Archive for September, 2012

PSJD’s Weekly Jobs Roundup: September 21 – 28, 2012

It’s been a busy week in the world of public interest law jobs. Below are just a fraction of the opportunities posted on PSJD.org this week. To view more, visit PSJD.org and search our database! Log-in is required to view the listings posted below.

ACADEMIC

CIVIL RIGHTS/LEGAL AID

CRIMINAL LAW

ELECTORAL/VOTING RIGHTS

ENVIRONMENTAL

HUMAN RIGHTS

IMMIGRATION

PUBLIC HEALTH

PUBLIC POLICY

WOMEN/REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

Comments

Public Interest News Bulletin – September 28, 2012

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, ladies and gents.  At the beginning of this month, I preemptively lamented the summer humidity that has stretched into recent Septembers.  The public interest news bulletin gods – and they are fearsome, powerful deities – must have been in a mood to accommodate.  While a bit muggy today, the weather this month has been beautiful.  I have this morning paid tribute to the news bulletin gods through the ritual consumption of an everything bagel.  So we’ve got that working for us.

I’ll begin this week’s bulletin by highlighting new NALP research which looks at the fluctuations in entry-level civil legal aid jobs over the past few years.  The picture is muddied by the increase in law-school-funded postgraduate placements in civil legal aid offices.  The upshot: “Based on…job counts alone, entry-level job prospects in civil legal services would appear to be doing just fine in recent years, with twice as many jobs reported as 12-15 years ago, and a far cry from a low of just over 300 jobs reported in 2000. But these figures do not…square with well-publicized reports of cutbacks in funding in general for legal services….  It turns out that law school funding played a major role in generating legal services jobs taken by the Class of 2011, with 44% of these jobs (or 324 actual jobs) reported as law school funded….  This means that, absent such funding, there would have been only about 400 legal services jobs, or about as many as in the early 2000s – coincidentally years in which the level of LSC funding, in real terms, was about the same as in 2011.”  Here’s the full article.

And while I don’t have time to weigh in on this issue, here’s an interesting blog post positing that the federal Income Based Repayment program could become the norm for how future law graduates manage their educational debt, and wondering whether that’s tenable or prudent policy.

On to the week’s access to justice and public interest news, which is bookended by law school clinical work.  The week in very, very short:

  • a UT Law children’s rights clinic involved in a new community initiative to help at-risk youth;
  • Yakima, WA officials sort out new public-defender caseload limits;
  • DOJ to issue ~$3 million in grants in support of indigent defense;
  • pushback on the much-discussed NY State 50-hour pro bono rule;
  • MO moves toward implementing public-defender caseloads;
  • LSC TIG grants, or “fun with abbreviations!”;
  • CLASP’s ED outlines the basics of the civil legal aid funding crisis;
  • butting heads over Michigan legislative proposal to bolster indigent defense;
  • civil legal aid funding news potpourri, NY State edition;
  • reauthorize state funding for legal aid in Florida;
  • APBCo hangs out with Vice President Biden;
  • lots of chefs stirring the pot in new DC-based pro bono project;
  • the funding woes of Community Legal Aid in western MA;
  • a PA county favors bigtime changes to state’s indigent defense system;
  • the strain on indigent defense resources in ND’s oil-boom territory;
  • more on Washington State’s move toward indigent-defense caseload limits;
  • the Immigrant Justice Clinic launches at Wisconsin Law;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The news in less short:

