PSJD Public Interest News Digest – November 25, 2015

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

Happy Thanksgiving!  We are thankful that you enjoy the Digest.  Have a great Turkey Day, and we’ll see you next week.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Wyoming State Bar’s Modest Means program sees many volunteers;
  • New Orleans judge defers decision on public defender plea for no new cases;
  • ABA Journal announces nominees for the 9th annual Law Blawg 100;
  • Widener University Delaware Law School offers free legal aid to state inventors;
  • Texas Supreme Court establishes justice gap commission;
  • Thomas Jefferson School of Law announces endowment to fund Social Justice Award;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

November 21, 2015 – “Some attorneys in Wyoming are volunteering to represent residents who make too much money to qualify for legal aid but not enough to hire counsel. The Wyoming State Bar launched its Modest Means Program two weeks ago and has recruited at least 50 lawyers across the state. ‘The Wyoming State Bar has been involved in access-to-justice efforts for many years,’ said executive director Sharon Wilkinson. ‘We all really felt strongly that there is still a gap that we needed to fill.’ Participating attorneys agree to charge clients no more than $75 per hour and $500 for a retainer, if necessary. The program is available to families whose household incomes are between 200 and 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. That would be an annual income of between $48,500 and $60,625 for a family of four. Attorneys will help with issues involving divorce, child support, custody, bankruptcy, tenant issues, minor criminal matters and more.” (Billings Gazette)

November 23, 2015 – “A New Orleans judge has deferred until at least mid-December a decision on whether to stop assigning new criminal cases to the Orleans Public Defenders office. The office has said it can’t handle more cases without putting at risk defendants’ constitutional rights. Following two days of testimony in a hearing he convened, Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter issued a ruling Monday afternoon (Nov. 23) giving the office until Dec. 11 to convince him it has taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent the suspension of duties. The parish’s public defenders asked Friday that no new cases be appointed to their office until their existing workload was reduced sufficiently to ensure constitutional and ethically sound defense efforts for their clients.” (

November 23, 2015 –  “For this year’s annual Blawg 100 feature—our ninth—we’re going beyond announcing our list of 100 excellent legal blogs and the promotion of 10 more blogs to our Hall of Fame. We explore how the legal blogosphere has changed since we first started publishing this list. Do legal blogs have a waning or a thriving readership? And how has the emergence of new bloggers from BigLaw and elsewhere and other social media platforms in recent years changed blogging for the better—or worse? As in years past, we looked to readers and bloggers to help us compile our list. But this year, no blogs are being forced into categories, and there will be no online voting.” “Read more here to find out about the blogs on our list, and click here to find our Blawg 100 Twitter list, which includes both the handles of our Hall of Famers and this year’s nominees. Visit the Blawg 100 landing page to read about the eight prior lists, and check out the thousands of other legal blogs in the ABA Journal Blawg Directory.” (ABA Journal)

November 23, 2015 – “Widener University Delaware Law School launched a new, free public service Monday that will give legal advice to potential inventors.” “A new website provides information for prospective inventors, as well as attorneys, agents and law students who want to volunteer with the program. Successful applicants must meet three conditions to be eligible for the free legal advice. Their income must be less than three times the federal poverty level, they must have knowledge of the patent system and a truly inventive idea.” (Delaware Public Media)

November 23, 2015 – “By an order Monday the Texas Supreme Court has created an 18-member Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services charged to explore means to bring more affordable legal services to small businesses and people who cannot qualify for legal aid. The commission will seek a comprehensive answer to a growing number of potential clients with legal problems who believe they cannot afford lawyers to solve them. Former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson will lead the commission.” “The commission, composed of lawyers, law school deans and professors and judges, will assess efforts and proposals in Texas and other states, as well as by the American Bar Association, to find what may work to broaden legal services available to low- and middle-income Texans. Commissioners will issue a first report to the Court on Nov. 1, 2016.” (Texas Lawyer)

November 24, 2015 – “Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Center for Law and Social Justice has created an award to recognize student efforts in social justice after receiving an endowment in memory of alumnus Samuel Kossack. Kossack’s family and friends have donated generously to fund an award to recognize a currently enrolled Thomas Jefferson School of Law student who, through his or her own actions, promotes social justice either on an individual basis or by transforming systems that perpetuate injustice. Recipients must demonstrate contributions to social justice through participation in activities such as volunteer work, relevant scholarship, advocacy of social justice, the law school’s pro bono program, clinical courses, self-help clinics, or other work that directly serves the needs of marginalized or disadvantaged populations. One cash award will be given annually.” (Business Wire)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

On this day in history: The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution designating November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The resolution, which was introduced by the Dominican Republic, marked the anniversary of the death of three sisters, Maria, Teresa, and Minerva Mirabel, who were brutally murdered there in 1960. While women in Latin America and the Caribbean had honored the day since 1981, all UN countries did not formally recognize it until 1999. Many organizations, including the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), had been pushing for international recognition of the date for some time. ( 

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


Job’o’th’week (1L Internship Edition) – Center for Constitutional Rights

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Happy Thanksgiving Week! This week’s JOTW features multiple internship opportunities. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is seeking 1L interns for their Ella Baker Summer Internship Program in Boston, Miami, New Orleans and New York. Through CCR’s internship program, 1L students will gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of their relationship between social change, organizing, and lawyering.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (1L Application Deadline: December 18, 2015).



