PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 27, 2016

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Inaugural Gallogly Family Foundation Public Interest Fellowship awarded to three University of Oklahoma College of Law graduates;
  • Justice Sotomayor would like to see mandatory pro bono;
  • The University of Minnesota Law School launches the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program;
  • Illinois pushes legal aid for juveniles in murder cases;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 19, 2016 – “The University of Oklahoma College of Law announced the selection of three of its 2016 graduates to the inaugural class of the Gallogly Family Foundation Public Interest Fellowship Program. The program supports recent graduates of a select number of leading law schools across the country. In its first year, the Gallogly Family Foundation selected the OU College of Law to serve as the pilot school for the Foundation’s fellowships.” “At at time when funding for public interest legal services is in great need, the Gallogly program exists to increase the number of people who receive much-needed services and to help new lawyers pursue a career in public interest law. It is modeled after the prestigious Skadden Public Interest Fellowships. Each Gallogly Fellowship includes a compensation and benefits package of $50,000 and is awarded for one year with the option to renew for an additional year. Fellows work for a domestic 501(c)(3) nonprofit on a new or existing project within the organization. Qualified organizations provide legal services to the poor and/or those deprived of their civil or human rights.” (Tulsa Business & Legal News)

May 19, 2016 – “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is winning praise for re-energizing the movement toward mandatory pro bono for lawyers with her recent remarks on the subject, but some advocates think the requirement poses significant challenges and won’t work for everyone. In remarks May 16 before the American Law Institute, Sotomayor said, ‘If I had my way, I would make pro bono service a requirement’ for all lawyers, adding, ‘I believe in forced labor.'”  A flurry of commentary followed.  The National Law Journal looks at the ensuing debate.  (National Law Journal)(subscription required)

May 23, 2016 – “The University of Minnesota Law School announced today the launch of an innovative program to provide students committed to serving the public with valuable legal experience and to provide them with guaranteed legal employment post-graduation, while providing leading public interest and government organizations with much-needed legal assistance. The Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program, established by a gift from Allen (’56) and Linda Saeks, will connect leading public interest and government organizations with high-achieving law students, committed to long-term careers in serving the public interest. Students selected for the program work as an extern full-time (32-hours per week) during their third year of law school for a nonprofit or government agency for which they receive law school credit toward their graduation. Upon graduation, the law student is guaranteed a full-time, paid legal position with the same organization the year following graduation.” (University of Minnesota)

May 24, 2016 – “A lawyer would have to be present when police question juveniles younger than 15 in murder or sex offense investigations under a measure Illinois lawmakers are considering that seeks to eliminate false confessions. Illinois currently mandates legal representation for children younger than 13 in those cases, even if they’re not the targets of the criminal probe. However, the two Democratic legislators sponsoring the new bill say 14- and 15-year-olds should receive legal protection too. Tim Curry, director of training and technical assistance at the National Juvenile Defender Center, said most children don’t know to invoke their rights to an attorney.” “The bill would require that when police question anyone younger than 18 about a murder or sex crime, they must read a simplified Miranda warning explaining the person’s right to stay silent and have legal counsel. It also would guarantee that interrogations of all juveniles be videotaped in misdemeanor and felony cases.” (ABC News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Alaska Bar Association 2016 Pro Bono Award recipients Rob & Jeannie Sato (Solo Practioner); Dorsey & Whitney (Firm); Matt Claman (Public Sector); Lee Holden (Lifetime Achievement).

Lee Holden: “Receiving a Lifetime Achievement award is much deserved when you’ve had a 38 year long career devoted to helping Alaskans.  Lee’s career has been focused on employment law by representing employees, unions, and small employers in her private practice; however, she has left a distinct footprint on the clients of Alaska Legal Services Corporation over the last 15 years. Lee has not only carried a pro bono caseload and provided employment law consultations but also pioneered ALSC’s Employment Law ‘Attorney of the Day’ program. This program enables ALSC to screen potential employment law issue applications to volunteer attorneys who review for merit and provide brief services. She is ALSC’s primary consultant on employment matters and a long-standing mentor to new attorneys or those simply new to volunteering on employment law issues. Lee’s volunteer service extends also to the Bar Association where she does Fee Arbitrations and is on the board of the Blood Bank of Alaska. But her true passion may be the volunteer work she does for Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand.”

