NEW YORK—Today, The New York City Council announced the formation of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services. Chaired by Council Member Rory Lancman, the Committee on Courts and Legal Services will allow the City Council greater oversight of the New York City’s legal system in its mission to provide due justice and fair representation for all New Yorkers.

“Every New Yorker is entitled to equal justice under the law, and the Committee on Courts and Legal Services and the City Council will work with community partners and city agencies to identify ways to meet that fundamental goal,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Under the leadership of Chair Rory Lancman, the Committee will examine the demand for legal services and the resources and support needed for the courts to serve our city with integrity. Now more than ever, this is an important step forward and I look forward to commencing hearings in the weeks ahead.”
“A sound justice system — fair and efficient courts, access to quality legal representation — is essential to progressive government, and I’m grateful for the Speaker’s confidence in my ability to help move these issues forward,” said Council Member Rory Lancman.
“We applaud the New York City Council for its insight in creating the new Committee on Courts and Legal Services which will focus on access to justice issues, expansion of much needed legal services, and the need to provide additional services to communities of color,” said Seymour W. James, Jr., Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. The Committee should review the availability of legal services and make recommendations for much needed increases in funding for legal services. We at The Legal Aid Society look forward to working with this new Committee in the future.”

“Civil legal services are essential in the fight against poverty and for equal justice for all New Yorkers,” said Raun Rasmussen, Executive Director of Legal Services NYC. “Unfortunately, fewer than one in five low-income New Yorkers who need legal help can get it due to insufficient funding. We are thrilled that the City Council is taking this important step toward expanding access to justice for all New Yorkers.”

“Every year the New York Legal Assistance Group turns away tens of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers seeking our services, who are forced to navigate the civil justice system without benefit of counsel,” said Yisroel Schulman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “We support the City Council’s efforts to increase access to justice for those least able to fight back – seniors, immigrants, ailing veterans, children, families facing foreclosure, renters facing eviction, low-income consumers, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations.”

“Civil society depends on well-functioning and properly maintained courts, and on access to quality legal representation for all parties,” said Joseph Carola III, Esq., President of the Queens County Bar Association. “That’s why the Queens County Bar Association commits so much time and resources to advocating for our justice system and supporting the professional development of our members. I commend Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for establishing this important committee and Council Member Rory Lancman for his willingness to undertake this important responsibility.”

“As a chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, the New York Women’s Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York support access to justice for all. Access to justice addresses the core of WBASNY’s mission purpose: the advancement of the law to assist women and all in society,” said Yacine Barry-Wun, Esq., President of the NYWBA.
“Every day, thousands of New Yorkers — many of them self-represented or without adequate legal representation — rely on our courts to render impartial justice on matters large and small,” said Mitchell B. Nisonoff, Co-Chair, Civil Court Practice Section, New York County Lawyers’ Association. “The City Council has an important role to play in ensuring that our justice system is fair and efficient. I strongly commend this increased focus on our courts and the provision of legal services.”