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Language Access Rights & Benefits Access for HIV+ New Yorkers

Posted on December 12th, 2022

Legal Action Center, Empire Justice Center and the AIDS Institute are pleased to present this free training which will provide attendees with an understanding of the language access obligations of health care and other benefits providers serving individuals who are HIV+ or at risk of acquiring HIV.  It will also explore public charge concerns and protections for immigrants who need government assistance.   This webinar is specifically designed for health or social services providers and legal advocates who work with or advocate for people with HIV / AIDS.

Presenters:  Cheryl Keshner, Sr. Paralegal, Empire Justice Center, Fiona Wolfe, Sr. Health Law Attorney, Empire Justice Center, Alexia Mickles, Health Law Staff Attorney

This training was recorded December 12, 2022

Click here for presentation materials.

LGBTQ Domestic Violence Annual Statewide Roundtable Meeting – Day 2

Posted on December 7th, 2022

2022 LGBTQ NYS Legislative Update

Presented by:  Amy Schwartz-Wallace, Esq., Empire Justice Center

This session will provide a brief overview of several LGBTQ-centered bills that were signed into law or passed by both houses.

Listening Session on Civil Legal and Service Barriers and Needs of LGBTQ Survivors

Empire Justice Center is preparing both a 2023 training series and a Know-Your-Rights tool for transgender survivors.  We are hoping to have its substantive content informed by civil legal services providers and others who assist them. Join your colleagues from throughout the state as we pose a series of questions for open discussion including around barriers, challenges, and discriminatory conduct.

 The ADA and Transgender Survivors with Disabilities 

Presented by:  Lettie Dickerson, Esq, Empire Justice Center

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently became the first federal appellate court in the country to find that the 1990 landmark federal Americans with Disability Act (ADA) law protects transgender people who experience anguish and other symptoms as a result of the disparity between their assigned sex and their gender identity.  This ruling could become a powerful tool for those who are seeking access to gender-affirming medical care and other accommodations for transgender people–including around employment and government benefits.  For transgender survivors, the use of this new legal tool can help provide a safety net that can decrease economic dependence on their abusive intimate partners.  This session will explore this ruling and its implications.

This program was recorded December 6, 2022.

Click here for program materials.


LGBTQ Domestic Violence Annual Statewide Roundtable Meeting – Day 1

Posted on December 6th, 2022

Transgender Kids and Navigating Interstate Issues

Presented by:  Amy Schwartz-Wallace, Esq., Empire Justice Center

For LGBTQ+ youth, their families of origin may not always be safe or supportive.  However, add to that the recent and increasingly hostile state-sponsored bills and policies specifically targeting transgender children, as well as their gender-affirming supportive family and care providers.  Taken together, New York may see children and families come to our jurisdiction seeking safety, care, or a fresh start.  In some cases, these moves may result in family law challenges, especially where coercive control or intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect concerns must also be navigated.  This program will begin to explore this emerging issue including a look at California’s new refuge law, New York’s pending legislation, as well as utilizing interstate UCCJEA issues where there are custody disputes.

Learning Exchange: NY’s New LGBTQIA+ Endorsement Program

Presented by: Catherine Shugrue dos Santos, MSW and Ashley Young, Esq., NYC Anti-Violence Project, Alicia Borns & Kathy Grant, LCSW, NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

OPDV is embarking on a new initiative to develop, launch and implement a LGBTQ Endorsement Program for domestic and sexual violence service delivery to reduce the barriers that LGBTQ survivors of gender-based violence face when seeking safety. They are engaging in this initiative in partnership with NYC’s Anti-Violence Project, the oldest LGBTQ+ anti-violence program in the US.  This voluntary initiative will give domestic violence programs the opportunity to be “endorsed” as LGBTQ affirming and inclusive in their services, policies and practices, and will establish a new commitment to the LGBTQ community statewide.  In this session, civil legal services and other LGBTQ DV Roundtable stakeholders will engage in a learning exchange which will offer the opportunity to review proposed endorsement standards, provide vital feedback, and learn about next steps.

This program was recorded December 6, 2022.

Click here for program materials.



