The New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) has announced the launch of two pro bono programs - Project Restore, which will provide pro bono counsel for ex-offenders who challenge denials of employment licenses, and Manhattan CLARO (Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office), an advice-only program for pro se defendants with consumer debt matters in Civil Court cases.
In acknowledgement of the programs' critical importance, NYCLA President Catherine A. Christian said, "When I became President, I made a commitment to expand NYCLA's pro bono program. These two innovative projects continue NYCLA's leadership role in advocating for access to justice for all."
Given that a persistent barrier to sustainable work is the discretionary denial of licenses based solely on prior convictions, Project Restore will provide counsel to those applicants who have been denied licenses as a result of adjudicated criminal history predating the employment license application.
In addition to licenses, jobs customarily require registration or certification, and a background check by both the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Manhattan CLARO was created in partnership with Fordham Law School's Lincoln Square Legal Services, Fordham Law School's Feerick Center for Social Justice and Dispute Resolution, and City Bar's Committee on the Civil Court. The partnership is an expansion of an existing program that launched two years ago in Kings County with Brooklyn Law School, City Bar and the Brooklyn Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyer Program.
Training sessions for Project Restore and Manhattan CLARO will take place early this year. The programs will begin in February.