The Suffolk Pro Bono Project is pleased to honor Eve Nowak as its Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Ms. Nowak is a loyal volunteer, regularly devoting time to the Project (over 250 hours during the past 12 months alone), responding to many of the hundreds of calls lighting up the Project’s switchboard each week. Without volunteers of her caliber and dependability, the Project would be unable to keep up with all the applications and inquiries regarding our pro bono services.
The Project’s calls usually involve requests for free representation in divorce and bankruptcy matters, although other requests for pro bono services include assistance with inheritance and guardianship. Screening callers to insure they meet income eligibility criteria and that their circumstances are appropriate for pro bono referral involves hours of time on the phone. Ms. Nowak patiently evaluates the callers and assesses their problems. Her generous assistance provides a critical component to insuring that the overwhelming numbers of callers receive prompt attention and guidance. Her assessments help us to quickly evaluate which callers can potentially be assigned to a pro bono attorney.
In addition to providing full pro bono representation to divorce litigants and bankruptcy clients, the Project is also committed to providing assistance in the Child Support Pro Se project. Ms. Nowak has been involved with this initiative since its inception in 2015. Once the short-term funding for this project was exhausted, it was attorneys like her that insured the survival of this critical service. Given the dearth of free services in the vital area of child support, we rely exclusively on volunteers to answer calls, guide the litigants, and refer them to other resources. She provides phone screening and advice, advocacy, and personal consultation to many grateful child support litigants. Ms. Nowak often comes into the office twice a week to work on both initiatives working side by side with office staff. She is compassionate, good natured, thorough, and dedicated to the low income and disabled parents who seek our assistance and have nowhere else to turn.
Ms. Nowak graduated from Cardozo Law School in 1988 and has devoted her career to public service. She spent her early years at Legal Aid’s criminal defense division in Queens and then as assigned counsel in the Bronx. She later took a break to raise her family and fairly recently decided that she wanted to give back and re-enter the legal world, specifically in an area where she could assist people in need. She found out about NSLS through a friend and decided to join the efforts of the Suffolk Pro Bono Project.
Reflecting on her work, Ms. Nowak says, “I’ve been very lucky to have a good life. I wanted to get involved again after raising my children to give back and do something good. Public service is in my blood. I love it!” Working with the most vulnerable requires a great deal of patience, especially when clients are in the throes of divorce or financial ruin. Ms. Nowak believes, “The public doesn’t always understand what legal services agencies have to deal with and how much good they do. The people seeking assistance have great hardships and sometimes they just need to be heard.” Her pro bono spirit apparently runs in the family. She has even recruited her daughter, who herself will be starting law school this fall, to donate time to the Pro Bono Project during her college breaks!
For her exceptional contribution to the pro bono mission and as a true partner in access to justice, it is our privilege to honor Ms. Nowak 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.