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Expanding legal services for Buffalo school families

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Say Yes Buffalo continues to provide wrap-around support services to students and families. Say Yes and the Buffalo School District announced the expansion of its free legal clinics.

Say Yes Legal Clinics opened last spring in city school buildings. Wednesday Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash joined Say Yes and several law firms to announce a fifth clinic at the Buffalo Adult Education Center on Edward Street.

"Our goal is to help students to achieve success through education," said Nadia Moore, Senior Director for Operations and Programs. "We know that it's important not only to provide a scholarship to our students, but to be able to provide support programs. We have an opportunity to have our legal community to stand behind the Buffalo Public School families to be able to provide legal support to any non-criminal matter that our families are facing."

The Say Yes Legal Clinics are staffed, pro bono, by volunteer lawyers from law firms that include Barclay Damon, Gibson McAskill & Crosbym Phillips Lytlem Hodgson Russ, Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP and Harris Beach.  

The Say Yes Buffalo Legal Task Force co-chaired by the Honorable Judge Hugh Scott and Robert Elardo, Esq. of the ECBA Volunteer Lawyers Project. 

“These legal clinics are helping children to achieve better in school by addressing important legal needs that could otherwise disrupt the family stability,” said Robert Elardo, Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, CEO

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh Scott praises this effort to provide advice to Buffalo school families

"As a judge, I believe it will not only effect the success of families and students in the work place, I think it will  also turn around some of the problems we see in the criminal justice system where we allow children to learn without distraction, stop them from dropping out of school, school becomes important. And if we can do that as a legal community, I think the lawyers in Buffalo will really have helped this town turn the corner," stated Judge Scott. 

Dr. Cash noted the importance in assisting the school families with legal services and bringing it into the Adult Education Center reaching parents of school students.  

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Inside the Adult Education Center on Edward Street in Buffalo where a new free Say Yes Legal Clinic is set up.

"Half of the adult population or students that are here also have at least two or more children, an average of two children in our schools, so they can access this legal support and advice for free," stated Cash.

So far, this school year, the local lawyers have assisted with 68-cases. Many of the cases have involved family law issues, as well as housing and immigration. Other legal advice is offered for issues on adoption, bankruptcy, child custody, child support, divorce, eviction/foreclosure, government benefits, housing, immigration and income tax. 

"If you had asked me 20-years ago if we could do something like this, I would have said 'well this seems like a huge undertaking'.  These lawyers that have stepped up to meet the challenge of trying to get ride of the 'noise' in the background that students have to deal with is just remarkable," said Judge Scott.

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