Friday Morning Workshops

9:00am – 12:15pm

J. Beyond Law Reform: Building a Practice that Meets the Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 9:00am-12:15pm
2.5 MCLE Credits: 0.5 Ethics; 0.5 Law Practice Management; 1.5 Professional Practice

We are at a crucial moment for legal services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. The historical lack of legal protections for LGBT people has resulted in significant economic injustice. Indeed, LGBT people are more likely to be low income than the population as a whole and transgender people are disproportionately likely to be living in extreme poverty. Fortunately, in New York State and around the nation the law is changing in favor of increased recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people. Low income people need access to civil legal services to enjoy the benefit of this improving legal landscape. The panel will talk about practical and substantive components of providing legal services to LGBT clients, with a focus on meeting the particular needs of transgender clients.     

Ez Cukor, Esq.,
Staff Attorney, New York Legal Assistance Group
Laurie Izutsu, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney, Immigrants’ Rights and Advocacy Project, Brooklyn Legal Services 
Ashe McGovern, Esq., Attorney, New York Legal Assistance Group
Elana Redfield, Esq., Staff Attorney, Sylvia Rivera Law Project 
Julia A. Sáenz, JD, Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellow, LGBT Rights Project, Empire Justice Center
Sonja Shield, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney, Brooklyn Legal Services  


AD. Criminal Law for the Civil Practitioner: Bridging the Gap between Arrest and Reentry to Work Towards Holistic and Transformative Delivery of Direct Legal Services.
Date/Time:  Friday, 09/12/14- 9:00am-12:15pm
3.0 MCLE Credits: 3.0 Professional Practice

In New York State, where over half a million people were arrested in 2012 and about one in three people currently has a criminal record, interactions with the police, criminal courts, and jails have become normal events for the people and communities we serve.  Arrest and incarceration can trigger complex and intertwined civil legal problems. Civil legal service providers know how the myriad of non-legal social problems related to poverty – such as homelessness, addiction, unemployment, or mental illness – often lead to crime.  The ensuing arrest, criminal charge, or conviction result in significant forfeitures and disabilities that only exacerbate the social problems that often lead to crime in the first place.  Despite the demonstrable overlap between civil and criminal justice systems, most civil practitioners and public defenders do not talk to each other.  

This workshop starts with an overview of the criminal court process, sealing laws, certificates that promote rehabilitation, lecture on how criminal cases affect jobs, housing and various benefits and then discussion on the ways civil legal service attorneys can better bridge these gaps and more effectively address legal problems stemming from criminal court-involvement to provide transformational representation.    

Paul Curtin, Esq.,
Managing Attorney, Civil Unit, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo 
Christa Douaihy, Esq., Attorney/Team Leader, Civil Action Practice, The Bronx Defenders
Mary Grace Ferone, Esq., Program Manager, Disability and Public Benefits Unit, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
Runa Rajagopal, Esq., Team Leader and Supervising Attorney, Civil Action Practice, The Bronx Defenders
Judith Whiting, Esq., General Counsel, Community Service Society of New York


9:00am – 10:30am

B. Intentional Program Violations, Administrative Disqualification Hearings, and Related Welfare/Food Stamp Fraud Issues
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 9:00am-10:30am
1.5 MCLE Credits: 1.5 Professional Practice

This training will provide an overview of the Administrative Disqualification Hearing process in the Public Assistance and SNAP benefits context. USDA issued new regulations in 2013 expanding the definition of trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and requiring states to monitor excessive requests for replacement cards. On the local level, counties engage in aggressive techniques to disqualify individuals from public assistance and SNAP benefits through the intentional program violation (IPV) administrative process. The unfortunate result is that recipients who had no intent to receive more benefits than they were entitled to are being improperly banned from receiving cash or food stamps, or both, which they desperately need. This workshop will provide you with the tools you need to help your clients, including an analysis of the new federal guidance on trafficking, a walk through the criminal vs. civil fraud route as well as the ADH pre- and post-hearing process, and sharing of recent fair hearing decisions issued in New York City and upstate districts. Some important court decisions will be reviewed, including the Robles v. Doar class action “marriage match” case brought by the Urban Justice Center. Finally, the session will address whether advocates can (or cannot) help clients who are themselves victims of benefit theft.  