  • 9.27.12 – “The [University of Texas] Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and Children’s Rights Clinic have helped develop a multi-stakeholder pilot education reform project focused on youth entering the child welfare system in Travis County. The Education Advocacy Pilot Project, an initiative of the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families, launched last week and will continue through the 2012–2013 school year.  The Travis County Model Court for Children and Families is a multidisciplinary community initiative [to] facilitate systemic improvement of the court and child welfare systems. The Model Court works to improve outcomes for children and families…who are involved in civil suits filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a result of findings of child abuse and neglect.”  (Press release from the University of Texas.)
  • 9.27.12 – in Yakima, Washington – hey, I used to live there! – “…city leaders faced the reality of contracting up to 20 more public defenders and spending a million more of your tax-payer dollars” in order to comply with new defender caseload limits being imposed in the Evergreen State.  “But city leaders have a new plan to cut those costs dramatically.  ‘Having the prosecution unit actually do the charging versus the police officers and looking at a pretrial diversion program,’ said Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke.  This would give more discretion to city prosecutors on what cases are taken to court, without limiting the violations prosecuted.
    O’Rourke said as it stands now, Yakima police handle the majority of charging.”  (Story from KIMA’s website.)
  • 9.26.12 – the Department of Justice “announced nearly $3 million in grants to improve access to criminal legal aid services….  The announcement of grants from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) represent part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to ensure that all criminal defendants, regardless of ability to pay for an attorney, can be guaranteed their rights.   The grants are administered by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ).” (Full press release on the Sacramento Bee’s website.)
  • 9.26.12 – a commentator takes issue with New York’s new 50-hour pro bono requirement.  On top of the administrative burden that pro bono supervisors may shoulder in trying to facilitate more pro bono work, writes Matt Leichter, the rule constitutes yet another practice restriction added to an already dense set of rules for admitting lawyers.  Further, “pro bono” is defined too broadly, and law schools could have to spend more money (and charge more tuition) to administer new clinical and pro bono programs.  Finally, Leichter sees the rule’s creation as a cynical approach to addressing the plight of the poor.  Hmmm.  While I have some questions about the rule’s breadth and overall effectiveness, I think it’s fairly seen as a sign of the profession acknowledging barriers confronting the poor – not a bad thing since citizens’ access to the justice system can be effectively barred without financial means.  And after all, the judge who conceived of the rule has been one of the most vocal champions of increasing access to justice.  It’s hard for me to ascribe cynical motives to the rule’s adoption.  (Full piece in the American Lawyer.)
  • 9.26.12 – “To improve access to civil legal assistance for low-income Americans, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has announced new technology grants to increase access to Web-based resources, enhance pro bono, expand websites for veterans and disaster recovery, and – a new category this year – improve data collection and analysis.  Through its Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program, LSC plans to award 43 grants in 2012, totaling more than $3.4 million. The grants will fund LSC grantee programs in 25 states and the territory of Guam.”  (Here’s the LSC announcement, and here are specifics on the how awardees will use the grants.  Good to see Guam on the list.  Rock on, Guam.)
  • 9.25.12 – Alan Houseman of the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP) looks at the crisis in civil legal aid funding.  Houseman’s blog post presents a broad look at how legal aid funding originates from various sources, and how LSC funding in particular has recently stagnated.  (Here’s the post on the American Constitution Society’s blog.)
  • 9.25.12 – in Michigan, a proposal in the state house to bring some uniformity to the county-by-county, patchwork indigent defense system has some state and local officials at odds. (Story from the Iron Mountain Daily News.)
  • 9.24.12 – civil legal aid news potpourri out of New York:
    • “Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the grantees of the Homeowner Protection Program, his office’s commitment of $60 million over three years to fund housing counseling and legal services for struggling New York homeowners. Today’s announcement covers the first year of program funding at $20 million to aid struggling homeowners across the state who are fighting to avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes. Throughout New York State, 35 legal services organizations and 59 housing counseling agencies will receive over $16.1 million to provide free foreclosure prevention services. An additional $3.9 million has been allocated for training, technical assistance, and other support services to assist homeowners in foreclosure.”  (Full post from Albany Times Union blog. And here’s a related piece from the Buffalo News looking at how the funding will be administered in Western New York.)
    • “The State Department of Aging, the State Office of Court Administration and the New York State Bar Association are teaming up to help senior citizens and state residents with disabilities afford legal services…. The collaboration will develop a strategy using existing resources, including pro bono programs, to target the needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities. The plan also calls for a “think group” of attorneys, judges, health care professionals and experts on aging and disabilities. An interactive Web site is expected to be launched to help raise awareness, provide education, and increase accessibility to low-cost legal services.” (Story from the Legislative Gazette.)
    • “Neighborhood Legal Services of Buffalo, working with Haven House and the Bar Association of Erie County’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, has been awarded a $497,847 grant through the U.S. Justice Department’s Legal Assistance to Victims Grant Program to continue in its work to aid Buffalo-area victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced….  [T]he grant will help Neighborhood Legal Services in supporting four attorneys to provide direct legal services for victims….”  (Story from the the Buffalo News.)

