

There are a number of names for public defender offices and projects. Yesterday, Winnie Hu in the New York Times, wrote a piece about one, in the South Bronx. It’s a wonderful article, in part because it’s full of warm hope for the people who need legal help but can’t afford it.

I have promised myself (and you, too) that some day when I have time, I’ll do thorough research on pro bono legal services. I’m aware that not every public defender office can provide more than criminal defense, as does the Bronx Defenders. The article certainly makes it clear how public defenders depend on a crazy quilt of grants, public funding and the like. And that in turn means that each office’s success in achieving these grants and public funding depends upon the fund-raising talents (and vast patience and obsessive detail work necessary to fill out massive applications) of its executive directors.

Bronx Defenders has an excellent director, Robin G. Steinberg.

So until I get around to compiling information on other public defender programs, this is a good beginning.


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