Read about the other recipients here. Congratulations to all the recipients!!

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Job’o’th’week (JD Advantage Edition) – Policy Surveillance Program

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Policy Surveillance Program (PSP) is seeking applications from lawyers and recent law-school graduates to fill several full-time Legal Research Associate positions. The PSP is a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to promote effective regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public health. The program is housed at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: June 30, 2016)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 20, 2016

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

Happy Friday! A big thank you to the ABA and the NLADA for an incredible Equal Justice Conference. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New York State Senator co-sponsoring bills to make state pay for indigent defense and DA salary increases;
  • National Center for Access to Justice releases 2016 Justice Index;
  • US News and World Report has an article on LRAPs;
  • Southern District of Indiana proposes mandatory pro bono;
  • Delaware lawmakers want to ensure public defenders for juveniles;
  • Louisiana Senate to consider reworking indigent defense spending;
  • Indiana Supreme Court reorganizes civil legal aid programs;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 10, 2016 – “State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, is joining the fight to make the state pick up the tab for district attorney salary raises and indigent defense costs. The senator announced Monday that he is cosponsoring a pair of bills that would see the state take on these costs if passed. The first bill, S.7417, would direct the state to provide approximately $1.6 million in financial assistance to counties to cover the costs of district attorney salary raises.” “Sen. Griffo said he is also cosponsoring another Senate bill, S.6341A, that would require the state to pay for indigent defense costs that all except five counties currently cover. The five counties, Suffolk, Washington, Ontario, Onondaga and Schuyler, won a lawsuit in 2014 that ended in the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services taking charge of each county’s public defense expenses. Based on a report released in April, the New York State Office of Indigent Defense is recommending all counties outside of New York City increase indigent defense eligibility under the federal poverty level guidelines, which could increase the number of cases county indigent defense offices are required to handle. County officials from Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties have said the new rule, slated to go into effect this October, would increase indigent defense costs.” (Daily Courier Observer)

May 10, 2016 – “The District of Columbia and Massachusetts rank the highest when it comes to access to justice, while Mississippi and Wyoming are at the bottom, according to the National Center for Access to Justice’s latest state-by-state ranking. The center’s Justice Index www.justiceindex.org evaluates each state according to the number of civil legal aid attorneys for the poor, the availability of resources for people representing themselves in legal matters, and assistance for non-English speakers and the disabled.” “‘The biggest story in Justice Index 2016 is about the progress courts are making to help people without lawyers,’ said David Udell, executive director of the center, which is housed at Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. ‘Nothing replaces the role of a lawyer, but with judicial leadership, many states are pursuing common-sense reforms to help poor Americans in civil cases.'” “Udell said improved research and data on access to justice, as well as new efforts by top state judges to make the courts more user friendly, are spurring change. In August, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a joint resolution calling for ‘an aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs.'” (National Law Journal)(subscription required)

May 11, 2016 – A basic article on law-school based loan repayment programs. It’s good to see these programs highlighted. Also, look for the NALP survey results on law-school based LRAP programs in the upcoming June Bulletin. (US News and World Report)

May 13, 2016 – “A proposed rule change would for the first time obligate lawyers to provide mandatory pro bono service to litigants in civil cases filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the court announced Friday. ‘Given that approximately fifty percent of the filings in this district last year were made by pro se litigants, the court has found it necessary to join the other district courts around the country that have instituted mandatory pro bono appointment programs,’ Southern District Chief Judge Richard Young wrote in a letter to the federal district bar. Young’s announcement accompanied a proposed rule change to Local Rule 87. Public comments on the change will be accepted through June 12. The court also established a web page regarding the change. Young said the rule ‘is designed to address the urgent and ever-increasing need to provide counsel for indigent litigants in certain civil cases.'” “Under the proposed rule, the court would create a voluntary panel of attorneys who are willing to represent indigent litigants, as well as an obligatory panel that would be used when there are insufficient resources available from the voluntary panel.” (The Indiana Lawyer)

May 16, 2016 – “Top Delaware lawmakers want to guarantee juveniles have access to a public defender, regardless of family income or the level of their alleged crime. The state Office of Defense Services already offers free legal representation to young people facing charges, even though it’s not required by state law. House Bill 382 seeks to set the policy in stone so that future budget cuts or changes in leadership don’t change that. Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement, ‘We can’t rely on current practice as a guarantee for the future.’ The change, if approved, would mean the courts and Public Defender’s Office will be required to continue the practice.” (Delaware Online)

