PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 23, 2016

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday! REGISTRATION is now open for the 2016 NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference, an annual gathering of NALP members who counsel law students and lawyers on public service careers. We look forward to seeing you in October.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Université de Montréal announces launch of research consortium exploring access to law and justice;
  • Baylor Law School seeks to close access to justice gap with Legal Mapmaker program;
  • University of Virginia School of Law’s VITA program honored by ABA;
  • Alabama governor awards $1.9 million in support of domestic violence victims;
  • Nebraska’s new Rural Law Opportunities Program hopes to bring more lawyers to rural areas;
  • New York oversight board announces civil legal services grants;
  • Nova Scotia’s #TalkJustice Project moves to phase 2;
  • Think tank releases report card on Canada’s justice system;
  • Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center celebrates 100 years of service;
  • Congresswoman introduces Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act;
  • ABA launches free online legal Q&A service to broaden access to justice;
  • A new public interest center to open at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 15, 2016 – “Université de Montréal proudly announces the launch of an important research consortium set up to explore access to law and to justice. ADAJ groups brought together 42 researchers as well as collaborators from 9 universities and 44 justice partners. ‘The object of this initiative is to engage a series of pilot projects aimed at redirecting the focus of the judicial system on the individual citizen and thereby transforming justice into a community project,’ states Pierre Noreau, scientific director of the project, researcher at the Public Law Research Centre (CRDP) and professor with the Faculty of Law at Université de Montréal. The twenty research thrusts being launched simultaneously extend to the majority of issues currently facing citizens and the judicial system, notably the ever increasing numbers of self-represented litigants, the obscure wording of contracts and laws, the development of mediation and conciliation practices, the development of alternative penal measures, the compensation of class members through class action litigation, paperless justice, and so on. The project website (adaj.ca) details each of these key thrusts. ‘Each thrust draws on a combination of researcher proficiency and justice player knowledge to ensure that the research conducted inures to the benefit of both the people and the justice system as an institution. The object is to seek out tangible solutions to the challenges encountered by individuals accountable under the law,’ Mr Noreau goes on to say. Backed by a $2.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and another $1.4 million from various project partners, work by the ADAJ consortium will be spread out over a period of six years. ‘The initiative is the most comprehensive research exercise of its kind throughout the country,’ underscores Vincent Gautrais, director of the Public Law Research Centre. ‘We are of course delighted that it is being developed and spearheaded here in Québec. ADAJ represents a model for others to replicate. Indeed, the project provides proof that it is possible to build bridges between legal academics and practitioners. In this instance, the research will clearly focus on the public well-being.’ Originally developed within the framework of the Access to Justice Observatory, ADAJ helps foster the development of emerging professionals in the field of research about justice. ‘Over 150 students will assist project researchers,’ points up Jean-François Gaudreault-Desbiens, dean of the Faculty of Law at Université de Montréal. ‘ADAJ will serve as a veritable laboratory for research, training, action and change.'” (CNW)

September 15, 2016 – “Baylor Law School says 100 million Americans can’t afford legal services, while at the same time many new lawyers are unemployed despite the unmet need. Most of the cases with which the poor need help are related to what are called ‘basic human needs’ defined as being  related to shelter, food, safety, health or child custody. Stephen Rispoli, assistant dean of student affairs and pro bono programs at Baylor Law school noted the biggest problem facing new lawyers is the high cost of setting up a practice, thus keeping the very people who would be available to help the poor being unable to do so. Legal Mapmaker is a new Baylor Law School program designed to prepare young lawyers to open law firms. It provides a model business strategy with two goals: help lawyers succeed, and help the public find affordable legal services by showing lawyers how to provide legal services efficiently and with low overhead.” ” More than 30 young Texas lawyers attended the first Legal Mapmaker conference and learned from experts who spoke on a range of topics from business plans, staffing and financial management to client relations, technology and community involvement.” (myCenTX.com)

September 16, 2016 – “Students at the University of Virginia School of Law have been recognized by the American Bar Association with the 2016 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Award for leading University efforts to help taxpayers prepare their own returns. Each year, the Law School’s VITA program collaborates with other students on Grounds to help low- and moderate-income clients, who are a mix of community members, University employees and students.” “UVA’s VITA outreach helped about 800 clients on their 2015 tax returns —about 30 percent of the ABA’s local-coalition efforts, which are coordinated by the United Way Thomas Jefferson Area.” (University of Virginia School of Law News & Events)

September 16, 2016 – “Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded grants totaling $1.9 million in support of nonprofit groups that assist rape and abuse victims in south and central Alabama. The Montgomery Area Family Violence Program, commonly known as the Family Sunshine Center, is using $1.4 million in grant funds to aid domestic violence victims in Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery, Perry and Wilcox counties. Lighthouse Counseling Center is using $290,000 in grants to continue its Standing Together Against Rape program for victims of sexual assault in Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery, Perry, and Wilcox counties. Child Protect is using funds of $144,000 to continue providing services for child victims in Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties. With a $64,775 grant, Legal Services Alabama will continue offering legal assistance to domestic violence victims in nine counties.” (AlabamaNews.net)