PSJD Public Interest News Digest – November 20, 2015

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

Happy Friday! This week I had the great pleasure to award the 2015 Pro Bono Publico Award to Lark Mulligan of DePaul University College of Law.  What a great project and wonderful event!  Thank you to everyone at DePaul, and especially Shaye Loughlin and Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea for being such gracious hosts.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Bill urging free legal aid for domestic violence victims passes U.S. Senate;
  • Pinellas (Florida) legal aid program receives $600,000 grant to fight human trafficking;
  • New Orleans Chief Public Defender announces furlough schedule;
  • New student debt report looks at Class of 2014;
  • University of Calgary law school opens Public Interest Law clinic;
  • Napa, Bay Area legal aids to merge;
  • New York Office of Victim Services granted $1 million to build legal assistance tool;
  • Nevada Attorney General launches program to help veterans;
  • Alberta Justice plans review of legal aid system;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

November 12, 2015 – “The U.S. Senate passed a bill Tuesday night aimed at bolstering free legal resources for victims of domestic violence. The so-called ‘POWER Act’ is the first bill to pass the Senate sponsored by Alaska’s freshman Sen. Dan Sullivan. Sullivan, a former Alaska attorney general, hopes that the bill’s bipartisan support will grant it success in the House and that it will extend his efforts to increase the number of attorneys doing pro-bono work for domestic violence victims across the country. Sullivan co-sponsored the bill with North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who is also a former state attorney general, he said in an interview. The bill passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote. If the bill passes the House and is signed into law, it will require every U.S. attorney to hold at least one event every year urging private attorneys to take on free work for domestic violence victims.” (Alaska Dispatch News)

November 14, 2015 – “A Florida group that helps human trafficking victims will receive a $600,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to continue its work, Democratic US Rep. Kathy Castor announced Friday. ‘This grant will provide more tools to Gulfcoast Legal Services and local law enforcement to aid victims of human trafficking,’ Castor said. ‘Gulfcoast now will be able to serve more than double the number of clients than previous years and will spur on the important work of the Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking.’ Gulfcoast Legal Services, part of the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking, was one of 10 grantees nationwide that received part of $5.6 million in Justice Department grants. Gulfcoast’s director, John Dubrule, said without the grant money Gulfcoast would not be able to maintain or expand its staff. Now, the group expects to expand services over the next three years.” (Florida Politics)

November 16, 2015 –  “Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton on Monday announced a 10-day furlough plan for 2016, a move he foreshadowed last week during his office’s annual budget hearing before City Council. Although Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s 2016 budget proposal bumps the office’s funding $150,000 – or 13.5 percent – above its current level, Bunton warned council members he needed an additional $250,000 to avert furloughs. City Council will decide the office’s funding when it adopts a budget on Dec. 1. But Bunton’s decision to establish a furlough schedule in advance of a final determination seemed to serve notice that his threat was not a budget-season bluff tactic.  ‘This is real. It’s very serious,’ said Lindsey Hortenstine, spokeswoman for the Public Defenders Office. ‘Ideally we will have a different outcome at the completion of this process and won’t have to go forward with it at all.’ Bunton says the furlough days will cost the city $113,000 or more for additional time that defendants stay in jail without access to attorneys. The Public Defenders Office, which represents indigent defenders, claims to represent approximately 85 percent of Orleans Parish defendants. No public defenders will be available for court dates during furlough days, according to a news release from Bunton’s office.” (The Times-Picayune)

November 16, 2015 – Former PSJD Fellow and current Program Manager for Equal Justice Works Ashley Matthews summarizes The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) tenth annual Project on Student Debt report.  It focused on recent graduates of four-year colleges. Like previous TICAS reports, “Student Debt and the Class of 2014” provides a comprehensive overview of the student debt crisis by combining a bird’s eye view of the national scope of educational debt with state-by-state data. (Huffington Post)

November 17, 2015 – “With a gift of $1 million from the Peacock Family Foundation, the Faculty of Law has opened a new Public Interest Law Clinic, which will provide pro bono legal services to clients, facilitating access to justice and providing law students with experiential learning opportunities. Molly Naber-Sykes, has taken up the role of executive director of the clinic, and will be responsible for overseeing all clinic operations.” “Law students will work in the clinic on precedent-setting cases affecting Alberta’s vulnerable communities and the environment, allowing them to learn public interest advocacy and litigation skills. The clinic will train and inspire a new generation of lawyers to advocate in the public interest in Alberta and beyond.”(Benzinga)

