PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 18, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid of Western Ohio honored for innovation;
  • Vinson Elkins providing virtual pro bono assistance;
  • Legal Aid Alberta phasing out drop-in services;
  • Alberta auditor general planning probe of legal aid funding;
  • Nova Scotia Legal Aid adding more services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Chuck Bennett;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 12, 2014 – “Legal Aid of Western Ohio received the Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Annual Conference.  The Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award was created to recognize innovative court connected or court-related programs.”  “Legal Aid was nominated for this award by all of the juvenile and domestic relations judges and magistrates in the original four of the counties served by the program.”  (Northwest Signal)

July 12, 2014 – “With cheap headsets and free Internet service, Vinson & Elkins LLP has created a “virtual” clinic that allows desk-bound lawyers to provide services to the poor — a model the firm believes could be revolutionary in providing pro bono services.  The idea for the firm’s Houston pro bono project was borne in the post-financial crisis years, said Ellyn Josef, the firm’s pro bono counsel, when the typically long lines at weekend pro bono clinics held at Houston-area community centers became even longer.”  (Law 360) (registration required)

July 14, 2014 – “Legal Aid Alberta is phasing out drop-in legal services centres in smaller cities across Alberta.  The move will cost 35 jobs in seven locations, but 16 new positions will be added answering telephones at the main call centre in Edmonton, said Jan Archbold, spokeswoman for Legal Aid. Staffing for duty counsel at courthouses and at criminal resolution offices will also increase.”  “The closures affect offices in Wetaskiwin, Medicine Hat, Peace River, St. Paul, Whitecourt, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie. By reallocating resources, Legal Aid will now also have a duty counsel in every courthouse while court is in session. Those lawyers help anyone facing charges get through the first court appearance.”  (Edmonton Journal)

June 15, 2014 – “The auditor general of Alberta is planning to review funding for the province’s troubled Legal Aid program.  In a letter to NDP MLA Rachel Notley, Merwan Saher confirmed his office is planning to perform a systems audit ‘in the near future.’  Notley wrote Saher last month requesting his officer look at how underfunding for Legal Aid affects the costs of court services and prosecutions. She received his reply on Tuesday.”  This announcement follows in the wake of the earlier announcement by Legal Aid Alberta that it’s closing offices to save money.  (CBCnews)

July 17, 2014 – “Karen Hudson, QC, executive director of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission, said in the 1970s, legal aid would offer assistance in social justice issues, but later narrowed its focus to criminal and family law.  It is now returning to its roots by offering full service in areas of Canadian Pension Plan applications, social assistance claims, Employment Insurance appeals as well as landlord and tenant disputes and housing grants.” “She said giving people proper representation in social justice is important because these issues affect their income and livelihood.  ‘When people have insecurity in their income or housing, it only worsens their intersections with family justice system and criminal justice system,’ Hudson added.”  These services are available now.  (The News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “Chuck Bennett figured the Kenosha [WI] Office of the Public Defender would be a short stop when he took the job in 1982, fresh out of law school — but he stayed for decades.  Bennett’s last day at the office was Friday, retiring after 32 years.  The opening here was the only one for which he applied. Bennett wanted to be close to Milwaukee, and though he hadn’t ever been to Kenosha, the location looked pretty good, and the job was exactly what he wanted.”  He has gained the respect of the judges and prosecutors and says “some of the most rewarding moments, he said, are when he runs into former clients.  ‘There are the ones you helped and they never got in trouble again,’ he said. ‘I’ve never had a bad experience meeting someone I represented before.’”  Congratulations on a career well-spent on helping the voiceless.  (Kenosha News)

Super Music Bonus!

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EJW Student Loan Debt Webinar – July 31

Will Public Service Loan Forgiveness be Capped?

In March, President Obama’s 2015 budget was released. To the dismay of many, it proposed capping Public Service Loan Forgiveness at $57,500. Now it is Congress’ turn to act.

Our July 31 webinar, Drowning in Debt! What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know About Managing Student Debt & Earning Loan Forgiveness, will cover the good and the bad in President Obama’s budget proposal, what’s happening in Congress and the implications for both students and graduates. As always, we’ll also cover in detail what you need to know now about making your monthly student loan payments affordable and earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter (@EJW_org, #studentdebthelp) and on Facebook.

