Information about Pilor
PILOR's Mission
The Public Interest Law Office of Rochester (PILOR) is a not-for-profit law firm providing high-quality, free civil legal services.  PILOR is committed to enhancing the economic conditions and protecting the civil rights of the low-income community of Greater Rochester through individual representation and systemic advocacy.

PILOR consists of three legal units:
  • General Law Unit
  • Community Reinvestment Unit
  • Disability Law Unit

The General Law Unit provides litigation in public education, fair housing, subsidized housing, fair credit, disability rights, employment and health care law, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy including the pension act in those areas.

The Community Reinvestment Unit provides representation with regard to enforcing banksí obligations to make capital fairly available for housing and economic development activities in the low-income community. This Unit also gathers and analyzes data regarding the predatory lending activities in the Rochester area and assists clients in saving their homes from foreclosure.

The Disability Law Unit provides representation and advocacy to individuals in Monroe County whose SSI or Social Security Disability benefits have been denied or discontinued. The Unit also administers PILORís Disability Advocacy Project and is the prime contractor for this state grant in Western New York.

Civil Rights  

PILOR advocates represent low-income clients that have been discriminated against in housing, public benefits, employment, lending and other areas because of race, gender, disability, family status or national origin.

ADA Enforcement

Advocates represent people with disabilities who have been unable to use places of public accommodation (stores, restaurants, doctors' offices) because of ADA violations.

Permanency Planning Project

Advocates assist HIV-infected parents and the family members of HIV-infected persons develop custody and permanency plans for their children.

Education

Special Education Advocacy Project

Advocates at PILOR are experts in special education law and have a long and proven track record in successfully representing students with disabilities. Their target population for the Special Education Advocacy Project (SEAP) is low-income children in Monroe County who are struggling in school due to their disabilities. PILOR advocates focus on children in grades K-12, primarily those enrolled in the Rochester City School District.  Advocates represent students with disabilities and their families throughout the special education process at the school level, the administrative level, and in federal court. Such cases fall into two broad categories:

1) eligibility for services, in which students seek to demonstrate that they qualify for educational supports in the first instance;

2) access to appropriate services and supports for students who have been found eligible, but are still lacking such services.

J.G. v. Board of Education

For twenty years, PILOR has served as class counsel in this ongoing case which has brought about significant reforms to the special education system in the Rochester City School District.

Such reforms include: increasing the speed with which students with disabilities receive access to special education; expanding opportunities for students with disabilities to be included in classrooms with their nondisabled peers; ensuring equal access by students with disabilities to the districtís magnet programs and extra-curricular programs; and requiring the District to take greater steps to ensure that students with disabilities achieve academic success.

Housing/Fair Lending

Fair Lending

PILOR staff has been working on equitable access to credit since 1994. PILOR, working in conjunction with a community wide coalition, the Greater Rochester Community Reinvestment Coalition (GRCRC), has been very successful in using a combination of data analysis and advocacy with area banks to ensure that they serve the needs of the low-income and minority communities.

Predatory Lending

Foreclosure Prevention Project

Through the Foreclosure Prevention Project, PILOR advocates provide legal services to income eligible area homeowners who have legal claims arising from the predatory practices of unscrupulous lenders. Advocates represent homeowners before they are in financial crisis, or when they are already in default or in foreclosure. In addition to the direct client representation, other components of the project include:

  • Partnership with Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) and pro bono lawyers
  • Referrals to credit and default counseling agencies
  • Referrals to local financial institutions to restructure the loan
  • Education and outreach through community based-organizations and direct mail.

  • Referrals from The Housing Council and other community agencies as a result of increased awareness through the City's Donít Borrow Trouble campaign

Rent-to-Own and Car Dealerships

PILOR advocates provide legal representation to clients who are residents of the Greater Rochester area and who have legal claims arising from the predatory practices of the rent-to-own and used car industries. 

 

Housing

With support form the City of Rochester, PILOR created and currently manages a community housing website. This site educates the community about housing issues and includes information on such topics as predatory lending, financial literacy, mortgages, and referrals.

 

SSI/Public Benefits

 

Advocates in PILOR's disability unit provide representation and advocacy to individuals in Monroe County whose SSI or Social Security Disability benefits have been denied or discontinued.