Archive for May, 2011

Job o' the Day: Enviro Faculty Director needed in Vermont

By Lauren Forbes

Vermont Law School seeks a Faculty Director for its Environment and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) to commence in the summer or fall of 2012, or possibly earlier.   Vermont Law School’s top-ranked environmental program includes a curriculum of over 60 environmental law courses, as well as two advanced degrees in environmental law – the Masters in Environmental Law and Policy (MELP) and the Environmental LLM degree. Between a third and a half of our JD students are enrolled as joint degree students in the MELP program.

The ENRLC forms a key component of the environmental education we offer our students. The program functions as a public interest environmental law firm and gives students the opportunity to hone their skills in real-world cases and projects. The ENRLC is organized into four main program areas – Water and Justice, Coal and Climate, Healthy Communities, and Biodiversity – and we retain the flexibility to take on cases and projects outside these areas as well. The ENRLC’s work includes a mix of litigation, administrative agency proceedings, client counseling, and other forms of environmental advocacy.

The ENRLC Director is charged with administering the ENRLC and supervising its faculty, staff, and student clinicians, including the following general duties and responsibilities:

  • Evaluating and selecting new cases and projects in consultation with other ENRLC faculty and staff.
  • Consultation with an environmental faculty case selection advisory committee.
  • Serving as lead attorney in several cases and projects and providing close supervision and feedback to student clinicians involved in those matters.
  • Supervising staff attorneys and student clinicians involved in other cases and projects.
  • Overseeing weekly Strategy Sessions (case rounds) and Seminars (workshops on various environmental advocacy topics).
  • Developing the program budget for administrative approval.
  • Monitoring income and expenditures.
  • Raising funds for the program through grants and donations, with the assistance of the administration.
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with other environmental clinics and clinical organizations.

To view the full job listing, go to PSLawNet (login required).

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IBR Facts from Loan Ranger Heather Jarvis

By Lauren Forbes

Recently, student loan expert Heather Jarvis shared two very timely and helpful blog posts on Income-Based Repayment,or IBR, an acronym with which this blogette and many other recent grads have become intimately familiar.

Check out “3 Best Things About IBR,” a video in which Heather tells students how to get a grip on student loans.   And to ensure that we’re fully educated, Heather also posted a video about an IBR eccentricity, because IBR is unusual in that a borrower’s monthly payment may be even less than the interest that is accruing each month.  Watch the video to find out what happens to that interest…

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Interested in Juvenile Justice Advocacy? Check out the Goings-on Inside Baltimore's Juvenile Justice Center

By: Steve Grumm

An article on the Southern Maryland Online news site offers a sort of “day in the life of the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center.”  The piece is certainly worth a read for those interested in juvenile justice careers, whether as prosecutors, defenders, or in some other capacity.  The work can be fast-paced and sometimes overwhelming, but it’s immeasurably important. 

It’s 9:30 a.m. at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, and the hallways are crowded with people. Children are crying. Attorneys are yelling out names of their clients. Teenagers are leaning against the walls, waiting for their turn in the courtroom. A woman asks if anyone has a Motrin.

They’re here for juvenile court hearings or for child welfare cases — custody hearings, foster care and abandonment issues.  

A snapshot of a day in juvenile court may seem similar to the adult system, but a closer look reveals the differences. The adult and juvenile court systems grow out of different legal theories.

The juvenile system serves youths 18 and under with the goal of rehabilitation, not punishment. For that reason, most of the court’s terminology is different from the language in adult courts. Juveniles are “adjudicated,” not “found guilty.” They commit “delinquent acts,” not “crimes.”

The records in these cases are sealed to protect youths who may have made some immature mistakes and may never again have any legal problems.

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Job o' the Day: Care About Juvenile Justice in NY?

By Lauren Forbes

The Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department is seeking an experienced attorney for the Brooklyn office of its Juvenile Delinquency Prosecution Unit. Attorneys in this unit handle delinquency cases from investigation through trial, with the goal of furthering the best interests of the juvenile offenders, while protecting the public safety of the community. Delinquency attorneys investigate cases where juveniles have been charged with violations of New York State Penal Law. They interview victims and witnesses; make and respond to pre-trial motions and appear daily in Family Court, where they conduct arraignments, suppression hearings and trials.