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Friday, July 18 – “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

“Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

Friday, July 18, 2014 | 12:30 pm – 2 pm | Deanwood Neighborhood Library | 1350 49th St NE, Washington DC 20019

Metro: Deanwood (Orange Line)

THE PROGRAM

The East of the River Casehandlers group invites all legal interns, summer associates, law students and pro bono attorneys to come find out more about practicing public interest law east of the Anacostia River. This informal panel discussion will feature attorneys from DC legal services providers that serve the low-income residents of these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Imoni Washington of the DC Bar Foundation will join us after the provider panel to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers east of the river. We will also have information available on student internship and pro bono opportunities with EOTR legal services providers.

PANELISTS

Bread for the City: Taylor Healy (Equal Justice Works Fellow) | Employment Justice Center: Melody Webb (Legal Director) |Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia: Nina Wu (Staff Attorney) Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia: Kristin Hucek (Loaned Associate from Covington & Burling LLP) | Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities: Morgan K. Whitlatch (Senior Attorney)

MODERATOR

Keeshea Turner Roberts (Managing Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Program)

REGISTRATION

To register, contact Heather Hodges at 202.269.5100 or hhodges@nlsp.<orgmailto:hhodges@nlsp.org>. This program is intended to be highly interactive and driven by your questions. We encourage you to submit any questions you have with your registration request.

ABOUT US

The East of the River Casehandlers meet every three months at the Anacostia Library to share program information and discuss strategies for dealing with issues of common concern to our low-income clients in Wards 7 and 8. We also conduct legal information programs for community members and legal services attorneys. Our next meeting will be on August 22, 2014. Please send an e-mail to EastoftheRiverLawyers-subscribe@mail.lawhelp.<orgmailto:EastoftheRiverLawyers-subscribe@mail.lawhelp.org> if you would like to join our listserv.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 11, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid Ontario to fund more Gladue services in Thunder Bay;
  • LA court opens self-help website;
  • Denver (CO) County Court judges seek new defender office;
  • BC lawyers back to job action;
  • ND pilot program exposes law students to rural careers;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Scopes Trial litigants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 4, 2014 – “Legal Aid Ontario plans to address the ‘acute need’ for Gladue services in Northwestern Ontario in the coming months.  ‘When all this is finished we’ll have the best Gladue program across the country,’ director general Nye Thomas said. ‘There’ll still be more work to do after that, but it’s addressing a long standing need.’  Gladue reports allow the court to consider the life circumstances of Aboriginal people accused of crimes. It’s a method of addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the criminal justice system.”  “Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services submitted a proposal for Legal Aid Ontario to fund three Gladue report writers. One based in Thunder Bay, one in Sioux Lookout and one in Timmins.”  “The Lakehead Law school has also asked for funding for Gladue services from Legal Aid Ontario.”  The details haven’t been finalized, but Thomas is optimistic that they will be able to provide funding to both those programs within a year.  (cbcnews)

July 5, 2014 – “A state district judge has introduced a new self-help website designed to provide easier and wider access to legal services.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Wendell Manning says the website — www.4thjdcselfhelp.com — is the result of a collaboration between the court, its bar association, the Louisiana Bar Association, the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court’s Office and Access to Justice.”  “Manning says he hopes the site’s services will help to close the gap between those who qualify for legal aid and those who have an income source but can’t afford an attorney.”  (GoErie.com)

July 5, 2014 – “Denver County Court is seeking creation of a public defender’s office for municipal offenses, replacing contracted attorneys with in-house lawyers to represent needy defendants.  Similar to an office in Aurora, the new public defender would represent those accused of violating municipal ordinances — not state criminal offenses — if they face jail time.  Presiding Judge John Marcucci made the case for the change to a City Council committee, which signed off 4-0.”  If approved, the office will begin operation January 1, 2015. (The Denver Post)

