LEGAL SERVICES NYC

Demand Justice

aka LSNYC   |   New York, NY   |  www.legalservicesnyc.org

Mission

Legal Services NYC fights poverty and seeks justice for low-income New Yorkers. For 50 years, we have challenged systemic injustice and helped clients meet basic needs for housing, access to high-quality education, health care, family stability, and income and economic security. LSNYC is the country's largest provider of free civil legal services, with deep roots in all of the communities we serve. Our neighborhood-based offices and outreach sites across all five boroughs help more than 110,500 New Yorkers annually. LSNYC borough-based offices are Brooklyn Legal Services, Bronx Legal Services (aka LSNY-Bronx Corp.), Manhattan Legal Services, Queens Legal Services, and Staten Island Legal Services.

Ruling year info

1968

Executive Director

Raun Rasmussen

Main address

40 Worth Street Suite 606

New York, NY 10013 USA

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Formerly known as

Legal Services for New York City

EIN

13-2600199

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

LSNYC addresses the most pressing problems faced by low-income New Yorkers. These problems include homelessness, deportation, discrimination, domestic violence, and loss of income. Our clients are facing devastating crises. Without legal representation their lives will be irrevocably altered, but they cannot afford to hire attorneys. Often their problems are caused by systemic injustices perpetrated by corporations, landlords, and government. Approximately 1.7 million city residents are currently living below the poverty line, which is $25,000 per year for a family of four. Almost half of low-income New Yorkers have had at least one civil legal problem, and at least a third have experienced three or more. The numbers are even higher—close to two-thirds—for women, parents of children under 18, and other at-risk populations. Despite this volume of need, the vast majority of low-income New Yorkers is unable to get legal help.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Housing and Tenants' Rights

After decades of the continued loss of affordable housing in NYC, many low-income New Yorkers face a desperate situation in trying to maintain their housing. Through the work of our Housing Units, Legal Services NYC is at the forefront of the fight to prevent evictions, preserve affordable housing, and ensure that our clients’ apartments are safe. Our work includes:

- Providing legal assistance, including advice, advocacy and aggressive litigation services, to prevent evictions in court and in administrative proceedings.
- Helping to support tenant associations and tenant organizations and represent those organizations in litigation.
- Preserving housing subsidies through both individual representation and cutting-edge litigation.
- Obtaining needed repairs in buildings.
- Providing training and education on tenants’ rights.
- Helping to coordinate and provide training for housing advocates throughout the City.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

At LSNYC, we stand for a city and country that welcomes and values people from all nations and all religions. We stand against Islamophobia and hate. We are working closely with our community partners and allies to try to alleviate fear and hardship, ensure that immigrants are aware of their rights, and represent many to help keep and bring their families together.

LSNYC’s Immigrants’ Rights Project offers representation in a variety of matters, including naturalization applications, work authorization, adjustment of status, replacement of permanent residence cards, alien relative petitions, immigrant visa processing and removal proceedings. LSNYC attorneys also provide domestic violence immigration-related services, including VAWA self-petitions, battered spouse waivers and U-visa applications. Our services are holistic, providing immigrants with housing, public benefits and language assistance. We work closely with clients and community partners to ensure immigrants have a successful pathway to citizenship.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Economically disadvantaged people

