Resource Roundup – Practice Area Guides

Image courtesy of The Diamond Gallery

Image courtesy of The Diamond Gallery

The PSJD Resource Center has valuable information for law students, career counselors and lawyers about public service law jobs.

The PSJD Practice Area Guides are designed to give students and job seekers brief overviews of several different legal fields. The guides include practical information regarding the types of employers and practice settings in various fields of law. The guides also include skills that would be useful to gain during law school if a student is seeking to practice in that area after graduation.

 

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*Career Counselor’s Corner*

 

Claudio Melo, JD, Director of the Career Center at University of Minnesota Law School says “I use these consistently with my 1L students. They provide a bite-size overview of common practice areas of interest. Also, if a student has an upcoming informational interview, I encourage them to review the attorney’s practice area of focus prior to the meeting.”

Couldn’t find the practice guide that you were looking for? Send us an email and we’ll do our best to create one and put it on the website.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 13, 2017

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

Happy Friday the 13th!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Connecticut legal aid hires new director;
  • A new way to fund legal aid;
  • University of Connecticut School of Law launches new incubator;
  • Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas gets new CEO;
  • D.C. creates legal defense fund for illegal immigrants;
  • British Columbia Law Society ends paralegal access-to-justice initiative;
  • Idaho Supreme Court hears arguments on public defense reform;
  • Equal Justice Works receives grant to launch New Mexico Immigration Corps;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 5, 2017 – “New Haven’s legal aid agency has hired a new executive director. The State Street-based agency, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, announced that its Board of Directors has chosen Alexis H. Smith of Hamden as its next executive director.  She replaces Susan Garcia-Nofi, who departure was announced in late October. She has been serving as the interim chief.” (New Haven Independent)

January 6, 2017 – Interest on IOLTA has been the second largest source of funding for civil legal aid for years.  But in recent years, with falling interest rates, that funding has been significantly curtailed.  “Into this breach emerged a new program, equally as compassionate and as effective. In Massachusetts and Ohio, several banks have launched programs where law firms can choose to donate to IOLTA programs some or all of the ‘cash back’ benefits generated by millions of dollars of credit card transactions. Genius. Citizens Bank has taken the lead and is one of the first financial institutions to get involved. They have announced that law firms in both Massachusetts and Ohio have the opportunity to sign-on and direct their cash-back rewards to the local IOLTA distribution system. ‘The Citizens team has listened to the needs of their clients in the legal community and done a great job coming up with an innovative solution that helps law firms ensure the fairness of our legal system by contributing to civil legal aid for low-income and vulnerable Ohioans,’ said Angela Lloyd, Executive Director of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation.” (Above the Law)

January 6, 2017 – “UConn School of Law is launching a new Hartford-based incubator in February to provide affordable legal services to people who need it and help lawyers establish solo practices. Dubbed the Connecticut Community Law Center, the incubator is an initiative of the law school and the Hartford County Bar Association that aims to help people traditionally underserved by the justice system. That typically includes low- and moderate-income clients who don’t qualify for legal aid but can’t afford standard legal fees. The center and the Justice Legal Center at the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, also scheduled to open early this year, will be the first in Connecticut.” (Hartford Business Journal)

January 6, 2017 – “After a thorough national search, the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas named Maria Thomas-Jones as the new chief executive officer, effective immediately. The board met last month for its quarterly meeting, during which board members unanimously voted to select Thomas-Jones, who has served as interim CEO since February 2016. ‘On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to officially welcome Maria Thomas-Jones as the new CEO of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas,’ says Jan Langbein, board chair. ‘Maria has served LANWT effectively in many different capacities during her 17-year tenure with the firm.'”  (My San Antonio)