July 5, 2014 – “The Trial Lawyers Association of BC is starting a new wave of job action today. Kamloops lawyer Michelle Stanford, who sits on the Legal Aid Action Committee, says a blackout period starts today and runs until August 8th. That means participating lawyers will refuse to perform duty counsel services, attend trials or bail or sentencing hearings. The next stage will involve one week of blackouts per month. That begins in October and will go on indefinitely.  Stanford says the lawyers have long been pressing the government for desperately needed Legal Aid funding, money to help those who can’t afford their own legal representation. She says the unfortunate part of this job action, is it will hurt those they want to serve. That includes people needing help with family matters or dealing with mental health issues.  The lawyers’ job action was halted after the last provincial election to allow talks to continue with the new Attorney General, but now they’re putting the heat back on.”  (CFJC TV)

July 5, 2014 – “Opportunities abound to practice law in rural North Dakota. The challenge has been persuading young law students to seize those opportunities.  The State Bar Association of North Dakota, University of North Dakota School of Law and North Dakota court system have responded with a pilot project that this summer has two law students working for pay as clerks for rural district judges. The program is designed to expose students to the law and lifestyle in communities of fewer than 15,000 people.” Currently, two students are participating, but there are hopes to expand the program to allow students to clerk with rural attorneys.  (The Bismark Tribune)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On July 10, 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.  The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.  Reviewing the details now provides a fascinating look at where we’ve been and perhaps a preview of where we’re going as a society. Read more here.

Super Music Bonus!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYCNiI_yQeY

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2015 Equal Justice Works Fellowship application now open.

The application for 2015 Equal Justice Works Fellowships is now open! Applications will be accepted through September 17, 2014. Please visit their website to learn more.

EJW is also hosting a free webinar next Wednesday, July 16, to learn more about the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program and get application tips from the experts on our Fellowships Team. Immediately following the July 16 session, there will be a bonus webinar discussing medical-legal partnership projects, featuring Ellen Lawton of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

Wednesday, July 16, 2 p.m. EDT:

  • Bonus Webinar: Building a Successful Medical Legal Partnership Project
    Ellen Lawton of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at GWU’s Department of Health Policy will offer suggestions and resources for engaging healthcare partners, understanding the legal and healthcare landscape, and building sustainable strategies into your project.

Register for both webinars on our website.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 4, 2014

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

Happy July 4th!  Have a safe and happy holiday!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic conduct needs assessment for trans people;
  • NYC legal aid groups get grant to help low-income tenants fighting eviction;
  • Justice Department of Canada aims to cut $52 mil in legal services;
  • NYC funds public defender system for immigrants;
  • St. Mary’s University School of Law to offer Presidential Scholarships to service-oriented students;
  • Baylor Law receives pro bono award;
  • MO legislature grants public defense money – Governor takes it away;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Our Founding Fathers;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 24, 2014 – “The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) is leading an innovative Trans Legal Needs Assessment project that will help trans people meet their legal needs and determine the barriers they face in accessing justice. Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is funding this project as part of its support for the addition of gender identity and gender expression to the Ontario Human Rights Code.”  Ryan Peck, executive director of HALCO, adds, “Our goal for this project is to help a wide range of legal service providers make their vital services more available and accessible to all trans people.”  (Legal Aid Ontario)

June 26, 2014 – “New Yorkers facing eviction will get more help in Housing Court this year.  The City Council’s final budget, approved early Thursday, earmarked $5 million for free legal assistance for low-income tenants who are fighting their landlords in Housing Court, more than double the $2 million that was allocated last year.  The money will go to The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and other public attorney groups, in an effort to prevent the nearly 30,000 evictions that occurred in New York City last year, advocates said.”  (DNAinfo New York)

June 26, 2014 – “The federal Justice department is taking steps to cut $52.2 million worth of legal services it provides government over the next three years with “two waves” of reforms that will eliminate jobs, change the working relationship with client departments and, it hopes, improve efficiency.”  “In the first wave, the changes will eliminate the positions of 65 lawyers and 15 management jobs by 2017, which the department believes can be done by attrition rather than layoffs.  According to a memo circulated to staff, a key area for reform is ‘re-defining’ Justice’s relationship with client departments ‘to strike the right balance between supply and demand of legal services.’”  (Ottawa Citizen)

