PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 20, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Corporations help pay legal aid costs in Connecticut;
  • No new money for legal aid in British Columbia;
  • Oklahoma Senate panel passes measure to fund civil legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 15, 2015 – “Some of the world’s largest companies have chipped in to help provide free legal help to poor people across Connecticut in what’s billed as the first program of its kind in the country.   Connecticut-based mega corporations General Electric, United Technologies and Xerox, along with several other companies, have teamed up with the state’s three legal aid organizations to start LawyerCorps Connecticut. The program will pay the salaries and benefits of young attorneys dubbed ‘fellows’ who will work with the legal aid groups to represent several hundred clients a year in civil and family courts.”  “LawyerCorps was conceived about two years ago by Connecticut Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and is based on [Teach for America], which recruits and trains teachers to educate students in low-income areas.”  “LawyerCorps is now reviewing applications from dozens of young or future lawyers and plans to hire three — one for each legal aid organization in the state — who will begin working by September.”  (New Haven Register)

February 18, 2015 – “The budget announced this week by the British Columbia government has more money for police, for courthouse renovations, and a new correctional facility. Despite a projected budget surplus of nearly $900 million, there is no new funding for legal aid services in the province.  Legal organizations in B.C. that have been outspoken about what they say is the chronic underfunding of legal aid, expressed disappointment over the budget, which also included a tax cut for people earning over $150,000 annually. ‘This is 25 years with no new funding,’ says Birgit Eder, a defence lawyer and co-chairperson of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee.  The Canadian Bar Association-British Columbia chapter also expressed its concerns about the budget.  ‘This is a big part of the access-to-justice problem,’ says Alex Shorten, a Vancouver lawyer and president of the CBA-BC. ‘There needs to be more money for legal services for the most vulnerable in the province.’”  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

February 19, 2015 – “A Senate panel passed a measure Wednesday to fund legal services in civil cases for low-income people.  Senate Bill 459, now moves to the full Senate for consideration after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure diverts 65 cents of a $2 filing fee on civil cases to the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission from the Council on Judicial Complaints. The remainder would stay with the Council on Judicial Complaints. The diversion is expected to generate $178,000.The Oklahoma Supreme Court created the seven-member Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission last March, said Vice Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs, who appeared before the panel to answer questions. The commission was created to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Oklahomans, Combs said. It coordinates with groups that currently offer legal civil services to low-income individuals, Combs said.”  (Tulsa World)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Jan R. Jurden became the first female president of the Delaware Superior Court when she was sworn in on Monday afternoon.  The oath was administered to Jurden by Susan Del Pesco, the state’s first female Superior Court judge, in front of a packed courtroom in the New Castle County Courthouse.  Jurden, who has been on the bench since May 2001, will fill the vacancy left by Justice James Vaughn Jr.  Congratulations President Judge Jurden!  (Delaware Online)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/f_rt9bZhrF8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 13, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day weekend. There’s a lot of public interest love this week in the news.  Enjoy!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • EEOC joins federal partners to produce resource guide on disability hiring for employers;
  • Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid raise more than $1 mil;
  • Mobile legal aid office to help homeless youth;
  • NYLAG head resigns amid allegations of financial wrongdoing;
  • New Jersey State Bar begins efforts to lower legal services costs for middle class;
  • Madison, Wisconsin non-profits uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented;
  • Idaho panel tries to ease load of public defenders;
  • Chicago legal aid names new Executive Director;
  • Idaho Appellate Defender seeks to close wage disparity;
  • Hogan Lovells introduces mandatory community service requirements for all employees;
  • LA School Board oks attorneys to offer free legal aid to students at risk of deportation;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 6, 2015 – “On Tuesday, Feb. 3, at a Summit on Disability and Employment, the White House announced a new guide for employers that compiles key federal and federally funded resources related to the employment of people with disabilities. The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format.  The guide was produced by the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative — a federal interagency effort working to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for people with disabilities. “  The guide is a central repository of information and resources to increase employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities.  (JD Supra Business Advisor)

