Nassau Suffolk Law Services is pleased to recognize Regina Brandow as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for her long-standing commitment to helping families in guardianship, disability, special needs and education matters. Ms. Brandow has consistently dedicated her time and expertise to these cases for over 12 years.Brandow came to the practice of law after a successful career in finance. After earning a B.S. in economics from Dowling College in 1980, she joined J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc., over time becoming an officer in the firm and serving in various departments, including the legal department as the compliance officer for the SEC, NYSE, AMSE, and NASD. In that period she attended Touro Law Center, graduating in 1995. Her first position as an attorney was in an insurance fraud and consumer reporting agency. She then began a private practice, concentrating in elder law and corporate law and was of counsel to several corporate firms. In 2001 she joined the Long Island Advocacy Center, where she represented students with disabilities in impartial hearings, appeals to both the State Education Department, and the Commissioner of Education, and other education law issues.
Ms. Brandow’s first experience with pro bono was in law school where she participated in the Immigration Law Clinic at Touro School of Law. Working on an asylum case of a Bosnian refugee was a stark contrast to her suburban upbringing and career on Wall Street. After law school, she volunteered with the Legal Aid Society in Bay Shore helping senior citizens. She later started volunteering with Nassau Suffolk Law Services where she has handled a wide array of cases, often involving families with developmentally disabled children. The cases can be complex and emotional. One that stands out for her concerned a developmentally disabled child who turned 18 and needed to have a guardian appointed. The mother sought to continue her guardianship, but her ex-husband did not want to consent and the residential facility where the child lived was also seeking guardianship. Mental Hygiene Legal Services also participated in the case and had its own concerns about the situation. Eventually an agreement was negotiated, but it was very frightening and difficult for the family.
Whether working in private practice or for a nonprofit, Ms. Brandow has continued to set aside time for pro bono and she extols the tremendous value of doing this work – both personally and professionally. When she first started out as a solo practitioner, she felt anxious taking on cases. However, her pro bono work gave her the opportunity to learn quickly how to identify and handle a vast range of issues in a very supportive environment. In her experience, the attorneys, judges, clerks and other court personnel that she has met through her pro bono work go out of their way to help a pro bono attorney. “They tell you what the judge is looking for, what to expect in the case, how to handle issues, and what paperwork is needed and how to prepare it. And they are supportive not only in the pro bono work, but also have helped in my private practice as well,” she explains. She feels that especially when you are starting out, it is invaluable to have the opportunity to manage an entire case, to learn from experienced and helpful people, and to make connections and build your confidence and reputation.
Ms. Brandow feels strongly that everyone can find time to do pro bono work. She adds that Nassau Suffolk Law Services is very sensitive to the stresses of practicing law, especially for solo practitioners. “As a solo practitioner and parent, I have to make a living, eat and support my family, but I can still find time. There is nothing special or extraordinary about doing that. Imagine if every lawyer in Suffolk handled just one case,” she says.For her consistent and devoted service to Nassau Suffolk Law Services and the families she represents, we honor Regina Brandow.
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 towards 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 funded primarily by the Legal Services Corporation 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 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 Maria Dosso, Esq. 631 232-2400 x 3369.