Chief Judge Lippman Announces Permanent Panel on Access to Justice

July 22, 2015

On July 22, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that he has created a Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, which will make permanent the task force he created in 2010 to address the needs of low-income New Yorkers for additional civil legal services. The creation of the Permanent Commission will ensure that the work of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York will endure even after the retirement of Chief Judge Lippman.

The Chief Judge's order provides that the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice will “assess the nature, extent and consequences of unmet civil legal need,” as well as collect data, issue annual reports, and encourage more public spending to respond to the unmet needs of low-income New Yorkers for civil legal services. Judge Lipmann stated that the creation of the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice “makes unequivocally clear that New York, as a matter of public policy and values, believes that every person who is faced with legal issues regarding the necessities of life get legal representation or effective legal assistance to deal with those issues.”

S&C has been instrumental in the work of the Task Force and will continue to play the same role for the newly created Permanent Commission on Access to Justice. In particular, Robert Giuffra will serve as a member of the Permanent Commission, a 31-member group of judges, lawyers and legal services providers. Jessica Klein will serve as Counsel to the Permanent Commission. Since the Task Force's inception in 2010, it has held its meetings at the Firm and received assistance from S&C in preparing its annual reports. The Task Force has also received support from S&C associates Lara Loyd and Chiansan Ma.

Spending on civil legal services in New York State's budget had increased significantly during the years since Judge Lippman convened the Task Force, having risen to $85 million in the current fiscal year. Part of the work of the Task Force has been to hold hearings each year to obtain testimony concerning the impact on families and communities of the shortage in legal services funding. The Task Force's work has been reported in The New York Times, New York Law Journal and The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.