Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

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Pro Bono Rank Firm
(Am Law 200 Rank)
Am Law
Pro Bono Score
Average Pro Bono
Hours Per Lawyer
% of Lawyers
With More Than 20 Hours
63
Kramer Levin (90)
58.3
71.2
45.4

 

Legal aid providers say that finding pro bono volunteers to help with the civil needs of the poor is among their toughest challenges. That's why we took note when we heard about Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel's partnership with P.S. 11, an elementary school in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Working in conjunction with The Am Law Pro Bono 100Volunteers of Legal Service, about 20 Kramer Levin lawyers have offered legal services to the parents of needy children at the school.

Jessica Glass, a litigation associate, is leading the effort for the firm. Glass says that beginning last fall, firm lawyers began running a legal aid clinic every other month or so at the school. Since then, Kramer Levin lawyers have taken on a few dozen matters, including helping a grandmother who is the caregiver of a second grader at the school force her landlord to improve some of the abhorrent living conditions in her apartment. "They were living in squalor," Glass says. They had no electricity, rats and cockroaches had infested the apartment, and there was a water leak in one room that was so bad that it was uninhabitable.

Other cases Kramer Levin lawyers have taken include helping a family stay in an apartment they were about to be evicted from and arranging for a transfer within the public housing system for a victim of domestic violence. "Not every case requires formal representation," Glass says; sometimes parents just need legal advice.

The firm only takes cases directly related to the welfare of a child at the school, Glass says. Kramer Levin lawyers have declined to intervene in child custody disputes that pit one parent against another, or to assist parents with immigration counseling, she says.

Jeffrey Trachtman, Kramer Levin's partner in charge of pro bono, says he hopes to expand the program into a more intimate partnership between the school and the firm, with Kramer Levin helping to raise funds for the school, and Kramer Levin lawyers volunteering to mentor students, possibly through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

For now, Glass says, the clinics seem to be a step in the right direction: "There are a lot of low-income families with substantial legal needs."

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