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Assigned Counsel Project Internship Program


Prospective Intern

In General
What do Interns do?
Training
Volunteer Commitment
Testimonials
Register to Volunteer

In General

The Internship Program recruits, trains, and supervises law students to conduct intake and assess the legal and social services needs of vulnerable seniors at risk of eviction. Seniors facing New York City Housing Court proceedings often live in apartments that are rent controlled or rent stabilized, have Section 8 subsidies, or are the recipients of entitlements such as SCRIE. Under these protective laws and subsidies, seniors are able to afford rent payments notwithstanding limited income. Yet, with increased age, many seniors find themselves in a position where, due to their deteriorating health, they are no longer able to manage their responsibilities in the same way, at times resulting in a Housing Court proceeding being brought against them. The Assigned Counsel Project (ACP) provides eligible seniors with an attorney and a social worker or a social work intern who work as a team to help seniors solve their Housing Court cases. Seniors must be sixty years of age or older, have an identifiable social service need, and a pending Housing Court case in order to be eligible for the program. Such seniors could be facing eviction due to either nonpayment of rent or holdover allegations.

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What do Interns do?

Volunteers meet with seniors in Court, complete evaluations, and issue spot in formulating a legal assessment of the senior's case for the Supervising Judge to consider in triaging for the ACP Program. The screening and assessment process are performed under the supervision of a Court Attorney. Tasks include:

  • Conduct intake for the senior
  • Identify defenses and/or counterclaims
  • Identify any social service needs
  • Draft legal assessment of the case
  • Inform senior about places to go for further assistance in their proceeding, and,
  • Perform other duties as required.

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Training

To participate in the Program, prospective volunteers must first come in for an interview. Once they successfully interview, they must complete a two-day training providing a comprehensive overview of residential landlord-tenant law, social services needs, and the ACP screening process. In addition, court staff provides support and guidance to all volunteers during their service.

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Volunteer Commitment

Volunteers can participate in the Program in exchange for 50 hours of volunteer service commitment to be completed on a semester basis, or during the summer. Volunteers can sign up to serve during morning hours from 10:00AM-1:00PM Mondays through Fridays, and/or afternoon hours from 2:30PM-4:30PM Mondays through Thursdays in the Kings County (Brooklyn), New York County (Manhattan), and Queens County Housing Courts.

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Testimonials

If you would like to post your own testimonial about your experience with the ACP Internship Program, please e-mail us at: ACPInternship@nycourts.gov




Submitted: December 8, 2016

By: Ava Ferenci, Law Student

"I worked with the Assigned Counsel Project (ACP) Internship Program in Kings County and Queens County as part of an internship with Access to Justice over my 2L summer.

When elderly litigants come to ACP interns for an interview it is often their first chance to speak with someone who has time to listen to their story. I learned interview skills to make sure someone has a chance to have their story heard, while still obtaining answers to questions that could provide them with a defense. The people I interviewed often thanked me for listening; even when I had to call to tell them their case was not referred. It is a great chance to offer some humanity in what is a very difficult and confusing process for many litigants.

As an intern your ability to issue spot can determine if elderly litigants get a free attorney. Your report goes to the supervising judge who will either refer the litigants to free legal services or not, a referral means legal services are more likely to take the case than if the litigant came to them directly.

This responsibility gives purpose to learning the defenses that exist in housing court. Luckily, in Kings County you work out of the Help Center with an amazing staff that is always open to questions and allow you to observe as they give legal information to litigants. In Queens County, you work from a courtroom and get to observe Housing Court in action. The Court Attorneys and judges allowed me to observe their work and were more than happy to answer my constant questions. The experience was an incredible learning process."




Submitted: December 8, 2016

By: Efraim Lipschutz, Law Student

"This past summer interning for the Assigned Counsel Project (ACP) Internship Program was a necessary experience to my growth as a law student and future lawyer. I worked in the Brooklyn and Queens Housing Courts. The experience inspired me to want to do more pro bono work. At the start of my internship I did not know what to expect to get out of this experience and I was not disappointed.

I signed up to intern at this program because it was something different than the regular legal work. The work as explained to me was to interview seniors with housing issues and social services needs who are especially at risk of eviction. What I got out of the internship was much more than just helping seniors. Helping the vulnerable population in New York City was very satisfying as it yielded for me an appreciation for the work that the court does.

The work was more than just the rote process of interviewing seniors with housing issues. The internship included listening to them and giving them the human touch so they know that someone is listening. I was giving a piece of myself, listening to all their issues or anything they wanted to talk about besides housing.