February 8, 2015 – “The Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas set a record this year, raising $1,100,415 in their Equal Access to Justice Campaign. The fundraiser supports the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, which offers free legal assistance to more than 4,000 low-income families each year. The campaign raises money from Dallas lawyers to fund pro bono legal services for the poor.”  (The Dallas Morning News)

February 8, 2015 – “A new legal aid office on wheels will hit the road this month and begin reaching scores of youngsters who are homeless or in danger of landing in the streets, advocates said.  ‘Most of the youths who are moving around and experiencing some level of homelessness don’t know they have legal rights,’ said Stacey Violante Cote, a lawyer who directs the Teen Legal Advocacy Project for the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford.  This new endeavor of ours is to literally use a vehicle to reach out to this population.’”  “The project is believed to be the second of its kind in the country, said Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, which secured about $50,000 worth of grants and donations to buy the van and get it retrofitted. The first such mobile legal clinic focused on youth homelessness is in Chicago, she said.  ‘It’s bringing legal services to where the kids are,’ Stone said, ‘because the kids aren’t going to come to us.’”  (Hartford Courant)

February 8, 2015 - The head of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) stepped down amid a federal investigation into his alleged “accounting irregularities.”  “We are confident the matter involving our former CEO will not interfere with the important legal services our dedicated team provides New Yorkers on a daily basis,” NYLAG spokeswoman Camilla Jenkins said in a statement.  Yisroel Schulman will be replaced by Beth Goldman, who was appointed as New York City’s commissioner of finance in 2013 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Goldman will start her new position at NYLAG on Feb. 17.  (Jewish News)

February 8, 2015 – “The New Jersey State Bar Association is working on a way to make legal services affordable for the middle class.  The group has begun studying methods to hook up those who can’t afford the traditional retainer for a lawyer with attorneys in their price range.”  The group hopes to replicate the program involving Rutgers Law School.  “A blue ribbon panel that includes a pair of retired state Supreme Court Justices will look to create a commercially-viable model of that program, with elder lawyers supervising younger ones.”  The Bar hopes to present suggestions within 6 months.  (CBS Philly)

February 9, 2015 - Several Madison, Wisconsin nonprofit organizations are uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented immigrants who qualify for new immigration programs announced last November.  “The Madison City Council also approved $30,000 in assistance from the city’s contingent reserve last week to go toward the effort.  Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said that funding will go to a half-time staff member at Centro Hispano to coordinate information about the clinic’s hours, train volunteers and get responses from people wanting to go to the clinic.”  (The Cap Times)

February 9, 2015 – “In an effort to cut down on the use of public defenders in Idaho, a legislative panel introduced several bills that would change some misdemeanor charges to lesser infractions.  Republican Rep. Lynn Luker says the bills also try to match an appropriate penalty for the crimes.”  (Times-News)

February 9, 2015 – “The Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS), the second oldest legal aid organization in the nation, has announced that Karina Ayala-Bermejo, Executive Vice President of Human Resources & General Counsel at Metropolitan Family Services, will become Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society (LAS), effective April 1, 2015. Ayala-Bermejo also will continue to serve as Metropolitan’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President.”  LAS is part of Metropolitan Family Services, which has been empowering Chicago-area families to reach their greatest potential and positively impact their communities since 1857.  (Chicago Tribune)

February 10, 2015 – “Idaho’s appellate public defenders make nearly $16,000 less than the state’s Attorney General’s deputies, who often represent the other side while arguing the same case in court.  State Appellate Public Defender Sara Thomas asked legislative budget writers Tuesday for an additional $91,900 in fiscal year 2016 to raise salaries for her appellate public defenders.  Thomas says the amount still falls short compared to how much private attorneys charge. However, the income boost would close the disparity gap between her office and the lowest-paid counterpart in the Attorney General’s office.  State appellate public defenders currently make an average of roughly $56,000 a year. The average Attorney General deputy in the appellate unit makes more than $71,000.”  (KHQ)

