Disaster Relief Clinic Starts at Touro Law
Clinic Will Assist Residents with Legal Problems Arising from Hurricane Sandy
January 31, 2013
Touro Law Center has launched a Disaster Relief Clinic to assist community members with legal problems arising from Hurricane Sandy, the recent superstorm that affected the tri-state area in October 2012 causing widespread devastation and destruction. Students will work with newly hired Visiting Professor of Law Benjamin Rajotte to provide no cost legal assistance with insurance claims, environmental remediation, government assistance programs including FEMA, insurance and consumer fraud concerns and other legal problems that are a result of the storm.
Dean Patricia Salkin stated, “Touro Law Center has long recognized the need for legal relief work in the wake of a disaster based on our history of providing assistance in the Gulf Coast region’s post- Katrina efforts. When our local area was affected we took action immediately and remain committed. I am really proud that we have launched this clinic, enabling Touro Law to continue serving the local community. This clinic provides hands on legal training for our students and is a valuable resource for those in need, taking our early hurricane emergency relief efforts to the next level.”
Under close supervision of Visiting Professor and Clinic Director Benjamin Rajotte, students working in the clinic will interview and counsel clients, negotiate on their behalf, prepare cases for presentation to courts and administrative forums. Students will work cooperatively with established disaster relief networks and local institutions to address issues. They will also visit shelters and community organizations and work with elected officials to provide education about and referrals for available benefits. Clients have already been referred to the clinic through the Touro Law Center Hurricane Emergency Assistance and Referral Team (TLC-HEART) and additional referrals are expected to continue throughout the semester.
Professor Rajotte brings a rich experience to Touro Law. He has taught at Northeastern University School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Western New England University School of Law, and was a clinician at Vermont Law School. He received a J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and an LL.M. from New York University School of Law. He has practiced predominantly in civil litigation in New York in large firms and as a sole practitioner and worked with students as pro bono counsel for a community group for years.
“I am honored to be joining the Touro Law family and working as director of the newly created Disaster Relief Clinic,” said Professor Rajotte. “I look forward to working with students to resolve legal problems in the community while teaching important legal skills to the next generation of lawyers.”
The funding to begin the clinic was largely provided by a generous donation from Reva and Martin Oliner. Mr. Oliner is an attorney who has engaged in private practice since 1972, and he has taught at Touro Law Center. His legal practice principally involved international tax and workouts. He has extensive experience in international finance, investment banking, real estate, corporate organization and reorganization matters. Mr. Oliner is a member of the Executive Board of Touro College, and has served as a trustee of Touro College for more than 20 years where he has been integral to its growth. He is founder of the San Francisco School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is currently the Mayor of the Village of Lawrence on Long Island, an area hard hit by the disaster. Mr. Oliner has been has been a leader in assisting victims of the south shore communities of Nassau County overcome the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. “I am glad to be able to help fund this worthy endeavor,” stated Mr. Oliner. “I know that the clinic will have far reaching benefits for families struggling to overcome the endless legal issues that face so many whose lives have been displaced.”
Touro Law’s clinical program teaches practice-ready skills required for effective advocacy while providing no cost legal services for the community. Students work under close faculty supervision to provide legal assistance to actual clients. Currently, Touro Law offers several clinics including; Advanced Bankruptcy Clinic, Civil Rights Litigation Clinic, Elder Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Mortgage Foreclosure and Bankruptcy Law Clinic, Not-for-Profit Corporation Law Clinic, and the newly instituted Disaster Relief Clinic.
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Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center’s 185,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is located adjacent to both a state and a federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Touro Law’s proximity to the courthouses, coupled with programming developed to integrate the courtroom into the classroom, provide a one-of-a kind learning model for law students, combining a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty with a practical courtroom experience. Touro Law, which has a student body of approximately 750 and an alumni base of more than 5,000, offers full- and part-time J.D. programs, several dual degree programs and graduate law programs for US and foreign law graduates. Touro Law Center is part of the Touro College system.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris, and Florida. Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro College Los Angeles and Touro University Worldwide as separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/media/.
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