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American Lawyers Travel to Israel In First Retreat To Share Ideas On Serving Low-Income Communities

October 18, 2007

Two delegations of lawyers — one from CUNY School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) and the other from Israel — will convene for 10 days later this month to share ideas on how to increase access to high-quality legal representation for low-income clients, immigrants and the working poor in both nations.

The retreat, made possible through a grant from the Everett Foundation, is believed to be the first of its type. A delegation of six attorneys, all of whom are graduates of CUNY School of Law, will travel to Israel to meet with solo and small-firm legal practitioners and clinical education faculty members connected with the Public Interest Law Program (PILP) of the Tel Aviv University’s Bachmann Faculty of Law. The delegation is also scheduled to meet with members of bar associations, human rights activities, and representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Druze communities.

The lawyers will:

  • Identify best practices for increasing access to justice in both countries
  • Develop a sense of solidarity with one another
  • Discuss similarities and differences between U.S. and Israel societies that impact the work of developing better legal services for the underserved
  • Develop new strategies for advancing justice and meeting the unmet legal needs in both countries.

Millions of New Yorkers lack access to civil justice because they cannot afford private attorneys. CLRN, for the past nine years, has sought to fill that gap by training solo and small-firm practitioners to work in communities that are legally underserved. While there is one private attorney for every 525 people in the United States, there is only one Legal Aid attorney for every 6,800 low-income Americans, according to the 2005 Justice Gap Report.

CLRN is part of a national movement in American law schools. “It is a revolutionary idea because it requires law schools to continue to educate their graduates long after they leave law school so that they can create economically viable solo- and small-firm practices to serve vulnerable populations,” said CLRN director Fred Rooney.

In Israel, the PILP program, established in 2001 with the support of the Ford Foundation, was created with goals similar to those of CLRN. PILP targets jurists concerned with thinking and developing legal knowledge in academia, and lawyers involved with legal practice in every sector. Like CLRN, PILP has been effective in bridging a gap that traditionally exists between legal practice and academic tradition.

The trip will take place from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4, 2007.

CUNY Law Media Relations Press contact: Emily Sachar, 718-340-4530; Cell: 718-644-5789

For CUNY School of Law Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN):
Fred Rooney, 718-340-4451 Cell: 484-554-4492


Related Categories: CLRN

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