The Unemployment Action Center, Inc. (UAC) is a non-profit, student-run organization devoted to the representation of unemployment insurance claimants throughout New York City and Long Island. Because our members are directly responsible for advising and representing claimants, the UAC has given thousands of law students exposure to pro bono work and cultivated an interest in public service early in their legal careers. The UAC serves the community by matching a population in need of assistance with a group of talented and dedicated law students eager to gain practical experience through public service.
Founded in 1981 as a clinic at New York University School of Law and incorporated by students in 1985, the UAC is the largest organization of its type in the country, and the only organization in New York devoted solely to providing legal assistance to people seeking to secure unemployment insurance benefits. The organization is managed by a student-staffed Board of Directors and day-to-day operations are run by one office employee. The students involved in leadership on the Board of Directors learn about the realities of running a non-profit corporation and the challenges facing public interest organizations.
Since its inception, the UAC has helped more than 11,000 individuals and has branched off into seven chapter schools. Today, law students from Brooklyn Law School, Cardozo, Columbia, Fordham, Hofstra, Pace, New York Law School, New York University and Touro coordinate their efforts to provide free legal services to an underrepresented community. In order to prepare advocates to represent claimants in this specialized area, the UAC has developed a comprehensive training program and training manuals which guide new advocates through the intake, interview, and representation process. In addition, because the UAC's client population does not diminish when the academic year is over, full-time summer advocates are hired every year to continue our services.
Claimants have been awarded benefits in approximately 60% of the cases in which they were represented by a UAC advocate. This is a truly remarkable statistic given the estimated city-wide average success rate of less than 30% for unrepresented claimants. These figures demonstrate that legal assistance provided by the UAC makes a tremendous difference in the outcome of unemployment proceedings. With the assistance of the UAC, claimants are able to successfully navigate a complex bureaucratic system, and obtain crucial financial support.
The UAC has received numerous honors for its service to the New York community, including the New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Law Student Service Award, the New York University President's Service Award for Volunteerism and Community Service and special recognition by the New York University School of Law Public Interest Law Foundation. The UAC's efforts have been featured in The New York Times, The New York Law Journal and New York Newsday.
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