February 11, 2015 – “Hogan Lovells has put in place a new broad-reaching policy that will require each of the firm’s more than 5,000 employees in about 25 countries to devote 25 hours per year to community service.  Employees will be able to count the 25 hours as part of their workday, according to Hogan Lovells CEO Stephen Immelt, with the expectation that the approximately 2,500 lawyers who work at the firm will spend their time on pro bono legal services.  While mandatory or highly encouraged pro bono work at Am Law 100 firms is hardly unique, Hogan Lovells’ requirement that nonlawyers participate appears to be the first of its kind. Another ambitious component of the policy is that it applies equally to employees in the firm’s offices outside the United States.”  (American Lawyer)

February 11, 2015 – “Staff attorneys with the Los Angeles Unified School District will be allowed to voluntarily provide free legal services to unaccompanied minors who live within the district and are facing the threat of deportation.”  “Under the program announced last month, 10 LAUSD attorneys will be expected to take on individual cases for an average of one to three hours a week. They will make up their work hours by working late or on weekends, according to the district.”  (CBS Los Angeles)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

A Hall County public defender will receive an award Tuesday for work in community service.  Public defender Nicki Vaughan is the recipient of the 16th Annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.  The award, which is presented by the State Bar of Georgia, honors members of the bar who “have made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrate the positive contributions of members of the Bar beyond their legal or official work,” according to a news release.  Vaughan is one of the co-founders of Georgia CASA, a group of court-appointed special advocates who assist children in foster care.  She is one of 10 recipients.  Congratulations!  (GainesvilleTimes.com)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/pB-5XG-DbAA

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 6, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this week, so six more weeks of winter.  I know many of you are ready for it to be over already. Stay warm out there.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Peace Corps and law school team up to offer Coverdell Fellowships in Hawai’i;
  • Equal Justice Coalition calls for greater legal aid funding in Massachusetts;
  • New York’s MFY Legal Services on strike;
  • Iowa attorneys will not support legal aid through yearly fee;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 29, 2015 – “The Peace Corps has announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law. The program will provide graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers who complete a degree-related internship in an underserved American community while they pursue their studies.”  “Competitively selected Coverdell Fellows will have the opportunity to pursue a juris doctor degree. The new partnership is the first between the Peace Corps and a university campus in Hawai‘i, and is one of only a small handful of Coverdell Fellows programs to offer a law degree.”  (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa)

January 30, 2015 – “Attorneys from private law firms and advocates of civil legal aid organizations in Massachusetts gathered at the State House Thursday, calling for a $10 million funding increase in next year’s state’s budget for civil legal aid.  Currently, the state provides $15 million in funding for civil legal aid. The group, which held its annual walk to Beacon Hill on Thursday, is pushing for the state budget to include $25 million in civil legal aid funding next year and then ratchet up to a total of $45 million in funding over the three years.  The annual walk is organized by The Equal Justice Coalition, which is composed of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, known as MLAC.”  (Boston Business Journal)

February 2, 2015 – “Lawyers are on strike at one of the city’s top legal aid organizations, leaving the firm with hardly any staff left to handle cases.  Attorneys, paralegals and secretaries at MFY Legal Services — which helps thousands of low-income New Yorkers each year with housing problems, family issues and discrimination cases — voted on Friday to reject a new contract because the raises were too low and MFY’s leadership asked for ‘givebacks’ in exchange for parental leave.”  (DNAinfo)