May 17, 2016 – “An effort to reshuffle how Louisiana spends its money on indigent defense is edging closer to final legislative passage. The proposal by Rep. Sherman Mack, an Albany Republican, would require at least 65 percent of the state public defender board’s financing to flow to local indigent defenders. That could steer money away from appeals of death sentences for poor defendants. A Senate judiciary committee voted 4-1 Tuesday to send Mack’s House-approved bill to the full Senate. Some local public defenders have stopped taking cases because of money shortages, prompting lawsuits. Bill supporters say the local public defenders need the money and too much money is spent on capital defense cases by the board. Opponents say more dollars are needed overall to pay for indigent defense.” (KATC)

May 18, 2016 – “The Indiana Supreme Court is reorganizing its programs aimed at ensuring low-income Hoosiers have equal access to the state’s civil court system. Chief Justice Loretta Rush, in an order issued Tuesday, established the 17-member Coalition for Court Access, led by Justice Steven David, to manage the provision of legal aid to individuals unable to afford attorneys for civil lawsuits. The new coalition replaces the state’s Pro Bono Commission, the Indiana Commission to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services and the Indiana Supreme Court Committee on Unrepresented Litigants, all of which were terminated by Rush’s order. However, much of the work of those groups will continue under the Coalition for Court Access, including the Northwest Indiana pro bono committee which annually evaluates and reports on the availability and need for civil legal aid in the Region.” (NWI The Times)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Harvard Law School Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin will receive the Boston Bar Association’s John G. Brooks Legal Services Award during the association’s annual Law Day Dinner on May 12. Nagin is the Vice Dean for Experiential and Clinical Education and serves as the faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center and the Veterans Legal Clinic at Harvard Law School. The award was established to recognize professional legal services attorneys for their outstanding work on behalf of indigent clients in greater Boston. Nagin’s work was credited with embodying the spirit of the award, on both the local and national levels. (Harvard Law Today)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Job’o’th’week (Internships Edition) – Peggy Browning Fund

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Are you still looking for a paid summer internship? Interested in workers’ rights? The Peggy Browning Fund still has three funded summer positions that need to be filled!

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD or visit their website for more information on how to apply! (Application Deadline: Rolling)

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Job’o’th’week (Articling Edition) – Canadian Centre for International Justice

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Canadian Centre for International Justice is seeking a full-time articling student for a period of 10 months in 2017-2018. The articling student will be involved in investigations, legal cases and other justice initiatives, and will have primary responsibility for some files. The Canadian Centre for International Justice/Centre canadien pour la justice internationale (CCIJ-CCJI) works with survivors of genocide, torture and other atrocities to seek redress and bring perpetrators to justice.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post here. (Application Deadline: May 24, 2016)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 6, 2016

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

Happy Friday! I hope to see many of you at the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference next week in Chicago.  Because I will have an opportunity to share the news in person, the Digest will return on Friday, May 20.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid of Nebraska establishes autistic legal hotline;
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court approves petitions encouraging more pro bono work;
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe announces pro bono partnership with the Americans for Safe Access Foundation;
  • Federal government seeks to join suit against Idaho’s public defense system;
  • Missouri to get $6.7 million for foreclosure help;
  • Saint Louis University School of Law legal clinics and St. Louis Housing Authority receive grant;
  • Lambda Legal announces new executive director;
  • Milwaukee programs get grant for legal services;
  • Public defenders in Tennessee county have stopped taking cases;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 28, 2016 – “Autism affects approximately 1% of children ages three to 18 in Nebraska, according to the Autism Action Partnership. The Legal Aid of Nebraska recently received a grant from the Autism Action Partnership in Omaha to provide free legal advice and assistance to people with autism and families who help an autistic relative. Children and their families often run into problems and barriers to leading full, productive lives, particularly if they are low-income families, Legal Aid said Thursday. Landlords sometimes misunderstand these families, schools refuse to help with education, social service agencies do not provide benefits, child welfare officials and law enforcement may see neglect rather than parents fighting for their kids. The project will be led through Legal Aid’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project with assistance from the University Of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute, and the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha.” (North Platte Bulletin)