  

  • 9.24.12 – an editorial from Panama City, Florida’s News Herald laments the state of legal aid funding in FLA, and calls on the governor to pony up: “Funding for legal assistance for the poor and financially troubled has hit rock-bottom all across Florida.  In April, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed about $2 million in state funding for legal assistance centers. It was money that would have helped fund a lot of attorney hours for the poor. It was a relatively small budget item that could have had a significant impact on legal services for people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer.  Scott should rethink the state contribution to legal aid centers, either through next year’s budget recommendations or as a request to a legislative commission with the authority to make mid-year budget changes.”
  • 9.24.12 – “On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, the Board of Directors of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (“APBCo”) and senior management from board members’ firms met with Vice President Biden and White House staff…in Washington D.C.  The Vice President convened the meeting to focus on access to justice issues and the role that pro bono counsel at law firms play in the delivery of legal services to the poor….  The participants committed to a long-term project to improve law firm efforts to expand access to justice, and the Vice President commended their commitment to increasing pro bono services.”  Here’s the full press release.  Shout out(!) to David Lash and my other APBCo friends.  Hobnobbing with the Veep, who is, I suppose, the Phillies Fan-in-Chief.  Pretty cool.
  • 9.23.12 – Skadden Arps is at the center of a new, Washington, DC pro bono project that engages three legal aid offices – the Legal Aid Society, the Children’s Law Center, and Bread for the City – as well as corporate counsel from Living Social, Northrop Grumman, and Cisco Systems.  The Impact Project ”is structured so that lawyers from the firm and the companies can join one of three teams — domestic violence, guardianship (guardians are court-appointed lawyers who look out for the interest of children in divorce, child abuse and other proceedings) or housing — and be trained by staff attorneys from legal aid organizations in those areas of the law. Skadden’s technology specialists are also building an intranet that will have training materials, relevant laws and sample documents that can be accessed at any time.” (Story from the Washington Post.)

 

  • 9.23.12 – a Worcester Telegram article looks at the funding woes of Community Legal Aid, which serves clients in Western Massachusetts.
  • 9.23.12 – “The Northampton County Bar Association last week joined colleagues throughout the state by endorsing a series of changes that would drastically alter the way criminal cases are defended in Pennsylvania.  By unanimous vote Thursday night, the bar recommended 10 principles that should be required of public defenders.  The standards, which were already approved by the American, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia bar associations, include requiring public defenders to continue to receive training after law school and to be reviewed by their supervisors, and they set limits on how many cases they can be assigned…. As of now, Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not provide funding to public defenders, according to a study [from a state legislative committee] released in December.” (Story from the ExpressTimes of beautiful Lehigh Valley, PA.)
  • 9.22.12 – Three of the six Benton County public defenders who resigned earlier this month in a contract dispute have decided to keep representing poor court-appointed clients [by withdrawing their resignations]…. The resignations stem from a stalemate in negotiations with the county about new caseload restrictions mandated by the state Supreme Court.  The justices, in a 7-2 vote earlier this year, said full-time public defenders can take no more than 150 felony cases each year or 300 misdemeanor cases.  In Benton County, attorneys previously negotiated a 150-case cap on their contracts. They get paid $82,105 a year.”  (Story from the Tri-City Herald.)
  • 9.21.12 – The University of Wisconsin is stepping into a new service area, with the launching this semester of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the UW Law School.  The clinic…will provide free representation to people fighting deportation, [according to] clinic director and assistant professor Stacy Taeuber.  The students will focus on undocumented immigrants being held in detention for federal immigration authorities at the Dodge County Jail, which is where people taken into custody in the Madison area typically are sent.  (Full article from the Cap Times of Madison.)
  • Super music bonus!  One of my favorite indie rock bands was Uncle Tupelo, the now-lauded trio that combined the energy of punk rock with the songwriting and accompanying instrumentation of country-western music.  Sounds like a poor marriage, right?  It worked out remarkably well, though, and spurred the Americana musical movement of the 1990s.  What did not ultimately work out was the artistic marriage of the band’s two singer-songwriters.  Uncle Tupelo split amidst risen personal tension in 1993.  Jeff Tweedy went on to lead the critically acclaimed Wilco.  Jay Farrar hewed more closely to the singer-songwriter mold, founding his on-again-off-again project Son Volt.  Here’s one of my favorite Son Volt songs, which combines a pretty melody with some engagingly metaphorical lyrics.  Enjoy “Medicine Hat.”

Comments

#PSJDChat Recap: Using Social Media During the Job Hunt

by Ashley Matthews

The first #PSJDChat was a success! Click here for a full recap of what went down.

A special thanks goes out to Ms. JD and Alison Monahan of the Girl’s Guide to Law School for their invaluable insight and advice. Participating students learned a lot of tips and tricks to stand out in a crowded and competitive legal job market!

Join us next Wednesday, October 3rd, at 3pm for the next #PSJDChat. We’ll be talking about crafting the perfect public interest law cover letter. See you there!

