Volunteer Lawyers Project provides services to low income clients in Buffalo and Western New York using its own staff attorneys and volunteer attorneys from Western New York. Law students are critical in helping with these efforts. Real hands-on experience in the following areas:
POSITIVE FAMILIES UNIT (a/k/a DOH [Department of Health] unit)
VLP provides free legal services to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. This program provides full representation on a variety of civil legal issues, including family law, divorces, consumer debt, name and gender marker changes, landlord-tenant, employment discrimination, HIV confidentiality and end of life planning. Students will provide support to staff attorneys on pending cases. Duties may include direct client interaction, research and writing, drafting, and participating in outreach events.
FAMILY LAW UNIT
Our family law attorneys offer both limited scope advice and full representation to low-income parties in Family Court matters. At the onset of the pandemic, VLP transitioned from an in-person limited scope help desk at the courthouse to a phone model serving all counties in the Eighth Judicial District. Since March, 2020, VLP has given over 2,500 phone consultations to low-income callers with family court matters. Our attorneys also provide full representation to low-income clients in grandparent visitation, sibling visitation, non-parent/grandparent custody, paternity, and support matters. Students in this program get extensive client interaction through our limited scope model and may have the opportunity to work with our attorneys on full representation matters.
The Attorney of the Morning Program provides free same day legal representation to low-income clients facing eviction in Buffalo City Court. Our attorneys also provide legal representation in HUB Landlord and Tenant eviction court for the towns and villages in Erie County. Our Housing Helpline provides legal advice and information to clients with housing issues in Erie, Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties. Students will have an opportunity to obtain a Student Practice Order to represent tenants in court, as well as opportunities to work with our attorneys on various landlord-tenant matters.
IMMIGRATION – BUFFALO UNIT
The Buffalo Immigration Office represents non-detained individuals in removal proceedings before the Buffalo Immigration Court and before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on various forms of humanitarian relief including U visas, T visas, VAWA self-petitions, and asylum. Students will assist with preparing and filing applications and evidence, interviewing clients, researching country conditions, and conducting legal research on client eligibility for relief. Students may be offered the chance to represent a client in an Immigration Court hearing.
IMMIGRATION – BATAVIA UNIT
The Batavia Office provides representation to people who are detained by U.S. Immigration at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, NY and face removal from the United States. Representation is provided under a public-defender model. Students will provide support to attorneys working on these removal cases. Assignments are varied and may include assisting with the preparation of applications, interviewing clients, gathering evidence and conducting legal research, among others. Research projects may touch on the immigration consequences of criminal activity, client eligibility for relief, as well as research on countries of origin. Students will be given the opportunity to participate in internal workshops held during their internship. They may also be offered the chance to attend an Immigration Court hearing.
LOW INCOME TAXPAYER CLINIC
The ECBA Volunteer Lawyers Project Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) provides legal representation, advice, and referral services to low-income taxpayers who have disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or cannot afford to pay Federal Income taxes that are owed. Students will have direct client contact and work closely with VLP's tax attorney.
General Pro Bono intern - help the Pro Bono Program Administrator with all things pro bono, including recruitment, preparing and processing case referrals, processing CLE credits, putting together trainings for volunteers, etc.
Students can apply by emailing a cover letter, resume, writing sample (if they have one) and their 1st and 2nd choice of placement to Maria Valeri, Pro Bono Program Administrator, Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org
This section is for topics relevant to 1L students only! All other announcements can be found in the General Announcements section.
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