1968 

  • Brooklyn A opens with offices in Williamsburg (at its present location at 260 Broadway), Brownsville and East New York, each respectively known as Williamsburg Legal Services, Brownsville Legal Services, and East New York Legal Services. 
  • The program’s first Board Chair is Brownsville Assemblyman Samuel Wright.  The initial Board Secretary is Jeannette Gadson, who later became the first woman of color to occupy the position of Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn (1993-2001). 
  • The founding Project Director was Cesar Perales (founding President of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund (PRLDEF) and current Secretary of State of New York), with Mark Spires managing the Brownsville Office and Tom Rothchild managing the East New York office. 
  • Among the original staff at Williamsburg (in addition to Cesar) were Richard Panebianco (deceased-2011), Marva Jones, Peggy Cooper Davis (now a Professor at New York University School of Law), James Kaufman (now of his own private practice), Larry McGaughey, Steve Gottlieb (now of the Law Offices of Moran and Gottlieb), David Glasel (now of Hiscock and Barclay LLP), and Harold Kelvin.

1969

  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton establishes externship program at Brooklyn A:  Leslie Samuels (who became Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury under Richard Rubin, and is now a senior Partner at the firm) and John Coffee (now Adolf A Berle Professor of Corporate Law at Columbia Law School) were the first externs.

1970

  • Cesar Perales leaves to establish PRLDEF and he is succeeded  by former Fordham Law classmate Richard Panebianco (now deceased). 
  • Arnold Rothbaum joins the Williamsburg office after two years as a VISTA lawyer at nearby Southside Community Mission.

1971

  • Martin Needelman joins the Williamsburg office as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow, after two years as an Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) lawyer at Southside Mission.
  • Grassroots parents known as Community School Board 14, represented by Brooklyn A lawyers Arnie Rothbaum and Marty Needelman, are installed by the Board of Education as the official school board in Williamsburg-Greenpoint.  Arnie in conjunction with Brownsville attorney Carol Ziegler (later General Counsel to the Board of Education and Associate Dean at Brooklyn then Columbia Law Schools) also represented Brownsville parents in the long struggle there over community control of the schools.

1973

  • Brooklyn A attorneys Larry McGaughey and David Glasel represent tenant advocates in creating Los Sures (Southside United Housing Development Fund Corporation), whose tenant organizers begin a collaboration with Brooklyn A’s Williamsburg attorneys in representing tenants associations struggling against voracious slumlords leading to the take over and ultimate conversion, with the City’s support, of scores of deteriorated buildings into decent affordable low-income tenant co-ops. Brooklyn A continues to partner with Los Sures to this day.
  • Approached by Father John Powis, then pastor of Our Lady of Presentation Church in Brownsville, Brooklyn A attorney Ron Parker incorporates the Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association (OHBTA) which later became the largest producer of affordable housing in Brownsville during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

1974

  • Paul Acinapura joins the Brownsville office and, along with staff member Ron Parker, works with Brooklyn A’s first CED client, Brownsville Child Development Corporation.

1976

  • East New York and Brownsville offices merge into new East Brooklyn office located at 80 Jamaica Avenue with Ira Bezoza as founding Managing Attorney.
  • Maria Posner, current Office Manager, joins Brooklyn A.
  • Marty Needelman and PRLDEF attorneys Herb Teitlebaum and Rich Hiller represent Williamsburg Fair Housing Committee against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in a landmark case successfully challenging absolute mathematical racial quotas providing for 75% white residents at the expense of non-whites who made up over 90% of NYCHA waiting lists in over 1000 South Williamsburg public housing apartments.

1979

  • Paul Acinapura, then President of the staff union, leads a 13 week city-wide strike of Community Action Legal Services employees (now Legal Services-NYC).

 

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