Archive for October, 2012

Income Based Repayment as a Necessary Support for Borrowers from Modest-Income Backgrounds

A recent report by the New America Foundation highlighted a perceived flaw in the Income Based Repayment program, namely that IBR will benefit not only low-income borrowers, but also high-debt, middle income borrowers, i.e. those who earn comfortable salaries but are also saddled by very high debt loads.  So there’s a question about whether a federal program can or should sustain itself when its benefit go to those who make a decent buck.

Heather Jarvis, student debt expert and friend of the PSJD Blog, pushes back on her blog:

The New America Foundation released “Safety Net or Windfall:  Examining Changes to Income-Based Repayment for Federal Student Loans” by Jason Delisle and Alex Holt, arguing that changes to Income-Based Repayment (IBR)should be better targeted towards low-income borrowers rather than “high-income borrowers with graduate and professional degrees.” 

The analysis in the report clearly demonstrates what advocates have long known is a weakness in the IBR program—the lowest-income student loan borrowers need more and different help.

But the wealthy certainly do not benefit the most from Income-Based Repayment.  Wealthy students and families have money to pay for education, do not need to rely on student loans, and neither need nor will receive many benefits from Income-Based Repayment. 

We have a debt-based system of access to higher education.  Unless or until that changes, student loans enable middle- and lower-income students and families to pay for the advanced degrees required to work in many higher-income professions.  Middle- and lower-income students and families must borrow substantial amounts or decide not to pursue advanced graduate and professional degrees.

Income-Based Repayment enables lower- and middle- income students to borrow and successfully repay high student loan balances, and borrowing and repaying a high student loan balance is the path from a lower- or middle-income family to high-income employment.  The person who benefits the most from IBR comes from a family of modest means, borrows a lot to earn advanced degrees, and makes payments based on income every month for many years.  The more that student loan borrower earns, the more he or she will pay. 


Job o’ the Day: Postgraduate Legal Fellowship Program with the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, California!

Are you a recent law graduate interested in advancing socioeconomic justice? If so, check out this recent job posting from the Greenlining Institute:

Established in 1996, the Greenlining Academy works to empower and develop the next generation of multiethnic leaders to advance racial and economic equity and create positive social change. The goal of the Greenlining Legal Academy is to recruit and train the next generation of leaders, advocates, and policy-makers to protect and promote the interests of California’s diverse and vulnerable communities. The Legal Academy trains law students and recent law school graduates to become effective, ethical, and creative agents for social change. Students learn practical skills such as negotiating, writing and oral advocacy by applying their skills in real time. Students are given immediate and frequent exposure to government officials, community leaders and corporate executives to experience how policy-making happens from “the inside”.

The Greenlining Academy believes today’s leaders must have fluency across divisions of race, culture, class, sector and geography and must be adept at utilizing their networks to create social change. The Academy boasts an Alumni network of over 350 members that is a vital component of the Academy’s success. Academy alumni have gone on to work in the social benefit, public and private sectors and hold leadership positions in government, nonprofit organizations, business, law, education and consulting. Over 80% of alumni reported that their Academy experience greatly advanced their professional development and confidence in pursuing leadership roles within their communities.

The Greenlining Legal Fellowship is a year-long program that teaches recent law school graduates how to be ethical, competent legal advocates, utilizing clinical legal education methodology. Legal Fellows will be assigned to one or more areas of Greenlining’s consumer protection advocacy and will develop expertise in those areas under the direction and guidance of Greenlining’s legal team and the Academy Director.

The opportunity is available for those who have completed law school. Applicants should be expecting to graduate and take the 2013 California bar exam OR  a recent law school graduate who is a member of the California Bar Association. The salary for this position is $42,400, plus health and dental benefits, and up to $2,000 reimbursement for Bar examination fees.

For more information on the Greenlining Legal Fellowship, view the full job listing at (log-in required)!


Justice Sotomayor on the Value of Public Service in Practice and in Life

Last Friday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor participated at the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair.  The good folks at the Blog of the Legal Times have coverage of a Q&A session wiht the justice, who herself was a prosecutor in NYC:

In a speech late last week to law students, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor encouraged them to serve their communities, both as attorneys and as citizens.

It was that notion of service that led Sotomayor to consider a career in the law, she said during her October 26 presentation to the Equal Justice Works annual conference and career fair in Arlington, Va., which drew more than 1,000 law students from about 200 law schools.

“The law, regardless of how you practice it, if you practice honorably, you are doing service, and it was a service that appealed to me because it was a service I felt like I could contribute something to.” said Sotomayor. Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked her questions onstage before members of the audience got a chance during a question and answer period.

