New York Law School’s Joe Plumeri Center for Social Justice and Economic Opportunity is proud to receive New York State’s Justice for Heroes grant, which provides funding for law schools that offer innovative programs to assist service members, veterans, and military families with legal services. NYLS is among three other grant recipients, including Albany Law School, the Maurice A. Dean School of Law at Hofstra University, and the University at Buffalo School of Law. The $50,000 grant comes with the possibility to renew for another $50,000 per year over the next two years.
“New York Law School has a long and proud history educating and providing legal services to veterans and service members,” said Professor Kim Hawkins, Stephen J. Ellmann Dean for Clinical and Experiential Learning, in the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services announcement of the grant. “This funding will directly increase the service capacity of two of our clinics, the Veterans Justice Clinic and the Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic, thereby allowing NYLS students to assist more veterans and service members build better lives and have deeper impacts in their communities.”
The Veterans Justice Clinic, led by Adjunct Professor Peter Kempner, affords students the opportunity to provide legal assistance to low-income veterans in New York City under the supervision of NYLS faculty. Coursework focuses on poverty law—which is especially significant given the veterans homelessness crisis—and veteran-specific legal issues like discharge status and upgrade, service-connected disability benefits, VA benefits, and more.
In the Nonprofit and Small Business Clinic, led by Professor Gowri Krishna, students provide transactional legal services to nonprofits and small businesses under the supervision of NYLS faculty. Through the Clinic, students gain experience working to further economic, environmental, racial, and social justice. Clients typically come from low-income communities, and students provide legal services that would otherwise be out of reach. Work focuses on entity formation, governance, contracts, intellectual property, and regulatory compliance. Funding from the grant will increase the Clinic’s capacity to focus on the transactional legal needs of veterans and service members.
With the funding from New York State, Dean Hawkins says, “We will be able to better reach across our existing clinical programming to create a new focus on their legal rights and at the same time shape how the next generation of lawyers will enter the practice and advocate on veterans’ rights issues.”