By Tania Karas
April 24, 2013 New York Law Journal - Almost six months after Hurricane Sandy hit, a free legal services clinic partnership between MFY Legal Services and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is ending as the school year draws to a close. Students working through the school's Disaster Relief Law Field Clinic helped more than 500 storm victims this semester, providing services including intake, appealing denials of FEMA benefits and putting together applications for Neighborhood Recovery Fund grants.
The Cardozo clinic was set up last fall as MFY was inundated with calls from storm victims in hard-hit areas including Far Rockaway, Coney Island, Staten Island and Manhattan's Lower East Side. MFY was stretched to capacity by December. Setting up a clinic within a law school gave MFY access to students for the duration of the semester. Six students were selected for spots in the clinic and were trained in disaster relief issues in a separate seminar component. Their volunteer hours counted toward their 50-hour pro bono requirement for New York state bar admission.
MFY Legal Services is now hiring new staff and summer interns and recruiting volunteer attorneys to continue its work on behalf of Sandy victims. In total, it has helped more than 900 storm victims and has trained 750 additional people on their rights to FEMA and other benefits.