Amicus Effort Backs NAACP in Challenge to NY Rules Preventing Access to Justice in Debt Collection Cases

March.07.2022

An Orrick appellate team has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NAACP in support of a non-profit’s federal court challenge to New York rules that prevent non-lawyers from providing free legal advice to people facing debt collection lawsuits.

The pro bono effort sides with Upsolve, which earlier this year sued New York Attorney General Latitia James, arguing that applying the New York rules to its planned access to justice program for low-income New Yorkers violates the First Amendment. Our amicus arguments for the NAACP focus on the fact that the majority of defendants facing these debt collection actions lack legal assistance, resulting in onerous default judgments.

The brief supports Upsolve’s position that the state rules run afoul of the First Amendment and interfere with efforts to provide access for justice for those in need of legal assistance in debt collection actions.

“Moreover,” our embed brief states, “a disproportionate number of these defendants are people of color, rendering the access to justice gap particularly stark for communities of color. Debt collection actions thus exacerbate disparity in access to justice that the NAACP seeks to eliminate.”

The Orrick team is led by associates Sarah Sloan and Jodie Liu, and includes partner Danny Rubens. NAACP Empowerment Programs collaborated on the brief.