April 25, 2018

I am thrilled to announce that Peter Kempner will join VOLS as the Project Director of our Elderly Project on May 14th.

Pete comes to us with more than 16 years of experience providing legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers.  Currently, he is Director of the Veterans Justice Project and a Deputy Director of the Housing Unit at Brooklyn Legal Services (BLS), where he has worked since September 2001.  Under Pete's leadership, BLS started a clinic at the Manhattan VA hospital staffed by pro bono lawyers. Before helping to found BLS' Veterans Justice Project in 2011, Pete spent a decade as a Staff Attorney and Government Benefits Specialist in BLS' HIV Unit representing clients who were HIV positive.  As part of this work, Pete worked with pro bono lawyers who drafted life-planning documents such as advance directives and powers of attorney.

Pete has extensive experience representing clients at administrative hearings and has litigated cases at every level of the New York State court system, from Small Claims Court to the Court of Appeals.  In addition to representing individuals, Pete has brought impact litigation, including Naser v. New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, in which plaintiffs succeeded in broadening the definition of disability the city uses to grant special vending licenses to include veterans with mental health disabilities.

Pete serves on the Advisory Committee to the Brooklyn Veterans Treatment Court and is a former Chair of the Social Welfare Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  He is also an adjunct clinical professor at New York Law School.  Pete received his J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in 2001, where he won the Charles H. Revson Public Interest Fellowship.  Before attending law school, Pete graduated with a B.A. from the State University of New York College at Purchase and received an M.A. in Political Management from George Washington University.

Please join me in welcoming this experienced and dedicated public interest lawyer to the team of experts at VOLS.


Bill Lienhard,
Executive Director

April 20, 2018

According to a recent article in the New Zealand Herald, Stacey Shortall, a New Zealand lawyer who volunteered in VOLS' Incarcerated Mothers Law Project, was so inspired by her experience that she started a similar project when she returned to New Zealand.

See:  The Mothers Project: Connecting Women in Prison With Their Kids 

February 16, 2018

The VOLS Microenterprise Project is excited to announce the public launch of the Commercial Lease Assistance Program. Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop and Councilmember Robert Cornegy announced the new City-funded program in front of Huascar & Company Bake Shop, a small business tenant benefited by legal services. Read the City's press release

Top: VOLS Staff  Attorneys Arthur Kats and Shanila Ali at CLA launch event; Bottom Left: small business owner Huascar Aquino and Commissioner Gregg Bishop address the audience at CLA launch event; Bottom Right: VOLS staff poses with Councilmember Cornegy at CLA launch event 

VOLS' Microenterprise Project is proud to expand its commercial leasing services for small businesses through the Program.  Alongside Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Community Development Project at Urban Justice Center, and a vibrant Consortium of strategic community partners, the Project will provide small business tenants with critical commercial leasing legal support.  

Media coverage of the Commercial Lease Assistance Program:


October 17, 2017

Bret Parker, Executive Director of the City Bar Association and a member of VOLS' Board of Directors, will run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents to raise awareness of Parkinson's Disease as part of the World Marathon Challenge.

In a recent feature article in the New York Law Journal, Bret, who himself has Parkinson's Disease, said:

"Many people don’t understand that Parkinson’s is not just a disease for older people. Many people can get Parkinson’s when they’re still trying to work and raise families."

You can find out more about the incredible challenge Bret has undertaken and help him raise funds for Parkinson's research at


March 28, 2017

VOLS Board member Cyrus Mehta, founder of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC,  spoke eloquently against discriminating against all immigrants because some small number commit crimes on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight.  Mr. Mehta maintained his reasonable position and his poise despite questioning from Mr. Carlson that became rude and hostile.

March 21, 2017

Liz Markuci, VOLS Immigration Project Director, was featured in an interview with Pro Bono Institute for their weekly Pro Bono Happy Hour Podcasts. Liz discussed the pro bono initiatives to support immigrants in the context of her own family’s experience, her pro bono role models, her work at VOLS, and much more.


You can access the full interview here:

January 27, 2017

VOLS’ Microenterprise Project
client Mera McGrew’s company Soapply was recently featured in the New York Times’ Front Burner column.  Soapply makes pure, organic liquid soap, and donates up to $10 of the $25 price to support water, sanitation, and hygiene improvements in developing countries.

Through VOLS’ Microenterprise Project, Soapply received pro bono legal assistance from the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.  Orrick partners Stephen Ashley and Diana Rutowski, Impact Finance Fellow Perry Teicher, Managing Associate Eileen Aghnami, summer associate Maria Stracqualursi, paralegals Karl Hamel and Linda Partmann, and former associates Eliza Golden and Timothy Green, have helped Ms. McGrew and Soapply with corporate, intellectual property, and tax matters.

Ms. McGrew said:

“Orrick is such a huge part of the Soapply story. Orrick has played an invaluable role in helping take Soapply from a concept to what it is today. Diana, Stephen, Perry and the entire Orrick team have not only helped me tackle immediate structure, trademark, and policy needs, but they have helped ensure that Soapply is set up for success both now and in 5, 10, and even 20 years.”

VOLS is proud to have played a role in the success of this environmentally and socially responsible company.

January 27, 2017

"Living in a Sanctuary City means living in an environment where you feel safe and you can trust the authorities to respect your legal rights."

- Liz Markuci, VOLS' Immigration Project Director


Gothamist, an online publication, featured Liz Markuci, VOLS' Immigration Project Director, in an article examining the responsibilities of New York City as a sanctuary city.  Part of that dialogue, as explored in the piece, is "scal[ing] back broken windows policing—which disproportionately targets low income New Yorkers of color for minor offenses like turnstile jumping—in the wake of Trump's executive orders."

As Ms. Markuci explains to her clients at VOLS' Know-Your-Rights Trainings, living in a sanctuary city means living in an environment where you feel safe and you can trust the authorities to respect your legal rights.  Ms. Markuci hopes that the de Blasio administration will work with community organizations to fulfill the pledge of keeping New York a sanctuary city for all New Yorkers.


Learn more about VOLS' Immigration Project.

January 17, 2017

Shruti Chopra is an attorney licensed to practice in New York and India who focuses on intellectual property, technology and mergers and acquisitions transactions. She is currently volunteering in VOLS’ Microenterprise Project.  Recently, Shruti published an article in the State Bar News on the experience of providing pro bono legal assistance.

Read the article