Archive for January, 2012

Job o' the Day: 2012 Summer Diversity Internship with the American Health Lawyers Association in DC!

Intern with the nation’s largest, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to legal issues in the healthcare field with more than 10,000 members. Currently 38 staff members are responsible for the operational activities of the organization.

The mission of the American Health Lawyers Association is to provide a collegial forum for interaction and information exchange to enable its members to serve their clients more effectively; to produce the highest quality nonpartisan educational programs, products, and services concerning health law issues; and to serve as a public resource on selected healthcare legal issues.

As the 2012 Diversity Intern, you can expect to assist the Vice President and Managing Editor of Professional Resources, as well as the Senior Manager of Public Interest by editing law journals and newsletters, interviewing industry leaders, and monitoring legal developments in health law.

Additionally, the position affords a student multiple opportunities for networking with health attorneys.

Interested? Learn more at PSLawNet!

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Participate in NALP's 2012 Public Interest Salary Survey

What is NALP’s Public Interest Salary Survey?

Every two years, NALP conducts the Public Interest Salary Survey to gather important data on attorney salaries, benefits packages, and loan repayment assistance programs.  Public interest law offices rely on this survey data to set salary scales, negotiate union contracts, implement loan repayment programs, and for other purposes.

Who should participate?

  • Civil Legal Services Organizations
  • Public Defenders’ Offices
  • District Attorney/Local Prosecutors’ Offices
  • All other nonprofit, public interest law offices (e.g. those organizations that promote civil liberties, human rights, advocate for the homeless, etc.)

How to participate

A survey instrument was mailed to public interest organizations throughout the country last week. You can also complete the survey online — an electronic version is available here: https://survey.vovici.com/se.ashx?s=17CFEB607A3193C6. However, only use one method to complete the survey.

A PDF is available for hard-copy printing here: http://tinyurl.com/89bjqqh.   All survey participants will receive a free electronic copy of the report when it is released later in the year. 

Deadline

The survey response deadline is February 24, 2012, but we encourage you to complete it as soon as possible.

Questions?

Please contact Steve Grumm, NALP’s Director of Public Service Initiatives, with any questions: sgrumm@nalp.org or 202-296-0057.

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Networking is a Must-Do… Even for Introverts!

by Kristen Pavón

Introversion has been on my mind lately. A student, whose grad school personal statement I’m helping with, recently told me that she is an introvert and that as an introvert, she had a tough time adjusting to college life. It took her a while to find her niche and ways to cope with her introversion.

I haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs test in years and I can’t remember if I’m an EFNP, INFP or what, but in any case, I can understand how networking can pose a challenge to introverts.

Well, today, I came across a blog post on Harvard Business Review by Lisa Petrilli titled An Introvert’s Guide to Networking. Could there have been better timing? I think not.

You can read her entire blog here or you can purchase her book, An Introvert’s Guide here.

Here are my takeaways about turning your introversion into a career advantage from Lisa’s post and another post from Forbes.

1. Use social media to reach out.

This pre-introduction leads to a more relaxed and productive in-person connection. By reaching out, you open the door to potentially rewarding business collaborations, and you do so on your own terms.

2. Prepare before attending networking events.

Check guest lists if you can, think about what you want to learn from the attendees, come up with some things about yourself that you want to share, and have a mental list of general questions to start conversations rolling.

3. Set goals, or use Melinda Emerson’s Rule of Five

When you have set goals, it can be easier to forget how uncomfortable you are. As my husband says, Focus on the mission at hand! A good plan for networking events is using the Rule of Five:

Your target should be to secure five quality contacts at any networking event. Aiming for any more and you’ll struggle to make a real connection. Don’t be the chicken with their head cut off doing drive-by networking. Spend the time to have a real conversation, even if the person really isn’t a good contact.

4. Focus on one-on-one conversations.

Generally speaking, business events — and particularly networking events that require engaging with groups — are demanding for introverts. An antidote to this, I learned, is to seek out conversations with one individual at a time. When I approach events this way I have more productive conversations and form better business relationships — and I’m less drained by the experience.

5. Allow for re-energizing.

As I’ve learned, having to engage with groups or even a few people can leave introverts quite drained. Lisa Petrilli suggests allowing yourself 30 minutes in between commitments to recharge.

Any other tips  you’d add?