Legal Services NYC's Language Access Project was founded in 2007 to meet the needs of New York City’s diverse immigrant population: half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home, and almost one-sixth of all City households have limited English proficiency (LEP). The goals of our Language Access Project are to increase our capacity to serve LEP clients, and to challenge the language barriers these clients face in getting critically needed benefits, services, and access to justice.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Each year, Legal Services NYC utilizes close to 2,000 pro bono volunteers from nearly 100 law firms and corporations. These volunteers collectively impact more than 4,500 low-income people, and donate more than 60,000 hours annually. Volunteers secure more than $7M annually for clients in settlements, benefits, and debt discharge. In addition to placing impact cases, LSNYC's pro bono program serves individual clients across nearly all of our civil practice areas - including immigration, family, education, employment, benefits, trusts & estates, consumer, LGBTQ/HIV, veterans, and housing. In addition to individual placements, LSNYC holds approximately 60 clinics and "study groups" each year that collectively serve close to 1,000 low-income clients.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Through our Foreclosure Prevention Projects, Legal Services NYC is at the forefront of the national fight against predatory lending practices in the subprime lending market. Predatory lending practices lead to foreclosure, homelessness, financial devastation and loss of hard-earned equity (which is the sole source of wealth for many lower income homeowners), displacement of long-time residents and destabilization of neighborhoods.

Legal Services NYC's work includes:

Providing legal assistance, including advice, advocacy and litigation services, to homeowners;
Providing advice and assistance to community-based organizations on specific cases;
Helping to coordinate and provide training for foreclosure prevention advocates throughout the City.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Legal Services NYC launched the Veterans Justice Project (VJP) on Veterans Day 2011. The VJP is the nation's largest and most effective program serving veterans, providing a broad range of civil legal services for veterans, service members, and their families in all five boroughs of New York City.

The VJP has helped more than 14,600 New York veterans and their families get the legal help they need to successfully reintegrate into civilian life, including helping veterans avoid evictions, combat student loan debt, overcome barriers to employment, secure food stamps, social security, and other public benefits, and remedy many other issues.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel
Economically disadvantaged people

When low-income New Yorkers face financial crises, the implications are huge: a wage garnishment can send a worker back to dependency on public benefits—or back to homelessness; an illness or job loss can mean eviction or home foreclosure. The stakes are often higher for the poorest debtors. The NYC Bankruptcy Assistance Project at LSNYC ("NYC BAP") aims to provide bankruptcy relief and a fresh start to these debtors, so that they can get jobs, find apartments and keep their wages.

NYC BAP provides free bankruptcy assistance to low-income residents of New York City. We provide bankruptcy assistance through pro bono attorneys and law students, whom the debtors meet at one of our weekly Bankruptcy Workshops. Where bankruptcy is appropriate, the volunteers prepare and file Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions for the debtors, who then represent themselves through the remainder of the process. NYC BAP staff and law students also represent debtors in select Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. The Project also finds pro bono attorneys for self-represented litigants in the bankruptcy courts.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Increasingly, the "zero-tolerance" disciplinary policies in New York City's public schools has resulted in ever-younger children being removed from their schools for months at a time. When students are given long suspensions, they are sent to “alternative sites” that do not offer appropriate school instruction or educational opportunities. Although parents can appeal both principal and superintendent suspensions, they are often unaware of this avenue, or even if they are, they have difficulty navigating the complex appeal rules.

These students lose valuable education time and re-enter their programs far behind their classmates. The chaotic suspension hearing system often issues unlawfully late decisions, forcing children to serve penalties for charges that are eventually dismissed.

Our advocates represent students in suspension proceedings; co-counsel or independently handle appeals and policy-driven litigation; and prepare reports on due process and other issues that arise during the course of the project. Together, we work on a combination of litigation and advocacy strategies to address the Department of Education's failure to approach student discipline in a manner that minimizes disorder in the schools while protecting student rights.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We usually have approximately 175 in-person classes annually. They are attended by LSNYC staff, public interest attorneys and pro bono attorneys.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of clients, plus their family members. The number benefiting from our systemic litigation and advocacy is much higher. In 2018, this was 1,606,613 people.

Number of individuals attending community events or trainings

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

LSNYC annually conducts hundreds of community education presentations and workshops on legal issues. We also distribute “Know Your Rights” materials via online videos, and informational literature.

Number of pro bono hours contributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2020 number is an estimate . Will be updated when final number is available.

Number of attorney volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of civil litigation matters handled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number of cases handled. It does not reflect the much higher number of people directly benefited, which was 111,435 in 2018.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

LSNYC's goals are to abolish poverty in NYC; and to achieve equal opportunity, and racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers.

