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Feerick Center for Social Justice

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Feerick Center Mourns the Passing of Fern Schair

The Feerick Center for Social Justice community mourns the passing of our beloved Advisory Board founding chair, Fern Schair. We extend our deepest condolences to her cherished family.

A very bright light has been extinguished but we are committed to honoring Fern’s memory and championing her causes, which are at the core of the Center’s work.

Fern was, first and foremost, a rare quiet crusader. She was deeply and passionately committed to improving the law as a profession and to enhancing access to justice for vulnerable people and those marginalized by society. Fern brought to life, reinvigorated, and transformed the many institutions to which she committed her professional life. She did so through her singular brilliance, discretion, patience, humor, tenacity, and a deep warmth.   

Fern’s accomplishments are extraordinary in scope and impact. We highlight below several that stood out over the course of her life in the law: 

  • She began her career as a civil legal services attorney and advocated to keep people in their homes;
  • She led efforts to improve the courts at the Fund for Modern Courts;
  • She served as the first woman Chief Administrative Office of the New York City Bar and was the first woman to receive its highest honor, the President’s Medal;
  • She co-founded the Children’s Law Center, along with Judge Carol Sherman, helping to create a national model for representing children involved with the child welfare system;
  • She served as chair of Legal Services NYC, the nation’s largest federally-funded civil legal services organization in the country;
  • She co-chaired New York’s Committee of Women in the Courts--along with Judge Betty Ellerin--which put out groundbreaking recommendations for advancing gender equity;
  • She was a most passionate advocate for language access and worked closely with court partners to push for necessary reforms; and
  • She co-led pioneering work, along with Roger Maldonado, to establish a court-sponsored program that leveraged non-lawyers to improve access to justice for unrepresented people.

We could not have been more fortunate to have Fern at the heart of all that we did even before the Center’s launch. As founding chair of the Feerick Center’s Advisory Board her devotion of time, wisdom, and expertise was boundless. So much of what the Center accomplished and became can be attributed to Fern and her unwavering commitment to our work and mission. We are especially grateful to her for her dedication to senior lawyer pro bono through the New York State Attorney Emeritus Program.

Fern promoted and believed deeply in what was most honorable about the legal profession, including defending the rule of law and service to society through pro bono work. The world is truly a better place because of Fern. Those who had the honor, great fortune, privilege and joy to work with her are all enriched by what she modeled every day. 

She will be missed without measure as a humanitarian, leader in the profession, court reformer, mentor, role model, and friend.

John D. Feerick                 
Founder & Senior Counsel    

Elizabeth B. Cooper
Faculty Director 

Dora Galacatos
Executive Director


AmeriCorps VISTA

We Have Opportunities for You!

In the AmeriCorps VISTA program, you have a chance to serve in the community by working on a social justice  project. You will work alongside community leaders and local organizations to make a lasting impact. This is a wonderful opportunity for a person passionate about economic equity and access to justice and interested in pursuing a public interest career. AmeriCorps VISTA members commit to a one-year, full-time term of service. In exchange, you will receive a modest living allowance, a $6,495 education award (to put towards education expenses such as student loans or future tuition expenses), health coverage, and many other benefits. 

Service terms begin as of January 2023.

Open position: 
Veterans Rights Project Coordinator: The Feerick Center Veterans Rights Project Coordinator will recruit, train, and support volunteer attorneys and law students to provide legal information to low-income veterans at colleges and with community partners throughout New York State. 

Visit to learn more about the program, benefits, and application process.
For more information, please contact Shannon Porter, 2022-2023 VISTA Leader at [email protected].

The Feerick Center is committed to recruiting and retaining a team from different cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, ages, genders, and abilities, especially team members from groups that have historically been underrepresented in professional workplaces.

Your loyal support sustains the Feerick Center for Social Justice's programs with law students, alumni and partners that serve New Yorkers in need. For additional information, please call 212-636-7747 or email [email protected].