Archive for June, 2011

Thursday Blog Round Up: Our Favorites from around the Public Interest Blogosphere

By Jamie Bence and Lauren Forbes

Howdy, folks! Every Thursday, the PSLawNet Blog posts a compilation of some of our favorite posts from the public interest blogosphere. Here’s what looks good this week:

  • 6.24.2011Equal Justice Works has some ideas for helping your child get through college debt free, with some planning.
  • 6.27.2011The Center for Probono Exchange has 30 ways state bar associations can support probono.
  • 6.27.2011Heather Jarvis explains why friends don’t let friends borrow private loans, and their impact on public interest loan forgiveness.
  • 6.27.2011Amnesty International explains the potential impact of California’s new bill to end the state’s death penalty (the ACLU has a similar post earlier last week).
  • 6.28.2011 Heather Jarvis also features a piece on  Jonathan Glater.  A University of California, Irvine School of Law professor, Glater believes that lawmakers should help keep higher education within the financial reach of those students who seek it by reducing the need for private student loans.

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Job o'the Day: Army Corps of Engineers!

By Jamie Bence

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we present today’s job from the Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, AL!

Civilian employees serve a vital role in supporting the Army mission. They provide the skills that are not readily available in the military, but crucial to support military operations. The Army integrates the talents and skills of its military and civilian members to form a Total Army.

Legal Advisor supporting the Agency’s mission. Programs present complex legal issues, involve unique and novel questions of law, involve large sums of money and have Army-wide significance. Performs independent legal research and analysis of issues, which requires interpretation and/or application of federal, state and local laws as well as Army re…

About the Position: Works under the general supervision of the Huntsville Center Counsel who delegates incumbent full authority to function independently in the areas of management of the assigned programs. Responsibilities are varied and diverse and include projects such as: the construction, renovation, maintenance and repair of federal facilities; radon reduction; installation recycling programs; self-help programs; the Unaccompanied Personnel Housing (furniture) program; Utility Monitoring and Control System program; the Electronic Security Systems program; the Energy Savings Performance Contracting program; the Metering Program; Utility Rate Intervention Program; Utility Privatization Program. The programs have the potential to save the Army millions of dollars. Analyzes and evaluates each energy program for compliance with applicable laws and Army regulations. Individual programs may present novel and/or factual issues with no precedent.

To view the complete job listing, click here (login required).

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5 LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers

By Lauren Forbes

Adrian Dayton of the National Law Journal has reminded us that with 100 million members, LinkedIn matters, and lawyers should not fall behind in utilizing it maximally. Therefore, he has helpfully provided some tips to make the most out of your profile and habits.  Some of the tips include making your title very specific and updating your outlook contacts often. Dayton also discusses that unlike Facebook, LinkedIn has an effective way to monitor who is reading your profile.

LinkedIn…has built into its platform the ability to see who is reading your profile. This is a premium service, but by spending $20 per month you can see the names of people who have viewed your profile. I’ve been using this service for more than a year, and it has led to meetings with some high-value contacts who I thought were no longer interested in my services. The service isn’t very expensive, but if it leads to one more meeting with a potential client, then it is well worth the investment.

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Indiana Law Human Rights Program Gets U.N. Recognition…

By Jamie Bence

Congratulations to our friends at Indiana University School of Law! Their Program in International Human Rights has been awarded “special consultative status” by the United Nations, according to Law.com.

The Program, which was founded in 1997, has researched numerous human rights violations around the world, sending students to New York and Geneva to share their findings with the United Nations. This designation will give students additional access to UN resources and, the school hopes, continue to draw aspiring human rights advocates to the campus.

The successful end to a 5 year application process joins the Program for International Human Rights with 2,000 organizations in over 200 countries, which serve as special consults to the U.N.

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DOJ Issues Statement on 2006 "Politics in Hiring" Scandal

By Jamie Bence

The current Department of Justice has stated its views on the ongoing controversy surrounding alleged politicization of hiring during the 2006 Department of Justice Honors hiring cycle, according to The Blog of Legal Times.

In court papers filed Monday night, DOJ lawyers said the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility report on the politicization of the hiring of career lawyers “is completely silent as to the requirements of the Privacy Act. Whatever misdeeds the report highlights, it says nothing about whether Esther McDonald ever created the specific records that form the basis of this dispute.”

Daniel Metcalfe, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement this afternoon: “The Justice Department’s filing blithely chooses to ignore the legal effect of its gross evidence destruction, taking positions so extreme that they themselves practically prove the merits of plaintiffs’ case. Plaintiffs look forward to pointing this out in great detail.”

The lawsuit is expected to be heard in the Washington District Court this coming October.

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Job o'the Day: Be KIND to Kids

By Jamie Bence

It’s that time again! Please note that a very similar job to this one is located in KIND’s DC office, but in an effort to be geographically diverse, I’ve selected the New York listing.

KIND seeks a Supervising Attorney for Pro Bono Programs to help manage and oversee the provision of pro bono legal representation to unaccompanied children through KIND’s network of major law firms and corporate partners in New York, NY. This includes supervising the work and staff of KIND’s office in New York; serving as a regional focal point in striving to implement KIND’s vision of ensuring that no child appear in immigration court alone; promoting volunteer support through outreach to and cultivation of relationships with local law firms, corporate legal departments, and other possible sources of pro bono representation; and serving as the primary liaison between KIND’s headquarters and its offices in New York.

