Archive for February, 2011

PSLawNet Jobs Report: February 28, 2011

As February draws to a close, we’re pleased to report that PSLawNet has added 99 job listings in the past week, including 52 attorney positions, 27 summer internship announcements (some of which are seeking multiple interns),a nd 15 law-related professional positions.  All told, there are nearly 1000 opportunities listed on PSLawNet.

Featured Opportunities:

  • Lawyering in Miami!  The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, is on the hunt for an entry-level attorney to work in a new Florida office: “ IJ-Florida seeks an attorney with 0-3 years of litigation experience, excellent communication skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, solid academic records, a passion for freedom, and a good sense of humor.”  Learn more about the position on PSLawNet.
  • A career in career services!  “The University of Oregon School of Law, located in the beautiful Willamette Valley, invites applications for the position of Assistant Dean for Career Services. We seek a creative, ambitious, dynamic, and personable individual who can bring vision and leadership to the Office of Career Services with the ultimate goal of increasing student placement, both within Oregon and nationally.”  Learn more about this position on PSLawNet.
  • Space Law!  NASA is looking for an intern.  “The General Law Practice Group (“GLPG”) of the Office of the General Counsel is looking for a summer legal intern to work with attorneys at NASA Headquarters (near L’Enfant Plaza). Selected intern would work with a small group of attorneys on a variety of legal projects related to litigation, administrative law, and government ethics. GLPG has a relaxed and professional atmosphere. Projects may include employment/EEO law, personnel law, administrative law, accident investigations, tort claims, FOIA, Privacy Act, legislative processes, conflicts of interest, fiscal law or other projects.”  Learn more about this position on PSLawNet.

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Public Interest Law News Bulletin – February 25, 2011

This week, there are multiple stories highlighting reaction to a potential $70 million cut in LSC funding, which we covered in a blog post earlier this week.  Here’s what’s in the Bulletin:

  • A loss of local funding here and a loss of local funding there could add up to a big subtraction for the Louisiana-based Capital Area Legal Services Corporation;
  • Putting current threats to legal services funding in context: it’s bad, but it’s not new;
  • KC gets in the Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) game;
  • Legal Aid of East Tennessee labors against a spike in instances, and severity, of domestic violence;
  • Pine Tree Legal Assistance makes the legal forest easier to navigate for veterans and their families;
  • Show me a solution to the Missouri indigent defense crisis!  Or at least show me cautious optimism!;
  • The American Bar Association won’t stand for LSC funding cuts;
  • And neither will the Colorado Bar Association;
  • A little bit of funding for a Tennessee MLP;
  • Law & Order: Los Angeles, guest-starring volunteer prosecutors;
  • Kudos for a foreclosure-right-to-counsel initiative in New York State;
  • Profiling an incoming Skadden Fellow who will tackle juvenile justice issues in Detroit.