June 26, 2014 – “Poor New York City residents who have been detained in the immigration system and are facing deportation will now have legal representation to help them through the complicated proceedings after city lawmakers voted to fund a program advocates say is the first of its kind in the country. Lawmakers approved $4.9 million for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project as part of the $75 billion budget passed early Thursday covering the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The funding allows the initiative, which started as a $500,000 pilot program last year, to cover all eligible immigrant city residents appearing in immigration courts in New York City or the New Jersey cities of Elizabeth and Newark.”  (Wall Street Journal)

June 26, 2014 – “The St. Mary’s University School of Law will present as many as five, full-tuition Presidential Scholarships each year to service-oriented law students, starting as early as Fall 2014. The Presidential Scholarship is open to any law school applicant of outstanding academic achievement, commitment to the service to others, and potential for a life of community leadership.  The scholarship will cover 100 percent of the tuition and fees required to complete the Juris Doctor degree at St. Mary’s University, as well as a $5,000 annual stipend. Recipients will be expected to be active in the law school community while a student and to complete all three years of legal study at St. Mary’s.” (St. Mary’s University)

June 26, 2014 – “Baylor Law School was honored today by the State Bar of Texas with an award for exceptional service to the poor during the awards presentation at the organization’s Annual Meeting at the Hilton Austin and Austin Convention Center.  The State Bar presented Baylor Law School with the 2014 W. Frank Newton Award for Pro Bono Excellence. The award, presented by the bar’s Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, recognizes the pro bono contribution of attorney groups whose members have made an outstanding contribution to the provision of, or access to, legal services to the poor.”  (The Gilmore Mirror)

June 29, 2014 – “The Missouri State Public Defender System has once again failed in its quest for more funding.  Backed by new evidence that supports its claims of understaffing, the public defender system received about $4 million in funding increases from the legislature in the budget for fiscal year 2015. But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed about 80 percent of the increase Tuesday.”  The system will receive “about $36 million in next year’s budget, with some additional money included to help the system contract out cases.”  (Missourian)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On July 4, 1776, “[i]n Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king.”  From there, a system of government and laws developed that is the bedrock of our society.  Read more about the events leading up to the Declaration here.  Enjoy this uniquely American holiday! 

Super Music Bonus! A track to add to your July 4th playlist.

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2014 Summer Public Interest Events for Law Students in Washington, DC

The Washington Council of Lawyers has put together a great list of summer public interest events in DC.
2014 Summer Public Interest Events for Law Students in Washington, DC

For more information, visit http://www.probono.net/dc/calendar/

Tuesday, July 8 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Perspectives on Poverty Law from the Bench: DC Court of Appeals – Washington Council of Lawyers DC Court of Appeals (430 E Street, NW – Multipurpose Room; Red Line: Judiciary Square)
Learn more and register at http://wclawyers.org/
Three Court of Appeals judges will discuss how poverty impacts the justice system, the critical role that pro bono and public interest attorneys play in securing access to justice, and how a public interest career path can lead to a judicial appointment.

Wednesday, July 9 | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Fellowships 101: An Introduction to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships –
Washington Council of Lawyers
Georgetown Law (600 New Jersey Avenue, NW – Hart Auditorium; Red Line: Union Station)
Learn more and register at http://wclawyers.org/
A panel discussion of the ins and outs of project-based fellowship programs. Expert panelists
will offer tips and insights about how to craft the best fellowship proposals while in law school.

Thursday, July 10 | 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
An Evening at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Arent Fox LLP
Holocaust Memorial Museum (100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW; Orange/Blue Line: Smithsonian)
For more information, contact Emily.Dorsey@arentfox.com
Gerard Leval, General Counsel of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and a partner atArent Fox LLP, will discuss legal issues relating to the development of the museum and those affecting the museum’s operations since its opening in 1993.

