New York

New York Justice For All Strategic Action Plan

Strategic Planning Grant: 2016
Implementation Grant: 2018

New York is prioritizing: developing collaborative community partnerships with an expanded stakeholder base that will enable robust information exchange and proactive issue identification; expanding technology capacity to better coordinate, integrate and simplify resources; and educating judges and court staff on ethical responsibilities, dealing with unrepresented litigants, language access requirements, and procedural fairness and cultural competency. The New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice led the New York Justice for All Strategic Planning effort, which involved traditional legal stakeholders, as well as representatives from the business community, healthcare industry, labor unions, philanthropic organizations, community organizations and state government agencies.

New York State’s action plan includes statewide and local initiatives. The statewide initiatives include:

  • Expanding courthouse help centers;
  • Converting current forms and materials into plain language;
  • Expanding and improving efficiency of full-service representation and existing nonlawyer programs;
  • Expanding the “Legal Hand” neighborhood storefront model where trained community volunteers who are not lawyers provide basic information, assistance and referrals;
  • Encouraging expansion of limited-scope representation;
  • Disseminating legal resource information; and
  • Creating mobile applications and a technology infrastructure to allow for virtual service delivery and assistance.

The local initiatives focused on developing a local pilot project in one jurisdiction, Suffolk County.

Implementation of the Strategic Action Plan

New York’s JFA statewide planning effort prioritized activities based on ease of implementation, stakeholder support, funding requirements, sustainability, measurability and expected impact. The resulting statewide plan focused on systemic strategic planning and court-based initiatives, as well as a local pilot project.

New York’s Justice for All local pilot project focused on one jurisdiction, Suffolk County, with the goal to expand planning efforts to other jurisdictions. The inventory and assessment effort involved setting up working groups focused on localized issues of legal representation, initial points of entry, technology, messaging and accessibility. These working groups identified and classified existing local resources. Prior to developing the local pilot project, a community listening session involving numerous Suffolk County community stakeholders was held.

Suffolk County’s implementation projects include:

  • Enhancing the existing services available at the Middle County Library (Suffolk County) by integrating legal assistance provided by a unique collaboration of seven providers to guide residents, who otherwise would not know where to go, through the social and legal services system to obtain effective assistance for critical essential civil legal issues.
  • This Library location was selected because it is home to a large, robust community resource center that offers extensive public outreach, education and informational services through librarians, trained staff and innovative technology, including the local 2-1-1 database hosted by the United Way of Long Island.
  • By integrating legal services into the Library’s resource center, more comprehensive assistance can be provided, which would complement the existing informational and referral services now offered to community members for healthcare, housing, family matters and immigration issues.

Monroe County followed Suffolk County’s lead by creating a local access to justice committee. As a result of the 2018 annual Statewide Stakeholders Meeting there are now local access to justice committees in every judicial district outside of New York City.

Point person: Helaine M. Barnett (New York Permanent Commission on Access to Justice)