Lisa Rivera has received a Public Service Award from the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) in recognition of her work on behalf of thousands of victims of domestic violence, and for her commitment to clinical training of lawyers and law students in the handling of domestic violence cases.  Rivera is the Acting Director of NYLAG’s Matrimonial and Family Law Unit (FLU).

Since 1990, NYCLA’s Public Service Awards have recognized public sector attorneys who have distinguished themselves as role models, innovators and problem solvers of complex legal issues. The 2016 Public Service Awards were presented to six public service attorneys on September 15 at NYCLA’s offices in downtown Manhattan, with special remarks given by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Lisa Rivera

Lisa Rivera, Acting Director, Matrimonial & Family Law Unit

“We are so proud and pleased to celebrate this well-deserved recognition of Lisa’s contributions. She is a remarkable attorney whose unyielding commitment to helping victims of domestic violence and extraordinary efforts to educate and encourage others to tackle this issue have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of survivors and their families,” said Beth Goldman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “Lisa has been instrumental in expanding NYLAG’s ability to assist underserved communities, particularly immigrants, and has worked to ensure that these vulnerable clients receive the sensitive, culturally competent representation they deserve. Through her mentorship and training efforts, she has inspired the next generation of lawyers and law student to address the complex and diverse legal needs of the victims of domestic violence.”

Rivera joined NYLAG in 2003 as a Staff Attorney with FLU. She soon became Supervising Attorney of the Courtroom Advocates Project, a program that trains and supervises law students to assist domestic violence victims in a range of services including direct in-court advocacy and referrals to counseling and shelter. In 2008 she was named Associate Director, supervising attorneys, paralegals, students, and volunteers in immigration, matrimonial and family law cases, and providing training to staff and the community in substantive legal issues related to family law — in addition to handling her own caseload.  She was recently appointed Acting Director of FLU, upon the appointment of Director Kim Susser as a visiting professor at Touro Law School for this year.

Rivera was instrumental in NYLAG’s decision to take on immigration matters for domestic violence victims. Under her leadership, FLU has doubled its number of Spanish-speaking staff and added attorneys who speak Urdu, Chinese, and Russian, boosting NYLAG’s ability to provide effective representation to underserved communities where clients are often undocumented and afraid to seek legal assistance.  In addition, a U-Visa clinic model spearheaded by Rivera has trained scores of pro bono attorneys on U-Visa remedies and in cultural competency in working with victims of trauma.

Rivera serves as Co-Director of NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Clinical Center (DVCC), which taps law students to litigate family offense, custody and visitation cases under NYLAG supervision. A number of DVCC alumni have subsequently joined NYLAG as staff attorneys and supervisors.  In conjunction with the DVCC, Rivera serves as an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s University School of Law.

Rivera is an active member of the Lawyer’s Committee Against Domestic Violence and served as the co-chair of the Family Court Subcommittee. She is also a member of the Brooklyn Family Court and the Integrated Domestic Violence Court Working Groups. Rivera was awarded the Courtroom Advocates Award for her empowerment of domestic violence victims in 2010.

lisa rivera NYCLA award

Lisa Rivera surrounded by her NYLAG colleagues after receiving NYCLA Public Services Award