Brooklyn VLP: News

  1. Our Senior Assistance Program is Growing!

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    We are excited to introduce Access Justice Brooklyn’s newest Staff Attorney, Lorraine Sabalja, who we welcomed to the team in January 2024!

    Lorraine is a former Access Justice Brooklyn volunteer and the 2020 recipient of our Liz Padilla Excellence in Public Service Award for outstanding commitment to pro bono services. She has extensive experience in elder law, including Medicaid, Medicare, estate planning and advance directives. 

    “To be part of an organization committed to doing good, where I can utilize my law practice and leverage that experience in a way to help the community is an incredible gift that lured me to join Access Justice Brooklyn. The opportunity to use my elder law experience to directly empower and educate seniors about the importance of making legal decisions that will allow them to maintain control over critical aspects of their lives and to build awareness of their rights to help them age safely in place, is especially gratifying.  

    I am also thrilled to be part of an organization that empowers and educates other attorneys to learn new areas of practice to help clients move forward with their lives and achieve their goals.  As a former volunteer with Access Justice, and recipient of the Liz Padilla Excellence In Public Service Award, I’ve also had the honor of experiencing firsthand the enrichment and reward that pro bono work can bring. Sharing this enthusiasm with other attorneys will be very exciting. It’s that client and peer interaction, engagement and connection which helps me reconnect to why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place.”

    As Staff Attorney for Access Justice Brooklyn, Lorraine will oversee all aspects of our Senior Assistance Program, including our long-standing Senior Legal Education and Assistance Program (Senior LEAP), which provides legal information and advice to hundreds of seniors throughout Brooklyn each year.

    Expansion of our Senior Assistance Program was made possible in part by generous grants provided by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, Brooklyn Org, and the National Grid Foundation. To learn more about our Senior Assistance Program, click here.

  2. Introducing the Newest Members of Our Legal Services Team!

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    We are excited to introduce Access Justice Brooklyn’s newest Legal Assistant – Isaias Argueta, who we welcomed to the team in November 2023; and Merly Lopez, who we welcomed to the team in January 2024.

    Isaias is a graduate of New York University where he majored in Psychology and minored in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. He has prior experience a case manager at Cayuga Centers, where he oversaw the timely release of unaccompanied minors from federal custody.

    “I am excited to join the Access Justice Brooklyn team because of their mission of achieving a more equitable Brooklyn. I believe that everyone deserves a fair chance at justice and AJB works to meet people where they are while linking them to the resources to empower themselves. I am excited to join the hardworking team at Access Justice Brooklyn so that I may connect Brooklynites to crucial resources needed to to effectively navigate the legal system. With experience as a social worker, I’m accustomed to approaching situations with compassion and empathy. I hope to use my experience to deliver effective and compassionate assistance to those across the borough.”

    Merly is a graduate of New York University where she majored in American Studies and involved with the The Undergraduate Law Review. She has prior experience as an editorial assistant at W. W. Norton and Co. and as a legal intern at Fuchs Rosenzweig, PLLC. Merly was also an organizer for the Workers Circle promoting civic engagement and empowerment as well as a mentor for the Kalos Academy.

    “Growing up as one of the only English speakers in my home, I viscerally experienced the inaccessibility of our legal and political systems early on. This quickly became the fuel for my pursuing a career in law and public advocacy, which is why applying to Access Justice Brooklyn was a no-brainer. The average client at Access Justice Brooklyn, like most low-income Americans, is typically overwhelmed and confused by the legal system from the moment they receive notice of a lawsuit. Organizations like Access Justice Brooklyn are some of the only lifelines available for bridging this profound gap in representation, especially with cases regarding foreclosures and consumer debt. I feel lucky to be able to contribute to a working model of direct service legal support that is committed to not only doing the work in the courts, but also working with communities directly through outreach and policy advocacy. As one of the first points of contact at the organization, I am most excited about the direct service nature of the work we do. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already seen the impact that just listening can have on someone who feels unseen by the larger legal and political systems.”

