MFY envisions a society in which no one is denied justice because he or she cannot afford an attorney. To make this vision a reality, MFY provides free legal assistance to residents of New York City on a wide range of civil legal issues, prioritizing services to vulnerable and under-served populations, while simultaneously working to end the root causes of inequities through impact litigation, law reform and policy advocacy.
MFY was founded on the principle of equal access to justice through community-based legal representation of poor New Yorkers. Working in concert with neighborhood social service providers and community advocates, we reach out to those most in need to help resolve the problems faced by large numbers of low-income New Yorkers: housing, public benefits, consumer, employment, civil rights, disability rights, and family matters. We provide advice and representation to thousands of New Yorkers each year and initiate affirmative litigation that impacts many thousands of people.
To extend our reach even further, we provide community-based legal education to social service providers, workers’ centers, and community advocates while creating a wide array of volunteer opportunities for private attorneys and law students to furnish pro bono assistance on individual and class action cases.
MFY Legal Services, Inc. became an independent, not-for-profit law firm in 1968, having started out in 1963 as the legal arm of Mobilization for Youth, an anti-poverty organization created a year earlier to prevent juvenile delinquency. When the federal Office of Economic Opportunity began funding community-based legal services programs, MFY’s model became the prototype for hundreds of new programs. By our 25th anniversary in 1988, MFY was recognized as a national leader in poverty law, having served tens of thousands of low-income New Yorkers and won numerous test cases.
Our First Director
Read about MFY’s pioneering first Director, Edward Sparer, and the vision that led to the development of the legal services social justice movement throughout the nation.