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Cayuga CC to host free legal clinic for community

DATE: 04-16-2012

The College will provide space to Legal Services of Central New York (LSCNY)to host a free legal clinic for students, their families, and community members who cannot afford legal services for civil matters. LSCNY will offer services from noon to 2 p.m. on Fridays, beginning April 20 in T-219 on the Auburn Campus, 197 Franklin St.

“We are very excited to be able to offer free legal services on a full range of civil issues at Cayuga Community College,” said Michele Czornij, a paralegal at LSCNY who helped initiate the new site in Auburn. “The College makes a great site for our services, with its steady stream of students and community members, and its connection to the bus system. The people in the Auburn area really don’t have another clinic like this available to them so we hope to be able to meet their need for legal advice and resources.”

The clinic will provide advice and counsel, brief service, and referrals on a range of civil matters, including landlord-tenant, public benefits, disability, traumatic brain injury, utility, family, and employment issues, among others.

“We know that many of our students face challenges with housing, public benefits, and family issues that interrupt their educational pursuits,” said College President Daniel P. Larson. “Hosting this clinic will help us provide them with the necessary resources and support so they won’t be as likely to drop out of college. The clinic will benefit the broader community and help us fulfill our commitment to being a valuable community resource.”

“We feel that this partnership between LSCNY and CCC is a win-win for students, the legal staff, and the community as a whole,” said LSCNY Attorney Kenneth B. Ehresman. “It fills a critical gap in providing access to legal services, while also providing an opportunity for Cayuga students to gain real-world experience. We couldn’t be happier about our relationship with Cayuga.”

Legal Services of Central New York will train and host Cayuga student interns who can help the clinic with in-take services, creating a reference guide on Cayuga County services, and a range of other issues. Criminal Justice Professor Teri Misiaszek, who was instrumental in setting up the on-campus clinic, said she already has a few students lined up to volunteer next fall.

“Many of criminal justice students will see these same issues in their day-to-day work as police officers, corrections officers, probation officers, and counseling positions,” Misiaszek said. “Working at the clinic will give them first-hand exposure to the complicated problems people face in their personal and professional lives.”

She also hopes that the clinic lays the foundation for a possible new academic program in paralegal services.

College Foundation President and Executive Director of Cayuga County Assigned Counsel Program Lloyd Hoskins has helped the College and the LSCNY put together a plan to begin offering these services to residents, and preliminary feedback from local judges has also been very positive.

If the clinic works well on the Auburn Campus, the College and LSCNY hope to create a similar one on the new Fulton Campus at River Glen.

For more information on the clinic, call LSCNY at 315-703-6576 or stop by T-219 between noon to 2 p.m. on Fridays.