Comments

New NALP Employment Research on Legal Services Jobs Leads to More Questions

by Ashley Matthews

In a new NALP Bulletin article by PSJD’s own Steve Grumm and NALP Research Director Judith Collins, employment data shows a slight decrease in the amount of legal services jobs taken by the class of 2011. While the numbers are down from last year, they are still dramatically higher than the amount of legal services jobs reported a decade ago – which could mean that entry-level prospects for civil legal services are doing just fine.

But with widespread reports of funding cuts for legal aid, it may be hard to imagine such a thriving employment landscape for legal services organizations. How are the numbers of entry level jobs in legal services rising, while the funding continues to dwindle? Research points to the role law school funding has played in developing job opportunities for their graduates in the field of public interest law. The NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey showed that 44% of legal services jobs reported for the class of 2011 were law school funded.

Absent this funding, what could the landscape of entry-level legal services employment look like? The answer may be frightening, but it’s worth questioning. Funded by a law school, postgraduate legal aid opportunities are a great way to get your foot in the door with organizations that may not be able to afford new hires – but is this type of opportunity a gateway to permanent legal employment?

Comments

Job of the Day: Children’s Rights Internship with Human Rights Watch in Los Angeles

Human Rights Watch is one of the largest and most influential U.S.-based organizations investigating and promoting human rights worldwide. With its impartial human rights reporting and innovative, high-profile advocacy campaigns, HRW affects policies concerning human rights on an international scale.

The Los Angeles office of the Human Rights Watch is currently accepting applications from current students for its Children Rights Division Internship. HRW strongly prefers law students with research experience. From the PSJD job listing:

The intern will focus on a variety of projects which may include:

  • Creating a database of investigations;
  • Researching and writing profiles of juveniles who have been sentenced to life in prison in California;
  • Researching, summarizing, and analyzing laws and social science reports on various issues pertaining to juvenile justice and foster care;
  • Organizing information and communications;
  • Following up with field contacts;
  • Collaborating with family members of incarcerated persons;
  • and legislative work.

Responsibilities may include: other divisional duties such as database management, writing letters, creating spreadsheets, analyzing data from inmate surveys, and translation assignments, depending on the intern’s specific language skills.

This fall selected intern will work closely with CRD advocate to ensure offenders who were youth when sentenced to life in prison get help from recent advancements in the law.

For more information on internship duties, qualifications and application instructions, read the entire job post at PSJD.org (log-in required)!

Comments

Financing a Public Interest Career

As the end of the grace period for student loan repayment nears, it’s time to start thinking smart about debt management – especially for public interest advocates. Even if you haven’t graduated from law school yet, it’s never a bad idea to get a headstart on financial planning. Understanding how student debt works and researching available resources is key to your financial literacy.

If you want to learn how to make public interest law an affordable career path, check out PSJD’s Financing a Public Interest Career page for background and resources!

Comments

Job of the Day: Summer 2013 Legal Internship at the ACLU’s National Prison Project in DC

From the PSJD job listing:

Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the National Prison Project team. Interns will gain hands on experience in all aspects of litigation work including but not limited to:

  • Conducting research on prospects for new litigation, including both factual and legal claims.
  • Participating in discovery and motion practice.
  • Assisting in the drafting of motions and briefs.
  • Assisting with trials and appeals.

This legal internship is open to all law students. Applicants should possess:

  • Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, including internet research.
  • Demonstrated initiative to see projects through to completion.
  • Demonstrated interest in social justice and legal issues.
  • A strong interest and commitment to civil rights and civil liberties issues.

If this sounds like you, check out the full listing at PSJD.org (log-in required)!

Comments

#PSJDChat: Using Social Media during the Public Interest Law Job Hunt

by Ashley Matthews

During today’s #PSJDChat on Twitter at 3 pm Eastern, we’ll be discussing ways to use our social media profiles during the public interest law job hunt to stand out from the crowd and create a personal and professional brand. It’s no secret that social media has revolutionized the way job seekers look for new opportunities. With easy access to technology, searching for jobs has become a task that most people can complete at home in their pajamas, at any time of day or night.

So how does this affect you as a law student or graduate looking for public interest employment? According to the American Bar Association’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey Report, there has been a marked growth in the amount of social media activity in legal communities. This means that law firms and lawyers are more likely to blog and use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than ever before.

With competition for public interest law jobs at an all-time high, law students are getting proactive about ways to use social media to plan their careers and manage their online reputations. However, there is an art to building a digital brand – especially in the world of public interest law. Here are a few things we’ll be discussing during today’s #PSJDChat:

1. Broadcasting What Kind of Job You’re Looking For

With the rise of microblogging and status updates, it’s easy as a click of a button to find out the latest information about anyone with a searchable social media profile. Today, we’ll discuss the best ways to maximize your microblogging and send out public blasts about yourself and your professional interests.