Sotomayor conceded that she did not have lofty intentions when she made early career choices, but that she based her decisions on what she needed at each stage to develop skills to do meaningful work. She added that if the students in the audience think their job is the only form of public service available to them, they are narrowing themselves.

“Being an involved citizen requires not just doing a job, it requires being more involved in the broader issues of your community, of insuring you’re a good citizen in multiple different ways.”


Job o’ the Day: Postgraduate Fellowship with DC Public Interest Litigation Firm!

Our neighbors at public interest law firm Mehri & Skalet are seeking their 2013 Find Justice Fellow.  Interested in civil rights, employment, housing and/or consumer law?  Give this this a peep.

Mehri & Skalet, PLLC is a law firm that litigates class actions to protect individuals from unfair or discriminatory practices. Our areas of practice include civil rights and anti-discrimination law, consumer protection, fair housing and lending, antitrust, wage and hour, and the False Claims Act. We focus on developing systemic reforms to improve the workplace and the marketplace. The Mehri & Skalet Find Justice Fellowship provides a promising new attorney with an introduction to our practice.

To further our mission of public justice, we created the Mehri & Skalet Find Justice Fellowship in 2009, which offers a new attorney the opportunity to join the firm and gain experience on the wide range of cases that we pursue. The Find Justice Fellow works on all aspects of our practice, including the investigation of new cases, client relations, research, discovery, motions, negotiations, litigation strategy and court hearings.

The Fellowship duration is for two years, beginning in the Fall of 2013. Compensation will be $50,000 per year with full health benefits.

Not too shabby.  Check out the full job posting (PSJD login required).


Job o’ the (Rainy) Day: Pro Bono Director in (Sunny) L.A.

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center is seeking a pro bono director…

APALC seeks a pro bono director to oversee volunteer involvement projects and partnerships, with the goals of cultivating volunteer resources (legal and non-legal) to further APALC’s work and reinforce APALC’s support base by providing opportunities to be involved in APALC’s mission. Under the supervision of the Vice-President of Programs & Communications, the director will work with APALC’s program, development and communications teams to provide strategic vision for the organization’s pro bono work and to strengthen APALC’s volunteer capacity.   The director is responsible for the cultivation of relationships with key pro bono stakeholders (e.g., law firms, law schools, bar associations, etc.) and the day-to-day management of APALC’s volunteer program. This position is full-time and exempt.

Read the full job listing on PSJD (login required).


Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney – Educational Rights of Immigrant Children, Advocates for Children of New York, Inc.

Are you a fairly new attorney with a commitment to immigration, children’s rights and advocating for quality public education? If so, then today’s Job of the Day is for you!

From the PSJD job listing:

Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. (AFC) is a not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with New York City’s most disadvantaged families to secure quality public education services. AFC works on behalf of children and youth who are at greatest risk of academic failure due to poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, homelessness, immigration status/limited English proficiency, or involvement in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. We use uniquely integrated strategies to advance systemic reform, empower families and communities, and advocate for the educational rights of individual students.

AFC seeks a bilingual Spanish-speaking staff attorney to obtain high quality, appropriate educational service for underserved immigrant families. Responsibilities will include direct representation of families in special education administrative hearings and school discipline hearings, as well as case management responsibilities, including attendance at special education review meetings and school visits.

The attorney will also be responsible for providing training and technical assistance to parents and a range of non-profits to build the capacity of these individuals and organizations to address educational issues. The attorney will also work on policy analysis, research, and advocacy or litigation related to students and their families. Specifically, the position will include:

1) providing case services and legal representation to clients;

2) performing outreach and providing workshops, which may occasionally occur on nights and weekends, to parents, youth and professionals about their rights to attend school and receive adequate educational services;

3) promoting inter-agency coordination to facilitate better delivery of educational services; and

4) supporting ongoing policy advocacy work on English Language Learner and immigrant student issues.

AFC prefers applications from lawyers with at least 1 – 3 years of experience. For more information on application instructions and qualifications, visit (log-in required)!


Public Interest News Bulletin – October 26, 2012

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, ladies and gents. It’s been a pleasure to spend time with law school public interest career advisors who’ve descended upon Washington DC for the NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference and the Equal Justice Works Career Fair.  Yesterday’s Mini-Conference reminded of why community-building among professional colleagues is so valuable.  And I’m pretty sure I only managed to alienate people from St. Louis and San Antonio during yesterday’s events.  I’ve done worse.  I want to extend, again, my congratulations and admiration to Elizabeth Gutierrez, a 3L as St. Mary’s University School of Law, who won our 2012 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award.  Liz acquitted herself with great humility during our award presentation, but her record as an advocate for the most vulnerable in her community is stunning. 

