December 1, 2021
Did you know that quick employment for formerly incarcerated individuals significantly decreases the risk of committing future crimes? Recidivism rates range from 30%-70%. Recidivism rates for individuals quickly employed range from 3.3%-8%. Read more about the study here.

Nassau Suffolk Law Services' Reentry Unit helps people to reintegrate into the community after facing criminal charges by helping them to address criminal history-related civil legal issues. Examples of cases the Reentry Unit will consider include:

Employment discrimination
Section 8 Problems
Certificates of relief from civil disability/certificates of good conduct
Denial of professional license; and
Denial of employment due to prior neglect/abuse findings (at the ALJ level).

Thank you to Re-Entry Unit Staff Attorneys Carly Sommers and Daniel Smith for their dedication to and advocacy to reduce the recidivism rates on Long Island.

Remember our services are free of charge! Call and ask for the Re-Entry Unit. Nassau County residents call: 516-292-8100 Suffolk County residents call: 631-232-2400
Congratulations to Re-Entry Project Staff Attorney, Carly Sommers, on her well-deserved recognition as a 2021 Long Island Business News Leadership in Law Award Honoree!

Carly Sommers began her career with Nassau/Suffolk Law Services (NSLS) in January of 2018 as an attorney for the ReEntry Project. Ms. Sommers graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2017. Upon graduation, she was a fellow for Launchpad for Justice wherein she represented low-income individuals on landlord/tenant, consumer debt, and divorce matters in New York City. She received the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award from the New York State’s Unified Court System’s Access to Justice Program.  As an attorney for the ReEntry project, she helps people reintegrate into the community after facing criminal charges by helping them to address criminal-history related civil legal issues. Although Carly’s weekday career is focused on helping those in need, she did not stop there. On her free time, Carly volunteers for both Long Island Cares (a food bank) and the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society’s Breaking Barriers Pro Bono Law Project. She has completed over 900 volunteer hours combined and has helped more than 500 clients since 2018. During her day job, Carly actively collaborates with Suffolk Probation, Suffolk Parole, Suffolk County Department of Labor, New York Department of Labor, Suffolk County Sheriff, and Suffolk County Legal Aid Society to achieve the common goal of reducing recidivism on Long Island. Carly never hesitates to provide assistance to organizations outside of NSLS such as regularly presenting to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s S.T.A.R.T. (Sheriff’s Transition and Reentry Team) program, Suffolk County Parole, and Suffolk County Probation amongst others. Carly loves what she does at the office whether it be sealing a client’s case, assisting on employment discrimination matters, and ensuring clients have fair access to housing programs (like Section 8).  Please check out the Long Island Business News feature on Ms. Sommers here.
Re-Entry Unit Success Stories

Ms. A is a qualifying non-citizen (alien) for legal services. She was a victim of domestic violence in the early 2000s. She got into an altercation with her husband and was arrested. She was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Ms. A successfully completed probation and gained full custody of her daughter. Ms. A obtained a divorce and the child’s father is not active in his daughter’s life. He pays minimal child support. Ms. A wants to work and a be a contributing, tax-paying member of our community. She tried to get her case sealed pursuant to CPL § 160.59. This is New York State’s sealing law. Very few cases are eligible to sealed, no violent felonies, no sex-offenses, no police contact for ten years, and no more than two lifetime convictions. NYS CPL §160.59 (1)(a). Endangering the welfare of a child is a conviction that is eligible to get sealed. NSLS Staff Attorney Carly Sommers provided ample evidence of rehabilitation, including letters from her daughter’s social worker, a priest, letters of recommendation where she has worked, and former bosses. 

The district attorney opposed the sealing motion. If the government opposes the motion, the court must hold a hearing. N.Y.S. CPL §160.59 (6). However, when Attorney Sommers went to court the Judge denied her sealing motion without a hearing. Attorney Sommers wrote a motion to renew and reargue. The district attorney then withdrew their opposition after a “plethora of information provided.” As a result, the Judge sealed the case.  

Ms. A can now truthfully say she does not have a criminal record. A judicial order removing the sealing is needed to access her sealed conviction. She is active in her daughter, D’s life. The last time Ms. A met with Attorney Sommers, she showed her a video of D acting in a play. Ms. A wants to work so she can send her daughter to college. D wants to be a teacher.  