September 18, 2016 – “A new program involving three Nebraska colleges and the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln aims to increase the number of lawyers in rural areas. The Rural Law Opportunities Program, or RLOP, guarantees chosen high school students from rural Nebraska — basically anywhere outside Lincoln, Omaha and its suburbs — entrance into law school. In return, it’s hoped that when graduating from law school, the new lawyers will practice in a rural area.” “Wayne State, Chadron State College and Nebraska-Kearney each will select five high school seniors every year, beginning with the class of 2017. Once selected, students are guaranteed a spot in the Nebraska law school if they maintain good grades in college, complete their undergraduate requirements and score well on the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. [Nebraska College of Law interim dean Richard] Moberly said that 17-20 graduates — about 15 percent — in each of the past three Nebraska law school graduating classes have gone to practice in rural Nebraska. He hopes that RLOP will send an additional 10 new lawyers into those areas.” (Sioux City Journal)

September 19, 2016 – “The state Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) Fund and 83 civil legal services providers will divide a record $100 million that is being allocated through the Judiciary’s 2016-17 state budget. State court administrators announced Monday that state grants were approved by a state oversight board. The money was contained in the $1.89 billion Judiciary portion of the 2016-17 state budget approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature earlier this year.” “Court administrators said that the largest amounts of aid will be available in areas of the state with the most residents whose incomes are 200 percent or less of the poverty level. The individual grants range from the $9.8 million awarded to both Legal Services NYC and the Legal Aid Society of New York City to the $20,000 for the Advocates for Children of New York.” (New York Law Journal)(subscription required)

September 19, 2016 – “Nova Scotia’s #TalkJustice project is gathering more stories and evidence to feed into a software program that should help identify issues with the justice system in the province. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society initiative will use SenseMaker to take stories from citizens about their experiences with the justice system and seek connections between them. It will also provide a look at what the average justice system experience looks like for a person in a particular community, which they hope will help identify problem areas. ‘We want this information to feed into the system ongoing all the time. Hopefully by the fourth phase we’ll have a system in place where that feedback can be entering the justice system ongoing,’ said LaMeia Reddick, a community connector for the barristers’ society’s project. The next step will be looking for ways to challenge the justice system to improve access.” (CBC News)

September 21, 2016 – “The Macdonald-Laurier Institute grades provinces and territories in five categories: public safety, victims support, efficiency, fairness and access to justice, and costs and resources. University of British Columbia law professor Benjamin Perrin is one of the report’s authors. With Canada’s justice system costing roughly $11 billion a year, he felt it was time to look at the numbers. The report card is based on comparable information, much of it from Statistics Canada. And while Perrin and co-author Richard Audas did not seek to explain or justify why some provinces performed better than others, they did highlight how the territories face challenges of isolation, geography and higher costs. Overall, Yukon scored lowest, followed by Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.” The full report is available here. (CBC News)

September 22, 2016 – “When the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center opened in San Francisco a century ago, it was the first group west of the Mississippi to provide free legal services to low-income clients. Today it assists 3,000 people a year through free clinics around California, litigates in state and federal courts and advocates for government policies that protect civil and employment rights. President Joan Graff took a break from preparing for Thursday’s 100th anniversary gala to speak with The Recorder about why issues from unemployment to immigration to disability rights all fall under LAS-ELC’s umbrella and what lies ahead for her organization.” Congratulations, and here is to 100 more years!  (The Recorder)

September 22, 2016 – “U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) recently introduced the Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act, H.R. 6046, legislation to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to increase legal services for homeless and at-risk of homelessness veterans. Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Congressman Pat Tiberi (OH-12) are the lead cosponsors of H.R. 6046.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is awaiting further consideration. (US House of Representatives News)

September 22, 2016 – “The American Bar Association has rolled out a new web program, ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org, to give income-eligible users the ability to pose civil legal questions to volunteer attorneys. The new service, a virtual legal advice clinic, is now available in eight states — Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming — with plans to have service available in the majority of states by the end of this year. Geared to expand legal services for low-income communities, users of the service will have to meet income eligibility guidelines applicable to each state. While expanding access to legal services, the ABA Free Legal Answers program also expands pro bono opportunities for attorneys in a convenient way to match their schedules.” Nationally, attorneys can volunteer their services to existing and future participating state programs by clicking here. (ABA)

September 22, 2016 – “A new center at The Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law will house the growing array of public interest offerings at the school, enhancing Northwestern’s strong commitment to a public service ethic. Northwestern Law’s Public Interest Center will ensure strategic leadership of important public interest activities under a single umbrella. Its formation is made possible in part through the $100 million donation made by J.B. and M.K. Pritzker in 2015. ‘In tandem with the exceptional work of our Bluhm Legal Clinic and our public interest journals, we already have in place the key features befitting a premier public interest program,’ said Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern Law. Among the center’s features are financial support for students doing public interest work during and after law school; a robust menu of course offerings, including a law and social policy concentration; career programming and counseling; a wide range of pro bono and public service opportunities; and passionate student organization participation and leadership. The Law School is committed to promoting the advancement of social justice and preparing students for public interest careers and pro bono work.” (Northwestern News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Blank Rome LLP Associate Joseph J. Patry was selected as the recipient of the “Making Justice Real Pro Bono Award” by the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, in recognition of his legal representation of tenants in the Housing Conditions Calendar in the D.C. Superior Court. Mr. Patry will be presented with the award on Thursday, September 29, 2016, at the Generous Associates Campaign and Pro Bono Volunteer Celebration. (Blank Rome LLP)

Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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Job’o’th’week (Fellowship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

*New Fellowship Alert*

The Center for Animal Law Studies and the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis and Clark Law School are pleased to announce a new two-year fellowship. The Animal Law Clinic is launching the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative ( AALI ) and is looking for an experienced attorney. The fellow will report to the Clinic’s director, Kathy Hessler, and will work closely to support AALI and program innovation. This will include creative and high level case development and management, outreach efforts to stakeholder communities, and clinic curriculum development. The fellow will also work with students to develop their skills, and provide strategic leadership for growth and development, including fundraising.

Is this the fellowship of your dreams? If so, take a look at the full post on PSJD.

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Help fight voter suppression.

The Washington Council of Lawyers hosts its first installment of the popular Racial Justice Series on Tuesday, September 22 beginning at 6:30 pm at White & Case here in DC. This program, co-sponsored by the Women’s Bar Association will explore barriers to voters and how to combat voter suppression.  This program is open to law students.

Register now!

rjs16-voter_r2-360x360

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 16, 2016

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • FAIR Canada and Osgoode Hall Law School launch investor protection clinic;
  • Kansas becomes newest state to allow military spouses to practice law without taking bar exam;
  • Legal Aid Nebraska launches online service for low-income Nebraskans;
  • Montana task force recommends cabinet level position for head of public defense;
  • Maryland legal aid develops app for record expungement;
  • New York bar associations announce joint initiative to assist domestic violence survivors;
  • California governor vetoes bill to help military members find legal aid;
  • K&L Gates’ Fourth Annual Global Day of Service focuses on investing across generations;
  • Albany Law School launches small business clinic;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 9, 2016 – “Investor rights group FAIR Canada and Professor Poonam Puri of Osgoode Hall Law School are founding an investor protection clinic. It will provide legal assistance to those who believe they have been cheated by their financial advisors or institutions. On August 8, FAIR Canada and Puri revealed that they had received start-up funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Access to Justice Fund and are now preparing to launch Canada’s first investor protection clinic. Staffed by law students, it will help investors who think they have been harmed or wronged.” (Insurance & Investment Journal)

September 10, 2016 – “A rule adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday will allow attorneys living in the state who are spouses of military members stationed here to temporarily practice law without taking the state-administered uniform bar exam. Rule 712A allows an attorney who has been admitted to practice law in another state or the District of Columbia, and who is married to a military service member stationed in Kansas, to be admitted to practice law in Kansas without a written examination. The rule takes effect Thursday.” “Eighteen states have already passed similar rules, and 13 more have proposed or are investigating admission of military spouses, according to a press release from the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration.” (The Hays Daily News)

September 11, 2016 – “Legal Aid of Nebraska has officially launched an online service for low-income Nebraskans, addressing questions about collections faced by debtors, and housing issues faced by tenants. The website/program, Law Help Nebraska, is available in all 93 counties. It provides a user-friendly virtual self-help system for quick assistance, organizers said. ‘Law Help Nebraska addresses a major gap in rural areas lacking physical lawyer presence. It also helps to unclog court systems and simplifies the process of answering questions and generating legal forms for low-income Nebraskans,’ said spokesperson Paige Piper. Law Help Nebraska serves as a virtual attorney that will ask a series of questions to address legal concerns, help generate forms that may be filed, or direct users to next steps, including applying for an attorney.” “Law Help Nebraska is available at public access computers in county courts statewide, though it may also be accessed from home. This program was made possible by generous funding from the Legal Services Corporation.” (North Platte Bulletin)

September 12, 2016 – “A panel of lawmakers and lawyers forwarded to the Montana Legislature a set of bills on Monday that would reorganize the Office of the State Public Defender by creating a cabinet-level director to oversee the agency. The Task Force on State Public Defender Operations, created by the state Legislature to review the agency that represents poor criminal defendants, recommended removing agency oversight from the Public Defender Commission and giving it to the governor. The change, if approved by the Montana Legislature when it meets in January, would amount to creating the 17th department of state government.” “State lawmakers created the task force to examine how the agency operates and to recommend changes in the form of bills to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session.” “The task force also recommended creating a ‘holistic defense pilot program’ that would look at the underlying causes that bring people into the criminal justice system, and seek to reduce recidivism. The program calls for a team to include a public defender, a social worker, an investigator and support staff to provide defendants with both legal and social support services. In addition, the task force advanced a bill requiring the state Department of Revenue to collect costs imposed by courts for public defender services. It also recommended that the state Department of Public Health and Human Services make the determination now made by the public defenders’ office of whether a defendant is eligible to receive the agency’s services.” (Missoulian)

