Legal Aid Staff & Support

Executive Director

  • Alexander Bursztein

    Alex has served as the program’s Executive Director since 1985. During his tenure, the Legal Aid Society expanded its staff from four to twenty and its funding from a quarter to more than two million dollars.  During his twenty-six years at the Legal Aid Society, Alex has represented thousands of clients in housing (his area of expertise) and public entitlements cases.

    "As a child growing up in Eastern Europe I witnessed injustice, oppression and anti-Semitism resulting from the actions of the government and the entrenched power elite. There was no rule of law. I came to the United States in 1968. The rule of law is an American ideal and one of the cornerstones of our society. But it is an ideal that has meaning and vitality only when laws are applied equally to all, regardless of the litigants' economic and political power. I became a legal services lawyer to try to do my part, no matter how small, to ensure that the rights of the less powerful are protected in our courts. "


    Education:

    • JD – University of Michigan Law School (1977)
    • BA, Psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit

    Professional Organizations:

    • New York State Bar Association
    • Rockland County Bar Association
Children's Rights Division

  • Harvey A. Eilbaum, Deputy Director

    Harvey represents children in Family Court in Juvenile Delinquency, PINS (children in need of supervision), abuse and neglect, Family Treatment Court, custody and visitation, family offense and guardianship cases. He meets with children to ascertain their preferences, voice those preferences in court and tries to obtain an outcome consistent with their desires. In juvenile delinquency and PINS cases, he counsels children regarding their rights and strives to reach an outcome that they desire.

    "Children deserve to be heard in court. I speak for them. Their rights should be protected and I strive to achieve that goal."


    Education:

    • JD – Delaware Law School (admitted to NY in 1976)
    • BA, History – SUNY Fredonia, New York
    • Permanent teaching Certification – secondary school social studies

    Bar Admissions:

    • Rockland County
    • New York
  • Diana Grecequet, Paralegal
  • Helena Phillibert, Staff Attorney

    Education:

    • JD – New York University (2008)
    • AB, Politics – Princeton University (2003)

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York
  • Jacqueline Sands, Staff Attorney

    Jackie has been with the Children’s’ Rights Unit since 1990.

    Education:

    • JD – Columbia Law School

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York
  • Lauren Steil, Social Worker

    Lauren is a member of an interdisciplinary team who is dedicated to advocating for children and adolescents involved in Family Court.

    "Throughout my career, I have strived to be a empathetic and compassionate professional. Prior to joining the Children's Rights Division, I held various positions in clinical settings, working primarily with children, adolescents, and families."


    Education:

    • Licensed Master Level Social Worker – New York State
    • MSW, Social Work – Boston College
    • BA, Psychology – Seton Hall University
  • Christopher T. Widholm, Staff Attorney

    Chris represents children in abuse, neglect, custody, delinquency, PINS Family Offense, and termination of parental rights proceedings.

    "I love working with kids and have done so all of my adult life - there is no greater cause to which I would want to dedicate my time and energy."


    Education:

    • JD – SUNY Buffalo Law School, 1995
    • BA, Political Science – George Washington University, 1990

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York

    Awards:

    • Recipient of Distinguished Service Award from Rockland County
    • Certificate of Merit from the Town of Ramapo
    • Certificate of Merit from the Town Clarkstown
  • Veronica J. Young, Staff Attorney

    Education:

    • JD – Boston University

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York
Civil Division: Basic Needs

  • Jack Vega, Legal Advocate

    Jack represents individuals at Administrative Law Hearings who have been denied Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSD/SSI). Jack also assists low and moderate income individuals who have legal issues with the Social Security Administration.

    Education:

    • JD – University of Connecticut School of Law
    • BA, History – Fordham University
  • Mary Wallace, Legal Advocate

    Mary represents low income individuals and families who are impacted by determinations of the Department of Social Services reducing, eliminating or otherwise adversely affecting their benefits or potential benefits. She also represents those who have lost their employment and are being challenged by former employers or the Department of Labor about their rights to receive Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

    "Witnessing the devastating effects of poverty and loss of employment have been motivating forces for me. I find working toward eliminating and/ or at least reducing some of these effects to be very gratifying."