February 3, 2015 – “Iowa attorneys will not be required to pay a yearly fee to support low-income legal services, but the state needs to find more ways to provide representation to its poorest residents, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in a Tuesday order.  The order stems from a drive by Iowa Legal Aid for the court to establish a $100 yearly fee to help support its budget amid a decline in funding from the federal government and other sources. Iowa Legal Aid is the state’s largest organization offering civil legal services to poor residents, closing an average of 23,000 cases a year between 2008 and 2012.”  The Court, Legal Aid, and the Iowa State Bar Association will continue to look for other ways to meet the legal needs of poor Iowans.  (The Des Moines Register)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

A human rights organization at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law is one of nine nonprofit groups to win the 2015 MacArthur Foundation grants.  The MacArthur Foundation honors extraordinary organizations – in this case, recognizing the Human Rights Center’s investigations and research on war crimes and human rights abuses in more than a dozen countries and spotlighting the center’s recent work on wartime sexual violence. MacArthur will award the center $1 million to establish an endowment and expand its sexual violence program.  Read more about their excellent work here. (Daily Journal)

Super Music Bonus! http://youtu.be/4wfa6qZmz5A?list=PLVXq77mXV53_3HqhCLGv4mz3oVGYd2Aup

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 30, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • B.C. lawyer donates $30 mil to UBC law school;
  • ME’s legal services fund short $1.7 mil;
  • Law incubator welcomes inaugural class;
  • Congressman introduces bill to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy;
  • Ottawa pilot project offers legal information, but not advice;
  • Proposed legislation in MO would alter prosecutor system;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 22, 2015 – “A B.C. lawyer, philanthropist and businessman who has already donated millions to social justice causes has given the law school at the University of British Columbia the biggest gift it has ever received.  Peter Allard, a UBC law school grad, has donated $30-million to help the school promote human rights and social justice, as well as anti-corruption efforts around the world, the university said in a news release on Thursday. The donation is on top of $11.86-million Mr. Allard gave the school in 2011.”  The grant will be used, in part, to expand the school’s legal advice clinic.  (The Globe and Mail)

January 22, 2015 – “The state Commission on Indigent Legal Services told lawmakers the agency is short $1.7 million to meet its expected obligations this budget year.  Executive Director John Pelletier says not only do they need additional funds for this year, they are flat funded in the governor’s proposed two-year budget.  ‘These are requests that we believe are realistic, acknowledges the existence of these increasing costs and put the increases at a number that is based on data,’ Pelletier said.  Pelletier says actual costs are going up by about 8 percent a year and funding has not kept up.”  (MPBN News)

January 22, 2015 – “The Loyola University New Orleans College of Law has announced its inaugural group of participants for the Loyola Incubator Program, an intensive, yearlong mentorship and skills program for recent graduates in their first three years of solo practice. With 25 percent of participants’ time devoted to pro bono legal work, the Incubator Program addresses the unmet legal needs of poor or moderate-income individuals in the Greater New Orleans area. The first year of the two-year pilot program began this month and runs through December 2015.”  (Loyola University New Orleans Newsroom)

January 22, 2015 – “A lawmaker has filed legislation in Congress to allow student loan debt to be treated like other forms of debt that can be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.  Rep. John K. Delaney, D-Md., introduced the Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy Act (H.R. 449).  ‘Student loan debt is dragging down economic growth, keeping the American Dream out of reach for many and is a monthly strain for millions,’ Delaney said in a statement. ‘While student loan debt is a complex problem that will require many solutions—increased support for grant programs, efforts to increase affordability, improved consumer education—we also need to reform our laws to help those with the absolute greatest need. Right now, there is effectively a huge student loan loophole in bankruptcy law that’s hurting real people.’”  (Accounting Today)

January 23, 2015 – “A new centre in Ottawa that provides free bilingual legal information is up and running after receiving $1.5 million from the federal government. The Ottawa Legal Information Centre, which opened its doors last week, offers free legal information and referral services, but not legal advice or representation. ‘We don’t represent in court, we won’t evaluate a case’s chances of success,’ said executive director Andrée-Anne Martel.  Martel says the centre will help Canadians who face legal issues but don’t know what to do or can’t afford to properly deal with their case.”  (CBC News)