Wednesday, July 16 | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Public Interest Happy Hour – Washington Council of Lawyers
Thomas Foolery (2029 P Street, NW; Red Line: Dupont Circle)
Celebrity guest bartenders pour your drink: Jim Sandman (Legal Services Corporation), Paul Smith (Jenner & Block), Virginia Sloan (The Constitution Project), and William Treanor (Georgetown University Law Center). @washlawyers

Friday, July 18 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River:
4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers
Deanwood Library (1350 49th Street, NE; Orange Line: Deanwood)
To register, contact Heather Hodges at 202.269.5100 or hhodges@nlsp.org
A discussion about student internships and pro bono opportunities east of the river, the DC Bar Foundation’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers in DC, and the DC legal services providers that serve the low-income residents of the diverse and vibrant
neighborhoods east of the river.

Thursday, July 24 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Perspectives on Poverty Law from the Bench: Office of Administrative Hearings –
Washington Council of Lawyers
Arnold & Porter LLP (555 12th Street, NW; Orange/Blue/Red Line: Metro Center)
Learn more and register at http://wclawyers.org/
Three DC Office of Administrative Hearings judges will discuss how poverty impacts the justice
system, the critical role that pro bono and public interest attorneys play in securing access to justice, and how a public interest career path can lead to a judicial appointment.

Wednesday, July 30 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Perspectives on Poverty Law from the Bench: US District Court for the District of Columbia –
Washington Council of Lawyers
McDermott Will & Emery (500 North Capitol Street, NW; Red Line: Union Station)
Learn more and register at http://wclawyers.org/
Three DC District Court judges will discuss how poverty impacts the justice system, the critical role that pro bono and public interest attorneys play in securing access to justice, and how a public interest career path can lead to a judicial appointment.

Monday, August 18 – Friday, August 22
13th Annual Human Rights on the Hill – University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
To join the list for more information, including a session schedule, write to JFL@udc.edu
The course features presentations from a wide range of human rights lawyers, activists and governmental agency leaders. No credit is offered, no tuition is charged, donations are accepted, and you can go to one or all of the classes.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 27, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • FL attorneys file petition to increase fees to help legal aid;
  • Legal Aid Foundation launches Thunderdome Tallahassee;
  • Anonymous donor gives $4 mil to SMU for legal clinic;
  • New federal agencies sign up for virtual interns;
  • B.C. lawyers to withhold legal aid in protest;
  • “And Justice for All” welcomes first legal fellow;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: “Clerical Queen” Cindy Jensen;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 19, 2014 – “A coalition of attorneys, including former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, filed a petition Monday with the state’s top court seeking to hike fees on lawyers to help fund legal services for the poor.  The Florida Bar wasted no time reaffirming its opposition to the effort to increase Bar fees by $100, noting there are lawyers struggling to make ends meet.  Bar President Eugene Pettis said the Bar doesn’t oppose the intent of the petition, rather how the funding ‘crisis’ and the continued delivery of legal aid is addressed.”  (Florida Courier)

June 23, 2014 – “The Legal Aid Foundation has announced a new program: Thunderdome Tallahassee, a hands-on legal group training program to provide education, camaraderie, networking, leadership and recognition to a new generation of lawyers serving the community.  For 45 years, the Legal Aid Foundation has matched volunteer lawyers to low-income families needing legal solutions to desperate situations. Though many lawyers in our area volunteer free representation to those who need it, finding a family law volunteer is particularly difficult.”  “Thunderdome Tallahassee addresses this gaping need for equal access to the law, while supporting volunteer lawyers with the best in legal education and leadership development. This summer, 15 to 20 diverse young lawyers will apply or be nominated for LAF’s inaugural class. Each will commit to volunteer representation for a family law case more than 9 months of training, mentorship and leadership development.  Upon completion of the program, participants will be invited to return as mentors and presenters to future Thunderdome Tallahassee classes. This supportive environment will foster new and continued volunteerism, benefiting local families and children.”  (Tallahassee Democrat)

June 23, 2014 – “An anonymous donor has given $4 million to SMU’s Dedman School of Law to endow the new VanSickle Family Law Clinic to provide free legal help for Dallas residents and skills training for law students.  The clinic, expected to open in fall 2015, will help low-income North Texas residents with divorces, annulments, paternity actions, custody and visitation issues, and child support.”  (Dallas News)