Domestic Violence Legislative Update 2022

Posted on October 17th, 2022

This program, presented on October 17, 2022 by Joan Gerhardt who directs the policy work at the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, provides participants with an update on the domestic violence-related bills that passed both houses or were signed into law this session.

Materials:  PowerPoint Presentation

HIV as a Disabling Condition: Accessing SSI and SSD Benefits Today

Posted on August 25th, 2022

This webinar, recorded on 08/25/2022, covers the eligibility rules for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), with a focus on the Social Security Administration’s five-step process used to evaluate disability. Empire Justice will discuss some of the barriers clients are likely to encounter to accessing SSI and SSDI, and identify advocacy strategies for successful eligibility determinations.  By the end of this webinar presentation, participants will be able to:

• Understand the difference between Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Learn the eligibility rules for each program
• Gain an understanding of the types of income, income exclusions and resources and the applicable limitations and how to apply to each program
• Learn how the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability through the Sequential Evaluation 5-step process and advocacy strategies to help develop a strong application
• Know what to do if an application is denied, the client’s appeal rights and the time limits to file an appeal

Presenter: Jennifer Karr, Esq., Staff Attorney, Empire Justice Center

Webinar materials: HIV as a Disabling Condition FINAL PPT

Legal Tools for Serving Polyamorous Clients II

Posted on August 18th, 2022

When clients choose to create relationships and families outside of traditional models, they often find themselves under-resourced, unable to access culturally competent services, and without the more than 1,000 rights and benefits that come with legally recognized relationship structures.  This workshop, recorded on 8/18/2022, will build upon the nuts-and-bolts of how to serve and support polyamorous clients webinar hosted in December 2021, and will focus on some of the substantive law issues facing these client communities including relationship rights and dissolution, parentage, property issues, and domestic violence.

Presented by:  Andy Izenson, Esq., Sr. Legal Director of the Chosen Family Law Center

Materials:  PowerPoint and relevant cases

Yikes: Should I Object?!?

Posted on July 26th, 2022

Join us to learn how to handle the sudden problems that arise in hearing by making a timely and relevant objection.  We will discuss real issues collected from hearings and an advocate’s options.  This presentation was recorded July 26, 2022

Presenters: Ann Biddle, Urban Justice Center; Ana Gutierrez, Queens Legal Services; Marissa Sobel, Urban Justice Center

PowerPoint Materials

Debt Collection – Considerations for Foreclosure Advocates

Posted on July 13th, 2022

This program, recorded on July 13, 2022, will provide an overview of what foreclosure advocates need to know about debt collection, including the most recent updates from New York’s Consumer Credit Fairness Act.  Advocates will gain a better understanding of the debt collection process, protections for consumers in debt collection actions, how debt collection lawsuits and judgments affect homeownership, and options for responding to debt collectors to better assist and counsel homeowners struggling with consumer debt.  Finally, the presentation will cover possible options to help homeowners protect their homes when at risk of foreclosure.

PowerPoint Materials

Learning to Use Job Browser

Posted on June 23rd, 2022

Confronting vocational testimony can be one of the biggest challenges DAP advocates face.  Now that many DAP programs have subscribed Job Browser, advocates can be better prepared to cross-examine vocational witnesses.  This session will help you be even better prepared by learning to use Job Browser from an expert.

Presenter: Betsy Lombardi, Staff Attorney, Legal Services of Central NY

PowerPoint Materials

Providing Foreclosure Prevention Services for Seniors and Veterans

Posted on May 25th, 2022

Empire Justice Center is excited to announce our Building Equity Initiative, a new component of our Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP).  Advocates will learn to recognize barriers that have historically prevented New Yorkers from many communities and with specific identities from attaining and maintaining homeownership and provide tools to ensure foreclosure prevention services are inclusive and equitable.


Join Empire Justice Center and Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (“LawNY”) for a virtual webinar on how to effectively provide services to and advocate for clients who are seniors and veterans from two attorneys within LawNY’s Special Populations Program. Presenters will share information about VA benefits, federal and state housing and consumer law protections for homeowners, and critical information about elder law that is valuable to know for the foreclosure practitioner.  This presentation was recorded on 5/25/2022.

Materials:  PowerPoint