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Pace Community Law Practice
Watch a video about the Pace Community Law Practice.
Watch a video of “Innovating Access to Justice: A Celebration of the Pace Community Law Practice” featuring the Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of New York State, as the keynote speaker. The program was held on April 4, 2013 at Pace Law School.
Contact the Pace Community Law Practice
Launched in September 2012, the PCLP is a first-of-its-kind legal residency and incubator program where recent Pace Law School graduates serve as Fellows intensively learning legal practice under the supervision of experienced attorneys and gaining the tools to create solo and small practices.
Expanding Access to Justice
The PCLP’s mission is to meet the urgent need for quality, affordable legal services in Westchester County and throughout the Hudson Valley. The PCLP has already assisted almost two hundred individuals and families in immigration, employment, benefits, and family law cases and has provided extensive community education through events held at Pace and at collaborating community based organizations. Our multi-year skills based program increases the legal system’s capacity to serve the community in the short-term through direct representation and in the long-term by providing our Fellows with the skills to create their own practices.
Leading Innovation in Legal Education
- The PCLP provides a multi-year program of legal skills training, starting with intensive supervision and evolving into solo and small practice support. The PCLP model brings law student interns, Fellows, and new solo practitioners together in one legal practice.
- PCLP Fellows work under the close supervision of our supervising attorney, executive director, and mentors.
- PCLP Fellows are responsible for all aspects of our legal practice -- from providing high-quality legal services to our clients, to creating and managing case management and business protocols, to community outreach and public education, to building the professional contacts that they will need in the years ahead.
- All Fellows receive extensive training in a variety of substantive legal areas, practice management and legal ethics.
Solo Practice Incubator:
- Upon completion of the legal residency, Fellows who choose to build solo practices receive critical ongoing support from the PCLP.
- Fellows turned solo practitioners benefit from access to PCLP office space, PCLP attorney supervisors and mentors, and the assistance of law student interns.
- With ongoing PCLP support, former Fellows embark on solo careers with strong legal and practice management skills and a firm foundation of professional and community ties on which to build their practices.
In Our First Six Months –
- The PCLP has assisted nearly two hundred people and families in immigration, employment, benefits, and family law cases.
- The PCLP has become a leader in assisting “Dreamers,” conducting outreach and education sessions, providing free consultations, and representing low bono clients in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) cases.
- The PCLP has conducted extensive community outreach, holding legal education seminars at Pace Law School and throughout the Hudson Valley.
- PCLP Fellows have developed their legal and practice management skills, attending trainings on substantive legal topics including immigration law, litigation skills, practice management, and legal ethics.
- The PCLP has embarked on several collaborative projects with legal service providers and community-based organizations to expand access to legal services for low and moderate-income people and families.
- The PCLP has become a national leader in the legal residency and incubator movement, with Executive Director Jennifer Friedman serving in leadership roles at several national and New York State conferences.
- Pace Embraces Community Law, Westchester Business Journal, April 11, 2013.
- Pace Graduates Sign Up for 'Low Bono' Counseling Model, New York Law Journal, April 9, 2013.
- A Law School-Run Law Firm preLaw, Winter 2012, 15(3).
- New Developments in Legal Education: The “Law School Firm” at Pace University, Perspective, New York State Bar Association, Fall 2012.
- Nueva Oficina Legal Comunitaria, Westchester Hispano.Net, September 29, 2012
- Pace Plans 'Legal Residency Program', New York Law Journal, November 22, 2011.
- Pace Solo Incubator Will Assist Low-Income Clients, New York Law Journal, November 15, 2011.
The PCLP Team
- Shari Hochberg was Editor-in-Chief of the Pace International Law Review and served as an intern advocate for the Unemployment Action Center (UAC) in New York. Her rewarding experience representing 24 clients in their unemployment insurance cases at UAC inspired Shari to start a UAC chapter at Pace Law School. She recruited members, formed an executive board, and later trained 30 Pace Law students to be UAC advocates.
- During college and law school, Shari gained experience in the Special Litigation Division of the DC Public Defender Service, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and at a private law firm.