November 17, 2015 – “Legal Aid of Napa Valley will become part of a wider backstop for Northern California’s less fortunate. The Napa-based agency said it will merge with Bay Area Legal Aid, effective Dec. 31. Napa will become the seventh county served by the Bay Area group, itself the product of a merger involving three county-based Legal Aid groups 15 years ago. Bay Area Legal Aid spokeswoman Linda S. Kim said the regional provider will keep the Napa agency’s office at 575 Lincoln Ave., and local clients will be able to draw on the regional group’s roster of more than 70 lawyers. Attorneys working with the not-for-profit provider represent low-income clients pro bono. ‘We have partnered on large grants and projects in the past, our staffs have worked alongside one another, and our respective boards share a common goal of equal access to justice,’ Michael Holman, co-chairman of the Legal Aid Napa Valley board, said in the statement. ‘We believe Bay Area Legal Aid will continue our core mission with the additional benefit of a larger organizational structure and sustainability.'” (Napa Valley Register)

November 17, 2015 – “A new online tool aimed at aiding crime victims in finding legal assistance in civil matters could be available after nearly $1 million in federal funding was awarded to the New York State Office of Victim Services. The Crime Victims’ Legal Network will allow individuals to determine the type of legal help they need and connect them with resources. Matters could include housing and immigration cases and family court cases involving custody, support and orders of protection, according to a release. The office received two grants totaling $999,940 from the federal Office for Victims of Crime, part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. The agency is also working with the Empire Justice Center, University at Albany’s Center for Human Services Research and Pro Bono Net. The tool will be designed to help individuals outside of New York City, as there are fewer civil legal services available in those counties. ‘This grant will allow us to expand our reach, especially to rural areas of the state. Our goal is to create a comprehensive, collaborative network to provide holistic legal assistance to better assess the needs of, and ultimately serve, victims of crime,’ Elizabeth Cronin, director for the Office of Victim Services, said. The project is expected to be completed in two, 18-month periods.” (The Auburn Citizen)

November 18, 2015 – “Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt on Wednesday formally launched a program to provide free legal assistance to members of the military, pointing to a service gap that arises because military lawyers are limited in their ability to help with civilian court matters and private attorneys are often too expensive for service members. At a news conference in Carson City, Laxalt marked the debut of the Office of Military Legal Assistance, which is believed to be the first attorney general-led program in the country that connects military members and veterans to pro bono legal services.” “More than 100 lawyers have pledged to donate at least 10 hours to service members seeking help through the program. Applicants will be able to get help with civil matters including landlord/tenant disputes, consumer fraud problems and immigration issues. Military personnel seeking assistance should contact their local JAG for a referral, while veterans should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs.” (The Washington Times)

November 18, 2015 – “Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley told a budget estimates committee Wednesday she will launch a review into how legal aid is funded, the governance model of the program, and how much lawyers are compensated, since Alberta rates are almost half what their counterparts make in Ontario. ‘Legal Aid has been experiencing a number of challenges and they have actually come forward with respect to some of those challenges,’ Ganley said. Ganley said the Alberta government has more than doubled its funding to legal aid since 2005, covering 80 per cent of the total funding of the program. The federal contribution has remained relatively constant at $10 million, while the amount offered by the Alberta Law Foundation has dwindled, since it funds the program through lawyers’ trust funds, which are earning less and less interest. ‘This year, the increase in demand for service has already hit unprecedented volumes and more people than ever are qualifying for representation,’ Jan Archbold, with Legal Aid Alberta, wrote in an email.” “The program’s governance model ends March 31, 2016. While Legal Aid Alberta is an independent organization in charge of its own operations, the program is governed jointly by Legal Aid, the province and the Law Society of Alberta, which can cause some consternation. ‘Sometimes there can be a perception of influence,’ Ganley said, since the province both governs the society, but also sits across from Albertans in the court system as prosecutor. ‘We think that Legal Aid is doing a great job acting as they are, but certainly there is a certain amount of oversight and arguably, there is a little bit too much interaction.’ She said the governance model will likely be extended until the review comes up with a solution.” (Edmonton Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

The Greensboro Bar Association has stepped up and offered to help the Greensboro branch of The Legal Aid of North Carolina give residents another shot at life with the stigma of a criminal record through the Legal Aid’s Second Chance project. The association committed to taking on 50 cases from Legal Aid to assist them in their endeavor.