June 23, 2014 – “A dozen federal agencies have signed on to a virtual internship program run through the State Department that fields out special agency projects to American college students.”  The Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship program “received 315 requests from federal agencies for e-interns this year, a record number compared to the 276 requests in 2013.”  “The 315 projects available this year include work in research, computer programming, graphic design, journalism, data analysis, social media, finance, blogging, STEM, food security, public diplomacy and law. If selected, e-interns will commit to volunteering 10 hours per week starting in September 2014 through April 2014.”  Students can apply to their top three projects on USAJobs.gov between July 2 and 22. The 320 projects will be posted on the VSFS website at the end of June.  (Nextgov)

June 23, 2014 – “B.C. lawyers are being urged not to work on legal aid cases next month to protest what some legal advocates are calling a chronic underfunding of the system, possibly leading to empty courtrooms. ‘The idea is that we’re going to keep judges very unbusy for the month of July,’ Birgit Eder, a member of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee, said in an interview.”  “Ms. Eder said lawyers in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops have been asked not to schedule any legal aid matters for next month. The committee says the amount of money put into legal aid by government lags far behind other court spending, and that 40 per cent of people accused in criminal court must now represent themselves. It says 90 per cent of people in small-claims court represent themselves, while in family court, it’s 95 per cent.”  “Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, in a written statement, said government recognizes the important role legal aid plays in providing services. She said that’s why the province increased the Legal Services Society’s budget by $2-million this year, to $74.5-million.  She expressed confidence the protest would not bog down the court system.” (The Globe and Mail)

June 24, 2014 – “‘And Justice for All,’ a Utah nonprofit organization that supports three legal service agencies and provides grants to five others, has launched a legal fellowship program thanks to a $10,000 grant from CIT Bank.  Mary Anne Davies, a recent graduate of Loyola Law School, has joined the Disability Law Center as the first ‘And Justice for All’ legal fellow. The center is a protection and advocacy organization for people with disabilities.  As a fellow, Davies joins a staff of about 30 in assisting people with disabilities who have experienced discrimination at work, school or in the community. The agency also advocates for people who are abused or neglected in institutional settings or in the community.”  (Deseret News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  This happens all over the federal government, but no one talks about it.  A great person with experience sees a problem and does something about it.  Enter “Clerical Queen” Cindy Jensen. Thinking there had to be a better way than the cumbersome manual payment process formerly used, which was based on hard-copy billing, Ms. Jensen began brainstorming a computerized billing program six years ago.  “Six months later, with the help of two technicians, a prototype had been developed. Today her CJA eVoucher (the CJA stands for Criminal Justice Act) is used in 18 federal courthouses in western states and, earlier this year, the director of federal courthouses announced that it would become the standard system throughout the country.”  The system is expected to speed up payment to indigent defense attorneys at more than 100 federal courthouses across the country.  Outstanding work Ms. Jensen!! (Las Vegas Sun)

Super Music Bonus! 

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Interning in DC? Check out the “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

“Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

Friday, July 18, 2014  |  12:30 pm – 2 pm Deanwood Neighborhood Library  | 1350 49th St NE, Washington DC 20019

Metro: Deanwood (Orange Line)

THE PROGRAM

The East of the River Casehandlers group invites all legal interns, summer associates, law students and pro bono attorneys to come find out more about practicing public interest law east of the Anacostia River.  This informal panel discussion will feature attorneys from DC legal services providers that serve the low-income residents of these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.  Imoni Washington of the DC Bar Foundation will join us after the provider panel to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers east of the river.  We will also have information available on student internship and pro bono opportunities with EOTR legal services providers.

REGISTRATION

To register, contact Heather Hodges at 202.269.5100 or hhodges@nlsp.org. This program is intended to be highly interactive and driven by your questions.  We encourage you to submit any questions you have with your registration request.

