Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest

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Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest
LS logo rgb 500.png
HeadquartersRoseland, New Jersey
No. of offices5
No. of attorneys3
Major practice areasImmigration, housing, criminal and juvenile justice, civil rights, domestic violence prevention, nonprofit representation, assistance to under-resourced entrepreneurs and inventors
Key peopleCatherine Weiss, Partner and Chair;[1] Natalie J. Kraner, Senior Public Interest Counsel;[2] Christina Holder, Public Interest Counsel[3]
Date founded2009[4]
Websitewww.lowenstein.com/pro-bono; www.lowensteinprobonoreport.com

The Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest was founded in 2009 to enable the law firm of Lowenstein Sandler LLP[5] to expand its commitment to public and community service by centralizing and focusing the firm’s pro bono efforts and deepening its partnerships with leading nonprofit and community organizations. Led by a career public interest lawyer, Catherine Weiss,[6] the center staff work to foster and support pro bono efforts in each of the firm’s offices.

The center directs the firm’s pro bono program and other forms of civic and philanthropic engagement. It addresses significant social problems and offers assistance to low-income and other marginalized people, along with the organizations that advocate for and support them. This work draws on the knowledge and efforts of lawyers from across Lowenstein Sandler and enables the center to perform high-impact work for underserved individuals and communities.


When Alan Lowenstein and his partners established Lowenstein Sandler in 1961,[7] they provided in the original agreement that serving the community would be one of the pillars of the firm. In a 1989 letter to the partnership, Mr. Lowenstein reflected on the history and roots of the firm’s deep-seated commitment to pro bono legal service:

I determined as a young lawyer to seek intellectual satisfaction and challenge, as well as economic security, in my law practice, but also to devote as much as one-third of my time and energies to service to my community, to assistance to the poor and the under-privileged, and to the fulfillment of a truly democratic society, supporting the rights of all minorities. ...

I sought to build a law firm that would carry forward these goals, recognizing that the character of law practice was constantly changing, as were the needs of society. Our law firm … has been built by younger lawyers with similar dedication, joining in a common effort.

Lowenstein Sandler’s creation of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest reflects the evolution of its continuous effort to translate Alan Lowenstein’s vision into practice.

Center personnel[edit]

Catherine Weiss, Partner and Chair[8] A lifelong public interest lawyer, Catherine brings strategic focus to the firm's pro bono efforts and deepens its partnerships with leading nonprofit and community organizations across the country and within the firm's local communities.

Under Catherine's direction, the center has expanded on the firm's historic commitment to public service by building an award-winning program that serves hundreds of low-income individuals and the nonprofit organizations that support them. The firm has gained extensive pro bono experience in areas such as immigration, juvenile and criminal justice, and housing.

Catherine also maintains her own pro bono docket, focused on litigation and policy initiatives to advance the rights of the populations the center serves.

Read more ...[9]

Natalie J. Kraner, Senior Public Interest Counsel[10] In addition to helping run the pro bono program firmwide, Natalie maintains a substantive practice as a litigator, applying her extensive experience in complex and appellate litigation to achieve widespread law reform for low-income and other marginalized persons by challenging unjust and unlawful practices. She focuses in particular on juvenile and criminal justice.

Read more ...[11]

Christina Holder, Public Interest Counsel[12] Christina promotes the firm’s core values of generosity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit through impactful corporate pro bono projects. She has worked in both the law firm and civil legal services setting and has significant practice experience advising nonprofits, health care providers, and low-income individuals on a range of civil legal issues. At Lowenstein, her practice focuses on advising nonprofits and low-income entrepreneurs in transactional legal matters.

Read more ...[13]

Signature projects[edit]

Immigrant Children: In partnership with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND),[14] the firm represents unaccompanied immigrant children defending against deportation and seeking safe placement in the care of a responsible adult.

Asylum Seekers: The firm works with Human Rights First[15] to represent immigrants who fled persecution in their home countries to seek safety in the United States.


