Nassau Suffolk Law Services’ Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) and the Nassau County Bar Association are very pleased to honor Jason Rothman as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Rothman is a relatively new and a very welcome addition to the Landlord Tenant Attorney of the Day Project. Since joining the Project less than two years ago, Rothman has represented over 36 clients, defending or forestalling eviction from their homes.
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.
Rothman is a partner in the firm Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP, and concentrates his practice in construction law, commercial and residential leasing, and landlord/tenant and commercial litigation. He represents owners, contractors, vendors, design professionals, and sureties in the drafting and negotiating of a wide variety of construction agreements—including construction management agreements, prime contracts, architect agreements, close-out agreements, agreements with lenders, and subcontracts. He also regularly represents a wide variety of clients in construction disputes involving mechanic’s liens, extra work claims, delays, impacts, wrongful termination, bond claims, property damage, and claims involving the Labor Law and prevailing wages.
Rothman grew up in a rent stabilized apartment in Queens, attended Queens College, and graduated Cum Laude from St. John’s School of Law in 1996. His early years of practice were devoted to real estate litigation, where most of his clients were defendant tenants. Though his practice eventually evolved toward construction law, Rothman never forgot his roots. He had the opportunity to witness the vital work performed by VLP attorneys back in 2016 while serving as opposing counsel in Landlord Tenant Court. He approached Roberta Scoll and asked if he could volunteer his time to the program.
“Most of these clients don’t know their rights and automatically assume they will be out on the street,” states Rothman. “Once they are told that they can stay in their apartments or get additional time to find a new place, their sense of relief is overwhelming. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to use your legal skills to help someone who cannot afford it. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see their appreciation.”
Rothman also notes many other rewards for participating in the Attorney of the Day Project. Volunteers may receive up to 10 CLE credits per biennial cycle, and are offered vouchers for additional NCBA CLE courses. Training is provided by VLP staff and seasoned volunteers. First or second year associates can gain invaluable “in the trenches” experience appearing before a judge, making an argument, and drafting a settlement agreement.
Roberta Scoll, Coordinating Attorney for the project, always looks forward to when Jason's volunteer day has arrived because she knows that he will represent the project's clients with diligence and compassion. He is a welcome asset to the program.
Outside of his practice of law, Rothman enjoys spending time with his wife, who is an accountant, and their two young daughters at their home in Rockville Centre. In light of his dedication and commitment to serving low income Nassau County residents, we are proud to honor him 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.