Education is the springboard to a better life for children from underserved communities. Through Proskauer’s education initiatives, we aim to inspire students with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they will need for success. Our goal is to build relationships to motivate and inspire future leaders and help educate young people to their fullest potential. We recently had an opportunity to engage some of our students with some real-life drama and mystery through a mock trial.
The fast pace of technological change has left the poor and unrepresented behind in many parts of America. But in New York State family courts, Proskauer lawyers are part of an exciting new pilot project spearheaded by the non-profit Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) which connects people representing themselves in family court with pro bono attorneys over a virtual platform.
LIFT screens the litigants, arranges the virtual meetings, trains the volunteer lawyers, and has experienced staff attorneys available to answer questions and handle any technical issues. The volunteer lawyers don’t need to leave their desks to provide legal advice and information to litigants who can connect from home or any quiet place with a laptop or smart phone. These videoconference sessions address child support, custody, and visitation, and are limited in scope and duration. The representation ends at the end of the virtual session.
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. . .
The children cross the border alone, without friends or family, sometimes walking, sometimes riding in the back of a truck, train or car. They come from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries, leaving their homes and communities to escape difficult conditions, journeying to the United States often to be reunited with a family member, who they haven’t seen for many years. Once they arrive, they begin the hard work of assimilation, finding and enrolling in a school, learning the language, trying to make friends and become accustomed to living in a new country.
Serving veterans is a vital part of Prosakuer’s pro bono and corporate social responsibility initiatives. Knowing that an integrated approach is the best approach to the unique challenges faced by low income veterans, Proskauer recently hosted a panel discussion on the state of veteran affairs locally and nationally, and specifically how to best connect veterans with the services and resources that they need and deserve.
Moderated by Wendy Dessy, Proskauer’s Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, the panel guests were Ray Toenniessen, Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and Eric Henry, general counsel for the New York City Department of Veteran Services (DVS).
At Proskauer, we have a strong connection to the communities in which we live and work, and a deep commitment to their success. We are especially proud of our relationship with Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, located only a few blocks from our New York office.
When the college established its private 501(c)(3) foundation, our Firm was one of the first to make a donation. The donation provides funding for the college to buy food gift cards at Subway restaurants, available throughout the city, so that students who are hungry can purchase something to eat. The College is located in the Bryant Park area, and local restaurants are far too expensive. Food insecurity is a major problem for Guttman students. Guttman has a food pantry, which is run by its Single Stop office, and also partners with the Food Bank for New York City.
Proskauer’s relationship goes beyond donations. We have led career panel discussions and recently organized a two-day pop-up shop from clothing that we donated. More than 80 students dropped by to shop.
On January 30, Proskauer sponsored a panel discussion alongside the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Dominican Bar Association, titled “International Perspectives on Immigration: Personal Reflections on the Impact of Immigration on Our Society.” In 2017, over 200 Proskauer lawyers worked on immigration-related pro bono matters on behalf of individuals seeking asylum, unaccompanied minors, and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Understanding the attitudes, experiences, and approaches of other countries with respect to immigration is vitally important. We were proud to welcome to our office the New York Consuls General of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Israel and Colombia, who shared individual stories of immigration. They also addressed some of the most pressing issues of the day regarding immigration in the United States, Latin America and Israel.
Tradition is a funny thing. It can be tempting to dismiss it as something static and fixed, when in fact, it is a dynamic and ever-evolving creature. It is a tradition’s inheritors who determine what to maintain, adapt and carry on; traditions are an amalgamation of both the present and the past. It is through this reiterative process that traditions grow strong enough to stand the test of time.
Every fall, law firms across the United States determine what parts of their traditions and culture to instill in the next generation of attorneys joining their ranks as first-year associates. New hire orientations can set the tone not only for the future of a firm, but for the shape of associates’ entire careers. Proskauer passes on a tradition of public service through its first-year associate pro bono program, which gives each new member of the Firm a pro bono matter as their first assignment.
Because the corporate social responsibility and pro bono presentation is the very first session of Proskauer’s orientation program, new associates learn about this assignment within hours of starting at the Firm, even before we are inducted into our respective practice groups.