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Interesting Perspective: Experiment with New Comprehensive Solutions to Failed War on Drugs

by Kristen Pavón

Richard Branson, member of the Global Commission for Drug Policy (and founder and chairman of Virgin Group), wrote a piece for The Telegraph in the UK recounting the failure of the war on drugs over the last 50 years and urging countries to experiment with new policies that take a holistic approach rather than a arrest-and-punish approach.

IMHO — With prisons and jails bursting at the seams and budgets shrinking across the country, innovative new policies that can address the collateral consequences of the war on drugs are certainly welcome.

Here are the highlights:

Over the past 50 years, more than $1 trillion has been spent fighting this [the war on drugs]battle, and all we have to show for it is increased drug use, overflowing jails, billions of pounds and dollars of taxpayers’ money wasted, and thriving crime syndicates. It is time for a new approach. . . .

They [leaders worldwide] are failing to act because the reforms that are needed centre on decriminalising drug use and treating it as a health problem. They are scared to take a stand that might seem “soft”. . . .

We [the Global Commission on Drug Policy] studied international drug policy over the past 50 years, and found that it has totally failed to stop the growth and diversification of the drug trade. Between 1998 and 2008, opiate use increased by more than 34 per cent, even as prison populations swelled and profits for drug traffickers soared. . . .

First, prohibition and enforcement efforts have failed to dent the production and distribution of drugs in any part of the world. Second, the threat of arrest and punishment has had no significant deterrent effect on drug use. . . .

Drugs are dangerous and ruin lives. They need to be regulated. But we should work to reduce the crime, health and social problems associated with drug markets in whatever way is most effective. Broad criminalisation should end; new policy options should be explored and evaluated; drug users in need should get treatment; young people should be dissuaded from drug use via education; and violent criminals should be the target of law enforcement. We should stop ineffective initiatives like arresting and punishing citizens who have addiction problems. . . .

The next step is simple: countries should be encouraged to experiment with new policies. . . . New policies should be evaluated according to the scientific evidence. But we can say now that these policies should focus on the rights of citizens and on protecting public health. Drug policy should be a comprehensive issue for families, schools, civil society and health care providers, not just law enforcement.To evaluate such policies, we should stop measuring their success according to such indicators as numbers of arrests, prosecutions and drug seizures, which turn out to have little impact on levels of drug use or crime. We should instead measure the outcomes in the same way that a business would measure the results of a new ad campaign. That means studying things like the number of victims of drug-related violence and intimidation, levels of corruption connected to the drug market, the amount of crime connected to drug use, and the prevalence of dependence, drug-related mortality and HIV infection.

You can read the rest here. Thoughts?

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Job o' the Day: Staff Attorney at Prairie State Legal Services in Illinois!

Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., a 70-lawyer legal services organization, serving 36 counties in northern and central Illinois outside of Cook County, is seeking applicants for a Staff Attorney position in our community legal services office located in Peoria. 

The successful applicant will participate in a full range of legal activities, including the preparation and conduct of administrative hearings and trials of cases for elderly and low-income persons.

For more information, check out the listing at PSLawNet!

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New Orleans Public Defender's Office Struggling to Make Payroll. Layoffs Loom.

By: Steve Grumm

It’s the farthest thing from Mardi Gras revelry at the NOLA defender’s office.  From New Orleans news site Gambit:

The Orleans Parish Public Defender’s office was down to $36,000 in the bank and may be unable to make its payroll this month, according to chief parish public defender Derwyn Bunton and Louisiana Public Defender Board Chairman Frank Neuner, who reported the budget problems at a Jan. 18 meeting of City Council’s Criminal Justice Committee. According to Bunton, the immediate financial problem results from an alleged failure by the New Orleans Traffic Court to hand over monthly indigent defendant fees, which were due Jan. 10.

  Even if that’s resolved, the office still faces a $1 million shortfall for the year and may have to lay off as many as 14 staff members, Bunton said. The office already has instituted a hiring freeze and suspended payments to contractors in an attempt to save money, but Bunton said those measures have only delayed more significant service restrictions, including the release of defendants who’ve been held in jail too long without representation.

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Job o' the Day: Immigration Senior Staff Attorney at Asian Law Caucus in San Fran!

Having recently returned from my first trip to San Fran, I gotta say — San Fran would be a fun place to work!