Ian F. Feldman, Esq.,
Director of Legal Services, Mental Health Project, Urban Justice Center
Maryanne Joyce, Esq.
Diana Proske, Esq., Staff Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
Cathy Roberts, Senior Paralegal, Empire Justice Center    


G. Problems Proving Vocational Issues in Young Adult Disability Claims
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 9:00am-10:30am
1.5 MCLE Credits: 1.5 Skills

Social Security’s regulations mandate that children who are found disabled as children have their SSI claims reviewed under the adult disability criteria when they turn 18. If SSA determines that an 18 year old does not meet the adult criteria, his/her benefits will be discontinued, subject to appeal. On appeal, the claimant must demonstrate that s/he is unable to work, so vocational evidence is crucial to the claim. But vocational evidence typically presented in adult claims is difficult to obtain in young adult cases. This session will cover some of the unique problems with obtaining Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluations for young adults. Strategies will be suggested for creative alternatives, such as testimony and evidence from non-medical sources. It will also address how school records can be used to prove inability to work in these claims. Finally, it will focus on using evidence from the claimant’s childhood claim proactively to prove disability, with reference to SSA’s recent Social Security Ruling (SSR) on evaluation of young adult claims.    

Ann Biddle, Esq.,
Deputy Director, Queens Legal Services  
Tanya Douglas, Esq.,
Director, Disability Advocacy Project, Manhattan Legal Services
Ellen Rita Heidrick, Esq.,
Supervising Attorney, Legal Assistance of Western New York
Peter Racette, Esq., Deputy Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York Inc.

Y. Cultivating Pro Bono Leaders
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 9:00am-10:30am
MCLE Credits: NONE

In this challenging economic climate in which organizations are experiencing reductions in staffing, it is more critical than ever that all available resources be used in promoting pro bono participation, including leaders within and outside of the organization's staff.  This workshop will discuss how to cultivate and engage leadership within the organization's staff and board, the local judiciary, and the bar.  Panelists will offer specific examples for engaging pro bono leaders in recruitment, retention and recognition efforts.  

Sheila A. Hubbard, Esq.,
Executive Director, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Boston Bar Association
Cheryl M. Zalenski, Esq., Director, Center for Pro Bono, American Bar Association    


10:45am – 12:15pm

I. Immigrant Eligibility for Public Benefits in New York State: New Developments & Review of the Basics
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 10:45am-12:15pm
1.5 MCLE Credits: 1.5 Professional Practice

This 90-minute panel will provide an overview of the rules governing immigrant eligibility for public benefits with a focus on cash assistance, SNAP, Medicaid and Qualified Health Plans offered pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Understanding these rules is essential to legal services case handlers’ ability to advocate effectively for clients, not only for public benefits lawyers but those who work in housing – where eligibility for subsidies is often dependent on qualifying immigration status; health law advocates and even immigration lawyers, who may know the complexities of immigration law but not which statuses qualify for which public benefits. In addition to reviewing basics, this workshop will cover new immigration categories (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), new benefits programs (the ACA) and changes in the way local social services districts apply the rules upstate and down, as well as litigation updates.  

Lilian Vaamonde, Esq.,
Training Director, Civil Practice, The Legal Aid Society  
Barbara Weiner, Esq.,
Senior Staff Attorney, Empire Justice Center
Susan Welber, Esq., Staff Attorney, Civil Practice Law Reform Unit, The Legal Aid Society  


H. Proving Young Adult Disability Claims: Mock Hearing
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 10:45am-12:15pm
1.5 MCLE Credits: 1.5 Skills

Hearings involving young adult claims present unique issues for advocates. An 18 year old whose benefits are being terminated is entitled to a hearing at the reconsideration stage, as well as a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This session will address the differences and similarities between these types of hearings. It will also introduce proactive strategies to deal with issues that may rise at this type of hearing. And it will cover ways in which advocates can better elicit helpful testimony on direct examination. A sample – or “mock” – direct examination will be conducted.   

Lynda (L.J.) Fisher, Esq.,
Senior Attorney, Empire Justice Center
Jocelyne Martinez, Esq., Supervising Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
Emilia Sicilia, Esq., Director of Disability Benefits Advocacy, Urban Justice Center


AA. Filling in the Gap: Using Non-Lawyers to Educate & Assist Pro-Se Litigants
Date/Time: Friday, 09/12/14- 10:45am-12:15pm
MCLE Credits: NONE

Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) in collaboration with University Settlement will present on using non-lawyers to assist in providing access and legal education to litigants without representation. The presentation will include best practices, protocols and effective models in using non-lawyers to assist pro se litigants navigate various courts and legal processes throughout New York State. Specifically, LIFT will discuss the current continuum of services model used to deliver award winning services to unrepresented litigants throughout New York City Family Courts. University Settlement will thoroughly present on the model and methods used in Project Home and the Navigator project in Housing Court; both programs using non-lawyers to assist litigants with their housing court matters.     

Katherine Chang
, Program Coordinator, Project Home, University Settlement
Jameelah J. Hayes, Esq., Director of Programs, Legal Information for Families Today
Jennifer Vallone, Director, Project Home, University Settlement