NYLAG held its annual Gala on May 16 at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. The event honored New York State’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Kevin McCarthy, General Counsel & Senior Vice President of BNY Mellon.

NYLAG 2017 Gala NYC

Hope Is a Lawyer by My Side: NYLAG 2017 Gala

More than 300 people attended the benefit, themed Hope Is a Lawyer by My Side, to support NYLAG’s mission of providing high-quality, free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford an attorney. The event saluted the collective contributions of the people and organizations that make it possible for NYLAG to bring justice and hope to New Yorkers in need.

Over 30 law firms participated as event sponsors. Thanks to these sponsors and all who attended the Gala, NYLAG successfully met its $1 million fundraising goal. The private bar is a vital NYLAG partner, significantly extending its ability to deliver the highest quality civil legal assistance to the greatest number of people. In the past year, law firms provided services to NYLAG clients valued at over $21 million.

Dan Abrams, CEO and Founder of Abrams Media Network and the Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News, served as the event’s master of ceremonies. A video highlighting NYLAG’s work featured success stories about four clients whose lives were transformed because they had a NYLAG lawyer by their side. Watch the video here.

Kevin McCarthy was presented with the 2017 Corporate Leadership Award for his career achievements as an attorney, and his passion and commitment to justice. McCarthy began his legal career as an associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, where he had the opportunity to do a six-month rotation with MFY Legal Services, working with tenants, immigrants and other low-income clients, and later with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, working on political asylum cases.

“Working with those clients gave me very direct experience and insight into the impact civil legal services can have on people’s lives. I think that’s why NYLAG’s work resonates with me. I know firsthand the difference civil legal services can make””and the human, societal and economic benefits that accrue when there is a lawyer by your side,” said McCarthy. “As the General Counsel of BNY Mellon, I am privileged to lead a Legal Department that, like the good people at NYLAG, are using the collective power of their legal skills and experience as instruments for positive change, making a significant difference in so many areas for the benefit of so many people.”

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore received the 2017 Visionary of Justice Award in recognition of her role as the chief executive of one of the largest and most complex court systems in the world, and for the progress she has made toward improving the delivery of justice services for all New Yorkers. Early improvements have included reduced backlogs and delays in criminal court, and the introduction of a range of reforms to improve the broader administration of justice.

In accepting the award, DiFiore lauded the partnership between government, nonprofits, and the corporate community that has resulted in great accomplishments, including: $100 million in the Judiciary’s budget for civil legal services; the City’s historic plan to provide free legal assistance to low-income tenants facing eviction; and a strong and growing culture of pro bono lawyers in New York State.


“I know that everyone in this room will agree with me when I say that NYLAG has been one of the most innovative and impactful legal service providers in the nation””year after year serving the legal needs of poor and working poor New Yorkers in 125 court house, hospital and other accessible locations throughout New York City and its suburbs. Kudos to all of you for just extraordinary work,” said DiFiore. “And from our perspective, in the New York Courts, we very much appreciate and value the many opportunities we have had to partner with NYLAG on so many important projects: the Mobile Legal Help Center; the Volunteer Lawyer for a Day Program; and the Legal Hand Office we started in Crown Heights, which is showing so much promise that we are now looking for ways to expand its reach.”

The 2017 Gala Co-Chairs were Arunas Gudaitis and Michael Povman of BNY Mellon, Steven Paradise and Lee Richards of Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, and NYLAG board member Joe Pollizzotto of QuisLex.

The floral arrangements from the evening were donated to NYC H+H Coler hospital for the enjoyment of their patients.