Applicants must have three years or more of litigation experience and must be an attorney in good standing admitted to practice in New York State. Previous criminal justice, juvenile justice, child welfare or related legal experience is required. Knowledge of Family Court procedure is preferred, as is a demonstrated commitment to public service, organizational abilities, an ability to work as part of a team and excellent interpersonal skills.

To view the full job listing, go to PSLawNet (login required).

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Public Interest News Bulletin – May 27, 2011

By: Steve Grumm

Greetings, Dear Readers, and Happy Friday!  Having returned from the Equal Justice Conference, which featured some terrific programming and offered important insights about trends affecting the legal services and pro bono communities, I give you this week’s Bulletin, which is brimming over with news and developments from all corners of the public interest legal world.

Featured: Georgia’s top jurist goes to bat for legal services funding; hard times for Legal Services of New Jersey; a “corps” of newly minted lawyers to help  unclog the immigration system?; a prosecutor/public defender scuffle ends in a lawsuit; New York gets an IOLA funding windfall, but it’s notably “uninteresting”; former AG Gonzales “disappointed” in himself over politicization of hiring practices; the SEC and CFTC hang the “Help Wanted” sign for lawyers; funding for prosecutors and public defenders in one South Carolina county; stagnant prosecutor salaries are causing problems in Tucson; prosecutor funding ain’t great in Vegas, either; a piece on the public defender’s office in Terra Haute, IN; the Texas AtJ Foundation recognizes four banks as IOLTA all-stars; two LSC board members make the case for funding programs in Virginia and nationwide; in Tennessee, a legal services ED explains how even small federal funding cuts disproportionately impact the poor; questions about indigent defense funding in the Tarheel State.

 

  • 5.25.11 – writing in the National Law Journal, Stacy Caplow, director of clinical legal education at Brooklyn Law School, offers a solution to the “crisis” in the immigration system: a corps of law grads doing two years of service as immigration attorneys.  In laying out the system’s myriad problems, Prof. Caplow offers a startling statistic: as for immigrants in the NY area, “a nondetained immigrant represented by a lawyer had a 74% chance of avoiding deportation, whereas a detained immigrant without counsel had only a 3% rate of success.”  Wow.  Caplow’s solution: [L]et’s create a structured program for…law graduates to provide legal services to poor, unrepresented immigrants while developing skills and knowledge to improve the level of competency of the immigration bar….  We could call it Immig-Corps. I picture recent law graduates being trained and supervised over a period of two years, going to detention centers, to immigration court, interviewing, counseling and representing individuals facing deportation.”  Read the full piece for discussion of how to fund the program.  I’ve got some thoughts on these proposals – not the least of which is apprehension about the risk of downward pressure on already-low public interest attorney salaries.  But that must wait for a longer blog post.
  • 5.24.1 – according to the Blog of the Legal Times, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales expressed “disappointment” in himself stemming from a scandal around political vetting of attorneys and law students who were competing for (non-political-appointment) positions with DOJ.
  • 5.24.11 – it looks like prosecutors in Berkeley will see some more funding from the county.  Huzzah!  After all, someone has to bring Swift Justice to all those good-for-nothing, commune-living, dope-smoking hippie rapscallions…wait…oh…Berkeley, South Carolina.  Our bad.  In any case, the Berkeley Independent reports: “Berkeley County Council has included funding to help assist the solicitor and public defender’s offices in its fiscal year 2011-2012 budget that will be presented to council next month.  Included in the budget is funding that would help Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson recoup more than $140,000 that was cut from her office’s budget due to the discontinuation of grants from the Department of Justice and the state’s Department of Public Safety.  Also included in the budget is $115,000 earmarked for the public defender’s office.  Without the funding, it is estimated that the county’s public defender’s office would have to close for two months next year or lay off two of its five attorneys.”

 

