Since our founding in what is now Lower Manhattan in 1876, our “public service” has involved using our license as lawyers to benefit the greater good, particularly by delivering legal services to neighbors in need. This guiding principle is evident today in the work we do on behalf of persons with disabilities. Our efforts primarily focus on children and families struggling with two entrenched bureaucracies: the NYC Department of Education and the Social Security Administration. We have advocated for dozens of families of children with disabilities who have been wrongly denied either a fair opportunity in school or the basic benefits to which they are entitled. Without counsel, these families are all too often systemically disenfranchised. Our pro bono counsel dramatically improve the odds. A win in these apparently small but high-stakes matters can be transformative for the families we advise.
Our lawyers have also written important amicus briefs to various federal courts of appeals arguing against inappropriately narrow local interpretation of federal statutes meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. We also provide counsel directly to organizations whose purpose is to provide for and advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities. Recently, we successfully settled a multi-year litigation over fair housing opportunities for persons with mental disabilities. Last year, a litigation team concluded a case on behalf of the estate of a young man with mental health challenges who took his life in prison after repeated extended punishment in solitary confinement and denial of adequate care.
This work, which often requires careful navigation of a web of federal and state laws and regulations, has made our lawyers more aware of the power of the law to correct injustice, restore dignity and create opportunity.