Our strategies for making this happen involve advocacy on a number of levels.

We advocate for low-income individuals who are facing catastrophe. Our work is accomplished through specialized practice units -- such as housing, immigration, and LGBTQ -- that deliver expert, high-quality and sophisticated legal services. An example is providing legal representation for a low-income family to prevent them from having to take refuge in a homeless shelter because their landlord is forcing them out of a building in a gentrifying area.

We address the systemic injustices that bring individual clients to us in the first place. This work often involves impact litigation that forces companies and government to make policy changes. In one case, we sued to ensure that employees were given unemployment benefits, In another, our litigation resulted in a city government agency being forced to change its policies regarding translation and interpretation services for tenants of government housing who do not speak English.

We educate people. Through our Justice Learning Center we educate attorneys, paralegals, and and others. We educate the general public in the communities we serve -- at our offices in all five boroughs of NYC and through partner CBOs. We also meet with tenant organizations and groups with special needs. We conduct "Know Your Rights" classes and training sessions on particular legal issues low-income people may be facing. We have clinics and tabling events in courts and other locations where potential clients and low-income people who need legal advice congregate.

We focus efforts on the following program areas:

--Preventing Homelessness and Preserving Housing: Our Housing Rights Project and Foreclosure Prevention programs prevent eviction, save homes, and preserve thousands of subsidized and rent-regulated units each year.

--Economic Empowerment and Income Security: We fight for income security for New York City's most economically disadvantaged families by advocating for unemployment insurance reform, tackling consumer scams, and helping those in need obtain critical state and federal benefits.

--Securing Access to Education and Healthcare: We ensure access to a high-quality education for all students, particularly those who are low-income and may have special needs. We protect students' right to an education by stopping inappropriate school disciplinary actions and challenging the policies behind them. Our health care advocacy helps vulnerable New Yorkers, including veterans and people with HIV, gain and keep public health insurance benefits and meet basic needs.

--Keeping Families and Communities Safe: We work tirelessly to secure safe environments and financial stability for survivors of domestic violence. We stabilize at-risk families by providing legal services and obtaining support services for them, including adjusting immigration status to put immigrant domestic violence survivors on the path to citizenship.

LSNYC is the largest provider of civil legal services in the country. Our 550 staff members help more than 110,000 people annually, and the effects of our work benefit many more.

Our staff work in our 17 full-time borough-based offices and dozens of part-time offices and community-based intake sites in low-income neighborhoods throughout the City. Each borough office is coordinated by a Project Director.

LSNYC’s Board of Directors includes 17 attorney members appointed by bar associations, 12 client-eligible members appointed by community groups and 4 at-large members. In addition, we have local borough boards and a pro bono associates board.

Our staff attorneys include many of the most experienced poverty lawyers in the City. We conduct program-wide legal work coordination, support, training, and oversight. Paralegals and social workers make our legal work more effective and efficient. We coordinate services across practice areas for especially vulnerable populations: our Veterans Justice Project, LGBTQ units and HIV/AIDS practices are examples.

All of our offices and all of our practice areas work closely with other legal providers, law schools, bar associations, courts, community- and client-run organizations, and government and social service agencies. The legal needs of low-income people are complex and challenging, and LSNYC makes a much greater impact when we coordinate with others to leverage resources.

We expand our reach by integrating a vibrant pro bono program into our work. We utilize law firms, corporations, law schools, and individual volunteers to serve clients and advance our mission. Pro bono volunteers help in three key ways: co-counseling on large cases; taking on special projects like research and brief writing; and direct representation of individual clients.