***

  • 2.23.11 – in the Nonprofit Quarterly, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation executive director Lonnie Powers authors a piece that looks at current threats to civil legal services funding in the context of the longer-term funding vicissitudes that the provider community has experienced.  Powers, who writes in his individual capacity and not on behalf of MLAC, notes that funding threats are traditionally either ideologically driven – in part by those who believe “…that low-income people do not deserve access to attorneys or in any event they do not deserve the same access as wealthy people” - or driven by the prevailing economic winds.  As to the latter, Powers highlights the dilemma that while “legal aid funding is tied to the economy [particularly regarding IOLTA funds] and therefore cycles with the economic health of the states and the nation, the demand for services is countercyclical.”  So, precisely at a time when providers are struggling to avoid layoffs and program constrictions, the numbers of eligible clients are swelling.  Powers also notes how severe an impact a current proposed LSC budget cut could have: “[T]he $70 million reduction in LSC funding voted by the House would, according to LSC, conservatively result in: a layoff of at least 370 staff attorneys in local programs, [and] closure of may rural offices…”
  • 2.23.11 – a press release announces a new medical-legal partnership among Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City and Legal Aid of Western Missouri.  “Saint Luke’s Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) is modeled after similar programs that have succeeded in improving the health of indigent patients around the country since 1993. The partnerships integrate lawyers as a vital component of the health care team, to help patients deal with legal problems that directly or indirectly harm their health. The concept has earned the backing of groups such as the American Hospital Association, American Bar Association, American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.”  The partnership “is based on a model known as I-HELP. I stands for income and insurance issues; H is for housing issues; E is for ensuring patient safety in domestic situations; L is for legal status; and P is for power of attorney and guardianship.”  As the PSLawNet Blog has noted before, there’s a lot of momentum these days in support of medical-legal partnerships.  There’s yet another story about MLP funding below…
  • 2.22.11 - from Maine’s Portland Press Herald: ”A website designed to be the nation’s leading resource for the legal needs and rights of military families,Statesidelegal.org, is up and running thanks to the work of Maine’s largest legal aid provider.  Portland-based Pine Tree Legal Assistance was the lead agency in the creation of the site … [which] serves as an online hub for legal information — including videos, self-help tools and other resources — specifically for military personnel, veterans and their families.”
  • 2.22.11 – the ABA Journal on the ABA’s reaction to the House’s passage of a spending bill last weekend that would cut the Legal Services Corporation budget by $70 million: “ABA President Stephen N. Zack released a statement on Sunday opposing the budget reduction. “The promise of American justice and fairness cannot be an empty one,” Zack said. “But that’s what will happen if funding for legal help to poor and working class families is slashed as proposed. These cuts would hurt people in every region, from Kansas to Kentucky, Texas to Virginia, Ohio to Florida.  Earlier this month, the policymaking ABA House of Delegates voted to oppose any funding cuts to the LSC.”
  • 2.21.11 – also stemming from the proposed LSC cuts, the Colorado Bar Association comes to the aid of LSC-funded Colorado Legal Services.  Colorado Law Week features a statement from the bar association, noting in part that “[t]he $70 million cut, which will have to be absorbed entirely in the next eight months, will have a devastating impact on all of LSC’s grantees, including Colorado Legal Services, our statewide legal aid program. More importantly, it would have a devastating impact on the low-income Coloradans who are served by Colorado Legal Services—LSC anticipates it will have to reduce its grants to 136 local legal aid nonprofit programs, including Colorado Legal Services, by an average of 18 percent.”
  • 2.20.11 – volunteer lawyers prosecuting cases in LA.  From the Los Angeles Daily News: Faced with drastic budget cuts that have forced the early retirement of dozens of prosecutors, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has turned to training law school graduates or entry-level attorneys who volunteer to try criminal cases for free…. The volunteers, all of whom have passed the bar, go through a month of training and then prosecute cases for five months. They have helped fill in a gap left by the loss of about 70 prosecutors who took early retirement packages after an 18 percent cut to the office’s budget in 2009 as the city struggled to make ends meet.”

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Profile of an Incoming Skadden Fellow: Juvenile Justice in Motown

The Detroit Free Press ran a very nice profile last week of Aisa Villarosa, a 3L at Wayne State University Law School, who’s lined up a Skadden Fellowship to work on juvenile justice issues in Detroit.

Villarosa has been a true force for change during her time at Wayne State, balancing her studies, student government, and law review with very successful initiatives to mobilize fellow students on public interest projects…not to mention her own public interest work in the Lincoln Hall of Juvenile Justice.

 Over the past three years, she has cofounded an organization that has cleaned up a neighborhood, bought Christmas presents for the needy and raised money to support human rights. She is helping teach youngsters to read and is collecting donations for Special Olympics by promising to jump into the frigid Detroit River.

She doesn’t want a six-figure job at a big law firm. She wants to stay…at the epicenter of the juvenile justice system in Detroit. Those dreams became possible after she won the Skadden Public Interest Fellowship. It will pay for Villarosa’s salary and benefits so she can focus on delinquency proceedings while trying to develop mentoring programs to stop repeat offenders.