  • With Volunteer Lawyers for Justice[16] and Prudential,[17] the firm manages a monthly tenancy clinic at the Essex County Courthouse to provide legal advice to tenants facing imminent eviction.
  • The firm works with the Legal Aid Society of D.C.[18] to represent tenants in housing cases.
  • The firm works with the Children’s Law Center[19] to bring affirmative cases to correct dangerous housing conditions in homes where children have suffered serious health consequences because of infestations, mold, or similar problems.

Survivors of Domestic Violence: The firm works with Partners for Women and Justice,[20] Her Justice,[21] and The Rachel Coalition[22] to represent survivors of domestic violence seeking orders of protection to keep their abusers away from them, custody orders to keep their children with them, and orders of support to give them the financial means to remain independent.

Guardians and Conservators: The firm works with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County[23] to represent low-income adults seeking to become the legal guardians or conservators of children or adults with cognitive disabilities.

Veterans: The firm works with Community Hope[24] and Legal Services of Northwest Jersey,[25] to represent veterans seeking benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for service-related injuries and disabilities.

Individuals in Bankruptcy: In partnership with the City Bar Justice Center,[26] Volunteer Lawyers for Justice,[27] and Merck,[28] the firm represents low-income individuals seeking relief from unsustainable debts.

Transgender People: Together with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund,[29] the firm represents low-income transgender people who want to change their legal names.

Nonprofits: The firm works with the Pro Bono Partnership,[30] the Lawyers Alliance,[31] and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest[32] to provide corporate legal assistance and advice to nonprofit organizations that sustain and enrich our communities.

Low-Income Entrepreneurs: The firm works with Rising Tide Capital,[33] the NYU Law School Social Enterprise and Startup Law Group,[34] the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area,[35] and Start Small Think Big[36] to represent low-income entrepreneurs starting small businesses that serve as anchors and create jobs in under-resourced communities.

Low-Income Inventors: The firm works with California Lawyers for the Arts,[37] Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of NY,[38] and ProBoPat[39] to represent low-income inventors seeking patent protection for their inventions.

COVID-19 Relief:[40] The firm works with a wide range of nonprofit partners to provide legal assistance to health care providers, tenants, small businesses, nonprofits, artists, and many others most directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual Pro Bono Report[edit]

Each year, the firm publishes a Pro Bono Report[41], which provides an overview of the center’s efforts during the past year.

Briefs and research[edit]

The center provides access to research, briefs, and associated opinions that may be useful. This work does not represent the breadth of Lowenstein Sandler’s pro bono program. For a more comprehensive view, please see the center’s annual Pro Bono Reports.[42]

  • Children and Families[43]
  • Civil and Human Rights[44]
  • Criminal and Juvenile Justice[45]
  • Education[46]
  • Housing and Community Development[47]
  • Immigration[48]
  • Nonprofit Representation[49]
  • Pro Bono Innovation[50]
  • Voting Rights[51]

Media mentions about the center[edit]

In Slate,[52] Catherine Weiss[53] discusses the lack of information available to legal service providers and child advocates trying to obtain even basic facts surrounding the separation of immigrant children they represent.

Catherine Weiss[54] is quoted in Insider NJ[55] and Patch’s[56] coverage of the announcement[57] by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan of an Administrative Order[58] protecting access to hotels and motels for individuals without safe, permanent housing, such as homeless people or individuals affected by domestic violence.

Natalie J. Kraner[59] is featured in NJ Spotlight[60] and on NJTV News[61] in a segment about Governor Murphy’s Task Force for the Continued Transformation of Youth Justice in New Jersey, of which Kraner is an appointed member.

Catherine Weiss[62] comments in The Guardian[63] on the forcible separation of immigrant children from the adults who raised them when those adults are not the children’s biological parents or legal guardians.

Catherine Weiss[64] comments in Law360[65] on new guidance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that will make it more difficult for young people to obtain special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS).