January 9, 2017 – “The nation’s capital is joining several other heavily Democratic cities in pledging to spend tax dollars to defend illegal immigrants against efforts by the incoming Trump administration to deport them. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Monday she plans to award grants to defense lawyers and nonprofit organizations to represent any of the District’s estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants who are faced with deportation. The $500,000 fund will also help illegal immigrants in the District apply for asylum and will provide representation for those residing in the city legally with green cards to obtain permanent U.S. citizenship. In a statement, Bowser said the District is ‘doubling down’ on its status as a sanctuary city, where D.C. police have already been instructed to not cooperate with federal authorities working to deport residents.” “Bowser will launch the initiative by shifting funds from the Office on Latino Affairs to a new Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant Program. City officials said that the fund would also accept donations from individual residents or groups. Nonprofits, private organizations and law firms in Washington will be eligible to win the grant money. Groups can begin applying Jan. 23, the first Monday that Trump will be in the White House. Although the funds are coming through the Latino affairs office, groups that serve immigrants from any region are eligible for grants, aides to the mayor said. The aides also said they envision nonprofit immigrant groups pairing with law firms to win grants, harnessing pro bono work of big firms and creating a network of new legal services for illegal immigrants.” (Washington Post)

January 9, 2017 – “Rose Singh, vice-president of the B.C. Paralegal Association, said hopes for a robust provincial system of less expensive legal services similar to Ontario’s 10-year-old paralegal scheme have been doused.” “In January 2013, a two-year pilot project was launched in the B.C. Supreme Court and the Provincial Court allowing paralegals under the supervision of a lawyer to appear in select locations on some family-law matters. The project ended in the Supreme Court in December 2014; the Provincial Court soldiered on until October 2015. Of the province’s roughly 13,000 lawyers, three participated, not enough data for the Law Society to conclude that paralegals provided a benefit.” The article is a good overview of the program, the shortcomings of the pilot, and other potential access-to-justice programs. (Vancouver Sun

January 11, 2017 – “Idaho’s Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state over its faulty public defense system. Attorneys on both sides told the high court Wednesday that they agree Idaho’s public defense system has serious deficiencies. But the state’s attorneys say the blame should lie on the counties, not Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and the state’s Public Defense Commission. ‘The plaintiffs have identified serious issues,’ Idaho Deputy Attorney General Mike Gilmore said. ‘But they have named defendants who are not responsible for providing the services.’ The ACLU sued the state in 2015 on behalf of Idahoans who rely on court-appointed public defenders when they face criminal charges. They contend that state officials have known for years that Idaho’s public defense system is broken, and that by not fixing the problems the state is violating the 6th Amendment rights of its citizens. Indeed, Idaho Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter, many legislators and legal experts who have studied the issue on behalf of the state have all acknowledged that Idaho’s patchwork public defense system is deficient at best, and likely unconstitutional. But last year a lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit, partly because the judge said he believed a court ruling requiring the state to adequately fund the public defense system would violate the separation of powers. The ACLU promptly appealed.” (The Daily Progress)

January 11, 2017 – “Equal Justice Works has received an $800,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan to launch the New Mexico Immigration Corps, a partnership between Equal Justice Works, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC), and University of New Mexico School of Law (UNMSOL). The program will deploy attorneys and paralegals to provide critically needed civil legal aid to immigrant communities throughout New Mexico from September 2016 through August 2020.” “Beyond filling the immediate void in legal representation, this program will expand the pipeline of pre-law students, current law students, and young attorneys committed to serving New Mexicans. Over the grant period, Equal Justice Works will partner with UNMSOL to share best practices, promote public interest curricula, present internship and postgraduate employment options, and counsel students on debt relief.”(PR Newswire)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Greensboro Four – Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil. Read about these amazing men, and what individual conviction can do for a nation. (History.com)

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

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A Very Special Job’o’th’Week (Fellowship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

2017 – 2018 PSJD FellowThe Organization

The PSJD Fellow is the principal manager and administrator of the PSJD.org website.  PSJD, which is a NALP initiative, is the nation’s largest public interest law jobs database, and also includes detailed information on thousands of public interest and government employers, as well as a library of resources to aid job seekers.

The Position

The Fellow has responsibilities for: development of online educational content, management of student interns, basic technology and data management, co-editing the PSJD Blog, using social media to promote PSJD, interacting with NALP members, delivering presentations about the public interest job search, and other tasks as they arise.

The PSJD Fellowship provides a wonderful opportunity for a public-interest minded law graduate who also has an interest in nonprofit administration and technology. Further, the fellowship offers a bird’s-eye view of the public interest arena for law graduates on public service career paths.

Ready to become a jolly good fellow? See the full post on PSJD.

