Legal Aid Attorney – Lawyers representing the poorest New Yorkers demand better pay. “We are fighting for the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers – and then we can’t afford to live here.”
Tina Luongo, attorney in charge of the Legal Aid Institute’s Criminal Defense Practices, spoke at a rally for equal pay for public defenders. Eagle photo by Noah Goldberg
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About 40 defense attorneys and New York City legal staff joined attorney Jumaane Williams at City Hall Thursday to demand the same salary as other attorneys working for the city.
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“The only thing [defenders] are asking is to be able to live on the salary they’re getting,” Williams said. “They don’t ask for the fees of a high-powered attorney. They don’t charge too much. They want to be able to live in the city they love and support their family. They’re just asking for parity.”
Lawyers at organizations such as the Brooklyn Legal Aid and Defenders Society earn less than their counterparts in the city attorney’s office and legal department.
Stan Germán, executive director of New York County Defender Services, said lower salaries hinder the recruitment and retention of attorneys representing the city’s poorest defendants.
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“We must continue to be able to recruit the best and most successful law students who are ready to dedicate their legal careers to public service,” said Germán.
The starting salary for a public defender in Oakland is $98,000. In Washington, they made $73,000, he said. In contrast, in New York, which has a higher cost of living than Oakland and Washington, D.C., first-year Legal Aid lawyers made $62,000.
A review of public defender salaries in New York on the website Glassdoor.com found that attorney salaries are relatively low, Queens Eagle reported last year. The Brooklyn Defense Service pays attorneys a median annual salary of $65,619 based on the four salaries listed. Legal Aid pays staff attorneys $67,075 per year based on 52 registered salaries, and the New York Legal Aid Group pays attorneys $61,000 per year based on 17 registered salaries at the time.
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According to a 2018 AccessLex/Gallup survey, 60 percent of law school graduates took more than $100,000 in law school loans between 2010 and 2017, Quartz reports.
Tina Luongo, the lawyer in charge of the Legal Aid Institute’s Criminal Defending Practice, said lawyers often resign because of low salaries.
“In the past three weeks alone, I have had to accept the resignations of seven staff members who had gone to other organizations and vice versa to other municipal agencies, such as Corporate Counsel,” Luongo said, referring to the city’s attorneys. He added that Mayor Bill de Blasio had not responded to their demands to pay parity.
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Public defenders have asked de Blasio and the City Council to allocate $50 million in the next budget to raise public defenders’ salaries.
Last month, public defenders asked the City Council to raise $15 million in public defender salaries. The representative body agrees to allocate this money in the budget. In 2018, the city provided $15 million to the prosecutor’s office to increase prosecutors’ salaries.
“I have a friend who works on the sidelines and I have a friend who lives with some roommates to make ends meet,” said Maryanne Kaishian, an attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services. “We are fighting for the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers – and then we can’t afford to live here.”
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New York Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci told Queens Eagle that “fair compensation” for public defenders is “an important factor in recruiting and retaining effective attorneys.”
“Our justice system works best when plaintiffs are represented by competent counsel,” Paolucci told Queens Eagle in March.
TREE LIVING SET A NEW RECORD: New York City’s Department of Parks prioritizes tree planting in heat-prone neighborhoods using the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI Neighborhoods), which is based on climate and racial justice.
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JOINT PRESENTATION ON BQE IMPROVEMENTS: The Department of Transportation will hold a presentation on Thursday for communities that will be impacted by the planned improvements to the Brooklyn-Queens Highway that will cause traffic detours.
STARBUCKS SHAREHOLDERS THINK ABOUT WORKERS’ RIGHTS: City Comptroller Brad Lander announced Monday that the New York City Pension Fund has submitted a shareholder proposal to request an independent third-party review of Starbucks workers’ (SBUX) compliance with freedom of association. and collective bargaining rights.
According to the daily census, families with children make up 61% of New York’s homeless population, or 34,456 of 56,334 people. – From: “Mayor Adams wants to reevaluate New York’s asylum system. Can he?” on September 19.
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Staten Island Legal Services
No other borough has changed as much as Staten Island in the last twenty years. Significantly, poverty has increased by 90%. In response to this dramatic change, the Staten Island Legal Service (SILS) opened its doors in 2004 to serve Staten Islanders, fight poverty, and pursue racial, social, and economic justice.
With more than 30 dedicated and highly trained staff, SILS assists approximately 7,500 low-income individuals and families annually with eviction and foreclosure prevention, preservation of affordable housing and home ownership, access to education, support for victims of domestic violence, support for applicant . immigration status, and participation in LGBTQ/HIV+ advocacy. Working closely with the communities we serve, our staff regularly conducts community outreach and education and builds relationships with community leaders and organizers to achieve holistic solutions for our clients.
As part of our NYC Legal Services, our other borough offices can also assist State Citizens with other legal matters, including:
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Staten Island Legal Services is New York’s Financial Empowerment Center! Staten Island Legal Services partners with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners and the New York Office of Financial Empowerment to provide FREE personal and confidential financial counseling and training to support you in achieving your goals, regardless of your income or immigration status. Professional financial advisors are available to provide personal guidance and can help you manage a variety of personal finance topics:
Our Legal Aid Service, which operates throughout the city, is open Monday to Friday between 09:30 and 16:00. Call 917-661-4500 to speak to reception in any language. Julia McNally has been appointed Legal Aid Attorney for the Queens Ward Office. (Courtesy of the Legal Aid Institute)
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The Legal Aid Institute has announced that Julia McNally is the new attorney at the Queens Ward Office in Kew Gardens, where she will lead a staff of more than 60 people to provide comprehensive civil legal services to residents of the area.
McNally previously served as director of housing in Queens, where he led a team of 33 and served as a leader in Legal Aid advocacy practice across the city. McNally oversaw a period of significant growth with the emergence of the Right to Counsel in Housing Courts.
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“I am honored to serve as an advocate for the Queens Ward Office,” said McNally. “During the challenges of the past two years, it has been humbling to witness the tenacity, creativity and ingenuity of the staff at the Queens Neighborhood Office. I look forward to deepening my relationships with all team members at Queens as we work together to empower clients, reform laws and policies, and challenge systems of oppression.”
McNally first joined Legal Aid in 2010 as a lawyer in the Bronx Neighborhood Office after returning to New York after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer for 27 months. According to Legal Aid, he has distinguished himself as an excellent litigator and mentor and has successfully represented tenants in various litigations. Early in his career, he drafted motions to stop four cases filed by large corporate owners to replace 238 customers; Provides 60% reduction after NYCHA trial; sued to create a shareholder co-op customer; affordable lifetime rental for customers; and negotiated a non-payment settlement in which the owner paid $15,807.92.
Residents of Queens maintain strong relationships with stakeholders, community-based organizations, law providers and elected officials. Willing to connect communities, organizers and more
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