January 25, 2015 – “Proposed legislation in the Missouri Senate could significantly alter criminal prosecution with a fundamental change in the structure of prosecuting attorney offices that is tied to structural reforms of the circuit court system.Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon (R-Greene County), would allow county commissions to abolish the office of county prosecuting attorney to join a state’s attorney system that could potentially have some elected prosecutors covering multiple counties.”  “SB 79 would allow a state’s attorney to be elected every four years beginning with the 2018 general election from counties in a judicial circuit that have elected to join the system.”  (Lake News Online)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Akerman LLP has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Chief Justice’s Law Firm Commendation Award by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar — the highest recognition of pro bono legal service awarded in the state to a law firm.  This is the second consecutive year that the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar have recognized Akerman lawyers for their pro bono work and efforts benefiting at-risk youth.  Thank you for your outstanding work!  (Orlando Business Journal)

Super Music Bonus! In honor of the Super Bowl, here is a great video about game watching stereotypes.  Enjoy!

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Job’o'th’Week (Entry-Level Edition) — Champion Human Rights as the RFK Center’s Wilson Fellow

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

If you’re a 3L or recent grad with a passion for (and experience with) international human rights work, you shouldn’t miss your chance to apply for the Donald M. Wilson Fellowship at the Robert F. Kennedy Center’s for Justice & Human Rights.

Among other responsibilities, the recent law grad selected as Fellow gets the opportunity to conduct human rights research, prepare documents in support of litigation before international tribunals and contribute to litigation strategies, and report on Congressional hearings.

If this sounds like you, check out the more detailed, full post on PSJD (application deadline: 02 February, 2015).

 

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 23, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • TX panel recommends case limits for indigent defense;
  • Montgomery County, AL Public Defenders Office takes first cases;
  • NY State Bar seeks budget surplus funding of new legal aid center;
  • Goodwin Proctor opens applications for Public Interest Fellowship;
  • Dayton, OH grants $25,000 for immigrant legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 15, 2015 – “Criminal defense attorneys across Texas should have specific limits for caseloads, according to a state commission study released Thursday.  Based on information collected from defense lawyers statewide, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission recommended guidelines on the number of cases attorneys can handle, saying it would help ensure that court appointed lawyers have enough time to devote to each client.  According to the study’s findings, a Texas attorney should handle an annual full-time equivalent of no more than 236 Class B misdemeanors, 216 class A misdemeanors, 175 state jail felonies, 144 third-degree felonies, 105 second-degree felonies or 77 first-degree felonies.  The report was applauded by legislators who have long sounded the call for lower caseloads and more resources.”  (Chron)

January 19, 2015 – “Starting Tuesday, Montgomery County defendants who are unable to pay for attorneys for court cases will have an option.  The Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office will begin representing indigent clients Tuesday. The office is headed by Aylia McKee, formerly of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defenders Office for the Middle District of Alabama.”  (Montgomery Advertiser)

January 19, 2015 – “The New York State Bar Association is seeking $5 million in state funding for the creation of a legal services center in Albany to enhance the availability of legal services to low income individuals.  ‘With the state’s surplus, there is now an opportunity to make a one-time investment that could be very meaningful in terms of improving the access of people needing legal assistance to available services and enhancing the ability of lawyers to provide these services,’ State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee of New York City (Kee & Lau-Kee) wrote in a letter to Governor Cuomo.”  “The Association’s proposal is supported by the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Empire Justice Center and the Legal Project, all of which are providers in the Capital District.”  (Read Media)

January 21, 2015 – For the 10th consecutive year, Goodwin Proctor LLP is offering “its 2015 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color program, which provides awards of $7,500 to law students of color who demonstrate outstanding academic performance, leadership skills and a commitment to community service. The fellowships are designed to help support students who plan to work in public interest law positions in the summer following their first year of law school. This year, four fellowships will be awarded. Application guidelines and forms are available online; the application deadline is March 13, 2015.  (Business Wire)

