Fundamental to the success in delivering free legal services to low-income New Yorkers is the strong sense of collaboration and coordination that exists among lawyers and other advocates. Supporting that value, the New York State Bar Association hosted the Legal Assistance Partnership Conference in Albany, New York last September. The conference, whose theme was “Justice in a Challenging Time,” drew hundreds of legal aid attorneys and paralegals, as well as pro bono attorneys to exchange ideas, strategies, and information and to build and strengthen substantive law networks.

NYLAG had the largest constituency of any legal group at the Partnership Conference. Fifty-six NYLAG staff members participated in the conference workshops addressing the core areas of poverty law: consumer, disability, elder, family, health, housing, immigration, special education and welfare. The conference offered 44 different workshops.

Several NYLAG staff members presented in these workshops. Lisa Rivera, the Associate Director of NYLAG’s Matrimonial and Family Law Unit (FLU), spoke on using evidence effectively in custody litigation. FLU attorney Christina Brandt-Young, co-presenting with colleagues from other legal aid programs, conducted a session on international human rights law in civil domestic violence litigation. NYLAG’s General Legal Services Director, Randal Jeffrey, led a session on welfare and fair hearings. Rita McLennon, NYLAG’s Director of Development, organized a session entitled “A Right to Counsel: The History and A View to the Future of the Civil Legal Services Movement”. Randye Retkin, Director of NYLAG’s LegalHealth Division, both moderated and presented on the medical-legal partnership model of service delivery. After the first two days of intense work, conference participants relaxed and enjoyed themselves at the Partnership Bash hosted by NYLAG. Music for dancing that went into the wee hours of the night was provided by Lou Bologna, a wellknown Albany DJ.

NYLAG’s President, Yisroel Schulman, said, “This conference provides legal service advocates with a rich opportunity to develop our profession for the purpose of better serving our clients. We are grateful to the New York State Bar Association.” Mr. Schulman served on the Conference Steering Committee.