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Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation 2019


Speaker(s): Cyrus D. Mehta, Jennifer L. Kroman, Louis S. Sartori, Maurice Segall, Randye Retkin, Sidney Cherubin
Recorded on: Dec. 12, 2019
PLI Program #: 248272

“YES! We can help with that.”

Across the top of the whiteboard hanging in Lou Sartori’s office are the watchwords of Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Practice. Whether through individual representation of an at-risk client, answering calls on the Access to Benefits Helpline, or bringing groundbreaking civil rights litigation, the Pro Bono Practice provides over two thousand volunteers from major New York City law firms with training, supervision and mentorship which allow them to deliver life changing legal assistance to a multitude of Legal Aid clients each year.

Prior to joining the Pro Bono Practice, Lou was the Attorney-in-Charge of the Society's Manhattan and Staten Island Juvenile Rights Practice offices, supervising staff representing thousands of court involved youth and oversaw the initiation of programs focusing on literacy and the needs of adolescents transitioning from foster care. He previously served on the First Department Family Court Advisory Committee and was an Adjunct Professor at St. John's University School of Law. A frequent presenter at the ABA’s Equal Justice and other national conferences, Lou also co-chairs the Practicing Law Institute’s annual Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation program. Lou is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Coordinators Network, The Public Interest Pro Bono Association (PIPBA), and the New York City Bar Association Committee on Pro Bono and Legal Services.

Since his appointment as Director in 2011, Lou has worked closely with Society staff in developing pro bono projects benefitting trafficking survivors, senior citizens, immigrants, LGBT communities and residents of public housing. Increased participation by attorneys from in-house legal departments and other corporate professionals helped expand the number of clients served. As a result, each week Legal Aid staff call with new ideas and requests for assistance. The answer is always the same:

“YES! We can help with that.”


Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, is the Managing Partner of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City. Mr. Mehta is a member of AILA’s Administrative Litigation Task Force; AILA’s EB-5 Committee; former chair of AILA’s Ethics Committee; special counsel on immigration matters to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department, New York; member of the ABA Commission on Immigration; board member of Volunteers for Legal Services and board member of New York Immigration Coalition.  Mr. Mehta is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the New York City Bar Association. He is a frequent speaker and writer on various immigration-related issues, including on ethics, and is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches a course entitled Immigration and Work.  Mr. Mehta received the AILA 2018 Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for advancing the practice of immigration law and the AILA 2011 Michael Maggio Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in providing pro bono representation in the immigration field. He has also received two AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010 and 2016.  Mr. Mehta is ranked among the most highly regarded lawyers in North America by Who’s Who Legal – Corporate Immigration Law 2019 and is also ranked in Chambers USA and Chambers Global 2019 in immigration law, among other rankings.


Jennifer Kroman is Cleary Gottlieb’s Director of Pro Bono Practice. She manages the firm’s broad array of pro bono matters and develops and strengthens Cleary’s relationships with public interest and legal services partners. Jennifer leads an award-winning pro bono program that serves hundreds of low-income individuals and the nonprofit organizations that assist them.

Jennifer maintains an active docket of pro bono cases, primarily focused on representing survivors of gender violence, including domestic violence, forced marriage, and honor killings. She has represented more than 100 human trafficking survivors in a wide array of matters, including filing post-conviction motions to vacate criminal convictions, immigration relief, and civil damages claims. Over the last few years she has trained hundreds of pro bono lawyers around the country to represent human trafficking survivors in post-conviction motions. Jennifer also spearheaded the firm’s efforts in responding to the 2017 immigration executive orders, including leading the pro bono team that filed suit in federal court in New York and secured the return to the United States of Dr. Suha Abushamma, a Cleveland Clinic doctor wrongfully returned to Sudan from JFK airport in January 2017.

Jennifer has been honored multiple times by The Legal Aid Society for her work challenging DACA rescission, for her supervision of a project with Legal Aid representing survivors of sex trafficking who sought vacatur of prior criminal convictions, and for her work with immigrant children. Sanctuary for Families honored Jennifer with the Abely Award for her work with trafficking survivors. She has been named one of New York’s 100 Most Outstanding Corporate Citizens by Responsible 100 and a “Lawyer Who Leads By Example” by The New York Law Journal. In 2018 Penn Law School Alumni Society awarded her the Howard Lesnick Pro Bono Award for her 25 year commitment to pro bono, including her leadership of the firm’s pro bono practice and her representation of dozens of survivors of human trafficking and gender violence.

Prior to assuming responsibility for Cleary’s pro bono practice in 2011, Jennifer focused on securities litigation and complex commercial litigation as an associate and then a partner at the firm. During those years, Jennifer maintained an active docket of pro bono cases, including federal court litigation on behalf of a class of homeless workers and representation of survivors of domestic violence. She received a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in 1991 from the University of Michigan.


Maurice K. Segall, Director, New York and Fairfield County, CT, Program (New York Office), provides direct legal services to nonprofit groups, coordinates and supervises the work of staff and volunteer attorneys, and frequently lectures on legal issues for nonprofits and attorneys. He has been with the Partnership since 1998.

He was previously an associate at Cummings & Lockwood and Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin and Kuriansky, both in Stamford, CT.  He serves on the Risk Management Committee of Family and Children’s Agency (FCA) and on the Advisory Boards of FCA and Circle of Care for Children with Cancer.  He has also has served on Boards of several nonprofit organizations including the Fairfield County Bar Foundation, the Wilton Library, Family and Children’s Agency, Connecticut Consortium for Law and Citizenship Education, Connecticut Legal Services, and Curtain Call, and on the Advisory Board for the Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

Maurice is the founder and coordinator of the Fairfield County Bar Association High School Mock Trial Competition, now in its 30th year; and is a recipient of the Liberty Bell Award from the Stamford/Norwalk Regional Bar for outstanding community service, the first practicing attorney ever to receive this honor.

Maurice is admitted to the bar in New York and Connecticut. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Albany Law School of Union University.


Randye Retkin is currently the Director and Founder of LegalHealth, a Division of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). Prior to joining NYLAG, Ms. Retkin served as Director of Legal Services for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s oldest and largest organization serving people with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Retkin served as a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) where she established the VOLS Immigrants’ Rights Project. She is a founder of the New York Immigration Coalition and the National Cancer Legal Services Network. She is a co-author of New York States’ Standby Guardianship law and helped spearhead the recent expansion of the law to assist immigrant families. She is also an author of New York’s Health-Related Legal Services law. Ms. Retkin is a member of the OneCityHealth Executive Committee and serves on the New York City Bar Association Ethics Committee.  


Sidney Cherubin, Esq., is the Director of Legal Services of the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School where he teaches the NY Civil Consumer Law Clinic. He was an Attorney, Brooklyn Site Director and Acting Legal Director while employed at The Family Center from August 2002 until August 2007 where he gained a great deal of experience representing families affected by a terminal illness with regard to all aspects of planning for the future well-being of the children in the families. These services include drafting guardianship and standby guardianship papers and representing parents and caregivers in court; executing wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills, uncontested divorces and Article 17A Guardianships.  As the Director of Legal Services of the VLP, Sidney supervises the Family Law, Bankruptcy, Guardianship, Matrimonial, Foreclosure and Consumer Debt practice.  Sidney oversees and supervises the Kings County Civil Court CLARO and Volunteer Lawyers for the Day Projects.   He is an active member of the Civil Law Advice and Referral Office (CLARO) Council, a co-chair of Brooklyn Bar Association Pro Bono Committee and Special Events Committee and Brooklyn Bar Association Judiciary Committee, member of the New York City Bar Association Civil Court Committee.