Nassau Suffolk Law Services Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), along with the Nassau County Bar Association, are privileged to recognize Catherine Papandrew as our most recent Attorney of the Month. Papandrew has demonstrated great passion and dedication by providing full pro bono legal representation to the community through the VLP, especially during the COVID crisis. Papandrew is an Associate with the law firm of Peknic, Peknic & Schaefer of Long Beach, and practices in the areas of insurance defense, personal injury, wills, and estate planning, matrimonial law, and general litigation.
Papandrew first volunteered for Nassau Suffolk Law Services in 2013, while still a law student. She provided legal representation for people with low-income who were facing eviction. What is even more impressive is that she had embarked on her legal studies as a “second act” after raising two children and enjoying a fulfilling career in social work. Keenly aware of the “justice gap,” Papandrew has melded the skills she gained in the two professions to address this need.
A cum laude graduate of Pace University School of Law in 2016, Papandrew earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work from Adelphi University, and a master’s in Public Administration from NYU. After graduation and admission to the Bar, Papandrew worked for the New York City Law Department, where she gained valuable litigation experience.
Throughout her years of practice, Papandrew has been committed to donating a significant amount of her time to assisting the underserved. She has represented clients in 17A Guardianship proceedings, matrimonial matters, and drafted advance directives. Of vital importance during the pandemic has been her pro bono assistance to low-income clients to execute wills, powers of attorney and health care proxies. These crucial services empower vulnerable people to choose who will make decisions for them and who will care for their children in the event of their death. Having advance directives in place can also avoid the necessity of a costly guardianship proceeding down the road. Most importantly, advance directives give clients the dignity of self-determination, peace of mind, and a sense of control.
The marriage of extensive social work skills to her legal degree has positioned Papandrew to be a better advocate for those having trouble navigating the legal system. But any attorney, regardless of experience, can use their skills to help a client access the legal system and change lives. Papandrew encourages other attorneys to join her in her effort:
"Everyone deserves the right to legal representation under any circumstances. There is nothing more gratifying than helping someone without means gain access to the legal system. My advocacy can give comfort, peace of mind and dignity to this population of clients, which is especially important during these uncertain times. Helping someone to direct their own affairs is a transformative experience for both of us and the heartfelt thanks received in return is immeasurable.”
In recognition of her dedication to Nassau County’s neediest citizens, The Volunteer Lawyers Project, along with the Nassau County Bar Association, is pleased to honor Catherine Papandrew as our latest Pro Bono Attorney of the Month.
There is no funding for the general provision of matrimonial, guardianship or bankruptcy representation to low-income people. 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. in Nassau County or Carolyn McQuade, Esq. 631-232-2400, ext. 3325 in Suffolk County.