The Proskauer corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog

Making Gender-Affirming Surgeries a Possibility for Low-Income Transgender People

For many transgender people, undergoing gender-affirming surgery is a crucial step toward a healthy gender transition. While not all transgender people need or want gender-affirming surgeries to be part of their transitions, receiving such surgeries may be life saving for some who do.

The American Medical Association has established that gender-affirming surgery is effective and medically necessary for many individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition resulting from an incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s gender assigned at birth. The symptoms of gender dysphoria can include distress, depression and suicidality.

Surveys show that 41 percent of transgender Americans report having attempted suicide, and there is a clear link between these high rates and the lack of transition-related health care coverage. Continue Reading

How to Identify and Address Secondary Trauma

Pro bono projects can provide some of the most meaningful and interesting moments in a lawyer’s career. It’s usually an easy decision to say “yes” when presented with a pro bono opportunity, because this type of work gives young lawyers invaluable experience and offers all lawyers a purposeful way to give back to their communities. Unfortunately, at the same time this work can be incredibly stressful, challenging, and emotionally taxing, and may lead to secondary trauma.

Secondary trauma is when the stress of working with a trauma-exposed client begins to interfere with a pro bono lawyer’s professional or personal life. Secondary traumatic stress, also known as vicarious trauma, burnout, or compassion fatigue, shares some symptoms with post-traumatic stress disorder, but it is the product of being indirectly exposed to another’s trauma. Examples of secondary trauma have been found in social workers who work with abused children; and therapists who support sexual assault survivors. Secondary traumatic stress also affects public interest lawyers, and has been documented among public defenders and judges. Continue Reading

Stopping Witness Tampering by Abusers and Sex Traffickers in Pretrial Detention

Last month, Proskauer filed an amicus brief on behalf of Sanctuary for Families — a leading non-profit organization advocating for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking —specifically to advocate for allowing criminal prosecutions based on lawfully recorded telephone calls that abusers in pretrial detention use to coerce victims not to testify.

According to some reports, up to 80% of victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking recant their testimony of the abuse and refuse to cooperate with police.  Decades of social-science research, along with recent academic studies and reputable reporting, show that many domestic violence and sex trafficking victims recant because they are suffering from acute psychological trauma akin to Stockholm Syndrome: by combining psychological manipulation with incidents of physical violence, abusers achieve “coercive control” of their victims and successfully instruct them not to testify.  Abusers in pretrial detention are particularly incentivized to coerce their victims not to testify because, often, the victim is the only available witness to the crime. Continue Reading

Proskauer Honors Public Service

Proskauer honored its lawyers and staff who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono and corporate social responsibility programs this year at its 11th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony on January 22. The following is a list of recipients alphabetically by project.

Protecting Voting Rights

These attorneys and paralegals ensured that a team of more than 150 volunteers from Proskauer and partnering corporate clients would be ready and able to answer nearly 2,000 calls over two days from voters in five states during the 2018 mid-term elections. This effort was part of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law non-partisan “Election Protection” hotline program, which strives to ensure that all U.S. citizens can exercise their right to vote. Continue Reading

How Poverty and Trauma Can Affect Healthy Brain Development

Proskauer is proud to lead conversations that foster insight into the pressing issues facing our communities. Together with Partnership with Children (PwC), we hosted experts in various fields on January 15 to discuss How Poverty and Trauma Affect Healthy Brain Development. Our panelists included Margaret Crotty, Executive Director of PwC, Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Library, and Dr. Olajide Williams, Chief of Staff of Neurology, Director of Acute Stroke Services, and Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. The panel was moderated by Dr. Max Gomez, Senior Medical Correspondent, CBS News.

The conversation centered on the association of child poverty and early trauma, brain development and academic achievement. Continue Reading

School Suspension Hearings: New Pro Bono Project Gives Students Representation

Throughout law school I worked with the Suspension Representation Project (SRP) as an advocate in New York City public school suspension hearings, and am now helping to coordinate a new project at Proskauer through our partnership with SRP and The Center for Popular Democracy.  This post will examine the school suspension process in New York City, and the great need for increased attention to this issue and representation for the students in these hearings.

As set forth in a prior For Good post, it is well established that missed school days at the primary and secondary level have a significant negative impact on student performance, decrease the likelihood of successful graduation, and increase the likelihood that a student will be arrested. Unfortunately, many schools are ill-equipped to intervene in negative student behaviors other than by removing students from the classroom. Continue Reading

A Step Forward for New Yorkers Seeking Safe and Healthy Housing

A team of pro bono attorneys at Proskauer recently celebrated a significant step forward in their fight for safe and healthy housing for the more than 400,000 New Yorkers who live in apartments operated by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”), the largest public housing authority in the country.  Federal Judge William Pauley in the Southern District of New York entered an order requiring NYCHA to implement enhanced procedures to ensure the effective and timely remediation of mold and excessive moisture.  The order also creates independent oversight to ensure NYCHA’s compliance with these obligations.

The Court’s decision provides relief for a class of public housing tenants who suffer from asthma exacerbated by mold and water leaks.  As NYCHA has reported, 150,000 NYCHA residents, including 35,000 children under the age of 15, live in developments located in “asthma hotspots” that generate the highest rates of asthma-related emergency room visits in New York City. Continue Reading

LexBlog