 

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Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Calendar Year 2015 Report

Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

The following is an overview of the loan repayment assistance program calendar year report submitted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) annually to Congress.  The information provided can help job candidates and current federal employees research which agencies use the program and for what occupations. If you are considering a career in the federal government, an attractive benefit of federal employment is student loan repayment assistance. Do your research and always ask if this benefit is available to you.

Federal agencies are authorized to provide up to $10,000 in loan repayment assistance per calendar year for certain federally-made, insured or guaranteed student loans with a total lifetime cap of $60,000 per employee. In exchange for each year that an employee accepts this benefit, she or he must commit to working for the federal government for an additional three years. If an employee accepts this benefit and leaves (separates either voluntarily or involuntarily) before this period expires, she or he must repay the full amount.

In Calendar Year 2015, 32 federal agencies provided 9,610 employees with a total of more than $69.5 million in student loan repayment benefits. Compared to CY 2014, this represents an 18.4 percent increase in agencies’ overall financial investment in this benefit, and more than a 13  percent increase in the number of employees receiving the benefit. The average student loan repayment benefit in CY 2015 was $7,238, which is a 4.3 percent increase over CY 2014.

The five agencies that provided the most loan repayment assistance in CY 2015 were:

Agency Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Change in Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Total Amount of Assistance Change in Total Assistance from CY 2014
Department of Defense 2,525 42.3%  $19,133,117 57.6%
Department of Justice 1,733 0.3% $14,575,135 13.0%
Department of State 1,431 1.1% $11,285,688 1.3%
Veterans Affairs 898 33.0% $5,661,112 36.5%
Securities and Exchange Commission 727 1.9% $6,381,160 3.4%
Subtotal 7,314   $57,036,212
27 other agencies 2,296  $12,519,596
Total 9,610 13.5% $69,555,808 18.4%

In CY 2015, the Department of Justice and the Department of State used its student loan repayment benefits increasingly in the areas of intelligence and diplomacy, particularly in JD advantage positions Special Agent (587) and Intelligence Analysts (183) at DOJ and Foreign Affairs (224), Foreign Service serving in Political Affairs (133) and Public Diplomacy (110) at DOS.  The Securities and Exchange Commission used the majority of its loan repayment funds on mission critical occupations, with Attorney-Advisor being the largest category of recipients (372 attorneys received benefits in CY 15) and the JD advantage position Securities Compliance Examiner (41).  The Department of Veterans Affairs also used a large portion of funding on the JD advantage positions of Contract Specialists (95) and Human Resource Specialists (151).

Departments and agencies were invited to provide details on their experiences in administrating their programs.  From the comments, it appears more agencies than in previous years are using the student loan payments as a retention rather than a recruitment tool.  There were some exceptions. For example, the Department of the Treasury reported the program is used mostly for hard-to-fill intelligence, legal and policy-related positions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has made substantial investments in the program since 2001, using it to recruit and retain attorneys, engineers and energy industry analysts. And the Securities and Exchange Commission reported that approximately 72% of student loan repayments were made to employees in mission-critical occupations such as attorneys.

As in previous years, agencies reported the primary barrier to using student loan repayments for recruitment or retention is a lack of overall funding for the program.  Other reported barriers were the corresponding three-year service agreement and the yearly cap of $10,000 on benefits. Some agencies reported that some job candidates or current employees were uncomfortable committing to three years of service in return for the student loan repayment benefit. However, a chief impediment to using the program may be need. Some agencies do not have hard-to-fill jobs or do not have recruitment or retention problems requiring the use of the student loan repayments. And with a hiring freeze on the horizon, it’s likely more agencies will use the program as a retention rather than recruiting tool.

The following departments or agencies provided loan repayment assistance to one or more attorneys: Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Federal Trade Commission, Government Accountability Office, Library of Congress, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Postal Regulatory Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Surface Transportation Board.

The following departments or agencies provided loan repayment assistance to one or more JD advantage positions: Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Library of Congress, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to the federal LRAP programs, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also reported it is working with the Department of Education to educate the federal workforce on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). This is good news on two fronts.  First, federal employees across agencies have differing levels of understanding of how PSLF can work for them. With OPM collaborating with human resources personnel across agencies to develop effective strategies for communicating the available options, education on the program can only improve.  Second, through OPM’s collaboration, perhaps some of the issues that have arisen as the first class of individuals come to loan forgiveness can be addressed quickly and in favor of borrowers.