Good stuff.  And as we noted in a prior blog post, we’re really happy to see that Skadden Fellowships are being awarded to students from a broader scope of law schools in the recent past.

[As for the fellowship class of 2011,] 29 fellowships were awarded to students hailing from 21 schools…

For a little bit of context, the Class of 2010 (last year’s class) consisted of 27 fellows from 20 law schools.  The 2009 class consisted of 28 fellows from 14 schools.  And 36 fellows from 16 schools comprised the Class of 2008.  We don’t have time to look back further…but based upon the past 4 years we’re seeing more diversity and breadth with respect to the schools from which fellows graduate. 

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House Bill Cuts $70 Million from Legal Services Corporation Appropriation

Just a quick follow-up on our post last week about threats to LSC funding on the Hill.  LSC released a statement on Saturday, which reads in part:

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a $70 million cut in Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding from the current level, reducing grants to 136 local legal aid nonprofit programs by an average of 18 percent.The proposed $70 million cut is from the Fiscal Year 2010 funding of $394.4 million provided to LSC programs. An effort to eliminate all funding for LSC programs was defeated on a bipartisan vote, 259 to 171, on February 16.

Under the House proposal, about 160,000 fewer low-income people would receive civil legal assistance and 80,000 fewer cases would be handled by the LSC-funded programs. The proposed funding cut would force layoffs of about 370 staff attorneys and shut down some offices in rural areas.

This cut is a part of a continuing resolution to fund federal programs through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011.  So a battle about FY 2012 is still to come, but it suggests that LSC’s opponents will be active in pushing for funding cuts.  In light of the fact that LSC has long had enemies – and, we should note, many friends – on Capitol Hill, it’s noteworthy that conservative budget hawks are not just targeting programs to which they are ideologically opposed.  Here’s a good Washington Post article highlighting the fact that even programs which traditionally received conservative support find themselves threatened as some on the Hill are determined to cut spending at all costs.  All of this suggests that stakeholders in the equal justice community must take an all-hands-on-deck approach in supporting legal services funding in the coming weeks.

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Public Interest Law News Bulletin: February 18, 2011

We return after a week’s absence with a robust edition of the News Bulletin.  Below, please read our coverage of:

  • Layoffs at the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund (AppalReD);
  • Legal services funding crisis in Texas – and proposed solutions;
  • in Georgia, even a small cut to DV legal services funding will have a big impact;
  • Maine indigent defense program still struggling with funding;
  • Ditto, and it’s even worse, in Missouri;
  • A profile of L.A. County’s public defender;
  • Right to counsel in New York foreclosure proceedings;
  • How an LSC funding slash could impact Florida’s legal services community;
  • DOJ’s budget proposal calls for a modest increase in attorney positions, sheds light on agency priorities;
  • Lots of coverage of FY 2012 LSC funding proposals;
  • A 1,000-lawyer public defense agency in Massachusetts?;
  • President Ronald Reagan’s legacy in spurring the growth of conservative public interest organizations;
  • Cuts in Florida court funding will strain defenders and prosecutors;
  • New academic work on exonerations via DNA evidence;
  • Some props for the Tennessee Justice Center;
  • Lawyers ensuring Florida farmworkers are paid for their labor;
  • In Arizona, the Justice Bus rides again!;
  • A political fight in Chicago (surprise!) – dispute about 10% cuts to the state’s attorney’s and defender’s budgets;
  • Continued wrangling about the administration of Georgia’s indigent defense program;
  • A solution to lowering criminal justice costs in Seattle: fewer capital-case prosecutions;
  • Rhode Island U.S. Attorney not invited to party as DEA, state trooper make big drug bust;
  • The importance of pro bono in Eastern Pennsylvania;
  • Tennessee’s “attorney emeritus” pro bono program has launched.

