Since our founding in 1980, Touro Law Center has been committed to providing quality legal education that encourages students to examine the moral goals of the law while promoting social justice and community service. Touro Law is home to the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center (PAC) which makes an impact on our students, our school, and our community. A variety of public interest programs are offered weekly to provide exposure and hands-on training for students.


Touro Law Center is home to the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center. The only one of its kind in the nation, the Center was developed to have an impact on social justice, legal training, and the lives of countless individuals in and beyond the local community.

The PAC is housed in a new building on campus and has been reimagined with a focus on holistic community-centered access to justice, supporting the community by providing legal assistance, counseling, housing help, support for domestic violence and trafficking survivors, and reentry support, as well as connections to other access to justice initiatives.

Seven agencies are housed within the PAC, however there are more than 50 affiliate agencies associated with the PAC. These affiliate groups, although not housed in the PAC, work collaboratively and participate in extended meetings, frequently provide volunteer and internship opportunities to students in their work as public interest fellows, and are deeply committed to social justice and making a difference in our community.

In the PAC, Touro Law students work directly with clients, on advocacy and policy initiatives, and perform research, and writing. Students work with organizations to satisfy their pro bono requirements while developing an understanding of the issues facing the local community.

Cate Carbonaro, Director of the Public Advocacy Center  

Cate Carbonaro is the Director of the Public Advocacy Center and Public Interest and Adjunct Professor of Law. She oversees the activities of the PAC. In her capacity as the Director of Public Interest, Cate assists students in securing fellowships, internships, and jobs in the public interest legal field, as well as helps to create and connect students to pro bono initiatives across New York State. Cate serves as advisor to the Public Interest Law Organization of Touro (PILOT) and supervisor to Touro's Volunteer Income Tax Association (VITA). Cate is also an Adjunct Professor of Law. She created and teaches Poverty Law and Human Trafficking courses.


Volunteer Income Tax Association (VITA) at the Law Center! 

The VITA programs offers free tax help to people with low-to-moderate income, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, individuals who have limited English proficiency, and others who need assistance in preparing their tax returns. Student volunteers work throughout the entire tax filing season.

Name Change Project 

The Name Change Project is a collaboration between Touro Law Center's Fostering LGBTQIA+ Openness and Respect Alliance (FLORA) & ACLU student groups, the Public Advocacy Center, and Nassau Suffolk Legal Services (NSLS). Students help trans and gender non-conforming community members change their names.

Know Your Rights

Touro Law students in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Latino/a American Law Students Association (LALSA) created a "Know Your Rights" brochure in both English and Spanish for the nonprofit organizations Empire Justice Center and Housing Help Inc. The brochures provide information about mortgage fraud to combat schemes that prey on innocent victims, which has become prevalent in society recently. Students are presenting the information at local libraries to ensure residents are informed and knowledgeable.

Grant to Fund Summer Intern 

New Hour, a non-profit agency in the PAC that works to empower justice-impacted women and provide successful support for mothers and children, was awarded the Further Justice Accelerator Grant and, in turn, awarded a grant to Touro Law. The grant will provide a stipend for a Student Fellow to assist with legal work for 10 weeks each summer for two consecutive summers. Read more here.

Storytelling as a Tool for Action and Change

Touro Law Center, along with Herstory Writers Network, has developed a new semester-long pro bono internship project for law students to become part of a unique and powerful movement that uses a story-based strategy for change. Law student interns will be writing side-by-side with Family Court-involved young people from Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho’s Concept Court, an expansion of the youth incarceration-diversion program on Long Island. The law students will collaborate with the young people, mentoring and inspiring them to share their stories. Read more about the project here.

Joining Forces to Assist Child Victims 

The PAC joined the Suffolk County Multidisciplinary Team on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). Recognizing that collaboration between client-facing agencies would reduce duplication of services and expose areas where there were gaps in services, a team was assembled with the support of New York State Court of Claims and Acting Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. Additional members include attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County's Children’s Law Bureau, a Family Court and Attorney for the Child Panel Attorney, representatives from Suffolk County Department of Probation, and other local agencies. With the assistance of this taskforce, on May 1, 2024, the first CSEC Court in NYS will open in Suffolk County. The Court will seek to help children who are victims of sex trafficking on Long Island.


Work Permit Application Project

Touro Law hosted a Work Permit Application Project in November. The two-day project involved Touro Law students working with the non-profit PAC organization Sepa Mujer to help community members apply for work permits.

The urgency for timely immigration legal services for recently arrived migrants and asylum seekers has intensified in the past year. With a notable increase of new immigrant families and individuals seeking a better life in New York, pro bono service providers, already operating beyond capacity, struggle to address the pressing needs of this community. Clinics organized by institutions like Touro Law Center and SEPA Mujer, which capitalize on the skills and dedication of law school students, play a pivotal role in filling this critical gap. These clinics ensure that vulnerable immigrants receive prompt assistance to meet strict deadlines for applying for lawful immigration status and obtaining work permits. Consequently, they enable newcomers to establish financial stability, pursue educational and employment goals, and access essential services, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for those embarking on their journey in the state.

Poverty Simulation 

All incoming Touro Law students were invited to participate in a Poverty Simulation during the 2023 Day of Service and Public Interest at Orientation this year. The immersive Poverty Simulation, offered in partnership with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Committee, provides students with critical knowledge about interacting with clients and helping them develop problem-solving skills while learning to work collaboratively. Student participants were assigned to groups, with each group representing a low-income family unit. The roles of different government and community organizations that these “families” interacted with were played by faculty and staff from Touro Law Center. The program was a huge success and will be offered again as part of Orientation in the Fall 2024. Read more about the program here.

All Rise – Touro Law’s Court Observation Program 

Professor Lynne Kramer heads to court every Friday, like she has for many years, with a group of Touro Law students. She takes them to a courtroom, to meet with judges, talk with attorneys – many of whom were Kramer’s students and colleagues over the years – and give students a true look at what life is like as a legal professional on Long Island.

The unique program is a mandatory part of Touro Law’s first-year curriculum, getting students in the courtroom and learning from experience before many even draft their first brief as a class assignment. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a program change because courthouses were not open for visits. During that time, Professor Kramer conducted Zoom interviews with judges and attorneys, and court personnel recorded a courthouse tour for students. These videos were posted and became mandatory viewing assignments. With the pandemic behind us and courts open and operating normally again, students are back to in-person programming – much to the delight of students, professors, and court personnel alike. Read more.


If you are interested in learning more about the Public Advocacy Center or any of the Public Interest initiatives at Touro Law, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Cate Carbonaro, Director of the Public Advocacy Center at, (631) 761-7033.