To learn more about the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, visit opm.gov or contact human resources representatives at the federal agencies in which you are most interested. Click here to view the complete report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for Calendar Year 2015.

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Activism Networking and Organizing Event at UDC

 Activism for All Ages

A Networking and Organizing Event

On January 14, beginning at 10:30 am, in cooperation with local activist attorney Judy Kosovich and Jim Turner, UDC-DCSL will host a networking and, we hope, an organizing extravaganza.  What happens will be the result of the choices of those who attend!  We will hold similar events from time to time to expand the program and to learn from its successes and failures but no training or administrative functions are planned other than what is described below.

If you plan to attend, please register HERE.

The event will have 2 keynote speakers. Jim Turner will give a talk on insights he has gleaned from his years as an activist attorney.  Professor Edgar Cahn, co-founder of the Antioch School of Law (now UDC-DCSL!) and www.TimeBanks.org will also speak about bringing ideas to fuition. Their talks will be about 15 minutes each.

Then we may split into subgroups, depending on the number of participants, and those who have expressed an interest in speaking so will do so for several minutes each for a total of an hour.  We will then have an hour to exchange contact information.  If it is not possible to meet everyone you would like to meet, but we will facilitate additional networking.  People will have an opportunity to summarize their interests and needs and this will be made available.

To speak at this event, please provide a summary of what you would like to say (which will be used in the networking lists we will prepare), as well as contact information and anything relevant to your desires.  Please send this information to Judy Kosovich at judy.kosovich@gmail.com.

Please register HERE.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 6, 2017

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

Happy New Year! And if you resolved to take on a new challenge this year, why not look into pro bono?  Law students have – to the tune of 2.2 million hours in 2016.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Montana Access to Justice Commission releases recommendations;
  • Public defender lawsuits;
  • New York governor vetoes indigent defense bill;
  • Connecticut Task Force releases access to justice recommendations;
  • Legal Aid of Roanoke celebrates 50 years of service;
  • Federal funding in New York for domestic violence and sexual assault victim programs;
  • Supporters of New York indigent defense bill consider lawsuit;
  • New Mexico judge refuses to dismiss suit against public defender’s office;
  • Missouri judge suspended over dispute with public defenders;
  • Michigan Indigent Criminal Defense Commission may continue its work;
  • Law students performed more than 2.2 million hours of pro bono work;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 30, 2016 – “The Montana Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has spent several years working to expand opportunities for low- and moderate-income people to get legal help. Now it’s releasing its conclusions on how to make sure Montanans in need can receive that help. The commission announced four major recommendations this week:

  • Making and publicizing a statewide list of legal resources for people in need.
  • Finding ways to link people with the programs or attorneys that can help with their specific legal problems.
  • Addressing the links between legal needs and other issues, like health, housing and employment.
  • Securing long-term funding to support legal aid services, from self-help programs for people who go to court to mediation and other ways of resolving issues outside of court.

The recommendations are based on more than a year of public testimony. The commission held seven listening sessions around the state to hear from attorneys, service providers and advocates.” “Supreme Court Justice Beth Baker says the commission will work with other organizations and agencies to achieve some of its recommendations. It will bring others to the state legislature during the upcoming session.” (KPAX)

January 1, 2017 – The ABA Journal has an excellent article on the wave of lawsuits filed by public defender offices, and how it is shaping the funding debate. (ABA Journal)

January 1, 2017 – “Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill Saturday that would have would have required the state to pay the full costs of public defenders for low income people facing charges. Currently, most counties pick up the tab for it. Counties are mandated by the state to offer representation to indigent defendants. The bill that was voted for unanimously by both the state senate and assembly, would have shifted the costs for these services from the county to the state over a seven year period.” “In 2014, the state assumed the indigent defense costs for five counties after a lawsuit known as Hurrell-Herring. Governor Cuomo said in his veto message that he feels the ‘groundbreaking advances in those five counties’ should be there for the rest of the state, but he didn’t think the bill reached that goal.” (WWNY)

