Pro Bono Attorney of the Month Melissa Levin, Esq. – Oct 2019 Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) and the Nassau County Bar Association (NCBA) are very pleased to honor Melissa Levin as our most recent Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Levin is a relatively new and a very much appreciated addition to the Landlord Tenant Attorney of the Day Project. Since joining the Project less than two years ago, Levin has volunteered over 60 hours representing more than 37 clients, defending or forestalling eviction from their homes.
Levin is associated with the Williston Park firm of Horing Welikson & Rosen, P.C., which she joined in 2013. She has been practicing since 2008, primarily in commercial litigation, housing law, administrative hearings and real estate. She earned her Juris Doctor from Hofstra University School of Law in 2007, and her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Long Island University Honors Program in 2003. She is admitted to practice law in both New York and Massachusetts.
Levin finds support from her firm’s commitment to pro bono. For the past two years, Horing Welikson and Rosen has been recognized by the NCBA’s Access to Justice Committee as one of the top three medium sized pro bono provider firms. She, along with attorney Richard Walsh, regularly utilized their tremendous knowledge of Landlord Tenant Law to benefit some of Nassau County most needy residents in District Court.
The Attorney of the Day Project, supervised by VLP Staff Attorney Roberta Scoll, assists hundreds of indigent and disabled men, women and children in housing court to prevent homelessness. Many of the cases are holdover or nonpayment matters. Most tenants must appear pro se, and are severely disadvantaged by lack of counsel. The courts are overburdened trying to administer justice. Given the lack of affordable housing in this region, eviction may place families at a severe risk of becoming homeless.
This project allows attorneys to volunteer to represent these individuals for a four hour session once a week, a month or as frequently as they choose. The goal is to preserve housing or at least give the tenants sufficient time to secure alternative housing and avoid the trauma of shelter placement or homelessness. Attorneys interested in becoming involved with this and our other vital work should contact Susan Biller at Sbiller@nsls.legal, or Roberta Scoll at RScoll@nsls.legal.
Levin’s first encounter with the VLP was in 2017, when she was covering Nassau District Court for a client of her firm. She was extremely impressed with the VLP program. As she observed the volunteer attorneys, she was inspired by their ability to level the playing field for their clients, helping to ensure greater fairness and access to justice. Roberta Scoll was equally impressed with Levin’s legal skills, and asked her to join the VLP team.
Levin finds her experience with the VLP particularly rewarding in that it enables her to utilize her legal skills to negotiate settlements that can literally keep a roof over the heads of a needy family. The joy and relief that these client’s express is all the thanks she needs. She recommends this to new lawyers also as a way to garner courtroom experience, and build a practice. She reflects, “I always knew offering my time and expertise would help those who lacked the financial means to hire proper representation, but until I started volunteering, I never knew it would also help me become a better attorney overall.”
According to Roberta, “Melissa has been a tremendous asset to the Volunteer Lawyers Attorney of the Day Project. She has a soothing way of speaking with VLP clients and represents them with skill and empathy.” Roberta is also deeply grateful to Horing Welikson & Rosen for “lending” Melissa to the program once a month, and looks forward to continuing to work with her.
Levin grew up in Plainview and now resides in Wantagh with her husband and two children ages five and two years. With whatever free time she has left, she enjoys volunteering for local and national political campaigns. In honor of her commitment and dedication to serving low income Nassau County residents, we are proud to recognize Melissa Levin as our most recent Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project is a joint effort of Nassau Suffolk Law Services and the Nassau County Bar Association, who, for many years, have joined resources toward the goal of providing free legal assistance to Nassau County residents who are dealing with economic hardship. Nassau Suffolk Law Services is a non profit civil legal services agency, receiving federal, state and local funding to provide free legal assistance to Long Islanders, primarily in the areas of benefits advocacy, homelessness prevention (foreclosure and eviction defense), access to health care, and services to special populations such as domestic violence victims, disabled, and adult home residents. The provision of free services is prioritized based on financial need and funding is often inadequate in these areas. Furthermore, there is no funding for the general provision of matrimonial or bankruptcy representation, therefore the demand for pro bono assistance is the greatest in these areas. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Susan Biller, Esq. 516-292-8100, ext. 3136.
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