Richard M. LaFontaine

Recruitment Director

Tel (718) 254-0700 x124

Rick LaFontaine is a resident and native of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. After graduation from the Bronx High School of Science, he attended the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, where he received a B.A. in Economics.

After graduation from college, Mr. LaFontaine served for three years in the U.S. Peace Corps, two years as a Volunteer in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica and one year as a Recruitment Officer in the New York Regional Office. During his service in Costa Rica, Rick learned how to rope and brand cattle, saddle an uncooperative horse and grow lowland dry rice, skills not often found in native New Yorkers.

After his service in the Peace Corps, Mr. LaFontaine attended the Boston University School of Law. While there, he represented clients in Boston Municipal Court under a student practice order, and served for two terms as the President of the Hispanic Law Students Association. He also worked for the Prisoner Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY, and for Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C in Boston. He was awarded the American Jurisprudence Award for highest grade in the area of Criminal Law, and received the Stephen B. Feder Scholarship Award for Commitment to the Public Interest. He graduated and received his degree of Juris Doctor in 1987.

Upon graduating from law school, Mr. LaFontaine joined the Legal Aid Society as a Staff Attorney assigned to the Bronx trial office. He handled innumerable criminal cases in the Bronx until he was recruited to join the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in 1992.

After three years of practice in Harlem, Mr. LaFontaine became one of the first lawyers to join BDS when it was created in the summer of 1996. One of his proudest claims is that he represented the very first client ever assigned to BDS, in a matter which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of all charges.

Mr. LaFontaine regularly participates in the Legal Outreach, Inc. program, which each summer brings together motived high school students for an intensive moot court trial experience. He has also taught a class on Law and Racism at the Clara Barton High School in the Bronx, and is a guest lecturer at St. John’s University School of Law’s intensive trial advocacy program.

Mr. LaFontaine has served several terms as Treasurer and Member of the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and has held similar positions with the Cornell Latino Alumni Association. He is admitted to the Bars of New York State and Federal Court.

Rick is also a Volunteer Photographer at Brooklyn’s primary animal shelter on Linden Boulevard. His photographs of lost and adoptable cats can be seen each week on the Center for Animal Care and Control’s website, and have been collected in one place at