April 28, 2016 – “A package approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court is designed to encourage more pro bono work and increase access to justice. Attorneys will be able to get up to six continuing legal education (CLE) credits per reporting period for doing qualified pro bono work, under a petition that was recently adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, subject to minor language changes.” “The court also adopted a so-called cy pres petition, submitted by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission, which will require a portion of unclaimed class action awards (residual funds) to be diverted to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WisTAF), which supports legal services to low-income and indigent persons.” (State Bar of Wisconsin)

April 28, 2016 – “Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe announced a pro bono partnership Thursday with the Americans for Safe Access Foundation, a medical marijuana advocacy group, signifying to some that the push to make legal cannabis available to patients nationwide has gone mainstream. The Oakland, California-based nonprofit, which lobbies lawmakers on how to improve their states’ medical marijuana laws and seeks to educate patients on their rights, will work with Orrick lawyers to update a series of manuals on state medical marijuana laws. Eventually, Orrick hopes to coordinate a hotline for medical marijuana patients in need of legal advice that will involve other law firms.” (The American Lawyer)

April 29, 2016 – “The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson are requesting to weigh in on a class-action lawsuit against Idaho’s public defense system. The parties earlier this month filed a motion to join the lawsuit on behalf of the United States. The Idaho Supreme Court has not yet approved the request. ‘The United States has a strong interest in ensuring that all jurisdictions — federal, state, and local — fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide counsel to criminal defendants and juveniles facing incarceration who cannot afford an attorney,’ the motion read.” (Hastings Tribune)

April, 29, 2016 – “The Texas Indigent Defense Commission is providing Bexar County with a $600,000 grant to provide attorney services for the homeless and those with mental health issues. The program is designed to identify people often called ‘frequent fliers’ – people who are in and out of the court system for a variety of minor offenses. Instead of going to jail they are offered options, from housing to medical attention and job search guidance. ‘Locking somebody up, just putting them in jail, doesn’t seem to be the answer,’ said Chief Public Defender Michael Young. ‘And I think we’re finally realizing that.’ Young oversees the program funded by the grant.” (KSAT)

April 29, 2016 – “Missouri will get $6.7 million from a settlement with Bank of America, and most of the money would be used for legal help for people facing mortgage foreclosure. The money comes from a 2014 settlement with Bank of America over mortgage issues. Besides help in foreclosure cases, the money can be used for community development. The money will go to the Missouri Lawyer Trust Account Foundation, the settlement monitor announced. The Foundation pools small-dollar escrow accounts from lawyers around the state, and collects interest on the money. About 90 percent of the interest is used to help four legal aid groups serving the poor. Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, based in St. Louis, is one of the four. The group also funds other legal-related programs, such as the Court Appointed Special Advocate program designed to help children in foster care around St. Louis. Denise Brown, the foundation’s executive director, said the group hasn’t decided how the $6.7 million will be distributed. The foundation’s distribution usually ranges from $600,000 to $1.3 million per year.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

April 29, 2016 – “The School of Law Legal Clinics has partnered with St. Louis Housing Authority (SLHA) for a $100,000 grant to create a youth re-entry program in St. Louis. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice, is part of a $1.75 million effort for public housing authorities and nonprofit legal services across the country to provide needed pro bono legal services aimed at youth. The Legal Clinics will work with SLHA to focus on sealing and correcting criminal records for target youth, removing records by participation in diversion programs and reinstating revoked or suspended drivers licenses. The program will also provide information about collateral consequences of criminal involvement and connect target youth with existing supportive service partners to assist with a variety of needs including employment, housing and health. Another partner includes St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) which will provide referrals to the program and connect youth with training and employment opportunities.” (Saint Louis University News)

May 2, 2016 – “Rachel B. Tiven has been hired as the new CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest legal organization fighting for equality on behalf of LGBT people and those living with HIV. Tiven is currently executive director of the Immigrant Justice Corps. ‘Rachel’s track record of strengthening and growing mission-driven organizations into national forces for legal, political, and social change made her the clear choice to lead Lambda Legal going forward,’ said Tracey Wallace and Stephen Winters, co-chairs, Lambda Legal Board of Directors. ‘The list of victories yet to be won is long, and requires a leader who can ensure equality and dignity for our community, our families and all our loved ones. We’re confident Rachel is the leader to take us forward.'” (Windy City Times)