View all pro bono media mentions.[66]

News releases from the center[edit]

Lowenstein Center for Public Interest Advocates for Better Access to PPP Funding for Nonprofits and Under-Resourced Small Businesses (April 22, 2020)[67]

Lowenstein Sandler Announces 2019 Pro Bono Report (April 16, 2020)[68]

New Jersey Passes Historic Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Aimed at Reducing Lengthy Incarceration Periods, Recidivism, and Racial Disparities Among New Jersey Youth (January 13, 2020)[69]

Lowenstein Files Amicus Brief to Stay Government’s Unlawful Removal of Juvenile With Specially Protected Status (December 6, 2019)[70]

Lowenstein Sandler’s Survey of State Charity Registration Requirements Helps Nonprofits Raise Funds Online and Nationwide (December 3, 2019)[71]

View all pro bono news items.[72]

Honors and awards[edit]

Los Angeles IP Law Association (2020) Benjamin Kimes – Recipient of the Pro Bono Patent Service Award for his significant work helping low-income inventors secure patents for their inventions[73]

Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (2020) Mark Heinzelmann – Recognized as March 2020 Volunteer of the Month for his contributions to the Tenancy Clinic[74]

Make the Road New Jersey (2019) Recipient of the Dignity and Respect Award in recognition of the firm’s class action to preserve Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for older youth[75]

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (2019) Recipient of Firm of the Year award for the firm's work to clear low-level criminal records for pro bono clients[76]

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (2019) Recipient of Pro Bono Partner of the Year Award for the firm's work launching and sustaining the Name Change Project in New Jersey[77]

Legal Services of New Jersey (2019) Recipient of the Equal Justice Medal in recognition of the firm’s collaboration with Legal Services of Northwest Jersey in representing veterans in disability matters[78]

New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service (2019) Recipient of Corporate Leadership Award for the center’s commitment to providing free legal services to vulnerable populations[79]

United States Patent and Trademark Office (2019-2020) Recipient of Law Firm Pro Bono Achievement Certificate for the firm's and our registered patent practitioners' accomplishments in patent pro bono service[80][81]

Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (2019) Denise Panzer - Recognized as March 2019 Volunteer of the Month for her contributions to the Tenancy Clinic[82]

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (2019) Recipient of Legal Leadership Award for the firm's work to prevent the deportation of Indonesian Christians facing religious persecution[83][84]

HANDS, Inc. (2018) Recipient of the Community Leadership Award in recognition of the firm’s demonstrated commitment to assisting HANDS' efforts to revitalize neighborhoods that sustain an equitable balance of business, education, arts and culture, and recreation[85]

National Law Journal (2018) Catherine Weiss – Recipient of the Immigration Trailblazer Award for her significant impact on pro bono practice, policy, and strategy in the immigration field[86][87]

View all pro bono honors and awards.[88]