“I want to be part of the force that supports low-income clients. …The increasing volume of low-income individuals, coupled with the increasing need for representation and advocacy, fuels my passion to practice this area of law.”
- For 10 years Craig Relles enjoyed a successful small business career as director of operations and then a franchisee for Domino’s Pizza, but found that his heart was in helping his employees solve difficult problems, so he embarked on a legal career.
- At Pace Law School, Craig gained as much direct legal experience he could, serving as a student attorney for John Jay Legal Services in both the Immigration Justice Clinic and the Disability Rights Clinic. He also interned in the Child Advocacy Unit at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley and for the Hon. Linda Jamieson, NY State Supreme Court, 9th Judicial District.
- Craig plans to combine his training as a PCLP Fellow and student attorney with his small business acumen to successfully open his own practice to serve low- and moderate-income people.
“My success in business was predicated on endless hours of hard work, dedication, determination, and perseverance despite setbacks,” he said. “[And] while I could make some modicum of difference in the lives of my employees, it pales in comparison to the difference I can make in the lives of those whom I assist with my law license.”
- Sarah Hollender has been dedicated to serving the public since high school, where she volunteered at soup kitchens and at an AIDS awareness nonprofit. In the years since, Sarah has experienced an increased awareness of the need for capable representation in immigration cases. At Pace Law School, Sarah worked as a legal intern at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Legal Aid Society, as a student attorney in the John Jay Legal Services Immigration Justice Clinic, and as a law clerk at an immigration-focused law firm.
- Through these real-world experiences, Sarah has “seen the effects of having no lawyer -- or a poor lawyer -- on a person’s immigration claim. Through the Pace Community Law Practice, I can continue following my passion and aid low to moderate income non-citizens through the maze of U.S. immigration law.”
- Sara Morton’s primary focus since beginning law school has been to aid non-citizens in their immigration claims. She interned in the Immigration Assistance Program at Catholic Charities of Newark, was a student attorney in John Jay Legal Services Immigration Justice Clinic, and interned in an immigration law practice.
- This past summer, prior to the start of her fellowship, Sara engaged in a Spanish language intensive in Puerto Rico to assist her in serving clients in the Pace Community Law Practice.
- She said, “Individuals need help in Immigration Court. Our clients are marginalized by society and need legal help. That is why I want to work advocating for them.”
Jennifer Friedman, Executive Director
- Jennifer Friedman is an experienced litigator and expert in family law, domestic violence, and management of pro bono programs. Ms. Friedman joined Pace Law School in 2008 as the founding Director of the Public Interest Law Center, which sponsors pro bono programs in a variety of practice areas including mortgage foreclosure and consumer debt, and provides public interest career planning for law students.
- Ms. Friedman created, and for ten years directed, the Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP) at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, one of the largest and most successful pro bono domestic violence programs in the country.
- Ms. Friedman is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a Kent and Stone Scholar, and is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the New York City Bar Association’s 2008 Katherine McDonald Award for Service to the Family Courts, and the Columbia Alumna Association’s 2003 Alumna Achievement Award.
Karin Anderson Ponzer, Assistant Director & Supervising Attorney
- Karin Anderson Ponzer is an attorney, immigrant advocate and an expert in immigration law. Ms. Ponzer has practiced immigration law for 15 years, representing individuals in matters ranging from family-based applications for asylum, withholding, and convention against torture protection, before USCIS, Immigration Court, the BIA and in Federal Court.
- Prior to joining the PCLP, Ms. Ponzer represented immigrants at Catholic Migration Services of the Diocese of Brooklyn and engaged in policy analysis and training at the New York Immigration Coalition. Ms. Ponzer holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from the New School for Social Research and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is a Member of the Bar of the State of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Nova Lucero, PCLP Administrator
- Nova Lucero graduated from Fordham University in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. At Fordham, she dedicated her time to public interest work by volunteering in the surrounding Bronx community and by coordinating social justice projects through the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice and the Global Outreach Office. These projects helped students connect their education with the Jesuit philosophy of “men and women for others” by directly serving the community and seeking social change.
- After graduating, Ms. Lucero served as a Good Shepherd Volunteer in Sucre, Bolivia, where she lived and worked in a Domestic Violence shelter.