By Rob Abruzzese
The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University is officially opening a Pro Se Legal Assistance Clinic inside the Eastern District of New York’s Central Islip courthouse on Thursday. Hon. Dora Irizarry, presiding justice of the U.S. District Court for the EDNY, will cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Chief Judge Irizarry will be joined by Hofstra Law Dean Hon. Gail Prudenti, the former presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.
Created with grants from the EDNY's Civil Litigation Fund as well as from Hofstra Law, the clinic is modeled after pro se clinics around the country and will make Hofstra Law the only law school in the state to operate such a clinic onsite at a federal courthouse.
“The judges of the EDNY are dedicated to ensuring that all persons have equal access to justice,” said Chief Judge Irizarry. “The lack of legal representation for the poor is an issue of national concern, and we are thrilled that the Hofstra Pro Se Program will offer assistance to unrepresented persons in navigating the complexities of federal litigation.”
The Hofstra Pro Se Program is expected to assist nearly 200 non-incarcerated pro se people in civil cases in the Long Island court each year.
Hofstra Law Professor Jennifer Gundlach will supervise the program, and staff attorney Ka Fei Wong will assist ligitants alongside a team of law student volunteers.
Services provided will include explaining federal court rules and procedures; providing brief legal counseling; advising about potential federal claims prior to filing suit; and reviewing and editing draft pleadings and correspondence with the court.
“This is a great opportunity to assist members of our community who cannot afford legal representation and offers our students real-world experiences with the federal civil litigation process,” said Justice Prudenti.