America Works helps individuals increase their self-sufficiency through gainful employment, including military veterans, welfare and SNAP recipients, young adults, the criminal justice involved, homeless, non-custodial parents, persons receiving disability, among others. America Works uses a blended model that includes work readiness training, vocational training, career placement, career advancement, and employment retention services. Learn more at or

The Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County's Restore to Life Reentry Program is a resource for individuals recently released from incarceration. Individuals are provided with: Mentoring Services, Housing assistance, Job Assistance, Referrals for Wraparound Services. Contact 516-292-9710 or visit for more information.

Employers can get involved by taking the New York pledge to consider qualified individuals with criminal convictions for employment, conducting, as appropriate, individualized assessments of whether a conviction affects a person’s suitability for a job. See the pledge here.

The New Power of Attorney:
Form and Substance

Friday, December 3, 1:00-2:00 pm
Presented by NSLS Adult Care Facility Project Staff Attorney, Erika S. Verrill

This Presentation will discuss the Power of Attorney (POA). We will look at what the POA is, and what it is not; factors that the advocate should task into consideration when asked to assist in the execution of a POA; and finally, we will look at the new changes in NY General Obligations Law governing the Power of Attorney Form. This presentation is appropriate for attorneys and advocates alike.
Advocacy Tips

Hurricane Ida Relief is available to Nassau and Suffolk Residents regardless of immigration status. Undocumented residents can call 1-800-566-7636 or go to to find out where to apply for relief. All others can call 1-800-622-3362 or go to For legal help, please call 1-888-399-5459. The deadline to apply through FEMA for individual assistance is December 6, 2021.

Last chance! As of June 24, 2021, utilities became able to start terminating service to customers behind on their bills. New Yorkers are eligible for additional protection from shutoffs up to December 21, 2021, but you MUST inform the utility immediately that your financial circumstances have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic (“self-certify”). Customers who experience a change in financial circumstances due to COVID are entitled to: 
  • No shutoffs for arrears or default on repayment plan for 180 days after end of state of emergency (June 24, 2021);
  • No down payment when entering into a payment plan; and
  • No late fees

Please note that any arrears will be due and must be paid at the end of the 180-day period. Make sure to request a confirmation number when self-certifying with your utility.
New Team Members:

  • Helen Wrobel, Staff Attorney, Consumer Debt Project, Islandia
  • Gisselle Vera Guillen, Receptionist, Islandia
  • Desiree Saad, Law Graduate, Civil Unit, Islandia
  • Samantha Barros, Law Graduate, Civil Unit, Islandia
  • Shoshanna Rubin, Law Graduate, Public Benefits Unit, Hempstead
  • Elizabeth Berkowitz, Law Graduate, Mental Health Law Project, Hempstead
  • John Iacone, Temporary Law Graduate, Disability Advocacy Project, Hempstead
  • Steven Martinez, Paralegal, Volunteer Lawyers for a Day, Hempstead

Staff Transitions:

  • Reisa Brafman is now Coordinator for the Community Legal Help Project
  • Paula Velasquez is now Paralegal for the Nassau County Consumer Debt Project
  • Petrushka Khiamal is now Staff Attorney for the Domestic Violence Unit in Riverhead
The Community Legal Help Project
Brentwood Public Library: Tuesdays 2-5pm
Middle Country Public Library, Selden Building: Thursdays 3-6pm
For more information, see the flyer here.

Tenant Legal Advice at Patchogue-Medford Public Library
Nassau/Suffolk Law Services will be at the Patchogue-Medford Public Library on Mondays from 2-5 pm to answer Town of Brookhaven Residents' tenant-related legal questions. To make an appointment, call the library at 631-654-4700 ext. 152.
Volunteer Opportunities

  • Volunteer attorneys needed to assist pro bono clients with direct client representation in family, bankruptcy, matrimonial, and elder law
  • Providing half hour legal consultations with our Suffolk County library project in matrimonial, family, immigration, consumer, landlord/tenant, and more

  • Law Student/Paralegal/Pre-law undergraduate internships
  • Assist Law Services Staff with intake, case analysis, case referral, and recruitment of volunteer attorneys
  • Nassau County Volunteer Landlord/Tenant Attorney for a Day
Interested in Joining Us?

Nassau County- (516) 292-8100
Suffolk County- (631) 232-2400

Looking forward to your help!

631 232-2400 | 516 292-8100 | 631 369-1112