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Greenberg Traurig Albany Team Works Pro Bono to Draft, Help Pass Bill Allowing Migrant Parents to Designate a Standby Guardian for their Children

ALBANY – June 27, 2018 – A team from the Albany office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, working pro bono with LegalHealth, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), helped draft and lobby for the legislation signed into law today to allow parents who are at risk of detainment or deportation based on immigration status to designate a standby guardian to care for their children in the event the parent is detained or deported.  

Until today, the New York Surrogate's Court Procedure Act (S.C.P.A.) § 1726 limited the ability of parents to appoint or designate a Standby Guardian to seriously ill individuals. It was first passed in


1992 by the New York State Legislature at the height of the AIDS crisis to help sick parents plan for their children’s futures and initiate the immediate transfer of temporary guardianship powers to someone the parent trusts, until a more permanent arrangement and hearing could be put in place, according to NYLAG. This amendment broadens S.C.P.A. § 1726 to expand to immigrant parents who similarly face the possibility of separation from their families. 

“We started work on this project in the spring of last year, drafting legislation (S. 6217-A, A. 7899-A), convincing legislators in the Senate and Assembly to sponsor the bill, and achieving introduction of the bill,” Mark F. Glaser, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Albany office, said. “Although we did not achieve passage last year, after a huge lobbying effort by our team at GT Albany, we were able to obtain passage of the bill last Wednesday, the last night of the legislative session this year.”  

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill today.

Bill signing for the Standby Guardian Bill at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Andrew Cuomo, GT Albany Shareholder Lynelle Bosworth, GT Client Randye Retkin, Esq. Director, LegalHealth, Kathy Hochul, along with many supporters and advocates of the bill.

Bill signing for the Standby Guardian Bill at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Andrew Cuomo, GT Albany Shareholder Lynelle Bosworth, GT Client Randye Retkin, Esq. Director, LegalHealth, Kathy Hochul, along with many supporters and advocates of the bill.

“This law will have a direct and meaningful impact on the immigrant community; especially given the news involving the children of immigrants. Without the tool created by this legislation, these children are likely to end up in foster care, or worse. New York should be very proud of this accomplishment,” Lynelle K. Bosworth, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Albany office, said. 

“I cannot thank Mark Glaser and Lynelle Bosworth enough for their pro bono assistance on the Standby Guardianship law that recently passed the State Legislature. Working with them was truly a professional highlight. Their knowledge, patience, and tenacity was unparalleled. They guided us every step of the way, from drafting to advocacy. But they became more than counsel, they became true partners, who cared and understood the importance of this work as much as we did. Because of them and Greenberg Traurig immigrant parents now have a humane tool to make future care and custody plans for their children, plans that no parent should have to make,” Randye Retkin, Esq., Director, LegalHealth, New York Legal Assistance Group, said.   

“Greenberg Traurig is committed to protecting children’s rights in any situation and we are proud to be part of this effort on many fronts,” Caroline J. Heller, chair of the firm’s Global Pro-Bono Program, said. 

Greenberg Traurig is also participating in an effort by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) to bring together pro bono leaders from several New York law firms along with attorneys around the state to address the legal needs of migrant children who have been separated from family members after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, the firm is participating in Project Corazon created by The Lawyers for Good Government Foundation in partnership with a national coalition of top law firms and nonprofit immigration services providers. Project Corazon is designed to help reunite children taken from their parents under the current immigration policy.   

Founded in 1990, NYLAG provides high quality, free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford attorneys. NYLAG assists immigrants, victims of domestic violence, children, the elderly, and chronically ill and disabled patients with a wide range of legal issues. NYLAG’s LegalHealth division focuses its practice mainly on assisting ill and disabled patients through its legal clinics in more than 25 hospitals across the city. LegalHealth frequently assists parents in naming Standby Guardians for their children.


Governor Cuomo's office issues a press release on the new bill. It can be found here: Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Increase Protections for Immigrant Children in New York State.

Greenberg Traurig’s New York Government Law & Policy Practice: Greenberg Traurig’s New York Government Law & Policy Practice, based in New York City and Albany, is one of the leading government relations teams in both the City and the State. Since the team’s inception in 1995, they have been consistently ranked among the top lobbying practices in New York City by the City Clerk’s Office and among the Top 5 law firm lobbying practices in New York State by the Commission on Public Integrity. 

About Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono Program: Greenberg Traurig lawyers across the firm’s offices provide pro bono legal services to the indigent and working poor, as well as to numerous civic and charitable organizations dedicated to assisting them. The firm focuses its resources on specialized and interrelated issues including civil rights and affirmative action, anti-human trafficking, family law matters, criminal appeals, immigration and political asylum, housing, and homelessness.

About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, was named the largest firm in the U.S. by Law360 in 2017, and is among the Top 20 on the 2017 Am Law Global 100. Web: Twitter: @GT_Law.