MLHCThe New York Legal Assistance Group is one of ten finalists for the 2013 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation, selected from among 864 applicants nationwide. This competitive award is given each year to an organization that best demonstrates its namesake’s definition of innovation: “change that creates a new dimension of performance.”

The Award committee selected NYLAG based on its creation of the Mobile Legal Help Center (MLHC), the country’s first combined legal services office and courtroom on wheels. A partnership with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program, this 41-foot-vehicle brings free civil legal services directly to underserved communities throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester.

The Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation is administered by the Drucker Institute, a think tank based at Claremont Graduate University. The award, which has been given annually since 1999, is accompanied by a first-place prize of $100,000, generously supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Peter Drucker, who died in 2005, was one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. In addition to his work with countless corporations, Mr. Drucker also advised many prominent charitable organizations; he called the nonprofit “America’s most distinctive institution.”

“NYLAG is honored to have been among the organizations chosen as finalists for this award, named for a man whose practical ideas about management, and whose theories about what makes organizations grow and thrive, have contributed so much to our society,” said Yisroel Schulman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “On behalf of everyone at NYLAG, I thank the Drucker Institute for this opportunity, and congratulate our fellow finalists – we are proud to be in your company.”

NYLAG’s Mobile Legal Help Center (MLHC), launched in 2011, provides access to justice for vulnerable populations, serving low-income New Yorkers who could not otherwise obtain free legal services due to geographic isolation, health and mobility problems, child care concerns, lack of English proficiency, lack of awareness of services, and fears concerning immigration status.

Operating six days per week, the MLHC schedules visits to various remote locations in partnership with the courts, elected officials, schools, and faith- and community-based organizations. In 2012, the MLHC helped over 4,000 individuals and their family members, including hundreds of cases handled for victims of Superstorm Sandy. The vehicle was particularly effective at bringing disaster legal services to hard-hit areas in the immediate aftermath of the storm, when public transportation was down, and many community-based sites were too damaged to function.