Family Court Lawyers Flee Low-Paying Jobs. Parents and Children Suffer. – The New York Times

by | Apr 29, 2022 | Jobs

New York’s panel attorneys have not received a raise since 2004, when their hourly rates were set at $75 for felonies and family court matters, and $60 for misdemeanors. Even if those sums had simply risen with inflation, they would be about $114 and $93 per hour.Panel attorneys in South Dakota, where the cost of living is half what it is New York, are paid $101 per hour.Because these attorneys are independent contractors, unaffiliated with organizations like the Legal Aid Society or Bronx Defenders, they have to pay for their own health care, office spaces and other expenses, further driving down their effective salaries.As a result, there are fewer lawyers willing to work these high-stress, high-stakes jobs.Cynthia Godsoe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who previously worked in family court, said that the failure to raise the rates reflected the fundamental indifference of New York City political authorities to the lives of the most vulnerable.“Family court, where these court cases happen, is a poor people’s court, by definition,” she said. “Not paying these attorneys remotely close to what they need to be able to do a good job, reflects either ignorance about or disdain for those people’s fundamental rights as parents and their lives as families.”Over the past six years in Manhattan alone, the number of panel attorneys available t …

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