The weeklong, national celebration of pro bono, facilitated by the ABA and marked by volunteer projects and recognition events throughout the country, is winding down this weekend.  Events that have taken place are too numerous to mention.  But is serving as a repository of related resources, news, etc.

There is just a moderate amount of public interest and access-to-justice news to report on today.  So here we go.  Short version:

  • a new Tennessee MLP (poetry);
  • making the case for an independent New Mexico defender’s office;
  • loan repayment for NY nonprofit and government lawyers;
  • happy 100th, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo (but the Bills still stink);
  • one CA county’s prosecutors/defenders fight off a pay cut;
  • OPM guidance on the federal government’s “Pathways” program’s intern hiring component;
  • after NY, is NJ also going to require pro bono service as a condition of getting a law license?;
  • could the Income Based Repayment program inadvertently re-inflate the law school tuition bubble?
  • only 40 years until Buffalo – Ohio’s Community Legal Aid Service turns 60.
  • super music bonus!

The summaries:

  • 10.26.12 – in Tennessee, the Vanderbilt University Shade Tree Clinic and the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands have formed a new medical legal partnership.  It seems as though both law and medical students will play prominent roles: “[The] new MLP, which will offer patients a variety of free legal services, is an outgrowth of one that was set up and is still operating in a limited capacity at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Most MLPs are formed at children’s hospitals because they are teaching hospitals and thus can partner with other university resources, and because they have a higher concentration of families in need than a regular hospital might have…. The Legal Aid-Shade Tree partnership is unique because the clinic is student-run, as opposed to a community health center or larger hospital. Student physicians and, increasingly, student lawyers, gain real-world experience while providing an immediate service to the patient base, says Shannon Jordan, LMSW, a medical social worker at Shade Tree.”  (Story from the Nashville Ledger.)
  • 10.25.12 – a Las Cruces News-Sun op-ed, written by a retired public defender, makes the case for a New Mexico ballot initiative which would take the state’s public defender program outside of the executive branch’s control and make it an independent entity.  One of the main concerns of having the governor continue to control the defender program is an inherent conflict of interest, as the governor also has responsibility to prosecute crime.
  • 10.24.12 – the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has created a loan repayment grant program for mid-level lawyers in nonprofit and government practice.  From the Buffalo Business Journal:  “The grants, offered through the Steven Krane Special Committee on Student Loan Assistance for the Public Interest, are available to attorneys who have practiced public interest or government law for a minimum of five years. Priority will be given to civil legal services attorneys.”
  • 10.23.12 – in California, Contra Costa County prosecutors and defenders have successfully staved off a planned salary cut: “After months of fractious negotiations, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and associations from both the district attorney and public defender’s offices agreed Tuesday to a new employment contract that would roll back controversial pay cuts in exchange for some concessions.”  (Here’s the password-protected Recorder article.)
  • 10.22.12 – a development concerning federal agencies’ intern recruiting efforts under the new “Pathways” recruiting model: “Federal agencies have been told that they can continue to use interns referred from third parties such as intern placement agencies after a recent overhaul of government intern-type programs.  The government in July formally launched the Pathways program that revised or replaced several prior developmental and hiring programs for students and graduates….  A memo that the Office of Personnel Management sent Friday said that since the revisions, agencies have been asking about the role of third-party intern providers. OPM said that nothing in the new program ‘restricts in any way an agency’s authority to enter into arrangements with third-party intern providers. Agencies retain the same authority to enter these arrangements that they had before the Pathways programs were authorized’.”  (Full blog post from the Washington Post.)
  • 10.22.12 – I’m so tired of New York being a trendsetter.  But here they go again.  “Following the lead of the New York state court system, New Jersey’s top judge has formed a committee to consider requiring prospective attorneys to complete pro bono work before being admitted to the state bar.  The 17-member panel, which Chief Justice Stuart Rabner created last week, will be chaired by Judge Glenn Grant, the acting administrative director of New Jersey’s court system. The committee will review New York’s pro bono mandate, which requires 50 hours of work, and make recommendations to Rabner.  The panel includes private attorneys, bar association officials, legal service providers and officials from the state’s three law schools, as well as a third-year law student and a retired state judge.  According to an Oct. 15 letter Grant wrote inviting the officials to join the committee, 97 percent of small claims litigants and 99 percent of tenants in housing cases in New Jersey show up to court without a lawyer.”  (Full story from Thomson-Reuters.)
  • 10.21.12 – this blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education explores a New America Foundation report on the federal Income Based Repayment program, specifically querying whether IBR, because it allows high-debt, middle-income borrowers to create very affordable repayment plans “could completely remove price discipline in a law-school market that desperately needs it…”  That is, could IBR inadvertently create another law school tuition bubble?
  • 10.19.12 – Ohio’s Community Legal Aid Services is turning 60!  Congrats!  In celebration they are partying Akron-style at the Akron Civic Theater.  Consider yourself warned, Akron.  (Story from the Daily Legal News.)


