Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
CONNECTING NEW YORKERS TO LEGALSERVICES
Fast fact: Hoffman holds a J.D. from St. John's School of Law
Joshua Hoffman, a St. John’s University School of Law graduate, directed finance and administration for the legal assistance nonprofit for six years before taking on a role that has him “wearing many, many hats,” such as creating budgets, drafting proposals, sending reports to funders and managing human resources.
NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?
JH: During college I interned at Legal Services, and from there I knew I wanted to go to law school. During law school, I interned again as a law student at Legal Services and I was very involved in the public interns committee at my law school, where we would raise money for law students to get scholarships to be able to work at Legal Services during the summer. I’ve pretty much been committed to free legal services for low-income people since college.
NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF.
JH: In 2012, my board of directors voted unanimously to disassociate from Legal Services NYC. I spent about a year working with accountants and staff at Legal Services NYC, because pretty much it was two organizations getting divorced. We went from a $4 million organization down to a $1 million organization by disassociating and we had to build back up. We committed to do that, and three years later we’re over a $6 million budget. I don’t take full credit for it, but I was part of the team that did that.
NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?
JH: The challenge that we face is that the people who qualify for affordable housing are people who are making money. And the people who are not making enough money, they’re not even qualifying for it because they can’t afford it. When they don’t have adequate housing and they’re being pushed out, or they can’t pay their rent, or they end up in a homeless shelter, that’s when everything starts to fall apart.
NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?
JH: I would like to be sure that every New Yorker who needs legal help gets it. In most legal situations, if you don’t have a lawyer, you don’t stand a chance, and it’s just because there’s so many technicalities and so many rules that no one’s ever taught unless you go to law school and become trained as a lawyer.
NYN: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
JH: Funders tend to want to only fund programs directly, so it’s up to an organization to raise unrestricted funds, which is just generally going out asking people for donations In order to staff their back office adequately. I think it would be good if funders – both government and nongovernment – understood the need for back office staff to make a nonprofit run efficiently. If they would invest in that, they would end up saving money because the more efficient the nonprofit can be running itself, the less money it’s going to need.