“The Greensboro Bar Association wanted to do a signature pro bono project. Something that we could get several of our members involved in regardless of their practice area,” said Afi Johnson-Parris, president of the Greensboro Bar Association and attorney at Ward Black Law Firm in Greensboro. “We choose the expungements because it was one of those things that has bipartisan support, is very formulaic and doesn’t take a lot of time to do so all of our members who have a bar license would be able to participate and it’s one of those type of projects that will make a big impact.”

The Second Chance project addresses the civil consequences of having crossed paths with the criminal justice system by helping individuals overcome barriers to employment or housing due to past arrest and conviction records. This includes helping to get criminal records expunged pro bono so it will be easier for residents to get housing, occupational and driver’s licenses, and obtain employment. Those looking for assistance would need to participate in the Legal Aid intake process before being referred to a volunteering lawyer. Legal aid is also reaching out to nonprofit and community organizations for referrals and letting them know the opportunity is available to their clients.

With Legal Aid agencies losing staff attorneys across the state, Johnson-Parris felt this was a good way for the Greensboro Bar Association to step up and help their community.

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


Job’o’th’week (Experienced Edition) – Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights is hiring a Staff Attorney for its Children’s Defense Team, which provides holistic legal representation for children in delinquency and status offender proceedings as the juvenile public defender in New Orleans. The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR) is a nonprofit law center whose mission is to defend the right of every child in Louisiana’s juvenile justice system to fairness, dignity, and opportunity.

If you are interested in juvenile rights and/or public defense work, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: December 1, 2015)


Job’o’th’week (Entry Level Edition) – Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts is looking for a Family Law Project Staff Attorney. The Women’s Bar Association works towards the goal of full and equal participation of women in every aspect of society and strives to build a strong community of women lawyers who make a difference in the profession and in society at large.

To learn more about this position’s responsibilities and qualifications, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: November 20, 2015)


Upcoming Equal Justice Works Free Student Debt Webinar

If you’re trying to get a handle on student loans, check out these messages from our friends at Equal Justice Works:

New REPAYE Plan to Launch in December for All Federal Borrowers

In December, REPAYE – or Revised Pay As You Earn – will become available as another repayment option for your federal student loans.

Like the other income-driven repayment plans, REPAYE ties your monthly payments to your earnings. Payments are capped at 10 percent of your discretionary income.

The big deal about the REPAYE plan is that it will be available to all undergraduate and graduate federal student loan borrowers regardless of when the money was borrowed, and there is no partial financial hardship required to qualify. 

There are other key differences between this new plan and other income-driven repayment plans. If you want more information about REPAYE and the other debt relief options available, keep reading!

Want to Learn More about Your Debt Relief Options?

Equal Justice Works is here to help you understand the growing labryinth of student loans! We will be hosting our free webinar, “Drowning in Debt! What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know about Managing Student Loans & Earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness,” on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT. Whether you’re currently a law student or have already graduated, this webinar will provide you with the in-depth information you need to know about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans, and more. Learn to manage your student debt, and take control of your career and financial future.

Click here to register now!

We’ll be updating our student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future, to keep all law students and graduates up to date on all legislative and regulatory changes that occur. If you download it now, we’ll notify you when we’ve updated it with the new information.

Help Protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness 

As always, we urge you to take action to preserve Public Service Loan Forgiveness before Congress moves forward with capping or eliminating this vital program for public service workers. Start today by filling out our survey and joining the ABA’s Save #Loan4Giveness campaign! 

Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. Our webinars are tailored to law students and lawyers, but the information is applicable to anyone who needs help managing the burden of student loan debt. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter (@EJW_org, #studentdebthelp) and on Facebook!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – November 6, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Harvard Law School digitizing US case law and offering it free;
  • Wisconsin law firm launches student loan defense practice;
  • Central New York now has one place the poor can go for civil legal services;
  • Legal Aid of Western Missouri receives grant for pro bono partnerships;
  • Ohio Supreme Court subcommittee says assigned counsel system isn’t broken;
  • Roger Williams University School of Law and Providence law firm open veterans appeals clinic;
  • University of Georgia School of Law to open nation’s first child sexual abuse victim clinic;
  • Rocket Lawyer and Bay Area Legal Aid partners on pilot project;
  • LSC awards Technology Innovation Grants;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 29, 2015 – “Harvard Law School has announced that, with the support of Ravel Law, a legal research and analytics platform, it is digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law, one of the largest collections of legal materials in the world, and that it will make the collection available online, for free, to anyone with an Internet connection. The ‘Free the Law‘ initiative will provide open, wide-ranging access to American case law for the first time in United States history. ‘Driving this effort is a shared belief that the law should be free and open to all,’ said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. ‘Using technology to create broad access to legal information will help create a more transparent and more just legal system.'” “Said Jim Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, the largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans: ‘This is a great development. Making legal materials and analytical tools available for free will be of great value to non-profit legal aid lawyers in providing essential legal services to low-income people.'” (Harvard Law Today)