    Education:

    • JD – New York Law School, 1981
    • BA – Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY, 1969

    Professional Organizations:

    • Elected Trustee, Nyack School Board 1994- 2000
    • Volunteer, United States Peace Corps, 1969-1971
Civil Division: Housing

  • Aimee Pollak, Staff Attorney

    Aimee represents Rockland County homeowners facing foreclosure. She assists with the filing of pro se answers to complaints, attends settlement conferences and if necessary, opposes summary judgments, order of reference and judgment of foreclosure motions. She also brings affirmative cases and files administrative complaints on behalf of homeowners who have been harmed by the bad faith actions of their mortgage servicers and/or holders.

    Education:

    • JD – New York University School of Law, 1998
    • BA, Religious Studies – Yale University, 1994

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York
  • Derek S. Tarson, Staff Attorney

    Derek represents mortgage loan borrowers who are facing foreclosure, helping them to find ways to save their homes through loan modifications, legal defenses to foreclosure, and bankruptcy.  He also represents consumers facing wage executions or garnishments to help them avoid the challenges of seemingly insurmountable debt.  Prior to joining the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc. in 2010, Derek was a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP.

    Education:

    • JD – Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, NJ, 2004
    • BA, Mathematics – Colby College, Waterville, Maine, 1984

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York

    Professional Organizations:

    • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy
  • Jacqueline Grannum, Foreclosure Paralegal

    Jacqueline provides administrative support to staff attorneys in the Civil Division; her duties include preparing documents, filing papers at court and maintaining files.

    Education:

    • MS, Organizational Leadership – Nyack College, 2006
    • BS, Organizational Management – Nyack College, 2004
  • Susan Mills Richmond, Staff Attorney

    Susan represents clients who have HIV/AIDS in various kinds of legal representation, including eviction avoidance and housing rights, disability and social security benefits, public benefits and entitlement law, foreclosure defense, preparation of health care proxies, living wills and powers of attorney, and legal matters involving health, life and disability insurance.

    Susan also represents clients in the general population who are facing eviction. Prior to joining the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc. in 2016, among other things, Susan was in house Senior Counsel at ADP/ CDK Inc., had her own practice in Rockland County, was Senior Staff Attorney at Lexow, Berbit & Associates, was associated with Kaye, Scholer and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, and clerked for a Bankiruptcy Judge.

    Education:

    • JD With Distinction, Hofstra University School of Law, Managing Editor of the Hofstra Law Review
    • BA, Political Science and Spanish, SUNY at Stony Brook

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York, SDNY, EDNY, U.S. Supreme Court

    Related Legal Experience:

    • Certified as Impartial Hearing Officer, NY State Department of Education; Arbitrator and Mediator for American Arbitration Association, FINRA, and other groups.
  • Norma Nieves, Legal Assistant

    Norma provides assistance to staff attorneys in the Civil and the Children’s Rights Division; her duties include preparing documents, client intake, filing papers and maintaining client files.

    Education:

    • BA – State University of New York – College at Purchase, 1983
Civil Division: Special Projects

  • Angela G. McSweeney, Staff Attorney

    Angela represents women referred by the Rockland County Women’s Shelter who are victims of domestic violence and are seeking to file for divorce.

    "I decided I wanted to be an attorney because I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. I feel that working at the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County has given me that. I have dedicated myself to representing women who have been abused by their spouse. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you have helped someone, and perhaps brought them some level of security, happiness and relief at the solution of their legal problems."


    Education:

    • JD – Newark School of Law, Rutgers University, 2001
    • BA, Political Science – Rutgers University, 1993
    • Certificate Paralegal Studies – Fairleigh Dickerson University, 1993

    Bar Admissions:

    • New York
Support

  • Susan Amenta, Accountant

    Education:

    • BA – Manhattanville College
  • Alisa Cahn, Controller

    Education:

    • BS, Business & Economics – Lehigh University

     

    • Certified Public Accountant
    • Chartered Global Management Accountant
  • Laraine Marra, Office Manager

    Laraine has been with the Legal Aid Society for 25 years. Over the years Laraine has been a secretary, Office Manager, and the Paralegal for the Children’s Rights Division.

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