2. Building a Multiplatform Digital Profile

These days, some would argue that your online profile is more valuable than your paper resume. With the right hyperlinks and recommendations, your digital resume can offer a much more comprehensive view of who you are and what you do.

3. Stalking Researching Your Potential Employer

One of the best tips in preparing for a new job is to investigate news and developments related to where you want to work. Finding this information is easy, but what do you do with it once you find it? We’ll discuss this today during the #PSJDChat!

4. Retweet, Retweet, Retweet

Twitter is quickly becoming one of the best ways to create your own personal brand and find out information about employers that would previously be difficult to locate. Today, we’ll talk about how to strategically retweet desired employers and hiring managers, and how to connect with those in your chosen field.

5. Developing Your Personal and Professional Brand

Your social media profiles all offer a comprehensive view of who you are. In the world of public interest, your hobbies and beliefs may be more important to potential employers. Today, we’ll talk about how to effectively use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to show your personality and professionalism, and discuss other web tools that can help you develop and shape your online reputation.

6. Joining Industry Chats

#PSJDChat included! Industry chats are a great way to show a demonstrated interest in your chosen field. Today, we’ll talk about industry chats that exist relating to public interest and social justice law.

7. Using Different Social Media Outlets in Different Ways

With controversy over privacy concerns mounting, it’s smart to tailor your use of social media to your different job search needs. There’s no way around it: lawyers are held to a higher ethical standard, and our public profiles must reflect that. We’ll talk about the different ways to use various social media outlets to enhance the public interest law job search.

8. Following Your Digital Footprints

Potential employers use Google to research applicants’ past history, employment and education. Where does your digital footprint lead? We’ll show you how to find it.

9. Using Pinterest Professionally

Pinterest is the relatively new-kid-on-the-block in the world of social networking sites. We’ll talk about innovative ways to keep your Pinterest page professional and use this site to your job-hunting advantage.

10. Creating a Social Media Package

Once you’ve developed a personal and professional brand using social media, how do you package and present yourself to potential employers using all of this information? We’ll share ideas and fun ways to get yourself noticed and stand out from other job applicants using the power of social networking technology.

—————————————————————-

During the #PSJDChat, we will talk freely, share success (and horror) stories, and get advice about all of these tips and more. Be sure to check out our #PSJDChat blog post for instructions on how to join and links to sites that will help you follow along with the conversation. We will post a recap and transcript of the chat here on the PSJD blog, along with standout tweets and information about next week’s chat.

See you there!

Comments

Big Job Interview Coming Up?

Job interviews can be scary. With all the pressure to impress and stand out from the crowd, it may be difficult to show potential employers your qualifications and unique skill sets that make you perfect for the job.

Check out PSJD’s Interview Tips – Postgraduate Public Interest Jobs for advice on how to best prepare, execute and follow up on a job interview. Happy job hunting!

Comments

Job of the Day: 2013 Summer Law Clerk Positions at the Dept. of Health & Human Services

From the PSJD job listing:

The Office of Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG) for the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeks second year law students with a demonstrated interest in public service and health care law. We anticipate selecting applicants for two to four unpaid summer law clerk positions lasting approximately ten weeks during the summer of 2013. OCIG promotes the mission of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) through timely, accurate, and persuasive legal advocacy and counsel. Legal interns will investigate cases, perform legal research, draft briefs, and write legal memorandums. Each legal intern will have an opportunity to work with all three branches of OCIG: the Administrative and Civil Remedies Branch, the Industry Guidance Branch, and the Advice Branch. The Administrative and Civil Remedies Branch handles civil fraud and abuse cases involving Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs; works with the Department of Justice in the global resolution of civil False Claims Act cases; initiates administrative cases; and defends the decision to exclude providers from participating in Federal health care programs. The Industry Guidance Branch issues advisory opinions to the public and the health care industry on whether an activity constitutes grounds for sanction under the Anti-Kickback Statute, Civil Monetary Penalties Law, or other authorities, and provides legal advice to HHS and the Department of Justice on the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Advice Branch provides legal advice on issues such as the scope and exercise of OIG’s authorities and responsibilities; investigative techniques, procedures, and conduct; audits and inspections; and the impact of legislative proposals.

Applicants must qualify for course credit, work as an extern, or participate in a school-sponsored public interest program or a program where applicants receive a stipend for public interest work. The deadline to apply is October 5, 2012.

Read the full listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

Comments