We need Your Help
Seventy percent of civil matters in New York State courts involve family law, consumer credit, landlord-
tenant and foreclosure cases. Our courtrooms often are standing room only, with frightened, unrepresented
litigants who face the loss of a home, a job, and even a child. Judges report that many valid
claims are lost, because the unrepresented often do not present evidence or understand the law.
Each year, more than 2.3 million New Yorkers
try to navigate the State’s complex civil justice system without a lawyer.
- 99 percent of tenants are unrepresented in eviction cases in New York City, and 98 percent are
unrepresented outside of the City.
- 97 percent of parents are unrepresented in child support matters in New York City, and 95 percent
are unrepresented in the rest of the State
- 44 percent of home owners are unrepresented in foreclosure cases throughout our State
According to new Office of Court Administration data, more than 2.3 million New Yorkers are unrepresented
in civil legal proceedings in New York State courts. Most are unrepresented not by choice and
most are low-income New Yorkers.
Indeed, the Task Force’s legal needs
study found that nearly 3 million low-income New Yorkers experienced a civil legal problem and 1.2
million experienced three or more civil legal problems. By contrast, IOLA-funded civil legal
services providers handle only about 260,000 legal matters each year. Thus, there clearly is a substantial
shortfall in the provision of civil legal services in our State, and providers are at best meeting 20 percent
of the need because of lack of resources.