January 28, 2010
The American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services has named CUNY School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) as the recipient of the 2010 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.
“CUNY Law is proud of CLRN and its dual mission of fostering access to justice to low-income communities and providing ongoing support to CUNY Law graduates in solo and small practices working in low-income communities,” said CUNY Law Dean Michelle J. Anderson. “CLRN fits squarely with CUNY Law’s aim of law in the service of human needs and we are proud to receive this prestigious award.”
The Louis M. Brown Award recognizes innovative programs that meet the legal needs of those who do not qualify for legal aid yet still aren’t able to afford typical legal fees. In recognizing CLRN, Committee Chair Richard Cassidy noted, “CLRN is a highly innovative program that is changing the face of legal services and at the same time strengthening the communities where these services are provided.” The ABA Committee also expressed interest in replicating CLRN as a model.
CLRN, which has been run by CUNY Law CLRN Director Fred 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. CLRN’s programs are specifically designed to support CUNY Law School graduates as they set up and run solo or small-group practices devoted to serving pressing needs of the poor and disadvantaged in communities that are underserved by lawyers.
CLRN member attorneys range from recent graduates to attorneys in practice over 20 years, practicing in diverse public interest areas including domestic violence, human rights, elder law, immigration, foreclosure prevention, labor and employment rights, landlord/tenant, and criminal defense.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of CLRN,” said CLRN Director Fred Rooney. “And, I’m encouraged by the ABA’s interest in working together to explore ways to replicate CLRN’s model.” Internationally, under Rooney’s direction, CLRN has expanded and is now being replicated at Symbiosis Law School in Pune, India. Rooney is also in discussions with law schools in Spain, Israel, and Palestine about how to create CLRN-like programs.
Under Rooney’s leadership, 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.
CLRN also has an active listserv through which member attorneys share their work product, pose questions to colleagues on substantive areas of law or procedural matters in various local jurisdictions, or simply find referrals for clients. “Fred has been at the forefront of developing visionary programs that support CUNY Law graduates,” said Dean Anderson. “CLRN is a tremendous example of how we can continue creating a path to social justice through affordable lawyering.”
Rooney will accept the Louis M. Brown Award on behalf of CLRN at the Committee’s meeting in Orland, Florida on February 5th.
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 10 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 top10 in the nation for best professors, most welcoming to older students, and most liberal student body.