May 3, 2016 – “Federal and city officials at a news conference Monday announced a $100,000 grant awarded to the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee and Legal Action of Wisconsin. The money will be used to help provide legal services to people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are current public housing residents, or those who would be living in public housing but can’t because of their criminal records.The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice, will be used to provide services to young adults, including helping to expunge, seal or correct criminal records as allowed by state law; reinstate revoked or suspended driver’s licenses; or provide job counseling and family law services.” (Journal Sentinel)

May 5, 2016 – “This week Williamson County [Tennessee] made headlines when the district’s public defender said her assistants will not be taking on new cases because of their existing case load. The Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference – charged with filling the state’s obligation to provide a lawyer to those who can’t afford one in criminal cases – says the problem exists throughout the state. Paige Edwards, the conference’s assistant executive director, says she hears from many who are overwhelmed with cases. ‘The fact that more courts have been created and you only have limited staff to go to all those courts, it’s stretching the staff thin,’ she explains. Edwards says population growth has added to demand and more state attorney positions haven’t been added since the 2007 budget year. ” (Public News Service)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Donna Peel is using sharing-economy principles and woman power to help fill a dire need for legal-aid lawyers. Peel is the founder of Pro Bono Network, an Oak Park, Ill., non-profit organization that provides about 40 volunteer lawyers a month to Chicago-area legal aid agencies. About 90 percent of the 200 attorneys in the network are women and one-third are stay-at-home moms, all of whom do pro bono work when it fits in their schedule — kind of like a part-time Uber driver. The Pro Bono Network’s mission is to be “a force multiplier” for legal aid by making volunteering hyper-easy, Peel says. To do so, it’s harnessing the same broad workplace shift away from traditional 9-to-5 office work and toward more malleable remote and part-time arrangements that its high-tech, for-profit cousins are built on. But rather than offering attorneys a little side income, Pro Bono Network is helping them fill a yawning social need: free legal assistance for low-income people. Legal aid resources are so meager, Peel says, that only about half of Chicagoans who qualify for assistance get help today. (Forbes)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 29, 2016

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Connecticut Senate approves bills providing greater legal access to the poor;
  • Saskatchewan seeks public feedback on legal services;
  • University of California-Irvine School of Law launches Civil Justice Research Institute;
  • San Francisco Mayor grants $1.8 million for legal aid for unaccompanied minors;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 21, 2016 – “The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would study ways to provide legal help to poor people involved in civil cases.” “The measure, which passed by a vote of 23-12, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The Senate also passed a related bill that bolsters funding for Legal Aid offices. The measure, which cleared the chamber on a unanimous vote, adds more than a million dollars of yearly funding to an interest-generating account of legal fees that funds legal aid. Second, the bill for the first time adds delivery of legal services to the poor to the permissible uses of the Superior Court’s Client Security Fund. Together, these two funding streams will provide more than 2 million dollars a year of additional funding to the Legal Aid programs, supporters of the bill said.” (Hartford Courant)

April 21, 2016 – “The Ministry of Justice  and Law Society of Saskatchewan have launched a quick, online survey to find out what people think about the way legal services are provided, and if some changes could help. It’s part of a consultation focused on improving public access by possibly expanding the services that can be provided by legal professionals other than lawyers.” “‘It’s important to have the (public’s) perspective on what their needs really are,’ said senior Crown counsel Mary Ellen Wellsch, the project lead.” “Access to justice is a growing concern across the country as more people try to puzzle out legal conundrums on their own because they can’t find or afford a lawyer or don’t qualify for free legal services. Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell issued a call to action on the ‘accessibility gap’ while speaking in Regina at the annual Law Day luncheon earlier this month. Wellsch said it’s too early to say what legal services, if any, might be done by non-lawyers. ‘There’s a whole range of possibilities.’ Some ideas being explored include expanding the scope of paralegals working under supervision of lawyers; relaxing restrictions on other professionals who provide similar legal work; and creating a new class of ‘legal service technicians’ who could provide some services with training and assessment.” “All the information gathered will be used to make recommendations. As to how quickly any changes may come, Wellsch said it really depends on the proposals, since some may require legislative change. At present, the Legal Profession Act prohibits people from practising law without a licence.” (Regina Leader-Post)

