Empire Justice Center

A nonprofit organization

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$2,000 Goal

Empire Justice Center is a statewide civil legal services organization that focuses on areas of law affecting low-income and marginalized New Yorkers. We use a 360-degree approach to address the root causes of injustice affecting our clients, using a blend of direct representation, legal training and support services, and systems change advocacy.

Empire Justice Center is committed to fighting day-to-day and systemic discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQ) people around New York State. Empire Justice LGBTQ Rights Project uses a powerful, 360-degree approach to justice to create foundational changes and lasting impacts.  

We are known for our ability to identify critical issues, develop and implement creative solutions and monitor on-going results.  We teach the law by providing training, support and technical assistance to legal services and other community-based organizations to strengthen their work; we practice the law by providing direct legal assistance and undertaking impact litigation; and we change the law by engaging in policy analysis, research and advocacy.

Empire Justice provides this range of legal assistance to clients from its offices in Rochester, Albany, Westchester and Central Islip. 

Our LGBTQ Rights Project

LGBTQ people deserve and are entitled to live full, equal and authentic lives. However, discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity remains pervasive across the country and in New York State. This is why Empire Justice has an LGBTQ Rights Project, dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community.

We teach the law:

Empire Justice has provided LGBTQ-related training and technical assistance for advocates across NYS in the following subject areas: 

  • The new Gender Recognition Act (including name changes, sex designation updates, identity document updates) to both advocates and community members
  • Welcoming and respectful representation of LGBTQ child clients in Family Court for Attorneys for the Child court appointed to represent in NY’s 3rd and 4th Appellate Division
  • Representing trans youth in Family Court for Attorneys for the Child court appointed to represent in NY’s 3rd and 4th Appellate Division
  • Supporting LGBTQ Older Adults 
  • What is LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and How to Address It
  • Challenges of being an LGBTQ-identified attorney serving the LGBTQ community
  • Cross-border legal issues impacting LGBTQ people
  • Respecting and recognizing legal issues facing polyamorous families
  • Technology-facilitated abuse and LGBTQ survivors
  • The impact of COVID on LGBTQ people who are DV survivors  
  • Moderated discussions during our quarterly meetings on topics including: criminal justice-involved LGBTQ survivors, legislative and case law updates, Extreme Risk Protection orders, multi-parent headed households and parentage    

We practice the law

Our LGBTQ rights project provides free legal services to low income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer clients in the Capital Region of New York State, with a focus on anti-discrimination in employment, education, housing, credit and public accommodations. This unit has created a pro se guide to walk transgender residents of the Capital Region in New York through the legal and administrative steps to change name changes, and gender marker on identity documents.  

Since the start of the pandemic, Empire Justice's LGBTQ Rights Project has asserted the civil rights of more than 70 LGBTQ community members, and assisted with 43 name and gender identity marker changes. 

We change the law

Empire Justice's LGBTQ Rights Project has been involved in research and advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Most recently, as part of implementation of the Gender Recognition Act passed last year, New Yorkers can now get gender marker "X" on their licenses. This is a huge victory for all New Yorkers, and Empire Justice is proud to have advocated for such an important change. 

Your support of Empire Justice means that we can do more to serve the LGBTQ community across New York State, and continue our mission to "make the law work for all New Yorkers, especially for those who need its protections the most." Thank you for participating in Give OUT Day, and supporting Empire Justice Center. 

Organization Data


Organization name

Empire Justice Center

Tax id (EIN)



1 W Main St Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14614