October 29, 2015 – “As economists cast wary eyes on the national burden of student loan debt, Horizons Law Group has launched a new, unique practice for student loan defense, led by an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Laurie A. Bigsby, a Pewaukee [Wisconsin] resident, has more than two decades’ experience representing clients in personal finance matters, including Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases, and administration of probate cases. Her student loan solutions practice centers on a cutting-edge area of law with $1.2 trillion in student loan debt hanging over the nation’s economy. Eerily similar to the mortgage meltdown, digging into these cases often uncovers illegal harassment of borrowers, missing or forged documents, and loans sold off into securitized trusts.” “‘My sole focus is that clients are treated fairly, and allowed due process to seek a resolution,’ she said.” I suspect we will see more of these types of dedicated practices.  (Lake Country Now)

October 29, 2015 –  Here is an excellent collaboration to bring services to those who desperately need them, and don’t always know where to look. “A new one-stop destination will officially open today to serve those basic needs of Central New York’s poor — and vulnerable — population. The George H. Lowe Center for Justice is located on the third floor of Financial Plaza, 221 S. Warren St. in downtown Syracuse. It’s within walking distance of the bus station, the Civic Center and other destinations critical to poor people. The center brings three little-known legal service providers under one roof: Legal Services of Central New York, Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York and the Volunteer Lawyers Project. All three were in separate offices downtown. What’s the difference between the three? To someone in need of legal help, it doesn’t matter. By bringing them into one location, a client will be sent to the appropriate lawyer, regardless of what name they work under. The separate entities are required by law because they are funded with a patchwork of 80 to 90 grants for different purposes: evictions, divorces, etc. But the differences are now masked, with the groups sharing office space and expertise.” (

October 30, 2015 – “Legal Aid of Western Missouri received a 24-month grant worth $257,441 that it will use to create pro bono partnerships with large law firms to help improve neighborhoods in Kansas City’s urban core. The Adopt-a-Neighborhood project seeks to hire attorneys from respected, private law firms to serve as general counsel for needy neighborhoods that have major and often unseen legal needs. Issues range from lack of access to healthy food to blighted properties that never get fixed. Pro bono opportunities may include the simple negotiation of documents and contracts for small community nonprofits, litigating clear title and abandoned property issues, assisting with negotiations to bring a grocery store to a neighborhood, or converting an abandoned warehouse into a community center.”  (Kansas City Business Journal)

October 30, 2015 – “The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday released a report by a subcommittee that found no evidence of abuse in the way judges assign lawyers for poor defendants. The report caps Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty’s years-long and vocal push to restrict judges’ ability to pick private defense attorneys to represent poor defendants who don’t get a public defender. While small changes to state rules should be made to encourage judges to spread cases to more attorneys, “individual courts should remain free to adopt appointment systems,” the court’s Advisory Committee on Case Management Subcommittee on Court Appointments wrote in the 22-page report. The committee submitted the findings to the Ohio Supreme Court, which will consider whether the recommendations should be written into the state rules governing the assigned counsel process.” “The subcommittee rejected the notion that allowing judges to pick defense counsel breeds corruption, saying it found ‘no readily apparent evidence of abuse in the current system.'” The subcommittee recommended changing Ohio’s rules to encourage judges to spread their appointments among the widest possible list of qualified defense attorneys. That process would allow young attorneys to get on the list and begin working more quickly, and would make complaints of favoritism more difficult.” (

November 2, 2015 – “Law students at Roger Williams University will get federal appeals court experience, and veterans who have been denied disability benefits will get free lawyers for their appeals in a collaboration announced Monday at the Federal Courthouse on Exchange Street. Rhode Island’s only law school and the Providence-based law firm of Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick on Monday announced they will together operate the Veterans Disability Appeals Field Clinic. Students will staff the clinic in the law firm’s office at One Turks Head Place in Providence. Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick has been operating a similar clinic in Boston with Harvard University law students. A news release announcing the program said lawyers at the firm will guide RWU law students as the students review records and identify evidence, draft memos, discuss the appeal in conferences, potentially negotiate ways to settle the appeal, participate in mock arguments and, at times, argue the appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The veterans appeals court is based in Washington, but its judges sometimes take the court on the road to hear cases in other cities. At Monday’s ceremony, Dean Michael J. Yelnosky said the program is the law school’s first clinic for appellate work.” (Providence Journal)

November 2, 2015 – “The University of Georgia School of Law will be the first in the nation to have an experiential learning opportunity dedicated solely to the assistance of victims of child sexual abuse. The Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic will open January 2016. Initial funding for the clinic has been donated by Georgia Law alumnus Marlan B. Wilbanks, who received his Juris Doctor in 1986. It is expected that many of the clinic’s first clients will be those now eligible to bring civil charges against their abusers as a result of the passage of House Bill 17, the “Hidden Predator Act,” by the Georgia legislature.” “A nationwide search was launched last week to identify a director for the new clinic.” (UGA Today)

