Brooklyn VLP: News

  1. New Face to our Consumer Debt Practice

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    We are excited to introduce Franka Cepele, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and former volunteer, who we welcomed to the Access Justice Brooklyn team in August 2022 as a Staff Attorney for our Consumer Debt & Bankruptcy program. Franka is a Pro Bono Scholar at Legal Aid’s Prisoners’ Rights Project and has other public interest experience in immigration, disability rights, and clerking for a Supreme Court judge.

    Franka Cepele, Staff Attorney
    “The unfortunate reality is that “justice” in the context of the American Legal System, is more of an idyllic concept rather than a mandated outcome – especially for underserved communities facing legal challenges. That is why I wanted to work for Access Justice Brooklyn. Through programs like VLFD and CLARO, we provide people in our community with the necessary tools to properly advocate for themselves and tremendously increase their chances of obtaining favorable outcomes. I believe that justice shouldn’t be a rare occurrence reserved only for those with wealth and power, it should be a guarantee for every person who walks into a courthouse.”

    As Staff Attorney for Access Justice Brooklyn, Franka will oversee our Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Consumer Debt Program (VLFD) program in Kings County Civil Court and strengthen our consumer debt practice and The Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), which delivers critical advice and representation to hundreds of Brooklynites a year. To learn more about the services we provide through our Consumer Debt & Bankruptcy program, click here.

  2. We’re Hiring!

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    Access Justice Brooklyn has two exciting legal assistant opportunities to support all of our practice areas.

    The Legal Assistant position will perform intake with prospective clients and staff the front desk providing information and/or referrals to clients seeking legal assistance as well as assisting staff attorneys on foreclosure, consumer debt, bankruptcy, family law, and other practice areas. For more information about the position, click here.

    The Foreclosure Legal Assistant will also perform intake with prospective clients and staff the front desk providing information and/or referrals to clients seeking legal assistance as well as assist staff attorneys specifically in our Homeowner Assistance program in OATH and foreclosure matters. For more information about the position, click here.

    Access Justice Brooklyn is an equal opportunity employer. We actively recruit and seek to grow and maintain a diverse staff, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, and national origin; disability; socioeconomic background; and sexual orientation and gender identity.

  3. Our 2022 Summer Newsletter is here!

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    The Access Justice Brooklyn 2022 Summer Newsletter is here! Click here to read the latest edition!

    In this edition you will find:

    An update from Heidi Lee Henderson, President & Chief Executive Officer: Read about rebrand, renewed mission, and how you can take action

    Homeowner Assistance New Addition: Welcome Aaron Scheinwald, Staff Attorney, to the Access Justice Brooklyn team

    Meet our Dynamic Summer Interns: Meet our new interns and hear why they are excited to be joining us this summer 

    Summer Events Series: Discover how we are advancing legal education opportunities for both volunteers and Brooklyn seniors 

    Be sure to sign-up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay connected!

  4. Homeowner Assistance New Addition

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    We are excited to introduce Aaron Scheinwald, an experienced public interest attorney, who we welcomed to the Access Justice Brooklyn team in April 2022 as a Staff Attorney for our Homeowner Assistance program. Aaron joins us following years with NYLAG, serving most recently as the Acting Director in their Storm Response Unit.

    Aaron Scheinwald

    Aaron Scheinwald, Staff Attorney
    “I’m excited to join an organization that is unafraid to take hard cases, and that focuses its mission as much on community education and maximizing access to justice as its does core legal services. Access Justice Brooklyn is that place: we work to help the more vulnerable members of the community achieve justice in a frequently unfriendly system by meeting clients and their legal problems where they are, by sharing critical information and tools throughout the borough, and by taking the time to form community and pro bono relationships to expand our impact. I am proud to join Access Justice Brooklyn, to serve Brooklyn and to achieve a more just society.”

    As Staff Attorney for Access Justice Brooklyn, Aaron will help lead our foreclosure prevention work which delivers critical advice and representation to hundreds of Brooklyn homeowners facing foreclosure every year. To learn more about the services we provide through our Homeowner Assistance program, click here.

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

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    National Intern Day is July 28, 2022, 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 staff of eleven, our interns play an especially critical role in our day-to-day work, programming, and impact.

    Tenzin Chimi, Rising 2L, Brooklyn Law School
    “I was interested in interning with Access Justice Brooklyn because of the organizations values and its mission to provide accessible legal services to financially burdened communities. Throughout this summer, I look forward to gaining skills that are invaluable to my legal career while being able to advocate for marginalized individuals!”

    Rigel Morin, Rising 3L, Brooklyn Law School
    “What interested me in interning with Access Justice Brooklyn was the opportunity to assist members of the Brooklyn community in a real way. I hope to gain first-hand experience in the way our court and legal systems operate and to learn how to best interact with and assist clients by the end of my internship with Access Justice Brooklyn.”

