Finding a Lawyer

Finding a Lawyer

You should know...

it is generally a good idea to have an experienced tenant lawyer representing you on important housing matters such as evictions. However, many tenants cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, and getting free legal representation can be different, even for those who qualify.

Below are some tips and referrals for New York City tenants seeking legal representation on housing matters.

Legal Disclaimer:

The information contained on this web page does not constitute legal advice and must not be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer qualified to give advice on legal issues pertaining to housing.

This information pertains only to tenants living in New York City.

Many of your rights depend on the type of housing you live in or your type of tenancy. You may be subject to different laws and have different sets of rights than even neighbors in your own building. Learn which rights and responsibilities apply to you.


What types of tenants are eligible for free legal representation in housing court?

You may be able to get help if:

  • An eviction case has been filed against you
  • You are low-income
  • A lawyer may be able to prevent you from being evicted from the apartment

You will probably not be able to get help if:

  • Your housing issue is not about an eviction (exceptions apply for some extreme repair issues)
  • Your landlord has not started an eviction case yet (falling behind in the rent, threats of eviction, and pre-eviction papers are not enough)


How can I hire a private lawyer for my housing issue?

In some cases, a good tenant lawyer will make all of the difference. Be advised that the law firms below represent tenants for a fee and do not give general advice over the phone.

Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph
Phone: 646-666-8496
Toll Free: 888-282-8431

Collins, Dobkin, & Miller LLP
(212) 587-2400

Grad & Weinraub, LLP

John D. Gorman

Bierman & Palitz, LLP
(212) 509-8664

Sokolski & Zekaria, P.C.

Jamie Fishman
(212) 897-5840

Peggy Collen
Alterman & Boop LLP
(212) 226-2800

George S. Locker
(212) 496-0593 

McAdams Law

Kenneth B. Hawco

William E. Leavitt

Susan Crumiller
(212) 390-8480 

The above list is of experienced lawyers and law firms who specialize exclusively in New York City tenant-landlord law, and who only represent tenants (never landlords).

When choosing a private lawyer, you may want to consider:

  • Does your lawyer represent only tenants, and never landlords? A lawyer who represents both tenants and lawyers may be knowledgeable about the court process, but there may be a conflict of interest. In most cases, housing lawyers will have many more landlord clients than tenant clients. Your own landlord may have hired the law firm in the past, and/or may do so again in the future. Also, the lawyer may be much more experienced in fighting for the interests of landlords and may be unfamiliar with many parts of the law that can benefit tenants. Met Council on Housing suggests that tenants find a lawyer who only represents tenants.
  • Does your lawyer specialize in New York City landlord-tenant law? Simply being a lawyer doesn't mean that you know New York City tenant-landlord law. NYC housing laws are extremely complex, and many people spend a career focusing entirely on this. A lawyer who does other types of law (immigration, divorce, criminal defense, etc) will not be as familiar all of the issues. Met Council on Housing suggests that tenants find a tenant lawyer who specializes in NYC housing matters.


Where can I go for free legal assistance?

Remember that obtaining a free lawyer for your housing issues is difficult. If you are unable to get a lawyer, make sure you prepare yourself best to defend yourself in court.

A good starting point in your search for free legal services is:


Citywide (or non-area specific):


Special categories:

YOUTH: The Door Legal Services Center  Serves people between the ages of 12 and 21 city-wide/

The Family Center - Caretakers who care for minor children due to parental illness, abense, or loss; Families with adolescents who are at-risk of out-of-home placement.

MEDICAL: The Family Center - Individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes; caretakers of children exposed to HIV.










Staten Island:


Why don't I have a right to a lawyer in housing court?

Unlike for defendents in criminal matters, the government does not provide free legal counsel to tenants facing eviction who cannot afford a lawyer. The right to free legal counsel for low-income people does not apply to civil cases the way it does for criminal cases.

In housing court, the vast majority of landlords have legal representation, and the majority tenants do not. Studies show that landlords hire lawyers for about 98% of the eviction cases they begin, while about 73% of tenants facing eviction do not. This puts tenants at a serious disadvantage, and results in many tenants being misled about their rights and taken advantage of by their landlords.

Met Council on Housing has long advocated for the right to legal representation for all tenants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Winning this will only come about through sustained organizing and advocacy.


Does Met Council on Housing offer legal represetation?

Met Council on Housing does not offer legal representation, accompany tenants to court, or give legal advice. We do have a number of tenant-assistance programs to educate tenants and inform them of their rights, including our Tenants' Rights Telephone Hotline, our Walk-In Clinic, and the Help & Answers section of this website. We do not have lawyers on staff. Our programs are fully staffed by volunteers from our membership base. Our model is of mutual aid: tenants helping tenants.


Help support the fight for safe, decent, affordable housing for all!