The Suffolk Pro Bono Project proudly honors Vincent Cuocci as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. For the past ten years, Mr. Cuocci has adeptly handled many bankruptcy cases from the Pro Bono Project. He especially enjoys having the ability to help clients “get back on their feet” financially and personally. His clients have been able to avoid further legal and family problems as a result of the discharge of their debts. Clients who are heading towards foreclosure and even divorce are sometimes able to completely turn their lives around through bankruptcy. They can also financially recover from a disabling injury or disease, or the loss of a spouse. When the dischargeable debts are cleared, Mr. Cuocci enables his clients to return to stable economic ground. Mr. Cuocci believes that “filing for bankruptcy is a fair system for most people.”
Mr. Cuocci is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he double majored in anthropology and psychology. He attended law school at Touro Law Center and upon graduation moved to Vermont to become a prosecutor. However, he also always excelled in and enjoyed math so that when he got married and moved back to New York, working in the bankruptcy field was a natural fit. As part of his twenty-two year legal career, Mr. Cuocci was an associate and staff attorney at the law firm of Macco and Stern for about seven years and he practiced bankruptcy law with one of the most dedicated pillars of the Pro Bono Bankruptcy Project, Rick Stern. Upon leaving that position Mr. Cuocci opened his own firm.
Mr. Cuocci is a general practice attorney, but has concentrated primarily in Bankruptcy Law, both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 throughout his career. For clients who have fallen behind on their mortgages but who have an income, he is often able to obtain a loan modification through the Bankruptcy Court's Loss Mitigation Program. His firm will often undertake veterans’ issues, foreclosure matters and guardianship cases, both for a reduced fee and on a pro bono basis when needed. A problem-solver at heart, Mr. Cuocci likes to untangle a very complicated legal and financial problem. Since a client’s legal issues are also often intertwined with their debts, they may come into his office because of a real estate, foreclosure or guardianship issue, but it becomes quickly apparent that what is needed, sometimes even more urgently, is a bankruptcy.
Mr. Cuocci is happily married to Joan, who is not only a full-time mom, but also works part-time in her husband’s law firm. They have three children, ranging in ages from 7 to 14 years of age. Two of their children were in foster care before becoming members of the Cuocci family. Mr. Cuocci and his family have wide-ranging interests. Mr. Cuocci is an avid participant in the Boy Scouts. He was an Eagle Scout who has gone on to become a den leader and Cubmaster for his local pack. In summertime, Mr. Cuocci and his family can often be found “roughing it” in their RV at beautiful Lake George, N.Y. Mr. Cuocci has also performed in the American Dance Theatre of Long Island’s production of "Clara's Dream - The Nutcracker" with his children on an annual basis for the past few years.
As personal bankruptcy still suffers from a negative connotation in our society, many of Mr. Cuocci’s clients are initially reluctant to discharge their debts. Mr. Cuocci recalls that one of his pro bono clients refused to come to the office because of the stigma associated with consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer, so Mr. Cuocci agreed to meet at a coffee shop. The client was buying food from the dollar store, had no air conditioning or television, and was not even able to afford the co-payments of prescribed medication. However, this same client was still making the minimum payments on several “maxed out” credit cards. It took all of Mr. Cuocci’s persuasion skills to convince them that filing for bankruptcy was in their best interests, and it was even harder to convince the client to take care of immediate medical needs before paying the credit card companies. Now that the credit card debt has been discharged, this client is Mr. Cuocci’s biggest fan and never forgets to send a holiday card, and has even referred several friends to Mr. Cuocci’s office for help.
“Our Pro Bono Project relies very heavily on bankruptcy attorneys like Mr. Cuocci who help us meet the massive demand for these vital services. We couldn’t do it without attorneys like him,” says Carolyn McQuade, Suffolk Pro Bono Coordinator at Nassau Suffolk Law Services. The Pro Bono Project sincerely thanks Mr. Cuocci for his demonstrated commitment to less fortunate Long Islanders and is pleased to honor him as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is a joint effort of Nassau Suffolk Law Services, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Suffolk County Pro Bono Foundation, who, for many years, have joined resources toward the goal of providing free legal assistance to Suffolk County residents who are dealing with economic hardship. Nassau Suffolk Law Services is a non-profit civil legal services agency, providing 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 resident. 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 Ellen Krakow, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3323.