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Dear Friends, 

From all of us at the City Bar Justice Center, I hope that your holiday season was meaningful and the new year is off to a great start for you, your loved ones, and colleagues. 


Since our autumn newsletter, we’ve held a pro bono awards ceremony celebrating truly extraordinary volunteer service and a Veterans Day benefit program and CLE that broke a fundraising record, and we just wrapped up a successful year-end campaign to boost essential legal services for asylum-seekers in NYC. And among many hard-fought victories, our team helped clients achieve significant outcomes in entrepreneurship and public benefits, both of which are featured below. 


Also in this newsletter, explore our newly launched legal resource library, get acquainted with our new staff members, be inspired by stories of client resilience, and read about our new Pro Bono Leadership Council. We’re also pleased to announce that we’ll be honoring Freshfields and UBS at our 19th Annual Gala, Pro Bono for Our World, the evening of Wednesday, April 3. Save the date and join us! 


Thank you for your continued support. Here's to a year filled with community empowerment, vigorous issues advocacy, and expanding access to justice. 

Best regards, 

Kurt M. Denk 

Executive Director 


Support us in Lifting Voices, Bridging Borders! Our latest campaign was launched to expand the City Bar Justice Center’s impact to serve more immigrants in NYC, and we are so grateful to the more than 100 donors who generously gave nearly $100,000 towards this initiative – a 38% increase over last year! Our staff and volunteers provide free, high-quality civil legal services that help stabilize the lives of up to 25,000 New Yorkers in need each year, and we want to continue to amplify this work. Looking ahead to 2024, please join us in doing more to lift voices and bridge borders for countless new New Yorkers seeking stability and safety here. 



With great gratitude for years of impactful service, we bid farewell to two project directors who helped realize positive change for thousands of clients and advanced housing rights in NYC. Legal Clinic for the Homeless Director Lisa Pearlstein retired in December after decades of work as a public interest lawyer, and 16 years of dedicated service to the City Bar Justice Center, and earlier this past autumn we also said goodbye to K. Scott Kohanowski, who after 13 years at the Justice Center left his role as Director of our Homeowner Stability Project to serve as the new General Counsel at the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. We are so grateful for Lisa’s and Scott’s passion and advocacy, and are excited to sign on bright new members of our team. Edward Mostoller, our new Homeowner Stability Project director, will continue our work to stabilize limited-means New Yorkers’ homeownership in the face of foreclosure and other risk, and continuingly problematic predatory scams and frauds in New York’s housing market, especially those targeting communities of color. We are also excited to welcome Jennifer Quijano, our new Legal Clinic for the Homeless director, who has represented tenants in Queens and Brooklyn for nine years and will provide direct legal services and advocacy to support clients’ pressing legal needs in the areas of shelter, emerging from homelessness, and public benefits. 

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CBJC launches a FREE online library with over 700 legal resources for New Yorkers! The Justice Center understands the importance of empowering our community with knowledge, and our brand-new Legal Information & Resource Library is designed to do just that. Whether you're a small business owner, a legal professional, or someone seeking valuable insights, our resource library is here to support New Yorkers with legal questions that can be addressed quickly. While none of these publications replace a legal consultation, we hope this resource orients people towards different potential courses of action when confronted with various legal problems. 

Our Veterans Assistance Project (VAP) held a successful 8th Annual Veterans Day Breakfast and Ethics CLE on November 10. Over 50 advocates, including pro bono attorneys and partners, attended the program led by Makedah Salmond, Director of VAP. We are grateful to our 20 generous sponsors for helping us break a fundraising record for this event, raising nearly $60,000! Learn more. 

Join Our New Pro Bono Leadership Council and Make a Difference for Thousands of New Yorkers! Embark on a unique journey with the Justice Center as we launch our first-ever Pro Bono Leadership Council. We're looking for bright, ambitious, pro bono-committed individuals ranging from junior to senior associates at firms or in-house positions to spearhead innovation in City Bar Justice Center pro bono programming, amplifying our commitment to justice and social impact while helping us meet fundraising needs. Elevate your skills in social and professional networking, business development, program management, and nonprofit mission advancement, all while having fun and supporting the Justice Center’s pro bono services that touch the lives of over 25,000 New Yorkers in need each year. Ready to make your mark? If you’re interested in joining or wish to nominate a colleague, please contact Cesar Ruiz ([email protected]). Join us in helping to shape the leading edge of pro bono advocacy that makes an impact!  

Access to Justice Symposium at Fordham Law, Feb. 9. The Justice Center is pleased to share information about the AtJ Solutions Symposium: With People Struggling and the Law Failing, What are the Solutions to the Access to Justice Crisis in America? hosted by the National Center for Access to Justice with Fordham Law's Urban Law Journal. Symposium speakers and panelists will engage the audience about the leading edge of the access to justice movement - policy solutions - with a focus on policy reforms that: i) narrow the footprint of the legal system in people’s lives; ii) ensure people will have a right to counsel in civil legal disputes; iii) empower people to turn to friends, neighbors, and other front line justice workers (not only lawyers) for help in asserting their legal rights; and, iv) increase access to justice through fair laws, innovative technologies, creative programs, and additional interventions. To attend in person (at Fordham Law) or virtually (via Zoom) please register here.

Save the date! We are excited to announce the City Bar Justice Center’s 19th Annual Gala, Pro Bono for Our World, to be held the evening of Wednesday, April 3, honoring Freshfields and UBS for their exceptional pro bono commitment, particularly to our Immigrant Justice Project’s expanding asylum advocacy. For more information or to support the Gala, please visit our pledge page here.


Our Social Work team advocated for a client facing food insecurity. At the start of September, the Justice Center’s brand-new social work team received a referral for a client working with our Homeowner Stability Project. The client’s fridge had been broken since July, and because the client could not afford to repair or replace the fridge, she was living with food insecurity. Despite various bureaucratic barriers that prevented the client from receiving cash assistance, social work intern Claire Poneman was able to advocate with the fridge manufacturer to secure a free fridge repair for the client towards the end of September. We were very happy to be able to meet this need for our client! 

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NELP helped Youma’s Beauty hire a team! In 2021, husband and wife team Moussa and Youma Niangadou created a natural hair care business, which quickly grew through online sales. In the early stages of the business, Youma sought the assistance of independent contractors and third parties to help expand their reach, however she recurrently experienced the challenges of faulty agreements with outside parties. This led her to apply to NELP’s direct representation service, where she was matched with a team of pro bono attorneys from Latham & Watkins LLP, who provided advice and drafted a template employment agreement that Youma used to hire a social media marketer and additional independent contractors! Read Youma’s full story here and check out her documentary. 

Our Immigrant Justice Project has long prided itself on representing asylum seekers from across the globe, in claims ranging from gender-based violence, sexual orientation and gender identity, to political opinion, familial association, and more. Recent victories in Immigration Court, the Asylum Office and District Court evidence the continuing breadth of our work, as individuals and families from Guatemala assisted by DLA Piper, Afghanistan assisted by Freshfields, Burkina Faso assisted by Patterson Belknap and Ghana assisted by WilmerHale won asylum in recent months. 

The newsletter editor is Sammy Darris, the City Bar Justice Center's Communication and Outreach Associate. For questions you may reach her at [email protected].

Copyright © 2024 City Bar Justice Center. All rights reserved.

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