 *******

  • 2.17.11 – as a follow-up to previous coverage of financial troubles at the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund (AppalReD) – an LSC-funded legal services provider in Eastern Kentucky - a piece in the Richmond Register provides some detail about layoffs: “Layoffs are expected in Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalRed) offices around the state. A total of nine employees will be cut, according to a press release from Interim Executive Director Jonathan Picklesimer.”
  • 2.16.11 – Maine’s Kennebec Journal provides the latest on funding challenges confronting the Pine Tree State’s indigent defense administration: “Leaders of the new state commission that oversees legal defense for the poor say a recent budget compromise should enable them to keep paying court-appointed lawyers into early June, the last month of the fiscal year.  However, the added $200,000 for the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services’ budget is only enough to keep the commission running, they say. It does not address long-term financial concerns and an ongoing $600,000 budget shortfall that was inherited from the prior administration.”  The article goes on to provide background on the Commission’s formation and the rocky financial road it has driven since.
  • 2.16.11 - the L.A. Times runs an enjoyable, and inspiring, piece on Ron Brown, who grew up in an L.A. housing project and faced down personal and professional adversity while rising quickly through the ranks to become Los Angeles County’s public defender.  Brown appears to be naturally gifted as a litigator, but has also invested great amounts of time and energy in honing his lawyering and management skills.  The story serves as an ample lesson for law students that, at all stages of their lives, many successful lawyers work through unexpected challenges – from bumps in the road to more tragic events.
  • 2.15.11 – Civil Gideon!  Kind of!  The New York Times reports on civil-right-to-counsel program being unveiled in New York State foreclosure proceedings: “New York court officials outlined procedures Tuesday aimed at assuring that all homeowners facing foreclosure were represented by a lawyer, a shift that could give tens of thousands of families a better chance at saving their homes.  Criminal defendants are guaranteed a lawyer, but New York will be the first state to try to extend that pledge to foreclosures, which are civil matters. There are about 80,000 active foreclosure cases in New York courts. In more than half of them, only the banks have lawyers.”  The program is going to launch in Queens and Orange Counties in the immediate future.  By the end of the year it should be rolled out throughout the state.

 

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Right to Counsel in New York State Foreclosure Proceedings

Civil Gideon!  Kind of!  The New York Times reports on civil-right-to-counsel program being unveiled in New York State foreclosure proceedings: “New York court officials outlined procedures Tuesday aimed at assuring that all homeowners facing foreclosure were represented by a lawyer, a shift that could give tens of thousands of families a better chance at saving their homes.  Criminal defendants are guaranteed a lawyer, but New York will be the first state to try to extend that pledge to foreclosures, which are civil matters. There are about 80,000 active foreclosure cases in New York courts. In more than half of them, only the banks have lawyers.”  The program is going to launch in Queens and Orange Counties in the immediate future.  By the end of the year it should be rolled out throughout the state.

For those interested in learning more about the civil-right-to-counsel, or “Civil Gideon”, movement, visit the National Coalition for a Civil to Counsel’s website.

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Legal Services Corporation on the Budget Chopping Block (UPDATE: Obama Administration Proposes BOOST in LSC Funding)

[EDIT: we had some math wrong in our initial blog post, so we wish to clarify that the House Appropriations Committee had proposed a global budget cut of $75 billion, within which there was a proposed $75 million cut to the LSC.  Subsequent to that proposal, the Appropriations Committee raised its global budget cut to $100 billion, which risks raising the LSC cut even more.  (Depending on how you read the numbers, we understand that the new proposal may include an LSC budget cut that is slightly higher than $75 million.)  Sorry if our confusion caused any on your end.]

LSC took a blow last week.  First, the House Appropriations Committee proposed slashing $75 million from LSC’s budget in a larger $75 billion federal budget-cutting measure.   Then, as reported by the National Law Journal: (article may be password-protected)

The Legal Services Corp. has survived any number of near-death experiences in its 34-year history. But the agency that funds civil legal services for the poor may be facing its biggest challenge yet at the hands of congressional budget cutters.