January 21, 2015 – “Dayton City Commissioners approved a grant that may have a major impact on immigrants.  The grant for $25,000 is all part of an initiative to make Dayton a friendlier, more welcoming community.  It was awarded to Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit firm that provides legal services for immigrants.  The non-profit estimates that through this grant, and more in the future, it will have the funds to aid nearly 5,000 people who are eligible for temporary stays through President Obama’s executive action in November.”  (WDTN.com)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Chatham County Assistant Public Defender Christopher Middleton has been named winner of the State Bar of Georgia’s 16th annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service for the state’s District 1.  The award, to be presented Feb. 17 at the Georgia Bar Center in Atlanta, was created in 1996 by then-Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Benham and others amid concerns that a decreasing number of the state’s lawyers were active in leadership positions in public and community services.  The award, which is administered by the state bar and the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, recognizes lawyers who continue to value the tradition of community service and who measure their success in ways other than financial gain.  Congratulations to Mr. Middleton, who has impacted his community in numerous positive ways!  (Savannah Morning News)

Super Music Bonus! http://youtu.be/mYFaghHyMKc

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Job’o'th’Week (Experienced Edition) — Lead the NLCHP’s Advocacy Efforts

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The National Law Center for Homelessness & Poverty is the only national legal advocacy organization dedicated solely to using the legal system to combat homelessness in the United States. This week, they dropped a big policy job on the market. They’re looking for an attorney with a background in impact litigation and policy and 2-3 years of experience supervising staff (among other things) to help set the organization’s strategic vision and to lead program planning (among other things).

If this sounds like you, check out the more detailed, full post on PSJD (rolling deadline).

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Job’o'th’Week (Entry-Level Edition) — 2015-2016 PSJD Fellow

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Alright! This week’s entry-level Job’o’th’Week is…my own! Every year, NALP hires a recent law graduate to help strengthen PSJD’s services. Every Fellow is different, but we all try to bring a job-seeker’s perspective to the task of maintaining and improving PSJD. There are many aspects to this job, and anyone with ideas for improving the way we develop our content, communicate with our users, or educate students about career development should consider applying. (My predecessor, Ashley Matthews, made great strides developing our social media presence. I’m focusing my time on trying to improve the website’s inner workings.)

I believe in PSJD. It’s a vital resource for law students and lawyers trying to figure out a much less straightforward area of the legal market (public interest jobs) that simultaneously receives less attention from careers professionals because there are fewer public positions than private ones. I hope you agree. If you have an interest in our work, I encourage you to apply.

Check out the full post on PSJD (application deadline: March 6, 2015).

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 16, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • US federal government launches 2015 Workforce Recruitment Program for candidates with disabilities;
  • New endowment supports professional development and diversity efforts at University of Arkansas School of Law;
  • Prairie provinces contemplating overhaul of legal services delivery;
  • CA State Bar provides grant to start incubator;
  • Legal Aid of Marin launches lawyer referral service;
  • IU Maurer School of Law names first Director of IP Clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 12, 2015 -The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a recruitment and referral program that connects employers nationwide with university students and recent graduates with disabilities to internships or permanent jobs.  Individuals must work with their schools, who register with the program.  For details on how the program works, see the WPR website.

