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Lawrence K. Marks - Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State court systemLawrence K. Marks – Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State court system (Rick Kopstein)

The Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, which reports annually to the Chief Judge, has well-documented that despite the high level of pro bono legal assistance provided by the private bar and the generous funding for civil legal service organizations in the judiciary’s budget, many low-income New Yorkers seeking assistance are still unable to obtain help in situations that affect the essentials of life. The time is ripe to consider creative solutions and alternative forms of legal assistance besides full representation by a lawyer to address the dire legal needs of low-income New Yorkers.1 The aid of a trained non-lawyer can be immensely beneficial in guiding a confused litigant through filling out paperwork, providing moral support in a courtroom setting and giving valuable information regarding an individual’s case. Non-lawyers can greatly improve a litigant’s court experience and also affect outcomes—resulting, for example, in more people staying in their homes with great cost savings to the government.2

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