The Supervising Attorney does not provide direct legal representation to unaccompanied children but will be responsible for facilitating their pro bono representation. He or she will report to KIND’s National Legal Services Director.

To view the complete job listing, click here (login required).

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Reason Magazine on the Public Defender System

By Jamie Bence

The July 2011 issue of Reason – a popular, libertarian-leaning publication – features an article about the ailing public defender system in the United States, which, according to the article, often does a disservice to both attorneys and their clients. Clay Conrad, a private practice criminal defense attorney, draws on personal experience and studies which show that too often, public defenders are forced to take on too many cases with too few resources.

As a result, Conrad argues, public defenders are predictably forced to triage, accepting plea deals where practical and putting more time into cases they believe they can win. This system, according to the author, is far from ideal:

But it is not always easy to know which cases are the hopeless ones if all you do is read the offense report and spend a few minutes talking to the defendant and the prosecutor. Without putting in the time required to investigate the facts, the law, and the witnesses, it is unethical to recommend that a client accept a plea bargain. Maybe the offer represents the best possible result, but maybe the client is completely innocent and just too frightened to disagree.

Conrad also details how, in contrast to private defense attorneys, public defenders often lack the resources to run scientific tests that could prove their clients’ innocence. Moreover, he describes a sort of quid pro quo scenario, in which appointed criminal defense lawyers must retain a rapport with judges and court staff, and might find their appointments jeopardized if they represent a client too zealously- spending long hours on the case or requesting expensive tests.

Finally, Conrad concedes, good criminal defense is expensive, and “O.J. Simpson-style litigation” is not appropriate or even necessary in every case, but there is a middle ground in which most trials are won and lost:

I would, however, expect that before the taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to incarcerate one of their neighbors for years, branding him virtually unemployable for life and making him part of America’s permanent undercaste, they would want to ensure that he had a competent lawyer, with adequate resources and adequate time to do everything possible within the law to help his client. It is not an extravagance to make sure that before a man’s life is destroyed or taken from him, his defense has fully tested every element of the government’s case. The cost of an adequate defense pales against the cost of incarcerating an innocent man.

To read the full article on Reason, click here.

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Best Practices for Public Interest Fellowship Applications – Free Program in DC on July 14th

By: Steve Grumm

Interested in project-based public interest fellowships, like those funded by Equal Justice Works and the Skadden Foundation?  NALP and the Washington Council of Lawyers are pleased to present “The Pathway to Postgraduate Public Interest Legal Fellowships” on Tuesday, July 14th, from 6:00-8:30pm here at the Washington, DC offices of Akin Gump.

But wait, there’s more!  The event will double as a happy hour, offering networking opportunities and a chance for public-interest minded law students in the nation’s capital to meet like-minded peers.

The formal portion of the program will be led by our distinguished panel, the members of which all have extensive experience with the fellowship proposal process:

  • Lauren Dubin, Director for Public Interest and Government Careers, Georgetown University Law Center (Moderator)
  • Patty Mullahy Fugere, Executive Director, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless
  • Jennifer Tschirch, Senior Program Manager for Fellowships, Equal Justice Works
  • Kati Daffan, Staff Attorney, Federal Trade Commission (and former Skadden Fellow)

To register: go to www.wclawyers.org

Cant’ make it?  Don’t worry.  PSLawNet has dozens upon dozens of public interest fellowship listings, and a resource page for prospective applicants (including this tip sheet for project-based fellowship proposals).

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Job O'the Day: DOT Seeks Entry-Level Attorneys

By Jamie Bence

Are you a newly minted attorney or bar exam studier who wants to hit the road or fly away this summer? We can’t help you with that, but we do have the next best thing: a new job opportunity from the Department of Transportation! It’s that time of year when many executive branch agencies begin recruiting, so keep an eye out for other similar programs in the weeks ahead.

The Department’s Honors Attorney Program offers new law graduates (and recent law graduates completing judicial clerkships or fellowships) a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the Department’s diverse law practice.

During the two-year program, honors attorneys rotate once in the Department’s Office of the General Counsel and in up to five Chief Counsels’ Offices of the Department’s operating administrations.

Rotations provide each honors attorney with substantive and challenging assignments across a wide spectrum of legal fields. Honors attorneys find themselves working in practice areas such as administrative, aviation, litigation, environmental law, constitutional law, torts, legislation, labor and employment law, and contract and procurement law.

In addition to legal work, honors attorneys meet for lunch weekly to discuss current work assignments and program matters. The lunches also provide time for in-house training opportunities in such wide ranging issues as the Freedom of Information Act, DOT’s crisis management procedures, and regulation drafting, as well as many other topics relevant to the practice of law at a cabinet level agency.

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

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Check Out Our New Page: Having Fun on the Cheap in Big Cities!

By Jamie Bence (with snaps to Lauren Forbes)

Based on your response to our blog posts about New York and Washington, D.C., we have launched a new page on PSLawNet called Having Fun on the Cheap in Big Cities.

Each city’s write up features free and cheap activities, as well as resources for finding things to do.  Whether you are a law student completing an internship or a public interest lawyer, there are suggestions for everything from day trips to happy hours. We’ve picked the best (and cheapest) for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Of course, if you’ve been to or lived in one of these locales, we welcome your suggestions in the comments or via pslawnet@nalp.org.

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