  • 5.223.11 – stagnant salaries are leading to attorney retention troubles for one Arizona prosecutor.  From to the Arizona Daily Star: Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall has seen so many resignations and retirements over the past three years that 64 percent of her prosecutors have five years’ or less experience in the courtroom.  As with most county employees, LaWall’s staff hasn’t seen a raise in nearly four years, causing many to leave…. Pima County [which is the Tucson area] records indicate the 29 prosecutors hired at $57,000 between 2006 and 2009 are making roughly the same as the nine hired within the last year.”  The $57K starting salary is actually a solid figure, comfortably over the median, national starting prosecutor’s salary of $50K that NALP reported in 2010.  Nevertheless, the attrition of mid-level attorneys is double trouble: not only is the office losing folks who should move into leadership positions, it is also losing on the investment it made in training those attorneys.
  • 5.23.11 – Las Vegas-based KLAS has a brief story about apparent underfunding in the local District Attorney’s Office: “While crime is at 2011 levels, the number of Deputy DA’s [is] at 2000 levels…. The DA’s Office handles all the cases coming through the Regional Justice Center, while the Public Defender’s Office handles around 40 percent. The DA’s say they’re concerned budget cuts prevented them from hiring new attorneys over the past three years, while the Public Defender’s Office continues to grow.”  Leaving aside the fact that a straight-up comparison of prosecutor and public defender funding is apples and oranges, we do hope that the District Attorney can address staffing problems.

 

  • 5.20.11 – Yoder to the Associated Press: “Mistaken your views on funding cuts are!”  (World’s worst Star Wars reference?  Very, very likely.)  Dave Yoder is the executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee.  In a letter to the editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Yoder takes issue with an AP article that seemed to minimize the impact of recent federal budget cuts, particularly as regards programs helping the poor: “The article fails to point out that the cut in LSC funding was more than 5 percent…. The article fails to recognize that current federal funding is less than half of what it was, when adjusted for inflation, in 1981.  The article fails to point out that funding to LAET from Department of Housing and Urban Development for unlawful foreclosure and eviction prevention and from Department of Justice for domestic violence prevention has also been cut either directly or by the elimination of stimulus funding. The personal, social and economic short and long-term impact will be much greater on low income citizens and on our communities than suggested.”
  • 5.18.11 – the Shelby County Star reports on potential funding cuts for indigent defense programs in the Tarheel State: “The state House recently approved the 2011-12 budget which reduces funding for court-appointed private counsel by nearly $11.3 million.  That reduction could mean a difference of as much as $30 per hour [in payments to appointed counsel, which one attorney estimated could fall from $75 to $45.]  Some legislators are also talking about establishing and staffing public defenders’ offices in some counties as a means to save money.

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Job o' the Day: Gettin' an AJ in the Bay Area

As an Administrative Judge (AJ) of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the incumbent hears and decides appeals from Federal employees, applicants for Federal employment, and Federal annuitants concerning any matter over which the Board has appellate jurisdiction.

The Administrative Judge’s (AJ) principal duty is to adjudicate appeals. As part of this process, the AJ must perform the following: Conduct prehearing and status conferences in order to explore the possibility of settlement and to narrow and simplify the issues in the case; advise the parties with regard to their respective burden of proof, duties, and responsibilities; oversee the discovery process; advise the parties with respect to settlement negotiations and provide them with help in facilitating that process; conduct hearings (including convening the hearing as appropriate, regulating the course of the hearing, maintaining decorum and excluding any person from the hearing for good reason); and issue initial decisions. The AJ has significant discretion in managing his/her caseload in accordance with Board Policy concerning quality, production, and timeliness. The AJ’s initial decision may form the bases for subsequent precedential Board or court decisions. Depending upon the result of the case, initial decisions also can have significant and lasting effects on the careers and retirements of the affected individuals. This opportunity will be in San Francisco, California.

To view the full job listing, go to PSLawNet (login required).

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Former AG Gonzales "Disappointed" in Himself Regarding Politicization of DOJ Attorney and Law Student Hiring

And that is likely one of the few sentiments that the former AG shares in common with those who may have been snubbed as a result of improper political vetting for DOJ attorney and internships honors program positions.

A couple of days ago the Blog of the Legal Times reported on Mr. Gonzales’s remarks, which were made during a deposition stemming from the hiring irregularities.  From the BLT:

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said for the first time that “I am disappointed that I didn’t do things differently” to stop the politicization of the system of hiring career Justice Department attorneys through its honors program during his time in office.

“Obviously everyone is smarter in hindsight. In hindsight you wish you would do some things differently and … I feel disappointment in myself,” Gonzales said, according to filings this week in a pending suit filed on behalf of applicants who were rejected for the program for political or ideological reasons. “I, the attorney general, am ultimately responsible,” Gonzales also said.

Gonzales served as the nation’s top law enforcement official from 2005 to 2007. Internal investigations of the honors and summer intern programs that were made public in 2008 found that Department officials did Internet searches to investigate the applicants’ political and ideological affiliations, added that information to applicants’ files, and used it to “deselect” some of those who would otherwise have been interviewed and hired. One candidate was nixed because he had run for office as a Green Party candidate.