    As Legal Assistants for Access Justice Brooklyn, Isaias and Merly will conduct intakes with prospective clients, providing information and/or referrals to clients seeking legal assistance as well as support our Legal Services team in foreclosure, consumer debt, bankruptcy, family law, and other practice areas. To learn more about the services we provide, click here.

  3. Preserving Legacies in Our Community: One Family at a Time

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    Arturo and his wife moved to the United States from the Philippines in 1974 and settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. After retiring in 2017, they took out a reverse mortgage to cover repair costs for their home. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused financial difficulties in 2020, leading to unpaid taxes and insurance and the bank initiating foreclosure proceedings on their home.

    With the help of Access Justice Brooklyn, they discovered the Equitable Reverse Mortgage Assistance Program. After several months of hard work, we were able to secure the loan for Arturo and his family and settle the foreclosure case with the bank’s attorneys. Arturo’s daughter, Jamie, was overjoyed, saying, “My family was relieved, we could live normally. We can breathe, we didn’t have to pack our bags up and try to find out where to go.” Arturo was equally grateful, saying, “I want to thank Access Justice Brooklyn for doing good for me. I sleep very good and I’m very happy.”

    Arturo is one of many struggling to recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access Justice Brooklyn’s team of experienced attorneys and advocates are committed to helping our neighbors get back on their feet. But we cannot do it alone.

    With your support, we can continue to provide a pathway to a more secure future for thousands of Brooklynites just like Arturo and his family.

    Stand with Access Justice Brooklyn: Together, we can create a more just Brooklyn by supporting our neighbors with a gift online today!

  4. Governor Hochul Signs Deed Theft and Notary Bill

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    On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation to protect New Yorkers from deed theft, a practice in which property owners are defrauded out of the property titles to their homes.

    The new legislation, S.6577/A.6656, strengthens existing protections against deed theft by giving the Attorney General and local District Attorneys the power to pause eviction and ownership disputes while investigating or litigating deed theft cases. The law also increases the range of crimes that prosecutors can use to invalidate fraudulent sale and loan documents, among other measures. Governor Hochul signed the bill in Brooklyn, where the Attorney General, legal services advocates, members of the Legislature, and victims of deed theft were present. To read the official press release and watch the bill signing, click here.

    On November 1, 2023, Governor Hochul signed “Notary Bill” eliminating the burdensome and often discriminatory process of requiring documents to be notarized in civil matters!

    The new legislation, S.5162/A.5772, allows parties in civil disputes to make sworn statements without the need for notarization. With the enactment of this law, New York joins the federal government and more than 20 other states in eliminating the burdensome and often discriminatory process of notarizing documents in civil matters.

    Access Justice Brooklyn is proud to have advocated for the passage of both S.6577/A.6656 and S.5162/A.5772. Thank you to Governor Hochul for making the legal system more accessible to New Yorkers!

    New Yorkers are encouraged to report deed theft and other scams to the Attorney General’s office by calling 800-771-7755 or filing a complaint here.

    Access Justice Brooklyn provides foreclosure intervention and prevention services to support Brooklyn homeowners. To learn more about our Homeowners Assistance program and access resources, click here.

  5. Celebrate Pro Bono Week!

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    Pro Bono Week takes place every year in October and celebrates the pro bono ethic of the thousands of professionals who volunteer their skills and expertise to support nonprofits all around the world!

    In joining the festivities, Access Justice Brooklyn thanks our wonderful, dedicated volunteers who provide critical legal services to our clients year round. Your generosity allows us to continue our efforts to ensure a more accessible legal system for our neighbors in need. We look forward to continuing to work together in creating a more equitable Brooklyn where everyone knows their rights and has access to legal support!