September 12, 2016 – “Maryland Legal Aid has developed a new app for expunging criminal records. ExpungeItMD.org is a free, user-friendly app that enables legal professionals to easily search Maryland criminal records and generate documents to file expungement petitions with the Maryland Courts on behalf of low-income citizens. ” (Southern Maryland Online)

September 13, 2016 – “On Sept. 8, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) and the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) announced a joint initiative to enhance access to legal services by victims of domestic violence.” “The Domestic Violence Initiative will work to raise awareness of domestic violence and offer training to pro bono and legal service attorneys; collaborate with bar associations and others in the legal community to recruit more pro bono attorneys and develop pro bono programs for underserved communities across the state; and consider and make recommendations about possible legislation to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence. Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary for Families in New York City, and Amy Schwartz-Wallace of Rochester, leader of Empire Justice Center’s statewide domestic violence practice, are co-chairs of the Initiative and its membership will include representatives of legal services providers, bar associations, law firm pro bono programs, the court system and law schools.” (Spotlightnews.com)

September 14, 2016 – “Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin’s bill to help active military members find pro bono legal help in California appeared to be one of the least controversial of the year. Facing no registered opposition, the measure cleared committee hearings and floor votes without dissent. It was supported by officials at the U.S. Department of Defense. But Irwin’s bill would have cost money Gov. Jerry Brown was not inclined to spend. The fourth-term Democrat on Wednesday vetoed Assembly Bill 2085, which would have created a state office to coordinate free legal assistance for military members, saying the measure should instead be considered in budget deliberations. The proposal by Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would have cost the state about $800,000 annually to staff a new Office of Military Legal Assistance within the California Military Department, according to a legislative analysis. ‘I believe this type of bill is more properly considered during budget deliberations,’ Brown said in a veto message.” (The Sacramento Bee)

September 14, 2016 – “The New Mexico Public Defender’s Office said in a legislative hearing Tuesday that it may soon have to start declining criminal cases if it doesn’t get properly funded to meet growing caseloads. The Public Defender’s Office has underscored its lack of funding for years, and today it acknowledged that it’s at a tipping point. In budget documents, officials say they’re dealing with a shortage of attorneys and support staff which results in, ‘many indigent clients in the state not receiving effective assistance of counsel.’ They add that in almost every county in New Mexico, ‘defenders cannot represent clients at arraignments and felony first appearances.’ Those officials also said that many indigent defendants are not even represented during grand jury proceedings. The office is working with a $49 million budget according to budget documents, and is asking for nearly $5 million more in emergency funds for the next fiscal year to help fund 125 additional attorneys and 62 additional support staff positions. In budget documents, officials said that if the Public Defender’s Office isn’t adequately funded then the state can expect the office to begin declining requests to represent indigent clients across New Mexico.” (KOAT)

September 15, 2016 – “For the fourth consecutive year, global law firm K&L Gates LLP will carry out its annual Global Day of Service, an immense, week-long volunteer effort by firm lawyers and staff focused on serving charitable organizations in cities and regions across the five continents in which the firm has offices. This year, personnel from each of the firm’s offices worldwide will volunteer with more than 70 community organizations and charities, many focused on elderly or youth services, throughout the week of September 19-23 around the theme of ‘Investing Across Generations.'” “Launched in 2013 based on an idea from the firm’s Global Associate Liaison Committee, the Global Day of Service provides a way for lawyers and staff at the firm to volunteer and make a difference in their local communities around the world”  (Business Wire)

September 16, 2016 – “A new business development clinic at Albany Law School will provide free legal services to current or future small business owners in the region, said Alicia Ouellette, president and dean. It will open in January. Albany Law students will provide free legal services associated with opening a small business. They will help with obtaining business loans, writing contracts, auditing employment policies and protecting intellectual assets.” (Albany Business Review)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Two years ago, Kay Trapp and Dinetia Newman set out to provide free legal consultations for guests who came for breakfast through All Saints’ Episcopal Church’s Saints’ Brew in Tupelo, Mississippi. Over biscuits and coffee in the parish hall, Trapp, a retired lawyer, and Newman, a lawyer with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings law firm, answered questions from those in need about child custody, divorce, name changes and driver’s licenses. Now, they are being awarded the 2016 Curtis E. Coker Access to Justice Award from the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. The award, presented annually, recognizes “outstanding pro bono legal services.” With the statewide recognition from the award – which the two said they were honored to receive – and more volunteers, Trapp and Newman want to become more mobile in their services. “We thought, ‘Is there a way to be mobile?’ Because we’re in the parish hall,” Newman said. “We want to take the legal services more where the people are because the lack of transportation is a big issue.” (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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Job’o’th’week (Internship Edition) – Immigration Legal Intern

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Our Immigration & Citizenship Program is seeking legal intern during the fall school semester (September 5th – December 9th). The Legal Intern will play a vital role in our direct representation legal program, as well as in our large scale application Forums and Workshops. Our program is deeply embedded within the Houston immigrant community, and our Legal Intern will have the opportunity to interact with Houston-area immigrants seeking legal assistance on a daily basis. The position will be based at the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center located in the Gulfton area of Houston as well as our Ripley House location on Navigation Blvd. near downtown Houston.

