Lawyers take to the road, offering free legal clinics throughout the Bronx

Mobile office
William Ricigliano, the founder of Ricigliano & Filopei, P.C., travels around the Bronx in their mobile office three days a week and provides free legal counsel to residents.
Photo courtesy RF Injury Law

A typical day for personal injury lawyer William Ricigliano had consisted of a normal commute to a brick-and-mortar law office on Brook Avenue and 138th Street in the Bronx. That is until the pandemic changed everything.

Ricigliano, founder and managing partner of Ricigliano & Filopei, P.C., along with a team of lawyers now travel throughout the borough via a sprinter bus offering free clinics three days a week at three locations.

The office space existed for nearly a decade. But as the years continued, the company’s clientele began to drop. Seeing fewer and fewer people, Ricigliano and others contemplated how to cast a wider net and become accessible to more people.

The idea became clear — to create a mobilized office. In 2021, the group scouted nearly 15 populated and busy locations throughout the Bronx and narrowed it down to three: Southern Boulevard, Park Avenue and Brook Avenue. After months of planning, the group took to the road.

The group travels three days a week, if weather permits, and engages with the community by opening up their doors for impromptu free legal clinics and cases revolving around their specialty, personal injury.

“It’s given us an opportunity to go into different communities in the Bronx,” Ricigliano said. “I met far more people than I did before. I think it’s helped to grow that bond with the Bronx and the people who live there.”

After launching his mobile law office, Ricigliano, who has been practicing law for 20 years in New York, said people struggled to grapple with the new concept. He added that the initial progress was slower than expected, but after a full year of operation, he noticed more people were understanding their work and utilizing their resources.

“There’s been a lot of people that have asked us about legal issues in areas that we don’t practice,” he said.

Immigration, criminal and family law and housing are some of the issues his clients faced. In the past 10 years, he said the group has helped a higher number of Hispanic clients, noting the importance of providing access to legal representation.

“We wanted to be able to be there accessible to anyone who might need us,” he said. “It’s always rewarding and fulfilling when someone from the neighborhood gives us a chance to represent them.”

William Ricigliano hands out toys to Bronx children during their annual Christmas toy drive. In an effort to build a connection with the community, Ricigliano’s law firm hosts back to school backpack giveaways, and turkey and toy drives during the holiday season. Photo courtesy RF Injury Law

Recalling previous client interactions, Ricigliano, 55, said the four lawyers in his office, some of whom are bilingual Spanish speakers, are always willing to connect an individual with a lawyer geared to their specific needs.

“We want to encourage people to come to us and ask us whatever question they may have,” he said. “If there’s a legal topic they want to discuss — we are encouraging them to do it.”

Before the creation of the mobile office, Ricigliano and a group of lawyers attempted to create a presence in the borough. They sought to develop relationships with the community through programs like a Christmas toy drive and a backpack giveaway during the opening of their office space several years ago. Years later, these events still occur and have grown.

“It’s been one of the best things that I’ve ever decided to do getting involved in the Bronx,” he said. “I like being the person to be able to help them. I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than having somebody trust you. I’m very grateful for having all these experiences.”

Reach Nicholas Hernandez at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes