The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

Proskauer Helps Small Businesses Navigate Labor & Employment Law Issues through COVID-19 Crisis

Through Proskauer’s partnership with the City Bar Justice Center and Lawyers for Good Government, we helped launch the nationwide COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic to consult with small businesses across a range of pressing issues: contracts & force majeure, leases, insurance, and, of course, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. One of the most active areas for the legal clinic has been labor & employment issues as entrepreneurs fight to keep their employees, balance their checkbooks, and abide by laws that seem to change by the week.

To train other participating firms and volunteers, a Proskauer team consisting of labor & employment partners Lloyd Chinn, Patrick Lamparello, and Nicole Eichberger and associates Caralyn Olie and Dominique Kilmartin, produced a webinar on the most important labor and employment law considerations for New York small businesses. Continue Reading

“Read Ahead” Responds to School Closures, Thousands of Students Left in Need

On March 15, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s public schools would close in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, more than 1,700 schools and over one million students and their families shifted to remote-learning curriculums. Since then, all NYC public schools have closed for the remainder of the academic year. For some families, the shift has been manageable, but for many others, it’s impractical. Without the technology needed for remote-learning, thousands of students remain isolated from their teachers and classmates. Recent reporting states that roughly 16% of NYC students lack daily communication with their schools. The Department of Education has committed to providing internet-connected tablets to families in need, a number that by late-April surpassed more than 70,000 students.

To support families in these difficult times, many local non-profit organizations have refocused their efforts to track students’ needs and provide the necessary resources. Read Ahead, one of Proskauer’s longtime non-profit partners, is one such organization. For nearly 30 years, Read Ahead (formerly Everyone Wins! New York) has connected adult reading mentors with children in public elementary schools once per week during their lunch hours. As a member of their Junior Board, I am pleased to share a few of their updates. Continue Reading

Proskauer Pro Bono Assists “The Call to Unite,” a 24-Hour Livestreaming Event to Support Those in Need During the COVID-19 Crisis

Proskauer is proud to represent Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors d/b/a UNITE, a non-profit collaborative started by Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver, as pro bono counsel in connection with the planning and production of “The Call to Unite,” a 24-hour livestreaming event beginning on Friday, May 1 at 8 p.m. EDT. Mr. Shriver is leading the event, which will feature Oprah Winfrey, Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush, Deepak Chopra, and a multitude of other guests.

Given the challenges facing people across the globe from the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Shriver sought a way to come together and create a much-needed “bear hug” for humanity. The Call to Unite will be a 24/7 livestreaming event that encourages people to huddle around the screen to watch spiritual, cultural, and civic leaders, and performers, and to join them in unity and solidarity to face the pandemic together. The organizers of this event hope to recalibrate viewers’ moods and encourage them to engage with their communities and make donations to help those in need. Continue Reading

Mentoring During Coronavirus

COVID-19 has presented us with unprecedented challenges around the globe. We wish everyone good health.

Our Firm remains committed to the many students we work with on a regular basis through our CSR programs. Although the virus has made it impossible to continue our face-to-face mentoring, we are connecting through webinars, phone and online meetings.

Most recently, we were able to virtually host a class with John Jay College students on the topic of law and social justice. Our pro bono partner, Bill Silverman, led the videoconference, and we had wonderful attendance and participation as we discussed the need for criminal justice reform during the COVID crisis. Students shared thoughts about measures we need to take to ensure safety in our prisons; our strong consensus was that prisoners with medical conditions who do not pose a threat to public safety should be released. Continue Reading

Expanding Public Service in the COVID-19 Crisis

To consider the great need, among people of limited means, for civil legal services during the COVID-19 crisis, a good starting point is where we were before the crisis started.  In short, civil legal resources for the poor in the United States are woefully inadequate.  According to the Legal Services Corporation, which documents the justice gap in America, between 62% and 72% of civil legal needs among low-income Americans are addressed inadequately or not at all.  Indeed, the United States fares very poorly in this regard when compared to other western democracies.

The current health crisis would be devastating under any circumstances but, from a legal standpoint, this crisis has laid bare the long-term challenges we face.  Continue Reading

Leveling the Legal Playing Field for Poor Families in Family Court

The New York Statewide Central Register (SCR) of Abuse and Maltreatment maintains records of calls, allegations, and results of investigations regarding suspected child abuse and maltreatment. Although these records are not public, many employers and agencies are legally obligated to check the database before hiring applicants and accepting volunteers. Having an “indicated” report on file severely decreases the chances for an applicant to gain employment, as well as detrimentally affects one’s ability to secure housing and apply for government benefits.

Through a recent training conducted by Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), Proskauer now has the opportunity to file motions to vacate findings of neglect in family court, where called for under the law.  In doing so, you can make a fundamental difference in the lives of poor families. Continue Reading

Advancing Empathetic Portrayals of Mental Health Issues in the Media: An Interview with Helene Ellison of the Media Empathy Foundation

What is “media empathy” and what is the mission of the Media Empathy (ME) Foundation?

To us, “media empathy” means portraying people with mental illness in a compassionate way that recognizes their humanity and their struggles and makes them relatable, rather than vilifying them or treating them comically. This empathy is often missing in the narrative around mental health today. For example, while the media typically understands and depicts the challenges faced by cancer patients in a sympathetic and accurate manner, it often makes misrepresentations about what it is like to live with a mental illness.

Our mission is to advocate for a culture in which people can speak freely about mental health issues and can access supportive resources to help manage their illness. Despite many campaigns aiming to destigmatize mental health issues, portrayals of mentally ill individuals in the media remain problematic and social distancing hasn’t really improved since the 1950s. We seek to collaborate with those who create and shape media to change the narrative surrounding mental illness. Continue Reading

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