January 2, 2017 – “The Task Force To Improve Access to Legal Counsel in Civil Matters found that ‘many Connecticut residents cannot afford the legal assistance they need to protect essential human needs or face other barriers to accessing available legal services.” The four flagship legal services offices turn away thousands of income-eligible residents seeking representation, according to the task force report, because those offices are constrained by their own finances or those seeking assistance have incomes slightly above what’s necessary to secure the services.” Click here for the full recommendations. The Connecticut Bar Association was supportive of the task force’s recommendations. ‘The recommendations offer a series of steps that can be taken immediately to help civil litigants most at risk of being denied adequate legal assistance,’ CBA President Monte Frank said. ‘The focus on restraining orders, child custody and evictions targets the state’s most vulnerable citizens. The task force responsibly addresses the added societal cost of offering these additional legal services with a series of funding recommendations and by laying out a multi-year strategy for wider implementation,’ continued Frank.” (CT News Junkie)

January 2, 2017 – “The Legal Aid Society of the Roanoke Valley, which offers representation and advice to low-income families and others, opened its doors in mid-December 1966. It was headed by two lawyers — Charles Carrington and William Weinberg — with a small support staff that worked out of the basement of a Total Action for Progress building on Shenandoah Avenue. The first nonprofit of its kind in the state, it almost immediately proved divisive. ‘A blessing or a bane?’ wondered the headline of a Roanoke Times column that assessed the agency during the first week of February 1967, just two months after the office had taken on more than 90 initial clients. One of those cases — the defense in civil court of the welfare-supported father of seven children, a man whose in-laws were formally accused of neglect — served as the column’s resolutely unsympathetic centerpiece. ‘I don’t think it’s needed,’ a Roanoke judge said of Legal Aid in the piece. ‘I think that the overall point-of-view is the creation of a society to do everything for everybody rather than the individual doing all he can for himself. To put it in a nutshell, the government can go too far in trying to have a Utopia,’ the judge argued. Looking over that old clipping in December, senior staff attorney Henry Woodward chuckled. ‘I think that was a bit out of touch even then,’ he later said. Half a century has passed since then, and still Legal Aid remains, busy as ever. ‘The fact that it was difficult was often just a reflection of prejudices toward our clients. ‘People who are poor are poor because they deserve to be and shouldn’t be helped,’ Woodward said. ‘I think there’s a much wider base of understanding today.'” But there is still work that needs to be done.  Congratulations on 50 years providing access to justice.  (The Roanoke Times)

January 3, 2017 – “Efforts to help victims of domestic assault in Livingston County will see a more than $70,000 boost courtesy of federal funds provided to New York State. Chances and Changes Inc. was awarded $35,600 to partially fund three domestic violence victims’ advocates. The Livingston County District Attorney’s Office will also receive $35,600. The money will partially fund an assistant district attorney, investigator and probation officer to partner with Chances and Changes to provide domestic violence services and civil legal services. ‘The federal funding will allow local and statewide programs that have proven to be successful in helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to continue,’ state Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, said in a statement. ‘By supporting these various community based services and law enforcement efforts, we can better protect victims and prosecute perpetrators of these despicable crimes.’ The funds were part of $7.7 million in federal funding announced this week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The funding will allow the state to fund 11 new programs and support 117 existing programs that help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Funding through the federal Violence Against Women Act was increased by nearly $662,000 to support programs offered by non-profit organizations, hospitals and law enforcement agencies across the state.” (Livingston County News)

January 3, 2017 – “Supporters of providing uniform representation to indigent criminal defendants in New York are trying to regroup following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Saturday night veto of a bill that would have required the state to take over all defense costs by the middle of next decade. Cuomo cited the costliness of the phased-in, seven-year takeover when vetoing A10706/S8114 on New Year’s Eve. He said the bill’s eventual cost of $800 million or more a year is so large that it could undermine the state’s finances in many other ways. Members of a disparate coalition which had pushed for Cuomo’s approval since the Legislature unanimously approved the bill in June 2016 tried to find some positives in the governor’s decision. But they insisted they would try to resume their campaign for a unified approach to providing adequate defense for criminal suspects unable to afford a lawyer, as decreed by the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). While saying they wanted to find another legislative solution to create a statewide indigent defense system, several supporters said Cuomo’s veto has advocates discussing litigation. Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said several leaders of the 52 counties not covered by the 2014 settlement in Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York contacted him Tuesday to discuss initiating a new lawsuit. Their aim, he said, would be to have the assistance that Albany is providing to the five counties covered by the Hurrell-Harring settlement—Schuyler, Suffolk, Onondaga, Washington and Ontario—extended to the other 52 counties. ‘A dozen counties have approached us with a strong desire to sue the state. We are going to review that possibility. If there is going to be an action, it would be a multi-county joint action,’ Acquario said Tuesday.” (New York Law Journal)(subscription required)