ABOUT US

The East of the River Casehandlers meet every three months at the Anacostia Library  to share program information and discuss strategies for dealing with issues of common concern to our low-income clients in Wards 7 and 8.  We also conduct legal information programs for community members and legal services attorneys.  Our next meeting will be on August 22, 2014.  Please send an e-mail to EastoftheRiverLawyers-subscribe@mail.lawhelp.org if you would like to join our listserv.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 20, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Summer officially begins tomorrow, but it’s been HOT here for some time.  I just visited Fredericton, NB, where it was absolutely beautiful.  Thank you to all my Canadian hosts for a wonderful trip!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Montgomery Co, AL gets a public defender office;
  • Cleveland, OH firm launches pro bono veterans clinic;
  • NC House & Senate slash budget for legal services;
  • Canyon Co, ID appoints first chief public defender;
  • IN task force created to increase free legal aid;
  • GA public defender system sued;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: June 23 is UN Public Service Day;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 12, 2014 – “Aylia McKee is building Montgomery County’s first Public Defender’s Office from the ground up.”  “The state committed $2.2 million to fund the office, including salaries, benefits and office supplies. The Montgomery County Commission has provided the historic Greil mansion next to the county courthouse on Lawrence Street to house its staff.”  “McKee is currently looking to hire seasoned attorneys who will work as her deputy attorneys in the Public Defender’s Office. She hopes to have her key staff in place by the end of next month.  At full capacity, the public defender’s office will have a staff of about 30 people, with between 16-18 attorneys.  McKee does not yet have a set date when the office will start taking cases.”  “The public defender’s office will be phased in to the courtrooms in Montgomery County and as the office takes on more cases, the contract attorneys will be phased out. But McKee says there is still going to be a lot of work and responsibility for private attorneys. They will be needed to help handle any conflict cases or cases with multiple defendants.”  (WSFA)

June 12, 2014 - ”McDonald Hopkins, working with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Veterans Administration Community Referral and Resource Center, has developed a new initiative to provide free legal advice and referrals to low-income veterans in need of help. This unique collaboration – conceived by Anne Owings Ford and R. Jeffrey Pollock, co-chairs of the firm’s Pro Bono and Public Service Committee – is the first of its kind in Cleveland, and connects low-income veterans with our volunteer lawyers to deliver direct legal advice and recommend a course of action. The inaugural Clinic, held May 7, 2014, was a rousing success.”  (Digital Journal)

June 12, 2014 – “The state Senate budget proposes to cut more than $2 million in legal aid funding, which could make it more difficult for North Carolina’s poorest residents to defend their rights.  Under the Access to Civil Justice Act, a portion of court filing fees are given to legal aid groups in North Carolina—$1.8 million per year. The Senate’s budget bill cuts this funding. The Senate budget also eliminates the Access to Civil Justice Grant, which provided more than $670,000 to legal services in North Carolina last year.”  “While the Senate’s proposed budget eliminates funding both from filing fees and the direct grant, in the House’s proposed budget, funding from filing fees is restored while the Access to Civil Justice Grant is eliminated.” (Indy Week)

June 12, 2014 – “The Canyon County Board of Commissioners has appointed Tera A. Harden as the county’s first chief public defender.  Harden will officially start her new role in July so she will have time to build her staff before the county’s new in-house Public Defender’s Department officially goes into service on Oct. 1. The Public Defender Department will be housed in the newly built Canyon County Administration Building in Caldwell.”  (Idaho Statesman)

June 16, 2014 – “An Indiana Supreme Court task force plans to submit recommendations next week for how to increase the amount of free legal services Hoosier attorneys donate to the poor.  The Supreme Court has already decided against mandatory pro bono services, instead asking a task force to suggest ways to implement mandatory reporting of pro bono hours.”  “The task force is also looking at other administrative issues, including how to define pro bono work.   The justices will make the final decision on how to implement the requirement.”  (Indiana Public Media)
June 16, 2014 – “A former Middle Georgia public defender has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleges breakdowns at all levels of the state’s indigent defense system.  The lawsuit, filed Monday, said that public defenders in the Towaliga Judicial Circuit were forced to work in unsanitary and dilapadated offices and carry crushing case loads. The plaintiff, Jim Kight, who worked as a defender in the circuit for eight years, was fired in retaliation last year after he complained about the conditions, the suit said.”  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The UN Public Service Day intends to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.  The United Nations Public Service Day 2014 theme is, “Innovating Governance for Sustainable Development and Well-being of the People.” (United Nations)

Super Music Bonus! Try to stay cool out there folks! 

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