Does this sound like the opportunity for you? You can find the full post on PSJD.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 9, 2016

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday! A lot of funding news this week, and some interesting observations on pro bono and legal technology and their continued potential to increase access to justice.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New York City Office of Civil Justice report – more NYC residents facing eviction have access to legal help;
  • Clients getting faster access to legal aid in Manitoba;
  • California governor vetoes bill requiring pro bono service before admittance to the bar;
  • Central New York legal aid receives federal funding for domestic abuse support programs;
  • Using retired lawyers to bridge the justice gap;
  • The Canadian Bar Association in British Columbia lobbies to add law graduates to loan forgiveness program;
  • How AI will transform the delivery of legal services;
  • New funding scheme for public interest litigation;
  • Big Law associates raise funds for legal aid in new funding scheme;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 31, 2016 – “If you are a low-income tenant facing eviction, it may be easier than ever to get a lawyer these days, according to a report released by the city Tuesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio touted the findings by the Office of Civil Justice (OCJ), which show that now 27 percent of tenants in housing court for eviction proceedings have legal representation – up from just 1 percent in 2013. ‘As we face one of the most serious affordable housing crises in our city’s history, we have made an unprecedented commitment to provide legal assistance for low-income New Yorkers, and we are beginning to see the results of these efforts,’ said de Blasio. The first annual report from the newly-established office investigates the legal needs of low-income New Yorkers, and the effect of providing free and low-cost legal services to meet those needs, particularly when it comes to tenants facing evictions, harassment, and other housing-related problems. Since taking office, the mayor has invested more than $100 million annually in civil legal services, and as a result, evictions have fallen 24 percent in the last two years, according to the report.” (Fort Greene Focus)

August 31, 2016 – “Justice Minister Heather Stefanson is speeding up access to Legal Aid Manitoba. The change announced Wednesday will help lower-income Manitobans, Stefanson said. ‘Access to justice for all Manitobans is a cornerstone of our legal system and this change will help improve the process for individuals who require legal aid,’ Stefanson said. ‘Technology has made it possible for this process to move more quickly.’ To connect a new client with a lawyer, Legal Aid Manitoba uses an electronic application system that securely shares the individual’s application, court documents and any other relevant materials. Lawyers previously had 30 days to decide whether to accept the case; the province is cutting that period to 14. This change was made following consultations with Legal Aid Manitoba’s advisory committee, which includes representatives from the Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association, the Legal Aid Lawyers’ Association, the Family Law Bar and the Manitoba Bar Association.” (Winnipeg Free Press)

August 31, 2016 – “The California Legislature passed a bill that would have required California’s up-and-coming lawyers to do pro bono work before gaining admittance to the State Bar. Gov. Jerry Brown, a lawyer, on Monday vetoed the bill. In a message accompanying his veto of Senate Bill 1257, Brown said that while he supports law students and lawyers providing pro bono legal services, ‘I don’t believe a state mandate can be justified.’ ‘Law students in California are now contending with skyrocketing costs – often more than $200,000 for tuition and room and board – and many struggle to find employment once they are admitted to the Bar,’ Brown wrote. ‘In this context, I believe it would be unfair to burden students with the requirements set forth in this bill.’ Senate Bill 1257, by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would have required applicants for membership in the State Bar to have completed at least 50 hours of supervised pro bono legal service. Instead, Brown wrote, the state should focus on lowering the cost of legal education. ‘By doing so, we could actually expand the opportunity to serve the public interest,’ he said.” (The Sacramento Bee)

September 2, 2016 – “The Legal Aid Society of Mid-York is receiving $600,000 in federal funding for domestic abuse support programs in central New York. The funding was allocated through the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and is authorized through the Legal Assistance for Victims Grant Program. ‘This critical federal funding through the Department of Justice will help facilitate a wide range of programs to better assist domestic violence survivors,’ said [Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand. ‘Domestic violence is a serious problem and we need to work towards creating a safe environment for individuals and families. By increasing accessibility to legal services for survivors we can help provide the support and resources they need to be protected and put their lives back together.’ The Utica-based legal aid organization will use the money to provide legal representation, supportive services and outreach to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The group serves 12 counties in central New York.” (WIBX)

September 2, 2016 – “As the headline to a special report in The American Lawyer this week observes, ‘Baby Boomers are Retiring and Law Firms Aren’t Ready.‘ When we combine the vast numbers of law firm attorneys who are approaching career transition with the enormous systemic unmet legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged, we are in a unique position to leverage these experienced lawyers. If even a small fraction of the retired, semi-retired, and transitioning baby-boom lawyers would engage in some form of meaningful pro bono work, they could have a sizeable impact on economic and social justice. Creating the infrastructure to support and sustain these new roles, however, is a significant and sensitive undertaking.” The American Lawyer examines efforts to bring retired lawyers to pro bono work. (The American Lawyer)