January 3, 2017 – “A state District Court judge ruled Tuesday it wasn’t a normal job duty for a state public defender to ask that his employer be held in contempt of court for failing to provide an indigent defendant with an adequate defense. Sarah Singleton made the ruling in refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Damian Horne, a Santa Fe public defender for more than 15 years, against the Law Offices of the Public Defender. Horne’s lawsuit touches on the larger issue of whether the state is providing adequate counsel for defendants who cannot afford attorneys. Citing a budget crunch, the public defender’s office in November declined to provide lawyers for indigent defendants in Hobbs, leading a judge to hold the state’s chief public defender in contempt of court. In the whistleblower lawsuit he filed in January 2016, Horne said the public defender’s office placed him on paid administrative leave, removed him from 83 cases and required him to undergo a psychiatric examination and release his medical records. He alleges the office’s actions were in retaliation for him raising concerns about the defense of William Kalinowski, a Horne client and former homebuilder charged with fraud and embezzlement. Horne filed a motion asking a judge to hold the public defender’s office in contempt of court for failing to properly finance Kalinowski’s defense, including providing as much as $350,000 for forensic accountants. A judge declined to hold the public defender’s office in contempt but appointed a special master to oversee the case.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)

January 4, 2017 – “The Missouri Supreme Court suspended a Lincoln County judge accused of delaying the assignment of public defenders in probation cases Tuesday. The court suspended Judge Christina Kunza Mennemeyer without pay for six months starting Feb. 1. The action comes in response to a 2014 complaint filed by the director of the Missouri State Public Defender System, who said Mennemeyer deliberately waited to assign public defenders until after the deadline for requesting a new trial judge for a case had passed. Court documents say Mennemeyer also threatened to file complaints against attorneys who tried to represent defendants before she assigned them to the case. The dispute was over a Missouri law dictating when a public defender can appear in court or file on behalf of a defendant charged with a probation violation. Mennemeyer argued that no public defenders can represent a client before they are appointed by the court. After a request for a meeting with Mennemeyer to settle the disagreement was ignored, the public defender’s office filed a complaint with the Missouri judiciary’s Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. The commission found that in all of the cases with a delayed appointment, the defendant had no money or valuable assets, and Mennemeyer had violated the judicial code of ethics. On Tuesday, the court accepted the commission’s recommendation. Missouri Supreme Court Judge Paul C. Wilson wrote in a concurring opinion that Mennemeyer ‘purposely subverted the rights’ of some defendants in her ‘feud’ with the public defender and was therefore in violation of judicial ethics.” (Springfield News-Leader)

January 4, 2017 – “The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission will be able to continue its work. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation Wednesday reestablishing the commission. It was established in 2013 when Snyder signed legislation that set statewide standards for court appointed public defense attorneys. The commission, among other things, collects data about indigent defense services in Michigan, creates standards for effective representation, and creates requirements for who qualifies for a public defender.” “The legislation would also move the commission into the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.” (WMUK)

January 5, 2017 – “The law class of 2016 performed more than 2.2 million hours of pro bono work while on campus, which is valued at more than $52 million. That’s according to new figures compiled by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), which polled all American Bar Association-accredited law schools in November to find out how much pro bono work their recent graduates did. It’s the first time a nationwide student pro bono survey has been conducted, according to AALS Director of Communications James Greif.” “The actual number of law student pro bono hours is likely much larger than the 2.2 million reported by the AALS. Its figure is based on responses from only 80 of the 205 ABA-accredited schools, and represents just 45 percent of the law student population. The comprehensive number could be more than double what was reported. Some law schools said they don’t currently track student pro bono hours, but will do so in the future, Greif said. The AALS plans to conduct the pro bono survey annually. Performing pro bono even before officially launching their legal careers can have a lasting impact on students’ lifetime commitment to such work, several pro bono advocates said.” (National Law Journal)(subscription required)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