April 27, 2016 – “The University of California-Irvine School of Law has launched a Civil Justice Research Institute to explore how to make the U.S. civil justice system more accessible. UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding chair of the institute, which will be governed by a national board of advisers made up of attorneys and chaired by Roman Silberfeld, executive board member of Minneapolis, Minn.-based Robins Kaplan LLP. UCI Law has received approximately $1 million for the institute from donors across the country, led by a $250,000 gift from Richard Bridgford, founding partner of Newport Beach-based Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian.” (Orange County Business Journal)

April 28, 2016 – “In response to the growing number of unaccompanied minors who come to San Francisco seeking asylum, Mayor Ed Lee announced Wednesday that The City will extend funding by an additional $1.8 million for the legal defense of immigrant families and particularly children who enter the country on their own. The money will go to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative, a congregation of 13 nonprofit organizations that represent children and families facing deportation in The City’s immigration courts.” (San Francisco Examiner)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

L. David Shear, one of the founders of Bay Area Legal Services, the Tampa Bay area’s legal aid organization for the poor, died Tuesday morning. He was 79. Throughout his career as a lawyer specializing in corporate and real estate law, Mr. Shear devoted countless volunteer hours to Bay Area Legal Services, an organization he helped found along with several other members of the Hillsborough Bar Association. He became known for championing the interests of children, ultimately lending his name to a center that provides free legal representation for children in Hillsborough County’s foster care system. (Tampa Bay Times)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Job’o’th’week (Experienced/Entry Level) – MFY Legal Services, Inc.

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

MFY Legal Services, Inc. (MFY) is seeking a staff attorney to further MFY’s efforts to preserve decent and affordable housing for low income tenants, including families and single adults, through eviction defense, HP actions and affirmative litigation. MFY is a non-profit legal services organization that provides a wide range of free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: May 6, 2016)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 22, 2016

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

Happy Friday! Thank you all for such an amazing Annual Education Conference. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and are revved up and ready to go for another great year!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New fellowships help University of California law students launch public interest careers;
  • Texas restores grant money to juvenile indigent defense program;
  • Federal government to relieve permanently disabled of all federal student loan debt;
  • Pro Bono Institute names new President and CEO;
  • Microsoft partners with Legal Services Corporation and Pro Bono Net to create access to justice portal;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 13, 2016 – “The University of California has launched a new, first-of-its-kind systemwide fellowship program to support UC law students and graduates committed to practicing law in service to the public, UC President Janet Napolitano announced today (April 13). The University of California President’s Public Service Law Fellowships will award $4.5 million annually to promising students at UC’s four law schools. The funding will make postgraduate work and summer positions more accessible for students who want to pursue public interest legal careers but might otherwise – out of financial need – seek private sector jobs.” “The fellowship program is an ambitious new effort – it will provide for approximately 425 summer fellowships and 60 postgraduate fellowships for students at the law schools at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Irvine. The postgraduate fellowships provide $45,000 for graduates entering public service, plus an additional $2,500 to help defray bar-related costs. The summer fellowships provide each fellow between $4,000 to $4,500 to subsidize summer public interest law jobs. The fellowship funds will be distributed proportionately based on the number of law students enrolled at each law school each year. The law schools will manage the application process and select fellowship recipients. In addition, the fellowship program provides funding to enable UC law students to participate in the UC Washington Program – a vital UC program that gives students real-world public service experience in the nation’s capital. The fellowship program will culminate each year in a national conference on public service law that would rotate among each of the UC law schools. The conference will showcase important legal scholarship and practice and contribute to the national conversation on public interest law.” (University of California Press Room)

April 13, 2016 – “The state has decided to restore several thousands of dollars in grant money. It was withheld from Hidalgo County’s Juvenile Indigent Program. The Texas Indigent Defense Commission announced its decision at a meeting on South Padre Island Wednesday. Last year, the commission withdrew more than $600,000 it awarded the county for 2016. The decision was based on a non-compliance issue. The commission cited an uneven distribution of attorneys appointed to juvenile cases. Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said he is pleased with the decision. He said the money is needed to help the county meet its legal obligations to pay lawyers to defend indigent defendants.” (KRGV)

