Two Buffalo attorneys who help introduce young people to legal careers and a New York City attorney who assists senior citizens and their families in legal matters have been honored by the State Bar Association with the 2013 Citation for Special Achievement in Public Service.
Jessica Lazarin and Tasha Moore of Buffalo and Tina Janssen-Spinosa of Manhattan were recognized by the Bar Association’s Committee on Attorneys in Public Service (CAPS) during a ceremony held in Albany on Wednesday (October 16, 2013).
“The hard work and commitment of public service attorneys often goes unheralded and unrewarded,” said State Bar President David M. Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody). “Ms. Janssen-Spinosa, Ms. Lazarin and Ms. Moore demonstrate the impact these legal professionals can have on their communities and serve as a reminder of why many of us got into the legal profession in the first place.”
“Ms. Janssen-Spinosa’s work with families in their time of need is invaluable to the community she serves, while Ms. Moore and Ms. Lazarin are providing experiences for our youth that are turning lives around,” said CAPS Chair Catherine A. Christian (assistant district attorney, New York County).
Janssen-Spinosa of the New York Legal Assistance Group was honored for her work as program coordinator of the Total Life Choices program, which provides people with help in estate planning, medical advance directives, transferring title to family homes, guardianship matters and other related issues.
Janssen-Spinosa is credited with substantially expanding the program over the past six years to include a comprehensive list of legal services. She is currently spearheading an initiative to place “help desks” in courtrooms to assist individuals with guardianship matters.
Moore is the regional director of the New York State Division of Human Rights in Buffalo. Lazarin is immigration staff attorney for the Erie County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project. Together, they were honored for their work in co-founding the Western New York Diversity Taskforce. The task force was established to implement local programs for the long-term development of youth and the legal community.
One of the task force’s initiatives, the Pipeline Program, serves undergraduate college students – particularly underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students – who are interested in law careers. Another initiative, the Goldilocks Program, uses the popular children’s story to teach grade-school students about the law.
The CAPS citations are given out annually to recognize the special achievements of public service attorneys who have had a significant impact on their communities.
The ceremony was held Wednesday evening at the State Bar Center in Albany. The keynote speaker was Anne Erickson, president and CEO of the Empire Justice Center, who discussed how to close the justice gap for the 2.3 million litigants who appear in civil courts each year throughout the state without legal representation.
The New York State Bar Association, with 76,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.
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