Headed to the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair? Check out these tips before you go!


It’s crunch time! Over 600 public interest law students from all over the country are preparing to attend the 2012 Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair this weekend in Washington, D.C.

If you’re headed to the conference this weekend, take a look at these tips from Equal Justice Works to help you prepare and make the most out of your career fair experience:

Last week, we held a special edition #PSJDChat with Equal Justice Works about preparing for the 2012 Conference & Career Fair. If you missed out, click here for the recap.

Also, be sure to check out PSJD’s Resource Center for other helpful guides on professional career development. Specifically, Interviewing Tips for Postgraduate Public Interest Jobs may be especially helpful for 3Ls and recent graduates.

Don’t forget to stop by our table during Table Talk for career development resources and more information on The full Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair schedule can be found here. Happy job hunting!




Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with the Foreclosure Prevention Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group

From the PSJD job listing:

NYLAG has an immediate opening for a staff attorney in its Foreclosure Prevention Project. This Project provides legal representation and court-based services for borrowers with subprime, deceptive, and unconventional mortgages facing foreclosure. The attorney hired for this position will have the unique opportunity to work in an evolving practice area within an established and dynamic Citywide legal service provider as the foreclosure crisis continues, requiring innovative and coordinated responses. In addition to carrying a caseload of foreclosure prevention matters, this attorney will provide pro se assistance, conduct case consultations, and engage in community education and outreach. The attorney will participate in legislative initiatives to improve conditions for homeowners, and operate a collaborative foreclosure assistance clinic out of the Bronx Supreme Court. This attorney will also work within other NYLAG consumer protection projects, as described below, and will have the opportunity to work with NYLAG staff to identify systemic problems concerning foreclosure proceedings and to address these problems through a variety of means.

The attorney will also be involved and take cases for NYLAG’s Connect to Care Program (C2C), established by UJA-Federation of New York in 2009. Through C2C, NYLAG provides legal and financial counseling services to New Yorkers adversely impacted by the recent economic downturn. This attorney will conduct intakes at community-based C2C sites in New York City, Westchester, and Long Island and will handle some C2C case matters back at NYLAG’s central offices. This attorney may need to travel to these sites on to meet with clients and conduct educational workshops on relevant legal issues. The primary substantive areas of C2C legal services are: foreclosure prevention, consumer law, bankruptcy, unemployment insurance, employment law, eviction prevention, and access to public benefits. In addition to C2C work, this attorney may also provide consumer protection assistance through other NYLAG programs and may provide other GLS legal services, depending on funding. In particular, this attorney may assist with the Consumer Credit Volunteer Lawyer for a Day (VLFD) programs in the Bronx and Queens, in which NYLAG staff represent and supervise volunteers to represent defendants for the day in court in consumer credit cases.

Click here to visit for more information on qualifications, application instructions and more (log-in required)!


Job o’ the Day: Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Columbia Law School

Columbia Law School is seeking a recent law graduate for its Provost’s Postdoctoral Research Scholars Program. The goal of the program is to enhance the recruitment of outstanding postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented groups to more closely reflect the composition of the national pool of qualified candidates. The program strongly encourages applications from promising scholars from historically underrepresented groups, including but not limited to: Blacks/African-Americans; Hispanics/ Native Americans/Alaska Natives; persons having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, or Samoa.

Scholars will attend twice-weekly general faculty workshops, as well as subject-specific workshops, where they will have many opportunities to meet and get to know faculty. In addition, the Vice Dean and other faculty who oversee our Scholars programs often reach out to faculty colleagues on Scholars’ behalf in order to encourage faculty-scholar interactions. Faculty members regularly read and comment on Scholars’ article drafts and proposed projects. Scholars also have a year round workshop of their own at which they can present their own work and receive comments from their peers. Scholars are also invited to attend entry-level job talks, so they know what to expect when they go on the market themselves, and receive extensive support in putting their entry-level application packets together.

In addition, scholars will be provided with the opportunity to meet and to develop mentoring relationships with law faculty members outside the Law School itself through the school’s emerging scholars program. Invited faculty members will be selected on the basis of their expressed interest in developing mentoring relationships with emerging scholars who are members of underrepresented groups.

Click here to visit for more information on application instructions and qualifications (log-in required).