    Access Justice Brooklyn provides opportunities for volunteers from various legal backgrounds and range from recent law school graduates to seasoned attorneys, to give back to the Brooklyn community and to develop experience in new practice areas. Volunteers outside the legal profession engage with us through various prevention-oriented services including “know your rights” trainings, financial counseling, and community education forums.

    Join us in celebrating Pro Bono Week and learn more about our amazing volunteers including Steven Zelkowitz, Sophia K. Barclay, James A. Maleady, and Jennifer L. Colyer who were honored at our Volunteer Recognition Event held earlier this year; view our list of impactful law firm and corporate pro bono partners; attend our upcoming virtual trainings (see below), and start volunteering today!

    Please contact Anne O’Grady, Pro Bono Director at to learn more about our pro bono model and volunteer opportunities for individuals, law firms and companies, and other business professionals. 

    Upcoming Trainings:

    Capital Region and Central New York Bankruptcy Bar Associations’ 27th Annual Bankruptcy Conference, November 3-4, 2023
    Cooperstown, New York On Friday November 3, 2023, from 4:15 PM to 5:05 PM, Access Justice Brooklyn’s Director of Legal Services, Sidney Cherubin, will be presenting a special CLE on Understanding Implicit Bias and Ways to Mitigate It alongside Ramona Morel, Project Director at Consumer Bankruptcy Project and Advisor for DEI Initiatives at City Bar Justice Center.

    Introduction to Drafting a Will, Tuesday, October 24, 2023, 3:00–5:00 PM via Zoom
    Presented by: Rosanna Roizin, Partner, Tarter Krinksy & Drogin LLP
    Moderated by: Sidney Cherubin, Director of Legal Services, Access Justice Brooklyn
    CLE Credit: 2 CLE credits available.

    Advanced CLARO Training (Track II): Assisting CLARO Clients with Motions, Friday, November 3, 2023, 1:30–5:00 PM via Zoom
    Presented by: Johanna Ocaña, Fordham Law School, Feerick Center for Social Justice; Marcella B. Silverman, Fordham Law School, Consumer Litigation Clinic; and Matthew Schedler, CAMBA Legal Services Inc.
    CLE Credit: 3.5 CLE credits available.

    The New York Judicial Foreclosure Process: Rules, Changes, and Updates
    Thursday, November 16, 2023, 3:00–5:00
    PM via Zoom

    Presented by: Peter S. White II, Supervising Attorney, Access Justice Brooklyn; and Aaron Scheinwald, Staff Attorney, Access Justice Brooklyn
    Moderated by: Bella Nunes, Legal Assistant, Access Justice Brooklyn
    CLE Credit: 2 CLE credits available.

    Introduction to Consumer Bankruptcy, Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 3:00–5:00 PM via Zoom
    Presented by: Sheldon Barasch, Supervising Attorney, DC37; and Bruce Weiner, Partner, Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner, LLP
    CLE Credit: 2 CLE credits available.

  6. Summer 2023: Meeting Neighbors Where They Are!

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    From free homeowner workshops in East New York to street fairs in Park Slope and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, our staff and volunteers have been busy providing quality legal services and education to our neighbors borough-wide.

    We kicked off the summer season with The Dream Squad and The Arthur Project’s Carnival Resource Fair at the Meyer Levin School for the Performing Arts on Saturday, June 3rd, where we got to enjoy live performances from the The Meyer Levin Steel Orchestra, dance performances, and more.

    On Wednesday, June 7th, Access Justice Brooklyn and City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse hosted a Homeowner Help Workshop in partnership with NHS Brooklyn. Despite the air quality advisory in New York City that day, we were able to assist nearly 20 homeowners with late-stage foreclosure and Department of Building violations and complaints. Read more about the event here.

    The following week, we celebrated Pride Month by participating in the Brooklyn Pride Festival & Parade held in Park Slope on Saturday, June 10th. We also attended the Brooklyn Community Board 2 & Friends of Commodore Barry Park Health Fair also held that same weekend near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    On Friday, August 11th, we helped neighbors gearing up for back to school at the NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, East New York Resource Fair and Back to School Giveaway. Neighbors received free school supplies while Access Justice Brooklyn and other participating organizations shared valuable resources with families in Ozone Park.

