June’s New York Monthly Meeting’s Spotlight featured Cathy Cramer, Harvard ’82, CEO of Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT), the leading nonprofit organization in New York dedicated to enhancing access to justice for children and families in the Family Court system. LIFT provides legal information, community education, and support services to those in need.
Here is a message from Cathy:
Thank you so much for having me make a Spotlight presentation to the YANA group in June. It was a terrific group of people around the table and I so enjoyed hearing all that the organization is doing.
I was thrilled to be able to give you an overview of the unique work we do at Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT).
- We work in Family Court with litigants who come to court without a lawyer. They come for issues of child support, custody, visitation and domestic violence. Although some litigants are eligible for court-appointed lawyers if they fall below a certain economic level, many of the litigants who do not qualify and they cannot afford to hire one on their own. The lack of legal information and advice hinders their true access to justice.
- We work with approximately 30,000 New Yorkers a year and no other organization focuses exclusively on the 80% of litigants in Family Court who do not have legal counsel.
- We run court-based programs with full-time lawyers in each Family Court. We run a helpline and live chat and serve over 14,000 litigants a year through the program. We have community-based programs in which we target priority populations and then supplement services provided to them by community-based programs. Our priority populations are formerly incarcerated people, veterans, domestic violence survivors and immigrants. These populations have particularly important needs that must be addressed by Family Court.
- We are growing our pro bono program and have developed an innovative internet platform whereby we train pro bono lawyers and then connect them to litigants across NYS and the country through an audiovisual platform. The litigants can be on their cell phones for the advice and counsel session with the lawyers and the lawyers can do the session from their office. LIFT does all the administrative work to make these virtual clinics.
- We are in the midst of great growth. We are rebranding – we are NOT the car service – and building out our community partnerships and pro bono relationships. I am attaching a sheet of our volunteer and pro bono opportunities. We welcome any interest from your community.