LSNYC operates the Justice Learning Center, the largest and most comprehensive poverty law Continuing Legal Education program in the country, to support the high-quality representation of all low-income New Yorkers. We generally present more than 150 in-person classes annually, which are attended by about 3,500 participants, including LSNYC staff, public interest attorneys and pro bono attorneys. Our faculty includes trainers from every major legal services program in NYC, the private bar, and many law schools including NYU, Columbia and CUNY. One of our primary collaborators is the Practising Law Institute (PLI). Our classes cover substantive law, practice skills, and ethics with a goal of preparing attorneys to provide the best possible civil legal services to low-income individuals. We are now moving rapidly into the arena of eLearning so that our educational content is more easily and rapidly accessible.

We are legal “first responders” when disasters disrupt the lives of low-income New Yorkers. Following Hurricane Sandy, for example, on the our advocates deployed by the dozens into affected communities to provide humanitarian and legal assistance.

Accomplishments:
In the 50 years since our founding, we have helped millions of New Yorkers and won numerous landmark cases that have made NYC a more livable place for low-income people. In 2018, our staff helped more than 110,000 low-income New Yorkers, worked with 2,000 pro bono volunteers who helped 5,200 people, secured $51,336,886 in cash benefits for clients, and saved NYC taxpayers $145,000,000.

Below are just a few examples of landmark achievements over the years since our founding:

- 1970: Goldberg v. Kelly -- SCOTUS articulated due process standards for termination of government benefits.
- 1980: Dopico v. Goldschmidt -- forced New York City to provide accessible public transportation to people with disabilities, including the kneeling buses we see today.
Late 1980s: partnered with City and advocates to create eviction prevention programs, keeping hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in their homes and laying the foundation for the Right to Counsel program.
- 1988: New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning v. Koch--led to new lead paint laws and a dramatic reduction in lead poisoning in NYC.
- Gonzalez v. MTA--required NYC and State to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act in its administration of Access-A-Ride.
- 2017 Padilla Torres v. City of New York -- challenged NYPD's refusal to provide language services for survivors of domestic violence, leading to improved language access practices.
- 2018: Martinez v. Lexington Gardens Associates--required landlord to provide a reasonable accommodation to a tenant with a disability, setting precedent in accessing accommodations for hundreds of other tenants.

What's next:
Expansion of our economic justice work is a focus in the coming years. We propose to represent more low-wage workers in a range of matters--including wage theft and employment discrimination--that the private bar is unable or unwilling to take due to inadequate attorneys’ fees. We also propose to continue and expand our Community Economic Development (CED) work.

Changes in immigration policy at the federal level have resulted in tremendous increases in the numbers of people coming to our offices seeking legal assistance and guidance. Our work includes helping people to secure naturalization, work authorization, adjustment of status, and renewal of green cards. We represent immigrants in asylum and removal cases. In addition, LSNYC continues to assist immigrant crime victims and battered immigrants escape abuse, obtain safety, and achieve self-sufficiency through U- and T-visa applications and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions and battered spouse waivers. Recently, Legal Services Corporation (LSC) regulations were expanded to allow for the representation of immigrants who suffered abuse outside the United States. This change allows us to represent unaccompanied minor children in applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, and for other forms of immigration relief.

Financials

LEGAL SERVICES NYC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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LEGAL SERVICES NYC

Board of directors
as of 2/9/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Susan Kohlmann

Jenner & Block LLP


Board co-chair

William Russell, Jr.

Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Donna Daniels

EY

Liza Velazquez

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Naomi Batts

Deedra Cheatham

Fern Finkel

Finkel & Fernandez, LLP

Walkiria Gonzalez

Creative Lifestyles, Inc.

Ronan Harty

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Victoria Horowitz

Ben Indek

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Abdiel Joseph

Marshall King

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Charlene Lipford

Ana Melendez

Marshall Miller

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Rasheedah Omar

Rosemary Palladino

Private Practice

Nilda Pointer

Margarita Quiles

Leonard Rogers

David Schwartz

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Sara Shudofsky

Arnold & Porter

Daniel Slifkin

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Michael Young

JAMS

Gary Lee

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/09/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data