    Through our continued partnership with NHS Brooklyn and Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse, we held our second event Homeowner Help Workshop on Thursday, August 17th at her district office. Over 30 homeowners were able to meet one-on-one with housing counselors and attorneys for help with foreclosure, Department of Buildings violations, and other homeowner concerns.

    We closed out the summer vacation with two Back to School events hosted by Councilmember Sandy Nurse held on Saturday, August 19th at Thomas Boyland Park and Sunday, August 27th at Highland Park.

    Before we officially say goodbye to summer, we will be participating once again in Senator Roxanne Persaud’s Annual Senate District 19 Senior Resource Fair to be held on Thursday, September 7th at her district office! This annual event provides seniors with information about health care, mental health and wellness resources, City and State agencies, community organizations and more.

    Click here to view our calendar for more upcoming events!

  7. Highlighting Access Justice Brooklyn’s Summer Interns on National Intern Day

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    National Intern Day is July 27, 2023, and to celebrate we are delighted to introduce, highlight, and celebrate Access Justice Brooklyn’s Summer Interns! As an organization operating with a full-time program staff of fourteen, our interns play an especially critical role in our day-to-day work and impact.

    Sarah Genchanok, Rising 2L, Brooklyn Law School, NYSBA Catalyst Public Service Fellowship Recipient 
    “I was interested in interning at Access Justice Brooklyn because of the opportunity to provide direct assistance to the Brooklyn community for a variety of legal matters. So far, I’ve gained hands-on experience on how to best assist and advocate for clients by appearing on the record on behalf of pro se litigants in Civil Court and learned how to discuss potential resolutions and settlements with opposing counsel. I am incredibly grateful to the organization’s staff and our supervising attorneys for their guidance!”

    Sydney Korman, Rising 2L, Brooklyn Law School, NYSBA Catalyst Public Service Fellowship Recipient 
    “I was drawn to interning with Access Justice Brooklyn due to its mission of promoting a fair and accessible legal system. This opportunity has been immensely valuable, providing me with practical legal skills that can only be learned through hands-on experience. Moreover, I’ve gained a profound understanding of what it means to ardently advocate for clients.”

    Caroline Strauss, Rising 2L, Brooklyn Law School, NYSBA Catalyst Public Service Fellowship Recipient 
    “I was interested in interning with Access Justice Brooklyn because of their commitment to ensuring a more accessible legal system. I have had the opportunity to learn how to best advocate for my clients by doing hands-on work in real time including writing discovery orders and order of dismissals, taking part in settlement negotiations, and writing settlement stipulations, and arguing motions in front of the presiding judge.” I’ve gained a lot of confidence thus far, and I look forward to learning even more in these last weeks of my summer internship.”

    From conducting intake to staffing legal clinics and representing clients on civil legal matters, our interns are making a long-lasting difference in the lives of those who are often overlooked and underserved.

    We are incredibly grateful and proud of their compassion and dedication to Access Justice Brooklyn and those we serve! For more information about volunteering with Access Justice Brooklyn, visit:

  8. Unclaimed Funds: Find lost money at the New York State Comptroller’s Office

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    Every day New York State returns $1.5 million to those who file claims with the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

    Banks, insurance companies, corporations, and the courts are required by law to report dormant or inactive accounts to the State Comptroller’s Office. Companies and organizations must attempt to notify you by mail and publish the information in newspapers if you have money in these accounts. Despite these efforts, billions of dollars remain unclaimed and are turned over to the State Comptroller’s Office.

    There is a total of $955,603,433 in unclaimed funds in Kings County – is any yours?

