In Memoriam: Nancy E. LeBlanc

We are saddened to note that Nancy E. LeBlanc died September 15, 2014.   Ms. LeBlanc was one of the founders of the Public Utility Law Project of New York, and she served in various roles as Chair, officer and member of the Utility Project Board of Directors. A graduate of Mills College, a Fulbright Scholar in India, and a Yale Law School graduate, Ms. LeBlanc was admitted to the bar in New York in 1958.  From 1963 to 1978 Ms. LeBlanc was Associate Director and later the Director of MFY Legal Services in New York City, one of the first community-based law offices for the poor.  See Herbert Mitgang, The Storefront Lawyer Helps the Poor, NY Times Nov. 10, 1968:

“Jobs, housing, education — these are recognized as the major problems of the sixth of the nation that lives in poverty.  But a fourth — equality before the law — is seldom mentioned . . . .  Yet a new generation of young attorneys shunning the blandishments of Wall Street firms, is proving that access to legal rights can help the poor to obtain the other basic rights . . . .  Miss LeBlanc (Mills Cpllege, Yale Law) has become one of the country’s leading authorities on housing law…. Of Miss LeBlanc, whose . . . handbook on on landlord-tenant law is widely used . . . . one of the Civil Court judges who would prefer more timid attorneys for the poor told his clerk, ‘If you see her coming, duck‘”

She represented public housing tenants in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case securing constitutionally required notice and due process hearings on administrative decisions to evict tenants, in Escalera v. New York City Housing Authority.  Also see, Use of Arrest Data to Evict Scored. NY Times, August 3, 1973:

“The New York City Housing Authority has evicted tenants and denied apartments to persons solely on the basis of an arrest record, even when the person was not convicted, a lawyer charged today. Nancy E. LeBlanc, associate director for M.F.Y. Legal Services, Inc., told a House judiciary subcommittee ….  Such use of arrest records is an evil and vicious practice which should be prohibited by law,” Miss LeBlanc said.”

Nancy Leblanc later relocated to Upper Jay in New York’s  North Country and became the founding Director of North Country Legal Services, which later merged with the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.  Nancy maintained an active law practice in Upper Jay, NY until her death at age 81. She was an active member and former President of the Essex County Bar Association.

Admired by clients, colleagues and judges throughout her brilliant career in law, her husband, Scott Avery, her family and those whose lives she touched will remember her true grit, wisdom, and indomitable spirit at a Memorial service at Whiteface Community Church, Wilmington, NY, 11 AM Saturday, September 27. Gifts to Essex County Bar Association Scholarship Fund are gratefully accepted.

Gerald Norlander, Executive Director

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