The (CUNY Law) PracticeIn
the Public Interest Since 9/11
Befitting a law school dedicated since its founding in 1983
to the public interest, many graduates of the CUNY Law School
at Queens College have leaped into emergency legal service
in the wake of the World Trade Center attack. Several have
reported their activities to Fred Rooney, director of the
School's Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN). This initiative
was established to train and offer professional support to
CUNY Law graduates working in underserved New York City and
Long Island communities. Elisabeth Ames has been chairing
the WTC committee on immigration of the local Bar, helped
set up the Immigrant Services table at Pier 94, and has served
on a pro bono panel at the Bar, accepting immigration referrals.
"I am currently working on an immigration case for a
widow whose husband died on 9/11."
Focusing on mental health counseling at the armory and then
Pier 94 has been Peter Buchenholz. His work has been for a
not-for-profit child care agency called Association to Benefit
Children (run by his mother) in conjunction with the City's
Mental Health Department and FEMA.
Suzanne Tomatore describes her work at the Immigrant Affairs
table at Pier 94 and a Worth Street office: "we answer
immigration questions relating to the disaster, educate immigrants
on what aid they are eligible for, and advocate for those
having problems with charity organizations." Teresa Calabrese
says she has been receiving referrals from Disaster Legal
Services "to provide landlord-tenant information to folks
who live or run a business in the WTC area."
Christopher Fanning has worked pro bono for a man who lost
his wife. He has "two young children, and we are refinancing
the loan on his house and doing his will, health care plan,
living will, and power of attorney."Similarly, Rebecca
Sheehan de Molina has been aiding a widower left with children
aged 5 and 9. "I am assisting him in straightening out
some financial issues, identifying aid resources for victims'
families, and administrating his wife's estate."
Her fluency in Cantonese came in handy for Maria Toy, who
has been helping immigrants denied assistance. "This
was due mainly to ill advisement by the charities themselves,
language barriers, and probably some stereotypes against immigrants,"
Toy reports, adding, "I am proud to say my Cantonese
was extremely helpful at a time like this."
For information about such legal services or to volunteer
legal expertise, reach Fred Rooney at the CLRN (718-340-4451,
or at email@example.com).