A school field trip to the Wyandotte County Courthouse was a life-changing experience for 13-year-old Rhonda Mason. It set her on a career path that now, some 30 years later, has been realized with her appointment as a judge. And when Mason is sworn in in January, she will make history as the first African-American judge in Johnson County, Kansas.  After she is sworn in, Mason will likely take over the civil court docket. She said she is eager to take on her new duties and looks forward to serving the community. “I am just really honored and humbled,” she said. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.” Congratulations Judge Mason. (The Kansas City Star)

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

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Job’o’th’Week (Entry-Level Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Staff Attorney

The Organization – Eviction Defense Network

No tenant should go to trial without a lawyer! We provide tenants with representation by lawyers experienced in eviction defense. Our fees for full representation are based on a sliding fee scale from $500 to $2500 depending on income and budget. We believe that all tenants should be represented by a well-prepared attorney no matter how much they can afford to pay.

If you have filed your answer yourself, or another agency has filed it for you, we can still represent you. If this is the case, please come to our office as soon as possible so we can meet with you.

The Position

QUALIFICATIONS SOUGHT

  • Active membership in the State Bar of California
  • 1-3 years litigation experience preferred;
  • Knowledge of landlord-tenant, housing law, rent control, and the eviction process preferred.
  • Demonstrated commitment to serving the needs of low-income persons
  • Bilingual Spanish/English
  • Ability to collaborate with other community agencies in the delivery of services
  • Self-motivated, takes initiative, able to learn quickly

Ready to get to work? See the full post on PSJD.

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White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (WH-LAIR) report

The White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (WH-LAIR) recently issued its first report to President Obama, “Expanding Access to Justice, Strengthening Federal Programs.” The report documents the steps that the 22 federal agency roundtable members have taken to integrate civil legal aid into programs designed to serve low-income and vulnerable populations, with an aim of boosting their effectiveness and increasing access to justice.

The report was funded by the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice and serves as a blueprint for how federal agencies can expand their collaborations with legal aid to address issues such as domestic violence, human trafficking, crime, reentry, financial exploitation of the elderly, and veteran homelessness. The report includes research and data on the efficacy of legal aid and makes policy recommendations for improving access to civil legal aid for youth, families, tribal communities, and special populations.

The Department of Justice and the White House Domestic Policy Council first convened the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable in 2012. In September 2015, President Obama formally recognized the success of their efforts by designating the roundtable as a White House initiative, requiring annual reporting. WH-LAIR’s mission enumerated in the Presidential Memorandum is fivefold:

  1. improve coordination among federal programs that help the vulnerable and underserved, so that those programs are more efficient and produce better outcomes by including, where appropriate, legal services among the range of supportive services provided;
  2. increase the availability of meaningful access to justice for individuals and families, regardless of wealth or status;
  3. develop policy recommendations that improve access to justice in federal, state, local, tribal, and international jurisdictions;
  4. assist the United States with implementation of Goal 16 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
  5. advance relevant evidence-based research, data collection, and analysis of civil legal aid and indigent defense, and promulgate best practices to support the activities detailed in [1-4 above].

Their efforts fall into four categories: leveraging resources to strengthen Federal programs by incorporating legal aid; developing policy recommendations that improve access to justice; facilitating strategic partnerships to achieve enforcement and outreach objectives; and advancing evidence-based research, data collection and analysis. One of the key components of LAIR’s work was the review of numerous federal grants from the perspective of potentially expanding the use of funds to incorporate legal aid into program strategies. As a result, many agencies clarified that dozens of grants can be used by grantees to provide legal services in furtherance of their program goals.  The number of long-term, far-reaching and positive outcomes of the first four years of effort by member agencies are very encouraging.

