Free legal assistance is one of the most underused tools in the state.
With its high costs and limited benefits, it has become a neglected avenue of assistance for people who can’t afford to pay for their legal defense.
But a new initiative from the state Department of Legal Services aims to make it easier for those who need legal help to get it.
On Monday, the department announced that it is adding free legal assistance to all adults and teens.
That’s an expansion of the state’s program, which has expanded to adults and teenaged students.
The program, called the Free Legal Counsel program, was launched in June 2015.
The initiative will now allow residents of New York to request a free consultation with a lawyer from a licensed attorney, provided the person is able to pay.
According to the new website, which is currently live in the city, free legal counseling is “a safe, reliable and cost-effective way for individuals, families, employers, landlords, and others to make legal decisions.”
The website describes the program as providing legal counsel “in a safe, secure environment,” but adds that “the program is not a substitute for the services of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who chairs the Legal Services Commission, said in a statement that the new initiative “will ensure that every New Yorker is able at no cost to receive free legal advice, regardless of their ability to pay.”
The New York State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also offer a free referral service to residents in the State of New Jersey.
The state has been a pioneer in offering free legal services to its residents.
A similar program was launched a decade ago in Virginia.
A study by the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that the program had “a net saving of $4 million” for the state of New Hampshire, where the program has been in place since 2007.