November 3, 2015 – “In furtherance of its mission to increase access to affordable legal assistance, Rocket Lawyer is teaming up with Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal). Through this pilot project, Rocket Lawyer will train BayLegal’s attorneys on its platform. Together, Rocket Lawyer and BayLegal will explore creative solutions to aid low-income clients solve their legal problems. The pilot project leverages Rocket Lawyer’s technology and resources so that BayLegal can help more clients. ‘Rocket Lawyer’s technology platform is the perfect complement to the wonderful work done by legal aid organizations across this country,’ said Alon Rotem, Rocket Lawyer general counsel who helped to launch the pilot. ‘Our passion to make the law simple and affordable for everyone makes us kindred spirits with organizations like Bay Area Legal Aid, and we are proud to partner with them to expand access to justice to indigent clients in our local community.’ ‘Bay Area Legal Aid is thrilled to partner with Rocket Lawyer to creatively transform legal services for our client community,’ said Alex Gulotta, executive director of Bay Area Legal Aid. ‘Civil legal aid ensures fairness in the justice system, and every year legal aid nonprofits are only able to serve a fraction of the need. By harnessing the power of Rocket Lawyer’s platform, our partnership has the potential to amplify the number of clients we can help.'” (Market Wired)

November 5, 2015 – “The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that 30 organizations nationwide will receive Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) funding in 2015. The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including developing a website with special resources for seniors and domestic violence victims; creating a hotline for family and housing law advice that can be accessed by text message; and implementing a videoconferencing system to conduct remote client interviews and provide informational videos.” Get the full list of grantees and their projects here.  (Legal Services Corporation)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Trent Cameron and Jennifer Shaw – Illinois attorneys

Shortly after graduating from SIUC, Trent Cameron began helping an elderly man pay his bills and access public benefits to which he was entitled. The man also needed help searching for a house and other day-to-day tasks.

Shortly after starting her law career, Jennifer Shaw began representing domestic violence victims. That was around 1996. “I thought, if I can find a job and just do orders of protection that helps people who are victims of domestic violence, that would be the greatest thing,” Shaw said to a room filled with mostly lawyers and judges on Tuesday at the annual Celebrate Pro Bono Luncheon.

Cameron and Shaw, both of Edwardsville, Illinois, were given the Rising Young Star Award, and the Pro Bono Service Award, respectively, by the Third Judicial Circuit. In all, more than a hundred lawyers, mediators and volunteers were recognized for taking time out of their practices to volunteer to help low-income people. Cameron, while also handling his own cases, last year volunteered more than 10 hours a week to do research, draft pleadings, and argue cases in court for the Land of Lincoln Foundation. Shaw has completed 15 long-term cases for Land of Lincoln in the past decade. Today she is managing partner at the Shaw Law Group in Edwardsville.

The need for lawyers to volunteer is great, said Michael Bergmann, who directs the Public Interest Law Initiative. Illinois has only 420 full-time legal aid attorneys but at any one time only 150 of them are available to serve low-income people, he said. “Put another way, that is one attorney available for every 6,415 low income people,” said Bergmann. “Contrast that with one private attorney for every 429 people in the general population above poverty level.”  Congratulations and keep up the good work!

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


Introducing a new blog series: Regional Highlights

NALP Regions Map - Final Version

We are excited to introduce a new blog series: Regional Highlights. Every first Tuesday of the month, we will be posting regional highlights from each of our six NALP member regions. (Click image to enlarge map). These posts will mainly highlight job opportunities, but may also include upcoming public interest events, summer funding deadlines, and other career resources.

Subscribe to keep up to date on opportunities in your region.


Here are November’s Regional Highlights:

West/Rocky MountainHonors Attorney Fellowship 2016-2017 (Seattle, WA);  Staff Attorney (San Francisco, CA); Staff Attorney (Los Angeles, CA); Summer Law Clerk (Denver, CO); Americorps Lawyer (Phoenix, AZ); Staff Attorney – Tech Projects (Anchorage, AK)

MidwestTrial Attorney/Assistant Public Defender (Columbia, MO); Staff Attorney (Springfield, IL); The Simon Karas Fellowship 2016-2017 (Columbus, OH) Legal and Policy Program Manager (Detroit, MI); Assistant Attorney General – Civil Appeals (Chicago, IL)

SoutheastEntry-Level Staff Attorney (New Orleans, LA); Staff Attorney (Plantation, FL); Immigrant Justice Project: Two Year Fellowship (Atlanta, GA); Summer Internship (Jackson, MS); Staff Attorney (Memphis, TN); Attorney-Adviser (General) (Fort Knox, KY); Veterans’ Rights Attorney (Alamo, TX); Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney (Houston, TX)