January 12, 2015 – “University of Arkansas School of Law alumnus and Walmart executive Jeff Gearhart and his wife, Lisa Gearhart, have created an endowed fund to enhance academic and professional development opportunities that advance diversity in the legal profession. The Gearhart Family Endowed Diversity Support Initiative was established through a $200,000 gift from the couple.”  “The initiative will support programs such as internships, student travel to conferences and competitions, and expanded diversity education. It will complement existing diversity initiatives at the School of Law.”  (University of Arkansas Newswire)

January 12, 2015 – “Putting your affairs in order might one day be as simple as another stop at Costco or the Alberta Motor Association, the dean of the University of Alberta’s law school says.  With seismic shifts already shaking the American and Commonwealth legal profession, Alberta has joined the Canadian conversation about changes in technology and service delivery that could improve access to legal services, break the virtual monopoly held by lawyers and radically change how and where legal advice is given.”  “In September, the Law Society of Alberta began working with partner societies in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to contemplate an overhaul of the delivery of legal services on the Prairies. Potential changes include rules around ownership of firms and the enhanced use of technology and paralegals.”  Alternatives to the traditional legal office are being considered across Canada, and changes may occur as soon as 2016.  (Edmonton Journal)

January 12, 2015 – “The State Bar of California’s Commission on Access to Justice has awarded a grant to Southwestern Law School, UCLA School of Law and Pepperdine University School of Law to establish a modest means incubator, a pilot program to help new attorneys launch and develop viable law practices serving modest means clients.
The law schools have partnered with local legal aid organizations and the Los Angeles County Law Library to create the Los Angeles County Incubator Consortium, through which 12 to 15 recent graduates –  four or five from each law school – will receive training in establishing law practices that provide legal services to low and modest income populations.”  (Southwestern Law School News)

January 13, 2015 – I have been in numerous discussions recently regarding lawyer referral services.  Here is one example of how the program could work.  “Legal Aid of Marin, a nonprofit based in San Rafael [CA], has launched a referral service to match litigants to qualified lawyers in relevant fields.  Under the service, called the Marin Lawyer Referral Service, residents pay trained volunteers $50 for each referral, and the lawyer agrees to provide a free 30-minute consultation. The participating lawyers are selected from a panel screened for experience and clean state bar records.”  (Marin Independent Journal)

January 15, 2015 – “The IU Maurer School of Law will bring in Norman Hedges as a new clinical associate professor of law and its first full-time director of Maurer’s intellectual property law clinic.  The clinic opened its doors in January 2014 to provide pro bono patent, trademark and intellectual property law counseling, according to an IU press release.”  (Indiana Daily Student)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  A moment of silence for the Nigerian victims of Boka Haram and those at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.  All lives are important and should be mourned equally.

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/PoPL7BExSQU

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Equal Justice Works’ Urgent Call: Help Preserve Public Service Loan Forgiveness

When it comes to student debt problems, Equal Justice Works helps us all a lot. They’ve got their student debt blog on the Huffington Post, their free student debt ebook, and their monthly free webinar series JDs in Debt: What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know about Managing Student Loans & Earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (The next webinar is Thursday, January 22, from 3pm – 4pm EST, by the way.) Now, EJW needs your help. I’ll let them explain for themselves:

Help Preserve Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) allows borrowers to earn forgiveness of federal student loans after making 10 years of on-time monthly payments while working full-time in a public service position. While we hear from countless borrowers about how critical PSLF is to making a public interest career possible, currently, there is little hard data on who is relying on the program and its impact. You can help by filling out this very quick survey to show the impact the ability to earn forgiveness through PSLF has on your career plans.

This data will be invaluable in helping Equal Justice Works and a coalition of interested groups advocate for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. PSLF is currently being challenged by groups alleging it contributes to rising tuition and unfairly benefits professional and graduate students, including lawyers, doctors and social workers. This spring, the Obama Administration recommended capping PSLF at the undergraduate loan limit (currently $57,500) in its FY 2015 budget request to Congress. Now, Congress might propose a similar cap during the ongoing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this year.

Your responses will be aggregated for confidentiality. You have the option to share your personal story in the survey if you would like to provide anecdotal evidence of the importance of PSLF. You can also let us know if you would like to be contacted about additional steps you can take to advocate for PSLF, including in Congress.

The deadline for completing the survey is March 2, but please complete it as soon as possible in case Congress acts sooner. Thank you for your help on this urgent issue!

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