September 6, 2016 – “The Canadian Bar Association’s B.C. branch (CBABC) wants the provincial government to add lawyers with student debt to StudentAid BC’s loan forgiveness program. Michael Welsh, who was appointed bar president on August 15, said rural citizens, including small-business owners in remote communities, are suffering due to increasing attrition within the legal profession. Welsh noted that many rural lawyers are baby boomers and have reached the age of retirement” with no new lawyers coming in to replace them. “A CBABC letter to Premier Christy Clark lobbying to add lawyers to the loan forgiveness program noted that, because the average starting salary for a lawyer usually ranges between $25,000 and $45,000, working in a rural setting or trying to set up a practice is not cost-effective. The letter asks the provincial government to provide an annual 20% debt write-off rate over a five-year minimum – the same amount offered through the loan forgiveness program – to recent law school graduates willing to practice in rural communities.” (Business Vancouver)

September 6, 2016 – Forbes has an interesting if brief look at where legal technology has taken us so far in the delivery of legal services and predicts artificial intelligence will transform legal delivery and have a positive impact on access to justice. (Forbes)

September 7, 2016 – As the idea of “third party litigation funding” seems to be growing, here is a novel funding idea for public interest litigation from Australia. The Public Interest Advocacy Center “is joining with public litigation funders from around the world to establish a new funding scheme that will support PIAC’s public interest litigation. The scheme, which commenced this week, will allow PIAC’s public interest cases to go ahead in circumstances where the risk of an ‘adverse costs order’ would discourage clients from proceeding with their case.  Under the Adverse Costs Order Guarantee Fund, clients will be indemnified so that they can proceed with their cases without having to risk their assets or income. ‘This is a great development for public interest litigation,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor. ‘Adverse costs orders are a powerful disincentive for clients weighing up whether or not to proceed with litigation. We hope that this scheme will grow to support PIAC’s public interest litigation into the future, facilitating test cases that otherwise could not proceed.’ PIAC is especially grateful to Woodford Litigation Funding Limited, which is the first partner in the ACO Guarantee Fund.” (PIAC News)

September 7, 2016 – “Using a fresh fundraising approach to support legal services for the poor, a group of Big Law associates announced on Wednesday its first grants to four legal services groups. The Associates Committee, which was launched last year by third-year Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom associate Corey Laplante, said the four will receive a total of $200,000 raised from 200 associates. Two groups are each getting $75,000 grants: the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights in New Orleans and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in San Antonio. Two other organizations are receiving $25,000 apiece: the Innocence Project in New York City and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. In its first year, the Associates Committee limited its recruitment of associates to the five cities with the biggest lawyer populations: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Moving forward, the group will be recruiting associates from six other cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Austin and Miami. Associates must contribute $1,000 to be a member. Laplante, who works in Skadden’s Los Angeles office, said in an interview Wednesday that the committee got 84 grant applications. Instead of asking for lots of paperwork, the committee told applicants to submit a 60-second video shot on a smartphone describing how they would use the funds. The Associates Committee’s board selected 15 finalists, and then the entire membership voted for the four winners. The finalists submitted financial statements and other materials, but the videos were the centerpiece of the selection process.” (American Lawyer)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is proud to present the 2016 Pro Bono Award to John Ting, co-founder and partner of Ting and Tran Law Firm in Dallas, Texas. The NAPABA Pro Bono Award recognizes attorneys for outstanding achievements in pro bono service that: 1) involved impact litigation to advance or protect civil rights, and 2) provided direct legal services to individuals in the furtherance of the administration of justice. In addition to being an accomplished and highly respected attorney, entrepreneur, and mentor in the legal community, John’s tireless efforts and unparalleled service on pro bono legal matters — in conjunction with his service to the community — exemplify the qualities and spirit of the award. (NAPABA)

Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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Job’o’th’week (Experienced Edition) – AUSA Northern District of California

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Employment with the U.S. Attorney’s Office offers a unique and challenging experience for the highly motivated attorney: an opportunity to litigate a broad range of cases involving significant, complex issues on behalf of the United States in federal court being litigated today. Working in the Criminal Division, you will be part of a dedicated team helping to enforce Federal criminal laws that protect life, liberty and property.

Responsibilities will increase and assignments will become more complex as your training and experience progress.

