December 11, 2009
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has announced that Fred Rooney, Director of CUNY Law’s Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN), will be awarded the Father Robert Drinan Award from the AALS’s Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities. The award recognizes individuals who embody the “citizen-lawyer” model and who are dedicated to transforming the law through innovative programming.
“Fred has been at the forefront of developing visionary programs that support CUNY Law graduates,” said CUNY Law Dean Michelle J. Anderson. “We are proud that he has received this recognition from the AALS.” Dean Anderson nominated Rooney for the award. In its recognition letter, the AALS noted that Rooney pioneered “a new model of legal service delivery to achieve justice for the poor and powerless.”
CLRN, which has been run by Rooney since its inception in 1998, is a peer-support network of more than 300 CUNY Law alums providing low-bono legal services to their communities. Under Rooney’s direction, CLRN has expanded internationally and is now being replicated at Symbiosis Law School in Pune, India. In 2007, CLRN established an Incubator for Justice project that trains CLRN members, over an 18-month period, in basic business issues such as billing, record-keeping, technology, bookkeeping and taxes while, at the same time, facilitating Incubator participants’ involvement in larger justice initiatives. Incubator participants are also trained in landlord/tenant, immigration and other areas of the law, that are likely to surface as they build their practices.
Most recently, in the fall of 2009, in a first of its kind collaboration in the nation, the New York State Courts and CUNY School of Law piloted “LaunchPad for Justice.” This unique initiative jumpstarts the careers of new CUNY Law graduates and provides much needed legal representation to low-income New Yorkers. Twelve recent CUNY Law graduates, awaiting admission to the NY State Bar, are being trained and supervised by CLRN and Court employed attorneys to represent clients in civil matters. In an unusual move, practice orders signed by the Appellate Division Second Department and Appellate Division First Department enable LaunchPad Fellows to appear in Civil Court as “Volunteer Lawyers for a Day” prior to receiving admission to the Bar. The program was developed by Rooney in conjunction with Judge Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts and Director of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program.
Rooney will be honored at the AALS Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section Program, “Pro Bono Responses to Crises: Past, Present and Future,” on Friday, January 8th during the AALS’s annual meeting, which will be held in New Orleans.
Contact: Vivian Todini, Communications Director, 718-340-4530
ABOUT CUNY School of Law: Based in Queens, NY, CUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the country. It trains lawyers to serve the underprivileged and disempowered and to make a difference in their communities. CUNY Law consistently ranks among the top 10 law schools in the country in clinical education and has been recognized as being one of the top ten public interest law schools nationwide. Its pedagogy has been heralded by the Carnegie Foundation for its integration of theory and practice. The Princeton Review ranks CUNY Law as having the fourth most diverse law faculty in the nation. It also ranks CUNY Law in the top ten in the nation for best professors, most welcoming to older students, and most liberal student body.