The New York State Bar Association is sponsoring a three-day conference in Albany September 12-14 to discuss how low-income and disadvantaged individuals can receive improved access to justice in the wake of economic instability and financial cutbacks to legal services.

The 2012 Legal Assistance Partnership Conference will feature presentations on diverse topics relating to the legal needs of vulnerable populations, including the poor, domestic violence victims, immigrants and veterans. More than 400 attorneys are expected to attend. It is sponsored by the Bar Association's Committee on Legal Aid.

Among the 20-plus presentations scheduled for the conference are:

• How to Use the Law to Help Clients with Disabilities Access Public Benefits
• An Introduction to Veteran Specific Benefits and Models for Providing Services
• Using Litigation to Reform Public Housing Authorities
• How Bankruptcy Laws Can Help Your Client Survive Consumer Debt
• Technology and Law Practice Management
• Achieving a Civil Right to Counsel in New York State

"Especially during economic hard times, when more people need help than ever before, it is vitally important that we reach out to serve those citizens who cannot afford legal services," said State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New York City). "This conference will provide attorneys with the knowledge and tools to help them better serve vulnerable New Yorkers."

Several noted legal experts in the field are scheduled to address the conference:

• Steven Scudder and Cheryl Zalenski of the American Bar Association's Center for Pro Bono Exchange in Chicago will present workshops on pro bono service.
• Ray Brescia, an assistant professor at Albany Law School, will speak at a workshop entitled, "The Thoughtful Practitioner: Ethics for Legal Services Advocates."
• Andrew Scherer of New York City (Andrew Scherer Consulting), a consultant and expert witness on access to justice, housing, property and economic rights issues, will join Vincent Warren of New York City, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in discussing "Legal Services for the 99%."
• John Pollack of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel will speak at the closing plenary session on "A Civil Right to Counsel."

On Thursday evening, the Committee on Legal Aid will present its annual Denison Ray Awards, which recognize attorneys who demonstrate a strong commitment to serving disadvantaged and low-income clients. The awards are named for the late Denison Ray, a longtime Albany-area civil rights attorney and executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.


When: Wednesday, September 12, through Friday, September 14.
Where: Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Road, Albany, N.Y.

Denison Ray Awards Reception and Dinner: Thursday, September 13, 6 to 9 p.m.
Speakers: New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New York City).
Schedule of events:


The New York State Bar Association, with 77,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Mark Mahoney
Associate Director, Media Services