April 13, 2016 – “The Obama administration is directing several federal agencies, including the Department of Education and the Social Security Administration, to forgive $7.7 billion of student loans to around 400,000 people with permanent disabilities. Following last year’s White House-announced Student Aid Bill of Rights, designed to reorient how student loans were repaid, President Obama announced on Tuesday a directive to fully forgive the federal student loan debt owed by those with permanent disabilities, or PD. Federal law already offers student loan debt relief to Americans with a severe disability, but since 2012, the administration’s effort at getting more to take advantage of the debt relief opportunity has had lackluster results, according to The Washington Post. ‘Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief,’ Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a statement. ‘Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.'” (RT)

April 15, 2016 – “The Board of Directors of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is pleased to announce that Eve Runyon, Director of Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), has been named the organization’s new President and CEO. Runyon succeeds Esther Lardent, who founded PBI and held the roles of President and CEO for 19 years before stepping down for health reasons in 2015. Runyon joined PBI in 2005 to lead CPBO, PBI’s partnership project with the Association of Corporate Counsel. Under Runyon’s leadership, CPBO designed and implemented innovative initiatives to expand the commitment to pro bono across in-house law departments, including the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, the only industry-wide standard for in-house pro bono, which enables legal departments to identify, benchmark, and communicate their support for pro bono service. Currently, there are 145 Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® signatories.” (CSRwire)

April 19, 2016 – “Microsoft joined with the LSC and Pro Bono Net in announcing the development of a prototype access to justice ‘portal.’ Microsoft will provide funding of at least $1 million and project management expertise to build out this project. Drawing on state-of-the-art cloud and Internet technologies, this portal will enable people to navigate the court system and legal aid resources, learn about their legal rights and prepare and file critical court documents in a way that is accessible, comprehensive and easy to navigate. The ultimate goal is to help people every step of the way toward addressing their legal problem. This first-of-its-kind system will be accessible from any device, standards-compliant and connected to legal aid organizations through open software interfaces. Once the prototype is developed, we will post it in open source form to GitHub, one of the leading sites for open-source software development projects. That way, others can build upon it or build other, comparable systems. Over time, we hope that every state will develop a portal solution to provide a modern, efficient way for everyone to access the court system and legal aid resources. With recent advances in machine learning, we can even imagine that within the not-too-distant future systems such as these could enable people to speak naturally and receive help in a comfortable “chat” format tailored to their specific needs. LSC developed the vision for this portal over the past few years, working with leaders from across the access to justice community. The National Center for State Courts recently began fleshing out the technical requirements for such a portal. Pro Bono Net, a national non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the access-to-justice gap through technology and collaboration, has agreed to help convene local partners and provide service design expertise to execute the pilot. We couldn’t be happier to start working with all three of these organizations to implement LSC’s vision of access to justice for all.” (Microsoft Blog)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Hunton & Williams LLP devotes significant time each year in serving the community. During the firm’s last seven fiscal years, 100 percent of the firm’s full-time lawyers in the United States volunteered for pro bono projects. This represents more than 4 percent of the firm’s gross billable hours and commemorates 21 continuous years of meeting or exceeding the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge of donating at least 3 percent of the firm’s annual billable hours to pro bono service. At the end of the firm’s fiscal year on March 31, the firm had donated more than 40,000 pro bono hours to the community.

Hunton & Williams is proud of its community service and leadership among law firms in the United States, where the firm’s tradition of pro bono service is well recognized. The firm maintains two neighborhood offices — in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia — solely dedicated to pro bono services for low-income individuals, and a full-time-staffed Pro Bono Fellows program. (Hunton & Williams News & Events)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Bonus Job’o’th’week (Internship): Come work for PSJD this summer!

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Still looking for a summer internship or looking to supplement your income while interning in DC? Consider coming to work for us! We have two paid internships available for law and/or graduate students. Check them out below!

NALP/PSJD Publications CoordinatorWe are seeking a law or graduate student to work full-time as our PSJD Summer Publications Coordinator, editing and producing our Comprehensive Fellowship Guide during the summer of 2016.  The term of the employment period is approximately 10 weeks.  The position is ideal for a law or graduate student who has editing experience and is interested in public interest law and/or nonprofit administration.  The Publications Coordinator serves as an integral part of the PSJD team.
To learn more, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: April 28, 2016)

PSJD Project Assistants – We are seeking four to six summer project assistants to help update and maintain database content on the PSJD website. This is an ideal opportunity for law or graduate students who desire to supplement their income while interning or clerking in Washington, DC in the summer of 2016.
To learn more, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: June 1, 2016)

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