As the nation’s oldest legal organization focusing on the civil rights of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the Asian Law Caucus is a leader in defending the interests of low-income immigrants. Since 1972, ALC has litigated high-profile cases and provided an array of services including community education, advocacy, and direct client representation. ALC’s current program areas include national security civil rights, immigration, housing rights, criminal justice reform, employment, and voting rights.

The Asian Law Caucus is seeking a Senior Staff attorney to provide leadership in challenging unfair and discriminatory enforcement policies facing immigrant communities. The Senior Staff Attorney is responsible for litigating issues including indefinite detention and habeas actions, illegal detention of United States citizens, constitutional claims in ICE raids cases, employment retaliation in immigration, contesting aggravated felony and other criminal immigration charges, post-9/11 issues, state and local anti-immigrant laws, ICE detainers, DREAM Act and prosecutorial discretion cases, representing detainees with mental health issues, and other immigration enforcement issues. S/he will also be responsible for keeping abreast of policy developments in the field.

Wanna know more? Check the listing at PSLawNet!

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Landing the Job: iPhone, iPad & Android Apps that Can Help!

by Kristen Pavón

I read an article last week that suggested 3 iPhone/iPad apps to help with the job search, with the interview process, and then succeeding in your job. I was a bit disappointed with the options. So, I did my own research and found a few other useful apps to help out — any edge you can get, right?

1. JobMo (Android version here)

This app is similar to Indeed’s Job Search app that aggregates job listings. However, this app allows you to mark jobs as favorites, note which jobs you’ve already applied for and find and see jobs nearest to you on an interactive map. It’s free, but for 99 cents, you can get the ad-free version.

2. Interview Buzz Lite (Android version here)

This is one of the apps featured in the article I read last week. There are tons of tips for interviewing, but it’s main function is interview practice. You can choose to practice interview questions within a specific category (for example, communication skills or job performance). The app also provides answers for you! It’s free, but for 99 cents you can upgrade to the pro version.

3. Monster.com Interviews (No Android version yet)

Like Interview Buzz, Monster.com Interviews has a bank of commonly asked interview questions. However, this app gives the user tips on how to prepare for interviews, warm-ups for interview day, last-minute tips, and allows users to set reminders for following up after interviews. Also, the app includes stress relievers and a map to route your trip (a total necessity in my opinion!). The app is super user-friendly and FREE. Go ahead, download it now. I’ll wait.

4. Law Guide (Android Version here)

This app, by thelaw.com, has a pretty comprehensive law dictionary and practice area guide. You can bookmark important sections for later or find other resources through the app. The best part? It’s free!

5. LunchMeet (No Android version but there are a couple other suggestions below)

Based on the book, Never Eat Alone, this app matches you with other professionals in your area who are available to meet for lunch. It’s a great networking tool. I haven’t meet anyone for lunch yet, but I’m signed up! It uses your LinkedIn information, so signing up is simple. It’s free. Start networking!

While LunchMeet has not come out with an Android version (it’s high on their to-do list, apparently), you can try Unsocial or Meetup on Android.

Any other apps that you’d add to my list?

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Job o' the Day: Legal Internships at 1Miami in… well, Miami!

Here’s a chance to work and make a difference in the 3-0-5!

1Miami is a non-profit advocacy organization that aims to educate and organize low-income residents in neighborhood committees throughout Miami-Dade County.

1Miami helps residents learn about their rights and advocate for policies to support job creation, to strengthen labor and employment rights, and to combat income inequality. Interns will research local, state, and federal policy proposals related to employment and tax issues. Interns will prepare interactive know-your-rights and policy-focused trainings and will work with field staff to present those trainings to low-income residents in Little Haiti, Little Havana, Miami Gardens, Liberty City, Allapattah, North Miami, and Hialeah, as well as to identity-based committees made up of mobile home park residents, domestic workers, youth/students, or others. Interns also will assist with interviewing individuals with housing, healthcare, or employment problems, research legal issues, make referrals, and analyze the likely impact of policy proposals on low-income neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County.

Interns will assist with preparing for and monitoring direct actions, such as candidate forums, rallies, and other activities.

Interested? Learn how to apply at PSLawNet!

