On October 25, 2022, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2022 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project: Beth Schwartz, Volunteer at NYS Attorney Emeritus Program

The Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project (Fed Pro) provides litigation assistance to self-represented individuals who seek to file, or have filed, a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  

Beth G. Schwartz is a retired clinical professor of law and former director of professional skills at Fordham Law School. Before teaching, Beth was a government attorney representing both the City of New York and the federal government. She joined the City Bar Justice Center through the Attorney Emeritus Program in June 2021 and was matched with the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project. Beth is a powerful asset to the Fed Pro team as she works closely with litigants by reviewing their draft pleadings, advising them on various legal theories they can raise, and walking with them through their discovery matters. Beth brings her knowledge of federal law and procedure to each case and thoughtfully analyzes them. She speaks candidly to litigants about the strengths and weaknesses of their matters, which they appreciate. She also expresses her curiosity to learn new areas of law. 

Beth’s passion for serving clients and seeking justice is reflected in her work. She recently drafted a complex Complaint for a widow who was improperly denied her deceased husband’s union death benefit – while it can be a modest amount for many New Yorkers, it actually is quite a large sum for this litigant and her young child. Beth also recently assisted a pro se plaintiff by drafting a memorandum of law in opposition to a motion to dismiss a claim for violation of the Fair Housing Act. The plaintiff is a widower from Africa with a young child who applied for an apartment managed by defendants. The litigant was on a wait list for approximately five years and when he was finally called in for an interview, he was asked about his race, national origin, marital status, and family composition.  The interviewer then made a call in the presence of plaintiff and mentioned that she had an applicant in her office and provided his national origin, marital status and family composition. The litigant’s housing application was then denied based on an alleged “full time student rule.” The litigant appealed the decision, but was not provided with a procedurally correct appeals process, which led him to file his case in federal court. 

Beth also continues to use her gifts as a professor in teaching CBJC’s and Fed Pro’s interns and staff. Beth brings knowledge, experience, compassion, and a sense of humor, which the Fed Pro team appreciates especially when working hard on important matters. While she joined us as a volunteer, the time she has given to the project makes her seem like staff. 

Beth, we thank you for your relentless advocacy, energy and wisdom you bring to Fed Pro! Congratulations!