Nassau Suffolk Law Services and the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) are pleased to honor Andrew M. Thaler as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month. Mr. Thaler has been serving the financially struggling of Nassau County for over twenty years, having co-founded the VLP’s Bankruptcy Clinic with colleague Craig D. Robins in 1990. His determined efforts to provide free advice and representation in bankruptcy matters to the low income residents of Nassau County have more than qualified him for this honor.
Andrew Thaler, a managing partner at Thaler and Gertler, LLP., has continued to actively participate in the Bankruptcy Clinic since its founding. Mr. Thaler observes that the people who take advantage of the Clinic’s free services are those who are just down on their luck, often manifesting in the form of medical issues, disability, or divorce. “The client is not always the one with the hospital bill,” Mr. Thaler says. “Family requiring expensive treatments can also lead to a situation where filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the only option.” He often sees individuals who have undergone what he calls, “a reversal of fortunes.” Mr. Thaler states that he finds the experience humbling, because it reminds you that, “It doesn't matter who you are. It could be you and misfortune can affect any one of us.” Maria Dosso, Director of Communications and Volunteer Services at Nassau Suffolk Law Services, has observed Thaler’s service firsthand. “He is so kind and patient with the Clinic’s clients who are often very distraught. Luckily, there are attorneys like Andy who donate their time and resources to help
those in need.”
The Clinic meets bimonthly at the Domus where the participating attorneys, including Mr. Thaler, provide pro bono bankruptcy screening and counseling to potential clients. Those who are financially eligible and whose circumstances are determined appropriate for a bankruptcy are then referred to a pro bono attorney who provides full representation in a bankruptcy proceeding. These clinics provide the opportunity for low income residents of Nassau County to receive the quality legal assistance that they may otherwise be unable to afford.
When asked how his pro bono work impacts his practice, Mr. Thaler replied that volunteer service sends a message to his own office, as well as the community, that giving back is what he calls, “the right thing to do.” Mr. Thaler finds that one of the most rewarding aspects of his service is the letters he receives in appreciation for his work. When he is presented with a personal message from a previous client thanking him for his services, it motivates him to continue to help those in financial trouble.
Mr. Thaler has been previously honored as Attorney of the Month, most recently in 2007, and was also awarded Law Services’ Partner in Justice Award in 2003 for his volunteer work. He has been an active member of the Nassau County Bar Association, serving as the Dean of the Nassau Academy of Law, as well as on its Board of Directors, and has been a contributing member on a number of committees. He most recently co-hosted a Landlord Survival Guide seminar in Plainview, N.Y., which discussed a variety of topics especially relevant in today's economy, and focused on dealing with bankruptcy situations. Mr. Thaler graduated Magna Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Albany in 1979, and went on to attend Buffalo Law School, from which he received his J.D. in 1983.
When he is not practicing law, Mr. Thaler finds pleasure in the simpler aspects of life, such as tending to his home garden, playing tennis, going to the beach, and spending time with his family. He credits his success to preparation, effort, and dedication. “I just put my best foot forward every time.”
Mr. Thaler has certainly given his best efforts to the people of Nassau County who are struggling with the hardships of a weak economy. His longstanding participation and commitment to the Bankruptcy Clinic and the clients it serves is to the benefit of the entire community. For this effort it is our privilege to recognize Andrew M. Thaler as Pro Bono Attorney of the month.
By James Kirdahy
James Kirdahy is a student intern at Nassau Suffolk Law Services and is currently attending Binghamton University. He is an English major and aspires to eventually enter the legal field.
The Bankruptcy Clinic is always looking for volunteers. Attorneys interested in joining this worthy effort can call Susan Biller at 516 292-8100 x 3136 or Maria Dosso at 631 232-2400 x 3369.