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Public Interest News Bulletin – January 20, 2012

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, dear readers.  This week:

  • Oklahoma prosecutors running their own probation program, which generates revenue…and controversy;
  • a report from the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation reviews the economic benefits and efficiencies stemming from the legal services community’s work;
  • is the NOLA public defender’s office going to lay off attorneys?;
  • a Chicago high-school teacher is moonlighting as a legal aid lawyer (he’s licensed) and running clinics out of local schools;
  • in Wisconsin, legislation proposed to increase prosecutor pay;
  • a Canuck pro bono lawyer proposes to boost legal aid funding through a pay or play system.  Surprisingly, the “play” doesn’t involve hockey;
  • Private-bar family lawyers in Texas disagree with efforts to make pro se forms available to low-/moderate-income people;
  • the legal services funding crisis in the Grand Canyon State;
  • at West Virginia Law, a new student clinic will sit at the intersection of land use and natural resource extraction/conservation;
  • the legal services funding crisis in Atlanta.

And here are the summaries:

  • 1.20.12 – here’s a teaser from a password-protected Wall Street Journal article: “As district attorneys nationwide try to cope with shrinking state budgets, Oklahoma prosecutors have seized on a novel—and increasingly controversial—money raiser: running their own probation programs. The state allows prosecutors to recommend that instead of going to jail or prison, offenders receive special supervision by district attorneys’ offices, which collect a $40 monthly fee from offenders. These programs, which have soared to 38,000 participants from 16,000 in 2008, are now larger than the state prison system’s traditional probation program, which often involves drug testing and mandatory counseling and covers 21,000 offenders.”  I don’t have a subscription, so I can’t read the rest of the article.  But I wonder what ever the potential problem could be…
  • 1.19.12 – the economic case for supporting legal services: “Massachusetts civil aid programs generated an estimated $53.2 million in new revenue and cost savings to the commonwealth last year, according to a new report issued today by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. Of that amount, $27.7 million came in the form of new federal revenue, the report found. The state appropriation for MLAC in FY11 was $9.5 million. In addition to new federal revenue, MLAC estimated the work of its grantees saved the state millions of dollars in social services by keeping clients out of the emergency shelter system, courts and emergency rooms. The data was reported to MLAC by the 16 legal aid programs it funds in the commonwealth.”  (Report from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.)
  • 1.19.12 – from the New Orleans Times-Picayune: “The Orleans Parish public defender’s office is in dire financial straits and will be forced to lay off about 26 employees in coming weeks and implement numerous other cuts, the agency’s head told New Orleans City Council members Wednesday. Derwyn Bunton said his office is faced with a budget shortfall of about $1 million and is reeling from a downturn in revenue. The office instituted a hiring freeze late last year, has suspended payments to its conflict panel lawyers and capital defense lawyers, and doesn’t appear to be able to make payroll by month’s end, Bunton said. He forecast that 14 full-time employees will need to be laid off, along with 12 members of the conflict panel.”
  • 1.17.12 – a Chicago high-school teacher is also a lawyer, and he’s set up free clinics to provide advice and counsel to low-income clients.  From the Chicago News Cooperative: “Soon after Dennis Kass started teaching history at a small Little Village high school four years ago, he put his law degree to use dispensing free legal advice to students and their families after school. That modest beginning has evolved into the Chicago Law and Education Foundation, a free clinic that operates monthly at eight other city high schools.”  The foundation has barely any operating funds, and “[m]uch of the clinic’s work is referrals. The foundation has partnerships with the DePaul Immigration/Asylum Clinic, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and First Defense Legal Aid.”  Kass hopes to raise enough funds to hire one staff attorney.
  • 1.18.12 – companion bills in the Wisconsin legislature to boost prosecutor pay and stem attrition.  But there’s a hitch.  From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Last year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs surveyed 146 current and former assistant district attorneys and concluded that many leave the job – or plan to – because of the prospect of being stuck for years at entry-level salaries. The report called the turnover rate among prosecutors ‘alarming.’  The bills would establish a 17-step plan, with each step representing one-seventeenth of the difference between the starting pay and top pay for the job.”  And here comes the hitch: “The proposals don’t, however, provide money for the raises desperately sought by the state’s 330 or so prosecutors.”  The story goes on to recount the battle between prosecutors and the governor’s office about attempted furloughs, and provides some data on prosecutor pay.
