Professor Toby Golick
Director of Clinical Legal Education
Professor Toby Golick oversees Cardozo's pioneering clinical program. She is the founding director of the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, one of the first law school clinics, which has become a nationally prominent legal service provider for the poor and elderly. She has litigated important cases involving the rights of the elderly and disabled as a senior attorney for ten years at Legal Services for the Elderly in New York City. Recently she worked with students to successfully challenge New York City in a class action suit fighting to restore healthcare services to vulnerable populations who were being denied overnight health professionals.
Professor Leslie Salzman
Director of the Bet Tzedek Clinic
An 85-year-old woman faced forced placement in a nursing home because Medicaid would no longer provide the home-care services that made it possible for her to remain in her home of 45 years.
A 78-year-old man was charged more then $40,000 for critical surgery because his Medicare HMO had not informed him of the procedures necessary to have that care covered by his HMO.
A young man with AIDS was threatened with eviction by his landlord, who claimed he was not a tenant, even though she had accepted rent from him and AIDS Services that was double the legal rent for a rundown studio apartment.
In each of these cases, students of the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic were successful in protecting the interests of their clients and regaining for them their health benefits and/or homes. Each year, Bet Tzedek—which means “House of Justice” in Hebrew—represents dozens of elderly and disabled people seeking health, disability, and housing benefits that they could not get without Clinic assistance.
In representing these individual clients, the student lawyers also identify systemic problems affecting thousands of similarly situated people. Often, the result is a class action lawsuit to correct these problems. As a result of Bet Tzedek class actions, thousands of New Yorkers are protected from arbitrary reductions in their home-care services; the Social Security Administration has changed its restrictive policies for determining when HIV-positive individuals are eligible for benefits; hundreds of disabled applicants for public housing are protected from the public housing authority's intrusion into their confidential medical records.
The Clinic operates with 25 students and 3 full-time faculty, with a case load of more than 200 clients. Clients are referred by agencies and courts that are familiar with the reputation of the Clinic and its faculty, Professors Toby Golick, Leslie Salzman, and Paris Baldacci—respected litigators and educators in the fields of elder, disability, health, and housing law. Supervised by the Clinic faculty, students have primary responsibility to interview clients and potential witnesses; investigate the facts; develop legal theories based on extensive legal research; draft pleadings, motions, and briefs; argue motions; conduct hearings and trials before administrative agencies in state and federal courts; negotiate settlements; and counsel clients.
In a required, year-long seminar on social welfare litigation theory and practice, students learn the skills and substantive law that they use in representing Clinic clients, and also address the ethical issues facing them as advocates.