On Feb. 9, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee included a $75 million cut for the LSC in its plan for eliminating $74 billion from the federal budget. The next day, after demands for more cuts from Tea Party adherents, the committee upped its goal to $100 billion in cuts.

[Emphasis by PSLawNet Blog].  The $75 billion proposed cut would have been bad enough.  We wonder how much more may come out of LSC’s appropriation with the committee’s new proposal.    When the proposal was announced last week, LSC got quickly into gear spreading word about the damage it could do to legal services providers and the client communities they serve:

A congressional proposal to cut $75 million from the Legal Services Corporation’s (LSC) budget would decimate civil legal aid to low-income Americans at a time when it is most needed by the tens of millions suffering economic hardship.The proposed $75 million funding cut would represent a 17 percent reduction from the White House’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request of $435 million for LSC and a 14 percent decline from LSC’s current funding level, $420 million.

And in a separate statement, LSC’s Board Chair and immediate past chair expressed what’s at stake in terms of a budget cut:

At a time when more Americans are eligible for civil legal assistance than ever before in the Corporation’s history, the House Appropriations Committee unfortunately has proposed an extraordinary and immediate cut of $75 million – or 17 percent – from the White House’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for LSC.

As Chairman and immediate past Chairman of the Board of an organization charged with being one of the keepers of the flame of equal justice in this country, it is our responsibility to let the country know when that flame is flickering far too low. We do not know how a budget cut of this magnitude allows us to keep faith with the founding values of our great country. Regardless of fiscal pressures, we must never lose sight of our primary responsibility – to support the values of our Constitution and to provide equal access to justice for all Americans.

LSC has its budget-battle work cut out for it.  According to the NLJ piece, the ABA is already coming to the aid of the equal justice community:

Stephen Zack, president of the American Bar Association, which is a longtime supporter of the LSC, said in a written statement, “Hard choices loom as to priorities for federal spending, but let’s be smart about where reductions are made.…Slashing funds that keep working class and poor people from falling into a legal and financial tailspin is not the right decision in this economy.”

If they go through, budget cuts are bound to hit LSC grantee organizations, which serve low-income individuals and families throughout the U.S., very hard.  And grantees are already struggling.  As the PSLawNet Blog noted a few days ago, more and more news is surfacing about staff layoffs and office closures:

UPDATE: this is what happens when we queue up a blog post the night before to publish the next morning.  The Blog of the Legal Times reports on the Obama Administration’s budget proposal, formally released yesterday, which call for an increase in LSC’s budget, by $30 million.  If nothing else, this will buck up some support for LSC when budget negotiators on Capitol Hill get down to brass tacks.

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: February 14, 2011

Looking for a job or internship on this St. Valentine’s Day?  PSLawNet hearts jobs.  In the past week 70 job listings were posted on PSLawNet, including 35 postgraduate positions and 23 internships.  There are presently 1009 job listings in total on PSLawNet. 

Featured Opportunities:

Summer in Hotlanta!  The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Office of General Counsel is seeking two summer law interns.  From their listing: “The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) welcomes applications for its summer law student internship program. Interns serve at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.  OGC is the legal team for HHS, providing representation and legal advice on a wide range of national issues. OGC supports the development and implementation of HHS’s programs by providing legal services to the Secretary of HHS and the organization’s various agencies and divisions. With a team of over 400 attorneys and a comprehensive support staff, OGC is one of the largest and most diverse law offices in the country. We strive to advance HHS’s goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.”  Learn more about this position on PSLawNet.  (Application deadline: 3/1/11)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’s (CAIR) Chicago office is seeking a Civil Rights Director: “This person will lead the Civil Rights Department which counsels, mediates and advocates on behalf of Muslims and others who have experienced religious discrimination, defamation, or hate crimes. The department works to protect and defend the constitutional rights of Muslims in the area, thereby supporting the rights of all Americans.”  Learn more about this position on PSLawNet.

In Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid is hiring a staff attorney: “The successful applicant must be able to gather evidence, conduct civil lawsuits, draft legal documents and advise client about their legal rights. This attorney must also be able to interview clients and witnesses as well as handle other details in preparation for client legal representation. LSLA attorneys represent clients in court and before quasi-judicial or administrative agencies of government. They interpret laws, ruling and regulations for clients and the client community. They are involved with outreach and community education and work with the community to further the missions of LSLA. The successful applicant may supervise and coordinate activities of subordinate legal, clerical, volunteer or student workers. The successful applicant will be expected to handle a service case load, major litigation, attend evening clinics and participate in community education.”  Learn more about this position on PSLawNet.

Featured Resource: Looking for a Summer Job Abroad?

One of our friends at NYU’s Public Interest Law Center is a former human rights lawyer with extensive experience traveling and practicing abroad.  She was kind enough to produce a tips sheet for students looking for summer, public-interest work abroad.  Download TIPS FOR STUDENTS APPLYING FOR INTERNSHIPS ABROAD.

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Shriver Center Releases "Poverty Scorecard"

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law announced the release of its Poverty Scorecard yesterday:

There were 43.6 million Americans living in poverty in 2009, an astounding 17 percent increase in the two years since the Great Recession began in 2007. Never has it been more important for our elected representatives to take effective action to fight poverty.

Each year the Shriver Center publishes its Poverty Scorecard, which grades the performance of every Member of Congress on the most important poverty-related votes of the year. The Scorecard’s purpose is to hold our Senators and Representatives accountable – every single one of them – for their efforts to advance economic justice, or their failure to do so. 

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: February 7, 2011

Need a job or internship? During the last week PSLawNet has posted: 54 new attorney positions, 33 new internships, and 28 new law related opportunities. Additionally, there are currently 1,028 active opportunities in our job database. To search the database visit PSLawNet.

Featured Opportunities

Poverty Law Advocacy Internships: Connecticut Legal Services is filling summer internship positions in five service offices: Bridgeport, New Britain, Stamford, Waterbury, and Willimantic.  We seek applicants who want to use their creativity, initiative, and other talents and skills to improve the lives of low-income people.  CLS encourages cross-cutting client-centered work which goes beyond specific legal specialties. CLS lawyers represent families and individuals in administrative hearings, and in state and federal courts. CLS encourages lawyers addressing major client issues to work in teams, which may include other legal services lawyers and or other local community agencies.  Connecticut Legal Services provides legal representation and advice to over 9,000 low-income households each year.  Interns at CLS receive training in client interview skills, assist with an active caseload of representation and advice cases, may have the opportunity to represent clients in administrative hearings or under the student practice rule if qualified.  To learn more, view the full job listing on PSLawNet…

An Attorney position is available at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of the General Counsel (NOAA GC). NOAA GC employs approximately 114 attorneys at headquarters offices in the Washington D.C. area and at six regional offices. NOAA GC provides legal advice to the Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator) and NOAA program offices on a wide variety of issues including U.S. and international fisheries, marine mammals, endangered or threatened marine species, preservation of coastal areas, marine sanctuaries, and licensing of commercial satellites. NOAA is a premiere environmental agency, located within the Department of Commerce, and employs over 12,000 individuals nationwide. The agency’s mission is to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources and to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment to meet the Nation’s economic, social and environmental needs.  To learn more, view the full job listing on PSLawNet…

Featured Resources for Summer Job Seekers

  1. Living out of town while completing an internship this summer?  Use NALP’s Apartment Exchange to sublet your place and to look for housing.
  2. Are you aware that many organizations offer funding to students with summer public service jobs to help pay the bills?  Check out PSLawNet’s Summer Funding Page for more details.  Some, but not all, application deadlines have passed, so visit the page today.

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