This a great idea. I am sure we will learn a lot from it. I hope we get a good evaluation out of the project. Here is the release:
State-of-the-Art Vehicle Includes Private Meeting and Conference Rooms with Video Links for Remote Court Appearances
New York, NY – Jan. 10, 2012: The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has launched the Mobile Legal Help Center, New York’s first legal services office on wheels. The Center will serve low-income communities with limited access to legal assistance.
Created through a partnership between NYLAG and the New York State Office of Court Administration, the 40-foot vehicle provides advice, legal counseling, and direct representation. Two of the three conference rooms have video capability for remote emergency court proceedings in cases such as unlawful eviction and domestic violence.
In the new mobile center, clients can access most of the services provided in a typical NYLAG office. In addition to handling housing and family court issues, the agency operates a consumer protection program and assists clients with obtaining public benefits. NYLAG is also the largest immigration services provider in New York City.
“We saw a need, and we rushed to address it,” said Yisroel Schulman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of NYLAG. “People who can’t access our intake sites now have free legal services near their doorsteps.”
NYLAG anticipates that low-income seniors and working families will benefit most from the vehicle. Physical and financial limitations prevent these groups from leaving their immediate neighborhoods. The Mobile Legal Help Center will also help immigrants reluctant to leave their communities because of status questions and language barriers.
“The Mobile Legal Help Center is a pioneering effort to bring legal services and legal information to New Yorkers who encounter the greatest obstacles in obtaining assistance in their own communities,” said Judge Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts and Director of the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program.
Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York, is also optimistic about the new program. “Equal access to justice is one of the great challenges facing our system today,” he said. “The Mobile Legal Help Center is a groundbreaking effort to address this issue.”
Mr. Schulman plans for the Mobile Legal Help Center to travel to at least seven different sites each week and serve more than 1,500 New Yorkers every year. “This is a natural way to continue on NYLAG’s path of community-based lawyering,” he said.
The vehicle team is working with social service providers throughout New York to identify areas most in need of mobile legal services and determine a rotational schedule. Outreach in advance of visits will ensure that community members know when and where to access the Mobile Legal Help Center.