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Toward a Right to Counsel in Civil Cases in New York State

Adopting a report written by the Brennan Center’s Laura Abel, the New York State Bar Association champions a right to counsel in eviction and foreclosure cases and in certain unemployment insurance appeals.

  • Laura Abel
Published: November 2, 2008










On November 1, 2008, the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) House of Delegates adopted a resolution affirming the NYSBA’s commitment to providing free or low-cost civil legal services for the poor and its commitment to the goal of a civil right to counsel in legal matters affecting basic human needs.

Adopting a report authored by the Brennan Center’s Laura Abel, a member of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, the NYSBA urged the New York State Legislature to expand the civil right to counsel in New York by enacting the following legislation:

  • Provide a right to counsel for vulnerable low income people who face eviction or foreclosure from their homes.  
A bill providing those protections for low-income seniors has been introduced in the New York City Council, and state Senator Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, has announced she will introduce a similar bill in the State Legislature in 2009 for low-income seniors and people with disabilities facing eviction or foreclosure. Click here for more information on the City Council’s legislation.
  • Extend the existing right to counsel for unemployment insurance claimants – those who have received a favorable decision from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board and are defending that decision in an appeal to the Appellate Division or Court of Appeals brought by another party – to claimants who have received a favorable determination from an administrative law judge are defending against an appeal before the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.  Additionally, the existing $500 cap on reimbursement for appointed counsel should be raised to a level high enough to ensure that attorneys will accept the cases.