Leader Profile: Natalia Bianco, Touro Law Student

A second-year law student at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in New York wants her work to be meaningful. Natalia Bianco spent her summer working for the law school’s free COVID-19 legal assistance hotline.  

“Given all that was going on with the pandemic, I did not want my summer employment experience to be meaningless,” Bianco said. 

Since Bianco is still a law student, she couldn’t give legal advice to callers. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t get them help or answers to their questions. 

“My role was as a liaison to put callers in touch with the right resources and legal experts who can assist them with their specific issues,” Bianco said.

Bianco previously interned in Touro’s [William Randolph Hearst] Public Advocacy Center (PAC) with the Latino Justice office so she reached out to Touro Law’s Public Interest Director, Tom Maligno, for additional summer opportunities. Maligno mentioned the free helpline that the school had established to help the community during the pandemic and Bianco said she knew it was her perfect opportunity. 

“I already had a full time offer at a law firm so planned on working with the helpline shorter term,” Bianco said. “After a month of volunteering, I decided to continue my work with the hotline throughout the summer in addition to my full-time job at the law firm.”

Callers commonly called in regard to landlord and tenant issues. Bianco said many tenants were worried about eviction and how they can make ends meet with rent. Callers asked questions about staying in their apartments if rent was increased and asked general questions on eviction laws. 

Bianco is from Puerto Rico and moved to Long Island in 2018. She struggled to adjust to the culture change until she started helping people, just like she did back home. 

“I always loved helping people in my hometown, this was how I found happiness and comfort in a new place. Giving back to others will always play an essential role in my life,” Bianco said.  “Lawyers need to give back to the community and that was one of the reasons I chose this profession.”

Bianco says when she graduates from Touro Law next year, in 2021, she wants to sharpen her trial advocacy skills. 

“Since I started law school, I knew I wanted to be in the courtroom trying cases and advocating for my client,” Bianco said. 

She says she gained invaluable experience while working at the COVID-19 legal assistance hotline. 

“I had the opportunity to learn how to communicate with people and the community, as well as understand some of the greatest needs the community has. Because I want to work in the public interest sector, I think it is important to understand and know the needs of the community you seek to serve. 

Touro Law has always been committed to serving the needs of nearby communities. Based in Central Islip, Long Island, it strongly emphasizes being positive community partners to the local community and Long Island as a whole. When the COVID-19 global pandemic hit, this was no exception. Touro quickly established this hotline, connected with local non-profits and engaged faculty and staff to be able to help Long Islanders in need.

“Even after the pandemic ends, the community's needs will not,” Bianco said. “They know there’s a number they can call and people on the other end that will listen to their needs and not ignore them. The hotline is vital to the community and helps people better themselves and find alternatives to their problems.”

Bianco says in order to be a quality lawyer, she needs to be able to empathize with her clients and also be able to speak effectively with them.  

“Lawyers need practical experience understanding how to retrieve information from people, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to learn this skill outside the classroom,” Bianco said. 

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