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Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP)

In 2012, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center a three-year AmeriCorps VISTA grant to launch the Legal Economic and Educational Advancement Project (LEEAP). LEEAP seeks to direct the energy, skills, and experience of lawyers and other community members to volunteering activities in three discrete focus areas:

• Credit-related education and identity theft assistance;
• Consumer debt defense; and
• Assistance accessing high-quality secondary and higher education.


LEEAP builds on the Feerick Center’s involvement with the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) Programs, which operate clinics in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, staffed by volunteer attorneys who provide limited legal advice to low-income New Yorkers being sued by debt collectors (www.claronyc.org). In continuing to recruit, train, and place senior volunteer attorneys in a pro bono capacity, LEEAP will further strengthen the Feerick Center’s partnership with the Attorney Emeritus Program (www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/volunteer/emeritus).

In 2014-2015, the Feerick Center is delighted to have VISTA members: Liza Carroll, Matthew English, and Kyle Giller.

- ASSISTANCE ACCESSING HIGH QUALITY SECONDARY AND HIGHER EDUCATION
The educational component of LEEAP was born out of the recognition that students from families with low incomes graduate from college and attend quality secondary schools at a much lower rate than their more affluent peers. To work against this inequity, LEEAP seeks to enhance the capacity of middle schools and high schools serving low-income populations and education-oriented community-based organizations to provide effective high school application and college readiness / application programming.

 Examples of potential volunteer opportunities include:

• Providing one-on-one or small group high school application assistance to 7th and 8th grade students;
• Providing one-on-one college application assistance to 11th and 12th grade students.

Please contact Liza Carroll (ecarroll20@fordham.edu) or Matthew English (menglish13@fordham.edu) with any questions pertaining to educational volunteer job opportunities.

- CONSUMER DEBT DEFENSE
This portion of the project aims to recruit experienced volunteer attorneys for placement at CLARO programs, as well as legal service organizations with a focus on consumer debt defense practices. Placement opportunities may include both limited legal advice and full service representation. Judgments from consumer debt collection cases impair credit and can prevent individuals and families from obtaining and maintaining housing, employment and economic stability. More information can be found at http://www.clarovideo.org/. Additionally, LEEAP seeks to provide specialized assistance to victims of identity theft. Having a volunteer lawyer as an advocate in navigating these processes can make the difference in removing errors and resolving fraud.
Volunteer opportunities include:

• Limited scope or full service representation of defendants in consumer debt cases;
• Staffing a hotline to provide limited scope advice on consumer debt matters;
• Assisting indigent individuals with filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions as appropriate; and
• Assisting identity theft victims at the Bronx or Manhattan CLARO Programs or the City Bar’s Monday Night Law Program.

- CREDIT-RELATED ASSISTANCE
This portion of the project offers experienced attorneys non-legal service opportunities to provide financial education and assistance, especially credit-related assistance. Volunteer attorneys will be given the opportunity to help financially distressed clients work towards improving security in their financial lives by assisting clients with obtaining and reviewing their credit reports and writing dispute letters. Errors on credit reports often adversely affect credit, creating barriers to employment, housing, exiting shelter, and affordable credit.

Volunteer opportunities include:
• Financial coaching in the areas of banking, savings, credit, and debt.