Legal Services NYC (LSNYC) announced the appointment of the new project director of Queens Legal Services (QLS) last month.
Michelle Burrell joined the team at the end of January, following more than a decade of providing legal representation for vulnerable children and families across the city. At QLS, Burrell will continue that work for the organization, which provides high-quality, free civil legal services to thousands of low-income borough residents each year.
“It is an honor to return to Legal Services NYC, where I began my legal career,” Burrell said. “Joining Queens Legal Services, which serves the most ethnically diverse urban community in the country through an array of civil legal services, is an incredible opportunity to both champion the amazing individuals who provide support and advocacy to the borough’s most vulnerable populations and to work to dismantle the interlocking systems of oppression that impact our neighbors and friends.”
As the project director, Burrell will help to lead and oversee the daily operations and activities of QLS including helping families to fight evictions and maintain affordable housing, fight predatory deed thefts, avoid deportation, maintain income and access to fair wages, secure benefits and food security and protect the rights of vulnerable groups including LGBTQ communities, survivors of domestic violence and communities of color.
“For over a decade, Michelle has dedicated her career to protecting New York City’s most vulnerable children and families, and we are beyond thrilled to have her lead Queens Legal Services,” said Raun Rasmussen, executive director of LSNYC. “Michelle’s work for the communities she serves is driven by a deep sense of justice, from empowering survivors of domestic violence with legal protections to stay safe to leveling the playing field for low-income parents fighting to keep their families together. Michelle’s legal expertise and approach to leadership are impressive, and we are excited to welcome her vision of racial and economic justice to Queens Legal Services.”
In 2008, Burrell began her career as a staff attorney at LSNYC’s Brooklyn Family Defense Practice. She then became a staff attorney in the matrimonial & family law unit at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) where she was responsible for representing clients in matrimonial, custody, visitation and family offense cases.
Burrell then spent over five and a half years at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS) where she served as the managing attorney of the family defense practice. In that role, Burrell managed a staff of attorneys, social workers, parents advocates and paralegals who provided legal representation to “indigent parents and family caregivers” accused of abuse and neglect in Harlem.
She earned degrees from the University of Ottawa and CUNY School of Law and was a member of both the Black Law Students Association and the Law Review.
“In Michelle, we believe we have found the right person to lead Queens Legal Services to new heights, said Mark A. Robertson, board chair of Queens Legal Services and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. “We welcome her and look forward to working with her to continue providing high-quality legal services to Queens residents in need.”
For more information on QLS, visit legalservicesnyc.org/queens.