Lawrence Raful Named Director of the New York State Courts’ Pro Bono Initiative

Date: November 20, 2012
Lawrence Raful
Lawrence Raful
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Central Islip, NY – New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti recently announced their new initiative to mandate 50 hours of pro bono work for every law student in the state of New York and appointed Touro Law Professor and former Dean Lawrence Raful the Director of the New York State Courts’ Pro Bono Initiative. Professor Raful will oversee the program for the initial two years and rule on questions and requests for exceptions and approvals statewide.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected for this position,” said Professor Raful. “During my tenure as Dean at Touro Law my mission was not to ensure every student became a public interest attorney, but to ensure that every law student was exposed to public service work and made aware of their moral and ethical responsibilities as an attorney. I feel especially privileged to administer a statewide program that has the same philosophy and impact on a much larger scale.”

These new requirements mark the first of their kind in the nation and will affect every law school graduate in the state from January 2015 forward. The sweeping reform is intended to set a precedent throughout the country while having a significant impact on justice in New York. Of course, the new requirement will have a significant impact on every law school and student in the State as well.

“This new initiative closely mirror’s the personal philosophy of Dean Raful. That philosophy has benefited Touro Law – our students, our graduates and the surrounding community. I am confident that his passion and dedication will be instrumental in the application of these new requirements,” said Dean Patricia Salkin.

Touro Law Center has long been recognized for its rich tradition of teaching the moral and ethical obligations of the law while promoting social justice and community service. Touro Law was among the first law schools in the country, and one of only two in the state, to require probono service hours of students, mandating 40 hours for graduation. Touro Law students can begin their law school careers with a public interest service project during Orientation and several student organizations have self- imposed probono requirements for their members in addition to the forty hours required for graduation.

Under Dean Raful’s tenure, the law school built the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center. This Center, housed within the law school, provides offices to non-profits free of charge in exchange for a promise to allow Touro Law students to work with the agencies in doing advocacy work, legal research and client relations. The only one of its kind in the nation, the Center was developed to have an impact on social justice, legal training and the lives of countless individuals.

Touro Law also hosts a Public Interest Job Fair, where more than 100 agencies are invited on campus to meet with Touro Law students and alumni

Each year Touro Law provides summer public interest fellowships to approximately 40 students. In addition, more than 125 students are provided work study money to work in government or public interest jobs. We have a full time director of Public Service, Thomas Maligno, who counsels students and alumni on pro bono requirements as well as career options.

During Dean Raful’s tenure, Touro Law Center started to host a Public Interest /Government Career Fair. The annual event, which began in 2008, brings more than 100 non-profit and government agencies, most of them local, to the school to meet with Touro Law students and alumni.

Touro Law proudly hosts a Distinguished Public Interest Lawyer in Residence Program as well as the Howard A. Glickstein Civil Rights and Public Policy Lecture annually, which was also initiated by Dean Raful. Additionally, more than 20 public interest conferences and meetings are held at the law school each year, ranging from the Civil Gideon Conference to the Keys for the Homeless.

“The Touro Law community is proud of Dean Raful’s tenure as dean and especially proud of this new appointment. On behalf of our faculty, staff, alumni and students we extend our congratulations,” said Dean Salkin.