Is this the job for you? You can find the full post on PSJD.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 2, 2016

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday and welcome back to school! PSJD has many resources to help you with your internship and pro bono searches. Also check out the PSJD Resource Center for everything from application tips to job search strategies and self-assessment. For those of you interested in public interest in Canada, we have several new resources.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Missouri Governor can’t be appointed as public defender;
  • Legal Aid Ontario agrees to meet with staff lawyers’ union of choice;
  • Mississippi Access to Justice Commission celebrates 10th anniversary;
  • Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission convenes to advance access to justice;
  • Mae C. Quinn named director of new St. Louis office of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center;
  • Conservation Law Foundation expands legal program for farms and food businesses;
  • Duquesne University School of Law’s new clinic to assist parents in school discipline cases;
  • The U.S. Army and the Indiana University Maurer School of Law launch new scholarship;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 25, 2016 – “Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon won’t be returning to the courtroom anytime soon. A Cole County Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday that the state’s top public defender doesn’t have the authority to appoint the governor, or any private counsel, to argue a case. At issue was a decision earlier this month from Michael Barrett, the state’s lead public defender, to order Nixon to represent an indigent defendant, citing a provision of state law allowing him to delegate such a job to ‘any member of the state bar in Missouri’ in extraordinary circumstances. Fed up with an underfunded public defender system, he picked the most high-profile lawyer in Missouri: Nixon, a former Missouri attorney general who has had an active law license since 1981, and the person Barrett said is most responsible for the cuts to his department’s budget. On Thursday, the court denied a motion to withdraw the public defender assigned to the case and replace him with Nixon, on the grounds that only the courts have the power to appoint lawyers. Still, it was a move that made national headlines, shedding light on a funding problem Barrett said has led to backlogs of cases, overworked attorneys and even the violation of constitutional rights.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

August 25, 2016 – “After years of resistance, Legal Aid Ontario has agreed to come to the bargaining table to negotiate with its staff lawyers’ chosen union, the Society of Energy Professionals. Legal aid lawyers, who mounted an intense campaign on the LAO and the Ontario government in recent months, are calling this move a ‘significant breakthrough.’ In the days ahead, the lawyers say the union and LAO will enter into negotiations they hope will end in the recognition of the Society of Energy Professionals as their bargaining agent. ‘It’s a huge step,’ says legal aid lawyer Dana Fisher. ‘It’s a step that they’ve refused to take until now.’ Legal Aid Ontario says it has agreed to meet with union reps to find out what its employees are looking for. ‘At this point, we have agreed to meet with representatives of the Society of Energy Professionals to discuss arranging a vote to determine LAO’s staff lawyers’ wishes with regard to representation,’ said Graeme Burk, spokesman for LAO. ‘We are taking this step because LAO wants to know conclusively what our staff lawyers want with respect to representation.'” (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

August 26, 2016 – “A group commissioned to help people who can’t afford an attorney is celebrating its 10 year anniversary by working to help more people. More than 600,000 Mississippians qualify for free legal help but there are not enough legal-aid attorneys. The Mississippi Access to Justice Commission works to provide legal help to Mississippians in civil cases.  It could be child custody, guardianship or changing the name on a birth certificate. Some cases require an attorney, others the judge says can be handled by the individual.  Access to Justice partners with agencies and private lawyers to provide legal advice and offer clinics. They’re hosting a summit to celebrate their 10th anniversary and devise more ways to help residents. They have an interactive website where people can find forms for civil cases, and they’re working on a mobile app.” (Mississippi Public Broadcasting)

August 26, 2016 – “The Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission met on Friday to discuss how to expand access to justice in civil matters across the state. Legal Services Corporation President James J. Sandman attended the meeting and discussed tactics for increasing access to justice in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission was established by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2014 to address the problem of the many low-income Oklahomans unable to receive legal representation on crucial civil legal matters. The Commission’s goal is to develop a strategic plan for improving the statewide delivery of civil legal services and reducing barriers to the justice system.” “Friday’s meeting highlighted what the Commission has already achieved and looked ahead to accomplishing new goals. Topics included a newly launched interactive website providing free legal information to low-income Oklahoma citizens and a statewide assessment survey on legal need.” (LSC Media Release)

August 26, 2016 – “Veteran litigator Mae C. Quinn has been named director of the new St. Louis office of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, a public interest law firm that advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation. Most recently Quinn was a professor at Washington University School of Law, where she founded and directed the Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic. She is a national expert in criminal and juvenile law and has represented adult and child clients in trial-level and appellate courts across the country over the last two decades. The MacArthur Justice Center is based at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. In addition to St. Louis and Chicago, the MacArthur Justice Center has offices in New Orleans and Oxford, Mississippi.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

August 26, 2016 – “Conservation Law Foundation is launching the first national program in its 50-year history, a multistate expansion of Legal Food Hub, an initiative that provides local farmers and food entrepreneurs with pro bono legal services. The Hub started in Massachusetts in 2014, and has since opened in Maine. It will be available in Rhode Island in October and in Connecticut by 2017. The Boston-based environmental advocacy group hopes to bring the program to other states over the next several years.” (Boston Globe)

August 29, 2016 – “Years of working in the Juvenile Division of the Allegheny County public defender’s office inspired Ms. [Tiffany] Sizemore-Thompson to create a pair of law clinics at Duquesne [University School of Law], where she is now an assistant clinical professor. The second, focusing on education law, began last week. Ms. Sizemore-Thompson will serve as the supervising attorney and professor, overseeing eight law students who will maintain a caseload of clients. Doctoral psychology students will work with schools to develop plans for returning students. ‘The school-to-prison pipeline is alive and well in Allegheny County,’ where school discipline issues are ‘critical,’ she said. ‘The clinic seeks to stop the problem by focusing on representing students and parents in school discipline cases.’ It’s one of several efforts underway locally to provide more support to families and lay the groundwork for future lawyers interested in pursuing what some legal experts say is an underrepresented field.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

