Harrison Tweed Current Award Winners
The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants
& The National Legal Aid and Defender Association
Congratulate the Winner of the 2013 Harrison Tweed Award!
The Onondaga County (NY) Bar Association
The Onondaga County Bar Association is the recipient of this year’s award for its Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). The project greatly expanded its service delivery in the past year due to its decision to provide the legal support component for “Say Yes to Education – Syracuse.” “Say Yes” guarantees free tuition to students who spend at least three years in a Syracuse City high school, graduate and earn admission to any of 100 participating colleges in the state. “Say Yes” recognizes that many inner-city students do not go to college, and may not even consider college a possibility, because of crippling social, emotional, health, financial and legal problems that they and their families experience. Therefore, it brings lawyers, social workers, counselors, health care providers and other volunteers to intercity schools to address the impediments faced by inner-city students and their families.
The legal services component of this holistic approach is often critical to providing stability in the home that can enable students to succeed. Services are provided to inner-city students and their families through walk-in clinics managed by VLP and established at seven schools, offering free legal services to thousands of students and their families in the Syracuse City School District who cannot otherwise afford a lawyer.
The VLP also sponsors free civil legal services to thousands of other low-income individuals each year through neighborhood clinics located at community centers, churches, the local courts, a health center, schools, and the Veteran’s Center. They include two Eviction Defense Clinics, a Pro Se Uncontested Divorce Clinic and an Immigration Clinic. Volunteer lawyers staff the clinics, providing information and advice, as well as representation when needed. The VLP clinics are designed to fill the gaps and meet the critical legal needs of the poor that the other local civil legal services providers currently are unable to meet, thereby helping to make the promise of access to justice in Onondaga County a reality for more members of the low-income community.
To view this bar association’s award winning call for nomination submission, click on the file below.