Some key initiatives reported:

  • HHS clarified that legal aid is included in the range of “enabling services” that HHS-funded health centers can provide to meet communities’ primary care needs.
  • CNCS and DOJ fund the Elder Justice AmeriCorps to help elder abuse victims and launched justice AmeriCorps to increase legal aid to unrepresented unaccompanied immigrant minors.
  • VA issued guidance supporting veterans’ access to legal aid at VA medical facilities.
  • IRS administers three grant programs to help low-income and other taxpayers in need with tax returns and tax disputes.
  • HUD funds fair housing enforcement organizations, including legal aid programs and a program that allows using funds for legal aid necessary to regain housing stability.
  • FTC developed the Legal Services Collaboration, a nationwide partnership with legal aid, to inform FTC’s law enforcement priorities and allow FTC to alert local communities about scams and respond to local concerns.
  • LSC is undertaking a new national legal needs survey to update the Justice Gap studies of 2005 and 2009.
  • WH-LAIR itself has online resources that provide information about civil legal aid and federal funding opportunities on the WH-LAIR website and in the Toolkit.

WH-LAIR agencies are also looking forward  to the steps they can take to further improve meaningful access to justice for all Americans. Several agencies are reviewing funding competitions and training and technical assistance programs to determine how grantees can use more funds to provide legal aid among program services. Agencies plan to develop a broader range of policies that further expanding access to justice and work towards effective implementation of those policies. Following the FTC’s lead with its Legal Services Collaboration, other agencies with enforcement mandates are exploring ways to work with legal aid to increase enforcement efforts and amplify their outreach. Finally, WH-LAIR agencies are developing metrics for evaluating whether and how legal aid improves agency programs.

This first report demonstrates in a variety of ways the vital importance of legal aid as part of federal programs and chronicles numerous program creation and expansions which have had a direct and positive impact on the communities and populations they serve.  Moving forward, one goal is for agencies to use the best practices developed to further expand access to justice and strengthen federal programs.

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Job’o’th’Week (Fellowship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Legal Clinic FellowshipsThe Organization

UDC-DCSL is the USA’s most clinically-oriented law school, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, and is devoted to recruiting and training students who are committed to public service. Its legislatively mandated mission is to to recruit and train as lawyers students from racial, ethnic and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession and to do so, to the degree feasible, through the representation of low-income people and the public interest in a clinical setting.

The Position

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law is pleased to announce fellowship opportunities in the following legal clinics:

Community Development and Housing

Immigration

Juvenile and Special Education Law

Tax

LL.M. Program Description

The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law has an excellent, nationally ranked clinical education program where each J.D. candidate must complete two seven-credit clinics to graduate. LL.M. candidates work closely with experienced faculty members to teach and supervise clinic students learning substantive law and practice skills. In addition, over the course of the two- year program, fellows in the LL.M. program must complete a scholarly work of publishable quality, or a project designed to stimulate systems change.

The two-year LL.M. program includes coursework in clinical pedagogy, legal scholarship, public interest law, and systems change. The focus of the program is to provide fellows with a foundation in clinical education practices and to strengthen their lawyering and advocacy skills.

Is this the fellowship that you’ve been waiting for? See the full post on PSJD.

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Job’o’th’Week (Internship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Legal Intern

The Organization

The National Institute for Reproductive Health works across the country to increase access to reproductive health care by changing public policy, galvanizing public support, and normalizing women’s decisions to have abortions and use contraception. Believing that a bottom-up strategy is necessary to create lasting change, we work through a partnership model, providing support in the form of funding, capacity building, strategic guidance, and technical assistance and building connections between and among partner organizations at the local, state, and national levels.

The Position

The law clerk/legal intern should expect to engage in policy analysis of key pieces of state legislation across the country; perform legal research and draft legal memoranda to advance our policy priorities; and gain experience working in state and national coalitions working to advance reproductive rights.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Policy analysis of bills affecting reproductive rights on the state level;
  • Legislative tracking of related bills in key states;
  • Legal research and writing.

Qualifications:

  • Second- or third-year law student;
  • A commitment to and knowledge of reproductive health and rights is preferred but not required;
  • Excellent legal research and writing skills;
  • Knowledge of and/or interest in the legislative process
  • Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, including exceptional attention to detail; and
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Is this the perfect internship to kick off your legal career? See the full post on PSJD.

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