    Types of Unclaimed Funds Accounts

    • – Bank Accounts – savings, checking, and/or certificate of deposit (CDs)
    • – Court Funds – settlements
    • – Dividends – corporate profits to shareholders
    • – Estate Proceeds – wills and trusts
    • – Insurance Benefits and Policies
    • – Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds – investment funds
    • – Telephone, Utility, and Security Deposits

    Search for Lost Money

    Visit to begin your search. Enter your last and first name or organization name. If you find a match, select the Name or Address for more information about the item you wish to claim. You can submit a claim online or mail-in a claim form. For more information about the process and available resources, click here.


    Beware of people who pretend to be the government and offer to send you unclaimed money in exchange for a fee or the exchange of confidential personal information. The State Comptroller’s Office never charges a fee to return unclaimed funds. This practice is called phishing – a criminal activity using various techniques to trick you into providing personal or financial information through an email request or through a link to a fraudulent Web site. For more information on phishing, please visit the New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection.

  9. Access Justice Brooklyn and City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse Host Homeowner Help Workshop

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    On Wednesday, June 7, 2023, Access Justice Brooklyn, and City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse hosted a Homeowner Help Workshop in partnership with NHS Brooklyn. The event was held at Councilwoman Narcisse’s District Office located at 5827 Flatlands Avenue, Brooklyn and helped homeowners address foreclosure and building violation concerns.

    Access Justice Brooklyn Supervising Attorney, Peter S. White II, spearheaded the event. Peter shared the following:

    “Many of our clients live in Eastern Brooklyn and are unable to commute downtown to obtain assistance due to work and accessibility limitations. This event marked an occasion in which we collectively saw a need in the community to provide essential housing and legal services to homeowners where they live.”

    Despite the air quality advisory in New York City that day, Access Justice Brooklyn, and our partners were able to assist nearly 20 homeowners with late-stage foreclosure and Department of Building violations and complaints.

    Thank you to Councilwoman Narcisse for hosting Access Justice Brooklyn at her district office allowing us to meet with homeowners in their community to provide free legal assistance and education where they live.

    Access Justice Brooklyn’s Homeowner Assistance program also provides weekly foreclosure intervention and prevention services at the Kings County Supreme Court to support Brooklyn homeowners through the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Group program held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the Friend of the Court program held on Thursdays. We also provide representation in the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) cases brought by the New York City Department of Buildings, helping individuals resolve or reduce the debt burden from violations.  To learn more about the services we provide through our Homeowners Assistance program, click here.

  10. Access Justice Brooklyn Partners with AXA XL on Annual Global Day of Giving

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    We are thrilled to partner once again with volunteers at AXA XL in celebration of their Annual Global Day of Giving. The AXA XL Global Day of Giving allows AXA XL staff the opportunity to donate their time and skills to organizations in the communities they work and live in.

    On June 7, 2023, Access Justice Brooklyn hosted an in-person clinic for eight AXA XL volunteers and two interns who generously donated their time in support of our Family Stabilization services. Under the mentorship of staff, volunteers assisted five of our clients to prepare and file their initial divorce papers with the Kings County Clerk.

    Thank you to Rachel Alt-Simmons, Head of Global Claims Innovation & Optimization, Claims Strategy & Transformation, Jason Atkinson, Senior Claim Specialist, Design Professional, Liesel Carvajal, General Counsel US Insurance, Kimberly Landgrover, Legal Counsel, Matthew Murabito, General Counsel, Investments, David Ralls, Associate General Counsel, Thomas Vargo, Claims Manager – Aerospace, North America,  and Lian Phua, Head of Americas, Political Risk, Credit and Bond, Jean-Gabriel Pierre, Head of Global Investment Strategy, for their participation last week.

    A special thank you to event organizer Dana Rosenbaum, Senior Legal Counsel, Investments and Pro Bono Committee Chair!

    For more information about pro bono partnership opportunities with Access Justice Brooklyn, please contact Anne O’Grady, Pro Bono Director.

    For a list of our current Pro Bono Partners, click here.