    Lucas Pozzuto, Rising 2L and Carswell Scholarship recipient, Brooklyn Law School
    “I was drawn to Access Justice Brooklyn because of the opportunity to work hands-on within my immediate community. While things like legal research and writing can be effectively supplemented through internships, there is no classroom substitute for working with everyday people to help them resolve legal issues they likely wouldn’t be able to resolve on their own. I look forward to continuing to improve upon my public speaking skills, communication skills, and I’m hoping to continue to hone my legal research and writing skills while doing so.”

    Brendan Tetro, Rising 2L, Brooklyn Law School
    “I am so excited to spend the summer with the Access Justice Brooklyn team to learn from my staff mentors and grow my skills as a legal professional while supporting the Brooklyn community!”

    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, click here.

  6. BK Reader: Meet the Lawyers Helping Brooklyn’s Neediest Residents—For Free!

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    Access Justice Brooklyn was featured in “Meet the Lawyers Helping Brooklyn’s Neediest Residents—For Free!” by Jessy Edwards published on July 1, 2022 in the BK Reader.

    We are excited to reintroduce ourselves to the community as Access Justice Brooklyn as well as highlight our holistic programming and share our clients’ victories! Thank you to Jessy Edwards for profiling us!

    To read the article, click here.

  7. Access Justice Brooklyn partners with AXA XL on Annual Global Day of Giving

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    We partnered 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 24, 2022, Access Justice Brooklyn hosted an in-person clinic for eight AXA XL volunteers who generously donated their time in support of our Advanced Life Planning services. Volunteers assisted our clients in need of help preparing healthcare proxies and power of attorney documents.

    Thank you to Steve Agosta, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, U.S. Reinsurance, H. Matthew Crusey, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Reinsurance and Global Corporate, Johana Guerrero, Underwriter, Subcontractor Default Insurance, Matthew Murabito, General Counsel, Investments, and Lian Phua, Head of Americas, Political Risk, Credit and Bond, for their participation last week.

    A special thank you to event organizer Dana Rosenbaum, Senior Legal Counsel, Investments and Pro Bono Committee Chair. Dana shared, “We were honored to volunteer with Access Justice Brooklyn as part of AXA XL’s annual Global Day of Giving (GDoG). Since the inception of the GDoG in 2006, AXA XL colleagues have performed approximately 375,000 hours of community service for hundreds of non-profits worldwide. We have partnered with Access Justice Brooklyn on several legal clinics throughout the years and always find the work meaningful. Our volunteers appreciate the opportunity to assist New Yorkers in need“.

    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.

  8. New Name, New Brand, Renewed Mission

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    We are excited to announce we’ve changed our name and look to better reflect our mission and vision for the future. The Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project is now Access Justice Brooklyn!

    Founded in 1990 to help close the gap in legal resources and representation in the borough, the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project has always been — and always will be — a pioneer of contemporary pro bono models and a progressive force in the community. Our small staff and dedicated volunteers have been helping neighbors for more than 32 years, and the impact of our work can be seen in the legal results achieved.

    Still, systemic barriers to the legal process remain, leaving neighbors with low incomes — especially in marginalized communities — to face legal challenges alone. This, in part, is why the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project is now Access Justice Brooklyn. We believe that broad, sustainable systems change will require a holistic approach, and our new brand is a more accurate reflection of where we’re heading as an organization and a force for change.

    Click here to learn more about our rebrand!

    Click here to read our official press release.

  9. We’re Hiring!

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    Access Justice Brooklyn has an exciting opportunity for an attorney to serve as a staff attorney for its consumer law practice.

    The staff attorney will oversee all aspects of our Volunteer Lawyer for the Day Consumer Debt Program (VLFD) program in Kings County Civil Court, and will work with our director of legal services and staff to strengthen our consumer debt practice, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act practice, and The Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), which delivers critical advice and representation to hundreds of litigants a year.

    The staff attorney will have the unique opportunity to shape Access Justice Brooklyn’s work and leadership in an evolving practice area as the economic crisis continues, requiring innovative and coordinated responses. Click here to view the job posting!

    Access Justice Brooklyn is an equal opportunity employer. We actively recruit and seek to grow and maintain a diverse staff, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, and national origin; disability; socioeconomic background; and sexual orientation and gender identity.

  10. Press Release: New Board Member Appointment

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    Access Justice Brooklyn announces the appointment of one new member to its Board of Directors following election at the organization’s meeting held on March 9, 2022. Joining the Board of Directors is Samuel O. Maduegbuna, Founding Partner at Maduegbuna Cooper LLP. Upon his election, Mr. Maduegbuna shared the following:

    “I am incredibly excited to join in the most important and sorely needed work the VLP Board is doing – providing access to justice to underserved citizens of Brooklyn and the greater New York City. I look forward to contributing in the VLP’s mission, particularly as it assists and aids the ever-growing recent immigrant members of this most important city in the world.”

    Please see the official press release here.