  • 1.16.12 – Canada!  A “pay or play” proposal to support access to justice in the Great White North (as reported by S-law): “As part of his or her annual professional membership fees, a lawyer pays a $300 ‘A2J Contribution’ (an amount roughly equivalent to the average hourly rate among Canadian lawyers) that is earmarked for direct funding of the province’s legal aid and public interest legal organizations. If a lawyer provided and recorded one or more hours of legal aid, pro bono or public legal education service in the previous year— as administered and verified by specific organizations— then his or her A2J Contribution is waived. Thus lawyers “pay or play” to promote access to justice.”  The proposal’s author, Jamie MacLaren, is an active pro bono lawyer and AtJ advocate in British Columbia.
  • 1.16.12 – it occasionally happens that solo and small-firm lawyers, who do fee-paying work for low and moderate income clients, butt heads with the public interest community about which clients are able to pay for services and which aren’t.  Something along these lines is playing out in Texas, but with a focus on pro se forms intended for low-income Texans.  From the Texas Lawyer: “The State Bar of Texas Family Law Section wants to put the brakes on draft forms for pro se divorce litigants and is calling for the State Bar to rein in the Texas Access to Justice Commission (TAJC). With both sides claiming to speak in the interests of litigants — and rumblings about protecting lawyers’ livelihoods — the Texas Supreme Court will have to take sides.  In one corner are the TAJC and the high court’s Uniform Forms Task Force, which believe the forms will help people — especially low-income individuals who cannot afford lawyers — obtain divorces on their own. The forms will be a better tool for people who already use forms from the Internet and elsewhere, they say.  In the other corner are the Family Law Section and the Texas Family Law Foundation, which oppose the forms and claim their use: could hurt the interests of people who use them to file for divorce; will not be limited to low-income Texans; could harm the livelihoods of solos and small-firm family lawyers; and may expand into other practice areas besides family law.”  
  • 1.16.12 – From the Tucson Citizen: “At a time when the demand for legal assistance is on the rise, Arizona’s legal aid organizations are preparing for one of the largest funding losses in decades. In mid-November, Congress agreed to a 14.8% reduction to Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding that will result in a $1.6 million loss to Arizona’s three legal aid organizations. Arizona’s legal aid organizations, Community Legal Services, DNA People’s Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid, have been on the front lines of the State’s economic battles since the recession’s beginning…. According to a report released this week by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, legal aid, for some, has meant assistance in preventing foreclosure, defending against predatory lenders, or victims of domestic violence needing help in obtaining an order of protection. The report is the culmination of a six month long public survey hosted by the Foundation to better understand the legal needs of Arizona’s population. The Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. Kevin Ruegg, explains, ‘Our intent for the report, before the news of the federal funding reduction, was to help the general public understand the meaning of legal services. Since the news of the cuts, the report has taken on a whole new meaning – It isn’t just the meaning of legal services that was defined. The report clearly explains the impact in this loss of funding’.”  Here’s a link to the report.
  • 1.16.12 – at West Virginia Law, a new student clinic will sit at the intersection of land use and natural resource extraction/conservation. From the Register-Herald: “A new law clinic at West Virginia University, funded by millions of dollars in legal settlements between environmental groups and coal companies, will focus much of its effort on the New and Gauley river watersheds.  The first four law school students at the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic in Morgantown begin their work this week…”
  • 1.13.12 – the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s board president pens a Journal-Constitution op-ed capturing the group’s dire financial straits: “Every day, Legal Aid lawyers solve problems that threaten their clients’ lives. Last year, the client caseload totaled 26,283, a 21 percent increase since 2007.  But…a tragedy is brewing. The money needed to provide this all-important ‘hand up’ is disappearing. In the case of Atlanta Legal Aid, two major funding sources have decreased dramatically. The first is Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, or IOLTA.  Second, Atlanta Legal Aid recently learned that the federal funding that represents close to one-third of its budget is decreasing nearly 15 percent.  Atlanta Legal Aid has already cut costs to the bone. Staff is leaner; benefits have been reduced. Salaries remain a fraction of those paid to lawyers in private practice. And less than 10 percent of Atlanta Legal Aid’s budget goes to administration and fundraising…. Unless other sources of funding are found, Atlanta Legal Aid will be forced to cut attorneys and staff. Legal Aid will have no choice but to turn away more individuals and families in dire need of their legal services.” 

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