Mid-Atlantic: Staff Attorney (Philadelphia, PA); State and Local Immigration Advocate (Silver Spring, MD); Spring 2016 Legal Research Intern (Alexandria, VA); Summer Law Clerks (Washington, DC); Direct Representation Attorney (Baltimore, MD); Elections Counsel (Washington, DC); Attorney (Washington, DC)

NortheastVermont Poverty Law Fellowship (Burlington, VT); Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney (Boston, MA); Military Records Corrections Staff Attorney (West Haven, CT); Internship Opportunities (Trenton, NJ); Attorney-In-Charge, Brooklyn Neighborhood Office (New York, New York); Workers’ Rights Attorney (Yonkers, NY); Tort Attorney (New York, New York); Government Misconduct/Racial Justice Legal Intern (New York, New York); New York Bar Foundation (Summer funding/Scholarships)

CanadaPSJD Articling Resource



PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 30, 2015

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

Happy Halloween!  And Happy National Pro Bono Week.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your pro bono projects and will continue them long past this week.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Task force to review legal aid for Tennessee’s poor;
  • Workforce Recruitment Program marks 20th anniversary;
  • OPM pilots “resume mining” on USAJobs;
  • Indiana Supreme Court awards $450,000 in grants;
  • Minnesota law firm launches free online pro bono training;
  • Task force recommends state-wide oversight of Utah’s indigent defense system;
  • Iowa State Public Defender’s Office launches wrongful conviction unit;
  • App to aid migrant workers wins 3rd Hackcess to Justice hackathon;
  • Ball State University to open legal clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 23, 2015 – “The state funding system that pays for attorneys for people who cannot afford them is the subject of a special task force review. The Tennessee Supreme Court announced this week it created the Indigent Representation Task Force. The members of the group are judges, attorneys and others who work in criminal justice. They are tasked with reviewing: how attorneys are compensated for their work with people who cannot afford to pay (those who are indigent), how people are determined to qualify for legal services, how services are delivered and how the program funding is handled. The goal is to make sure the program is addressing the needs of people in Tennessee.” (The Tennesseean)

October 23, 2015 – “This month, as the Workforce Recruitment Program marks its 20th year of hiring college students and recent graduates with disabilities into the federal workforce, it highlights the Defense Department’s achievement of a more diverse workforce, DoD officials said. DoD and the Labor Department formed the WRP through a presidential executive order to increase federal employment opportunities for those with disabilities, and in doing so, the agencies added a diversity of thought, ability, background, language, culture and skill, officials said. This year is also the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 25th anniversary. The WRP helps to break down stereotypes and barriers for disabled students, and their skill sets add to DoD’s military readiness mission, said Donald Minner, supervisor of a WRP intern at the Defense Threat Reduction Program. ‘WRP participants bring a freshness, excitement and enthusiasm,’ he said.”  (Department of Defense News)

October 23, 2015 – “The Office of Personnel Management is piloting changes to the USAJobs website that makes users’ resumes searchable by hiring managers. Called ‘resume mining,’ the tool allows hiring managers at agencies participating in the pilot to search for keywords in resumes users have agreed to make searchable. Managers can then reach out to federal job applicants and invite them to apply for certain positions. The new capability is being piloted ‘across several agencies,’ Kimberly Holden, OPM’s deputy director for recruitment and hiring, said last week in a Government Executive panel discussion. About 3 million resumes are searchable. The resume mining pilot is the latest in a series of iterative improvements to USAJobs launched by OPM’s Innovation Lab in an effort to make the site more user friendly and efficient.” (Nextgov)

October 26, 2015 – “The Indiana Supreme Court has awarded $450,000 in grants that will pay for court reforms such as helping people not fluent in English get legal aid. The funding that’s being directed to the 15 counties, five pro bono districts and one committee is intended for reforms in two primary categories. One effort will help courts in the chosen counties better manage the increasing caseload of people involved in lawsuits who don’t have legal representation. The grants’ other aim is to help people who don’t speak fluent English get legal aid. Since 2008, the state Supreme Court has awarded more than $2.4 million in grant funding to nearly 100 trial courts and judicial agencies for a wide variety of court-related improvements and reforms.”  (WLFI)