August 30, 2016 – “The Army and the Indiana University Maurer School of Law have signed an agreement creating the U.S. Army Law Scholars Program — believed to be the first partnership between the Army and a major law school — that will allow qualifying officers and enlisted soldiers to pursue a legal education during their time of service. Qualifying soldiers, from both active duty and reserve personnel, will receive an approximately $75,000 nonresident scholarship (amounting to at least 50 percent of tuition) to the law school and be paired with both an alumni and student mentor for the duration of their time in Bloomington.” “Service members interested in becoming a U.S. Army Law Scholar must meet the traditional requirements of any other student admitted into the Maurer School of Law.” (Indiana University Bloomington News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service awarded the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award to the following:

  • Cleary Gottlieb, New York, NY (and other U.S. and international offices)
  • John Goss, Goss and Fentress, Norfolk, VA
  • Katten Muchin, Chicago, IL (and other U.S. and international offices)
  • Renee Schoenberg, DLA Piper, Chicago IL
  • Hillary Gaston Walsh, The Law Office of Hillary Gaston Walsh, South Korea

Their work is outstanding and inspiring.  Watch the award videos here.  Congratulations to all the award recipients!

Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

https://youtu.be/IHknoSQZibU

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Job’o’th’week (Entry-Level Edition) – NYC Conflicts of Interest Board

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board is seeking an Attorney for its Legal Advice Unit. The Board is an independent City agency and is responsible for administering and enforcing the City’s conflicts of interest and financial disclosure laws. (See the Board’s website at http://nyc.gov/ethics). The Board’s legal staff, consisting of eight attorneys, gives advice to the City’s public servants about whether their proposed conduct conforms to the requirements of the conflicts law, and also prosecutes suspected violations of the law. Under the supervision of the Board’s General Counsel, the successful candidate will conduct legal research; draft advisory opinions and staff letters; provide oral advice to City employees; and conduct training sessions. The successful candidate will also give written and oral advice regarding Local Law 16 of 2006, the restriction on gifts from lobbyists. Under the supervision of its Executive Director, the Board’s legal staff functions as a collegial, high quality law firm. The successful candidate must possess the maturity, discretion, and judgment necessary for the handling of a myriad of sensitive, and often confidential matters, and for the advising of public servants at all levels, including senior elected and appointed officials.

If this sounds like the fellowship for you, head to PSJD to check out the full post and apply. (Rolling Deadline)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 26, 2016

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Illinois governor signs bill expanding legal aid for juveniles in murder or sex offense investigations;
  • Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2020;
  • Bloomberg Law contributor’s perspective on ABA’s “Future” Report;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 22, 2016 – “Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that requires an attorney to be present when police question juveniles younger than 15 in murder or sex offense investigations. Illinois already mandates legal representation for children younger than 13 in those cases, even if they’re not the targets of the criminal probe. But lawmakers who sponsored the legislation argued 14- and 15-year-olds should receive legal protection, too. Rauner signed the bill Monday. Lawmakers say the new law is meant to eliminate false confessions.” (SFGate)

August 24, 2016 – While not public interest news per se, I always read this list each year before the 1Ls join us on campus. It’s a good reminder that not everyone has had the same experiences, and it’s a fun list to read.  Enjoy! Beloit College Mindset List

August 25, 2016 – Bloomberg Law contributor Stephen Poor, Chair Emeritus, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, writes a response to the ABA’s Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States. He notes “the Report does not simply focus on access-to-justice issues. Rather, it addresses many of the range of issues facing the entire legal profession, including Big Law — from diversity, to business model innovation, to challenges with the criminal justice system, to the lack of funding for legal services. While the problems it identifies are hardly new, the Report’s power lies in the aggregation of facts and the overall perspective.” He then identifies with the camp that feels the Report is “insufficiently bold.” After a critique of the report, he posits an idea regarding big law support of the development of legal technology to assist in the delivery of legal services.  The article is an interesting read. (Bloomberg Law)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

When Steve Brust and a team from Smith, Gambrell & Russell decided to ramp up their pro bono involvement, it was clear they were ‘all in.’ ‘We’ve long supported Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and the delivery of legal services for the disadvantaged, but we know we can do more,’ Brust said. ‘We want to do the right thing for our community and we also want to do the right thing by training our new associates. Maybe with additional pro bono involvement we can do both.’ A conversation about these goals evolved into a new pro bono initiative: The Landlord/Tenant Pro Bono Project. It will provide legal assistance to low-income clients in housing disputes while giving new associates experience in client representation and court proceedings. Once a month at JALA, attorneys from the firm help interview clients during landlord-tenant intake and then accept pro bono cases. In turn, JALA provides training and expert resource guidance, such as recognizing and defining legal issues in landlord-tenant intake and common causes of action. (Jacksonville Daily Record)

Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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