Interning for the ACP Internship Program was eye opening to the real housing issues in New York City for seniors. It was very satisfying for me to know that I was able to help people have the basics of life, shelter. This was an experience that I will not forget as being vital to my growth as a law student and future lawyer."




Submitted: June 30, 2015

By: Meredith Nachman, J.D.

"I found the Assigned Counsel Project when researching ways to blend my J.D. with an interest in social work. I had never worked with seniors before, but knew that they are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States. Doing the intake process for the Assigned Counsel Project was a great way to become familiar with some of the issues low income seniors in New York City face, as well as to become familiar with landlord/tenant law. Kings County is a microcosm of the City, perhaps more than any other borough. The housing stock is also diverse. I met seniors who had lived for over forty years in the same two-family home they grew up in, as well as seniors who lived with as many as four generations of their family in the same rent-stabilized apartment. It was also a great way to learn about the assistance and programs available to seniors, and to learn what some of the obstacles to obtaining that assistance are. The Assigned Counsel Project was a great learning experience and is a very well-run project. I plan to keep volunteering within the New York Housing Court system and to try out some of their other interesting programs."




Submitted: December 16, 2014

By: Christopher Lee (3L)

"I worked as an intern this past summer, handling intakes for the Assigned Counsel Project Internship Program in Brooklyn. Going into it, I really did not know what to expect, as it was to be my first real exposure to the indigent clientele in a legal context. I knew that I wanted a hands-on experience of the direct service aspect of public interest law, and that I wanted to work with a diverse clientele that is representative of New York City. I am happy to be able to say that I got all that and more.

Working with indigent seniors at risk of eviction, you learn so much about the gross disparity in economic resources and its emotional, as well as material, impact on one of the most vulnerable populations in our society. Some of the seniors I spoke to were suffering from illnesses. There were some trying to get by on shockingly low incomes; or some who struggled still with the English language and needed a translator to navigate the complexities of the housing court system. They were decent, dignified people, but the pressure of an impending eviction sometimes made them feel desperate and helpless.

It was difficult to handle these intakes, knowing that many of them won't receive the help they needed, whether because of our lack of resources, or because they simply lacked the legal defenses to prevent eviction. Nevertheless, I truly appreciated being given the chance to talk to them and perhaps give them an emotional crutch as an ear they could complain to, even if I could not ensure that they received the material and legal supports they needed."




Submitted: May 20, 2014

By: Jacob Malafsky (3L)

"Interning with the Assigned Counsel Project (ACP), in Kings County Housing Court, was a very positive experience because of the training in housing law and the opportunity to use my knowledge to make a difference to elderly tenants and landlords. Working out of the volunteer lawyer office based in the courthouse gave me the opportunity to work with both elderly landlords, and tenants as well as hear about the wide variety of concerns that the elderly face in New York City.

This past winter was one of the worst in NYC's history, so it was important that elderly tenants and landlords received the proper representation to either stay in their homes or properly maintain their property. The internship required me to perform intakes of elderly clients who were referred by a judge to determine whether they should receive free legal representation. Legal representation is important because the legal system is very confusing and people can be denied appropriate relief because they lack the legal knowledge.

This program is important to both the clients that are served by the ACP, and the individuals who volunteer with the program. Elderly landlords and tenants need help finding counsel to represent them in HP, Holdover, or Non-payment proceedings. It is also a good experience for those who volunteer because it gives them housing law experience, as well as a sense of pride to dedicate your time to helping others. I highly recommend that anyone interested in housing law, volunteer for this project."




Submitted: March 14, 2014

By: Daniel McCarey (3L)

"My time with the Assigned Counsel Pilot Project has been both eye-opening and inspiring. It has enhanced my understanding of housing law and I have truly appreciated the guidance and support I received from the staff. Working with the Project is a great opportunity to work with qualified and knowledgeable attorneys who are dedicated to the idea that everyone is entitled to representation.

In my short time with the Project, I have witnessed strong resilience and immense gratitude from our client population. I thank ACP for giving me the opportunity to make a real impact in preventing an already vulnerable population from losing their homes."

 

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Register to Volunteer

  • Current law student (1L, 2L, or 3L) with strong interest in housing law, social work, and access to justice issues;
  • Sensitivity to the population being served;
  • Ability to work and interact professionally and independently.

Please e-mail a cover letter and resume to Kathleen Maitland, Esq. at: ACPInternship@nycourts.gov

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