  1. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  2. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/natalie-kraner
  3. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/christina-holder
  4. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono
  5. https://www.lowenstein.com/
  6. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  7. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/about-center
  8. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  9. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  10. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/natalie-kraner
  11. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/natalie-kraner
  12. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/christina-holder
  13. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/christina-holder
  14. https://supportkind.org/
  15. http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/
  16. http://www.vljnj.org/
  17. https://www.prudential.com/
  18. http://www.legalaiddc.org/housing-law/
  19. http://www.childrenslawcenter.org/
  20. http://www.pfwj.org/
  21. http://www.herjustice.org/
  22. http://www.jfsmetrowest.org/services/for-parents-children-and-adolescents/rachel-coalition-domestic-violence-services
  23. http://www.legalaidsmc.org/pro-bono.html
  24. https://www.communityhope-nj.org/veterans-programs-hope-for-veterans-home.php
  25. http://lsnwj.org/
  26. http://www.citybarjusticecenter.org/projects/consumer-bankruptcy-project/
  27. http://www.vljnj.org/bankruptcy-chapter-7
  28. https://www.merck.com/
  29. http://tldef.org/
  30. http://www.probonopartner.org/
  31. http://www.lawyersalliance.org/
  32. http://www.nylpi.org/pro-bono-clearinghouse/
  33. https://www.risingtidecapital.org/
  34. http://www.law.nyu.edu/studentorganizations/social-enterprise-startup-law
  35. http://www.lccr.com/get-help/economic-justice-legal-services-for-entrepreneurs-lse/
  36. https://www.startsmallthinkbig.org/
  37. http://www.calawyersforthearts.org/
  38. http://vlany.org/
  39. http://www.micasaresourcecenter.org/business-development/pro-bono-patent-program/
  40. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/covid-19-response
  41. https://www.lowensteinprobonoreport.com/
  42. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-reports
  43. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/children-and-families
  44. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/civil-and-human-rights
  45. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/criminal-and-juvenile-justice
  46. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/education
  47. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/housing-and-community-development
  48. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/immigration
  49. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/nonprofit-representation
  50. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/pro-bono-innovation
  51. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-briefs/voting-rights
  52. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/family-separation-salvador-rosita.html
  53. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  54. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  55. https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/governor-murphy-superintendent-callahan-announce-protections-individuals-without-permanent-housing/
  56. https://patch.com/new-jersey/mendham-chester/nj-residents-sans-permanent-housing-get-coronavirus-protections
  57. https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200424d.shtml
  58. http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20200424/b7/cb/1b/ce/b43a111240a42d0194ce7531/AO_2020-9.PDF
  59. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/natalie-kraner
  60. https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/01/task-force-gets-public-input-on-reform-of-njs-juvenile-justice-system/
  61. https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/task-force-hears-from-public-on-reform-of-njs-juvenile-justice-system/#utm_source=NJTVNews&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=Hill&utm_term=JuvenileJustice&utm_content=1
  62. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  63. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/25/family-separation-trump-immigration-nonparents
  64. https://www.lowenstein.com/people/attorneys/catherine-weiss
  65. https://www.law360.com/publicpolicy/articles/1209419?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=section
  66. https://www.lowenstein.com/news-insights/in-the-media?page=1&pageSize=828&practice=pro-bono&sector=&author=&start=&end=
  67. https://www.lowenstein.com/news-insights/firm-news/lowenstein-center-for-public-interest-advocates-for-better-access-to-ppp-funding-for-nonprofits-and-under-resourced-small-businesses-weiss
  68. https://www.lowenstein.com/news-insights/firm-news/lowenstein-sandler-announces-2019-pro-bono-report-weiss-kraner-holder
  69. https://www.lowenstein.com/news-insights/firm-news/new-jersey-passes-historic-juvenile-justice-reform-bill-aimed-at-reducing-lengthy-incarceration-periods-recidivism-and-racial-disparities-among-new-jersey-youth
  70. "Lowenstein Sandler's Survey of State Charity Registration Requirements Helps Nonprofits Raise Funds Online and Nationwide (McDonald, Weiss) | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  71. "Lowenstein Sandler's Survey of State Charity Registration Requirements Helps Nonprofits Raise Funds Online and Nationwide (McDonald, Weiss) | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  72. https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/pro-bono-news
  73. "California Lawyers for the Arts - Home".
  74. "March 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Mark Heinzelmann".
  75. "Pro bono Awards | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  76. "Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto Annual Gala and Fundraiser 2019 | Community Legal Services".
  77. "Lowenstein Sandler Named Pro Bono Partner of the Year by Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  78. "LSNJ - Equal Justice Awards Recipients".
  79. "New Jersey State Governor's Jefferon Award".
  80. "USPTO announces recipients of the 2019 Patent Pro Bono Achievement Certificate".
  81. "Law firm or corporate achievement certificate recipients".
  82. "March 2019 Volunteer of the Month: Denise Panzer".
  83. https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/9513/1540/4575/1007101stq2010.pdf
  84. https://www.lowenstein.com/news-insights/firm-news/aclu-nj-bestows-legal-leadership-award-on-lowenstein-sandler-for-advocacy-to-prevent-deportation-of-indonesian-christians-facing-religious-persecution
  85. "Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest Receives a HANDS 2018 Community Leadership Award | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  86. "2018 National Law Journal Immigration Trailblazers".
  87. "Catherine Weiss Named a National Law Journal Immigration Trailblazer (Weiss) | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".
  88. "Pro bono Awards | Lowenstein Sandler LLP".

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