We thought this was newsworthy because we’re not aware that Mr. Gonzales has otherwise been called upon to account for these incidents, and whether or not he played any substantive role in them.  As for folks who were directly involved, news had recently surfaced that Monica Goodling, a former DOJ official who admitted in Congressional testimony that she considered job candidates’ political affiliations in making hiring decisions, has been reprimanded for this conduct by the Virginia State Bar.  (Here’s ABA Journal coverage.)

It goes without saying that presidential elections have consequences.  And whoever occupies Oval Office, regardless of party,  is going to be able to shape federal policies – and, through political appointments, the workforce –  in such a way as to reflect his or her political party’s ideologies.  But when it comes to civil-service and related positions in government, there should exist the brightest of bright lines forbidding political vetting.  DOJ, through Republican and Democratic administrations, has been a proud institution with a historically strong workforce.  So we’re glad that this episode is in the rearview mirror.

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Pugnacious Public Defender Sued by His Prosecutor Prey

Alliteration and lawyer brawling.  What a way to kick off a Thursday!  The Chicago Tribune has run a short piece about a lawsuit coming in the aftermath of a courthouse scuffle between a public defender and a prosecutor in Chi-town last year

A fight last year between a Cook County prosecutor and a public defender has turned into a legal battle.

Michael McCormick, who was working as a Cook County assistant state’s attorney at the time, alleges in a lawsuit that Henry Hams, who was working as a public defender, followed him out of a courtroom in June 2010, threatened him and then jumped on his back and neck — twisting his neck and causing him to fall to the ground.
 

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OMG, the SEC and CFTC are Hiring ESQ's…

The Blog of the Legal Times noted yesterday that the SEC is moving quickly to fill attorney positions, and has actually retained a headhunter to facilitate the process:

Open SEC jobs include a trial attorney in the Enforcement Division and a senior advisor in the Clearance and Settlement unit within the

I WANT YOU....to do business related things with your law degree!

Division of Trading and Markets, which both pay between $126,661 and $198,333. The SEC is also hiring an associate director for Clearance and Settlement and chief counsel of the Division of Trading and Markets, with salaries of up to $226,160.

The SEC is even using [the headhunter] Futurestep to fill what amounts to entry-level attorney advisor positions – there are at least two vacancies, with pay starting at $81,225.

It’s imperative that the SEC fill the jobs before the end of the fiscal year in September, Enforcement Division head Robert Khuzami told a securities law conference earlier this month. The agency got a $70 million bump in funding which will go toward new hires, “but we only have five months to do it,” he said. “All of a sudden we have to push through a lot of hires, because if we don’t spend the money by the end of the fiscal year, it’s gone.”

The piece notes that the SEC isn’t the only game in town for public-service minded attorneys with an interest in business and finance:

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also found itself short-staffed, and is currently looking to fill at least eight lawyer vacancies – but it’s doing so on its own, without a headhunter.

The position announcements for most or all of these jobs, even the ones for which the headhunter is handling recruitment, should be available at USAJobs.

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Job o' the Day: Labor Law and Policy in the Nation's Capital

The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a nonprofit located in Washington, DC, seeks a Senior Policy Analyst to lead our policy advocacy for workers’ rights in Latin America and Africa and to coordinate our anti-discrimination programs – including the Rights for Working Women campaign. The ILRF is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. More information about ILRF is available at LaborRights.org.

This position will require a broad range of knowledge about international labor rights instruments, trade and labor linkages and the various legal mechanisms (e.g. GSP petitions, OECD-NCP complaints, etc), which can support and help shape labor rights advocacy campaigns. An ideal candidate is one who has worked with a labor union and/or is interested in working with a small, fast paced NGO and is an independent, innovative and driven individual.

Meet the qualifications?:

  • 3+ years experience on public policy or drafting of reports
  • 3+ years experience on labor and human rights issues, preferably with international focus
  • Demonstrated ability to work well under pressure and lead work streams
  • Ability to multi-task and work creatively
  • Well organized and detail oriented
  • Fluency in Spanish and English (written & oral); knowledge of French, Creole or Portuguese also helpful
  • Strong computer, research and writing skills, proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Bachelor’s degree required and graduate degree in law or public policy preferred

To view the full job listing, go to PSLawNet (login required).

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