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December 1, 2010

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS REPORT ISSUED BY CHIEF JUDGE LIPPMAN'S TASK FORCE TO EXPAND ACCESS TO CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES

New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger of New York (Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP) applauded Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the members of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York for their comprehensive report issued today, which provides a roadmap with common sense recommendations to address the critical need to provide counsel to low-income New Yorkers in civil cases.

"The findings of the task force are overwhelming. The quality of justice in New York's courts is diminished and the rule of law undermined when so many New Yorkers go without legal representation in matters that involve day-to-day life. Overwhelmingly, it is the most vulnerable, low-income New Yorkers who suffer the consequences.  As this report clearly documents, failure to provide these New Yorkers with a lawyer to advocate on their behalf results in increased homelessness, domestic violence, and poverty - something we can ill afford during this time of fiscal uncertainty," said President Younger. "The State Bar applauds Chief Judge Lippman and the task force for providing a sensible roadmap that will help ensure that the unmet civil legal needs of all New Yorkers are addressed."

 Younger continued, "The Chief Judge is right. New York must be able to provide a steady source of funding targeted to the 'essentials of life' - housing, domestic violence, access to health care - reliably and quickly. I look forward to working with task force members to ensure that the basic right to equal justice is no longer denied to our citizens."

Judge Lippman established the task force earlier this year as part of his efforts to ensure that the courts can meet their constitutional mission of ensuring equal justice for all citizens. This fall, the Chief Judge presided over a set of public hearings in each of the state's four Judicial Departments. At Judge Lippman's request, members of the State Bar Association assisted in presiding over these hearings. The hearings assessed the extent and nature of unmet civil legal services needs throughout the State in order to help formulate recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on the appropriate level and source of public resources to meet those needs.

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Founded in 1876, the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years. For more information, visit us at our Web site at www.nysba.org.