October 26, 2015 – “Lindquist & Vennum LLP has launched a free online training for effectively delivering pro bono legal services. The training features video from a discussion held at Target Corp. headquarters last year. The firm is partnering with the Volunteer Lawyers Network to offer the training online. ‘We were thrilled with the response to last year’s training – both in attendees and the quality of the discussion,’ said Cynthia Anderson, Lindquist & Vennum’s pro bono director. ‘That’s why Lindquist is so excited to partner with VLN to make the training available to a nationwide audience through this online course.’ The curriculum is available for free for any individual or organization that provides pro bono legal services to indigent clients and cannot afford to pay for the materials. Five individual modules are intended to guide the legal community toward stronger client relationships, improved communication, and better legal outcomes for people in need. ‘“Nationally, up to 20 percent of legal representation to those in poverty can fail because of unseen cultural differences between people raised in middle class and those raised in generational poverty,’ said Martha Delaney, deputy director for the Volunteer Lawyers Network. ‘Not only are the consequences for the clients devastating, but the misunderstanding of socio-economic barriers can result in volunteer attrition and reinforced negative stereotypes that perpetuate generational poverty.’ For more information visit the firm’s website.” (Sioux Falls Business Journal)

October 26, 2015 – “For four years, a state task force has been delving into issues surrounding Utah’s indigent-defense system. As part of that, the task force hired the Sixth Amendment Center to review the way the accused are represented in Utah. The Sixth Amendment Center’s report was presented to Utah’s Judicial Council on Monday. The report highlighted flaws in the current system, which mostly centered around whether Utahns were given access to attorneys. The organization found that in Utah’s justice courts — where people often connect with the courts system for the first time — over half of defendants are never provided legal representation.” “In response to the Sixth Amendment Center report, the 31-member task force — comprised of judges, county attorneys, defense attorneys and others — made three recommendations to the judicial council Monday: that the Legislature create an Indigent Defense Commission; that local governments reform their indigent services contracts so that attorneys won’t face disincentives to doing effective work; and that the judicial branch ‘enhance the ability of judges to ensure compliance with right-to-counsel obligations.'” (The Salt Lake Tribune)

October 26, 2015 – “Governor Branstad has announced a new Wrongful Conviction Division in the Office of State Public Defender. Officials will conduct DNA analysis for many as 100 inmates who may have been convicted on what’s now called ‘junk science.’ The state will work with an organization known as the Innocence Project, which has helped exonerate inmates in more than 300 cases on the basis of DNA evidence. State officials will review Iowa cases in which hair analysis played a major role in convictions.” “The Iowa cases date back to the 1980’s and early 1990’s when hair analysis was common and before investigators used DNA evidence. State Public Defender Adam Gregg warns exonerations often take years to accomplish.   He says Iowa law allows for exonerations, but up to now there has been no systematic effort to uncover wrongful convictions.” (Iowa Public Radio)

October 27, 2015 – “After two days of brainstorming and collaboration in North Carolina’s capital city, lawyers, students and coders developed legal apps to aid farm workers, streamline legal aid cases and evaluate legal aid eligibility. Five teams competed at Hackcess to Justice NC, the ABA Journal’s hackathon series to find tech solutions to access-to-justice problems. The winning submission N.C. Farmworkers’ App was created by lawyer Caroline DiMaio and developer Edward Ingram. They took home the $1,500 top prize.” “DiMaio, the co-creator of the winning app, is a legal aid attorney in Raleigh who works primarily with migrant farm workers. She said the idea for her winning app grew out of that work. Many migrant farm workers would call for help or to report complaints, but could not tell her or her colleagues in what city or county—sometimes even what state—where they were working. She recalled driving around a North Carolina town with one client trying to spot a familiar landmark so she could file a complaint on his behalf with the appropriate authorities. With the N.C. Farmworkers’ App, migrant and seasonal farmworkers can find out what their legal rights are; collect evidence such as audio recordings or GPS coordinates of a field; and submit Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints to the Legal Aid of N.C. with an email or voice mail. The app is available in English and in Spanish.” (ABA Journal)

October 27, 2015 – “Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to provide legal services to people in the county and throughout the state starting in 2017. The legal studies program received a $38,137 Academic Excellence Grant from President Paul W. Ferguson to fund the initiative. The Access to Justice (ATJ) Clinic will be fully running by Spring/Summer 2017. Students will be assigned legal cases to assist with and will stay with those cases until they are done, even if they continue after the students graduate. Students will have to apply to be part of the clinic.” “There will be a new course available for students who will work in the clinic, called Access to Justice in the Legal System. It will provide a reference point for students, showing the importance of legal system accessibility for the community. The clinic will also provide service learning assignments to legal studies students, which will be incorporated into their courses. ”  (The Ball State Daily)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

YOU!  This has been an incredible week of giving!  There were so many stories, I couldn’t pick just one.  Thank you to all of you who gave of your time and expertise this week.  Let’s keep it going. And, for more inspiration, check out Pro Bono Net’s “Volunteer-A-Day” initiative, which showcases a new volunteer profile to our national community each day of Pro Bono Week.

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


Job’o’th’week (Entry/Experienced Edition) – Youth Co-Op Legal Services

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

17 positions available! The Youth Co-Op Legal Services is seeking staff attorneys to provide legal services to unaccompanied children in South Florida. The Youth Co-Op Legal Services provides services under a sub-contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in cooperation with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).

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