Archive for January, 2013

Job o’ the Day: Disaster Relief Attorney on Staten Island

Staten Island Legal Services seeks an attorney for its newly formed Disaster Relief Unit.  The job involves advising and representing people who have been affected by the storm in the following types of cases: housing, FEMA appeals, Disaster Unemployment Assistance appeals, and a wide variety of other issues, including insurance problems and questions related to home repairs. The position will include community outreach. This is a one-year position subject to renewal depending on the availability of funding.

Qualifications

  • Must be admitted to NY Bar and possess excellent analytical and writing skills
  • Experience working with low-income clients
  • Superb organizational and communication skills

View the full job announcement on PSJD (login required).

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Public Interest News Bulletin – January 18, 2013

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, folks, from a windy but otherwise beautiful Washington, DC.  I hope your week is wrapping up well.  Ever felt the solo-driver’s frustration at not being able to use the carpool lane?  Ever experienced Bay Area traffic?  Ever wondered for what purposes a corporation is a person?  Mix ’em all together and you get this: “Jonathan Frieman…failed to convince a Marin County Superior Court jurist Monday after he argued that he was not alone when a California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over…while driving in the carpool lane.  Instead, Frieman admitted that he had reached onto the passenger’s seat and handed the officer papers of incorporation connected to his family’s charity foundation.  By Frieman’s estimation, if corporations are indeed persons as was first established in the 1886 Supreme Court case Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., and he offered evidence that a corporation was traveling inside his vehicle – riding shotgun, of course – then two people were in his car.”  Brilliant!

It’s perhaps fitting that Mr. Frieman bears a close resemblance to the highly eccentric Detective John Munch, a character from the old crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street.  For those of you too young to remember Homicide, it was a gritty, critically acclaimed show based on a book by David Simon, who went on to create HBO’s even grittier, even more acclaimed The Wire.  For those of you too young to remember The Wire, well you are indeed too young.

Moving ever closer to topical relevance, it’s noteworthy that officials in New York State are looking at the importance of law school’s third year.  From the National Law Journal:  “Legal educators and top New York state court officials will gather on January 18 to discuss whether to allow candidates to sit for the New York state bar examination after just two years in law school. The idea was floated by Samuel Estreicher, a professor at New York University School of Law, who believes skyrocketing law school tuition and diminishing job prospects for new lawyers have created a climate favorable to reform.”  Here’s a New York Times op-ed co-authored by Professor Estreicher, making the case for change.

One more preliminary: we hosted a webinar this week for law students, focused on drafting the best cover letters and resumes for the summer public interest job search.  The webinar’s archived here.  Critics rave: “The most riveting one-hour spectacle since The Wire!”  On Tuesday, 1/22, at Noon Eastern, our friends at Equal Justice Works are taking the reins to present a webinar on interviewing and networking.  Learn more and register here.

Okay, this week’s public interest and access to justice news in very brief:

  • NYC’s Legal Aid Society returns to lower Manhattan office after extended Sandy displacement;
  • the Last Resort Exoneration Project is up and running at Seton Hall Law;
  • pro bono’s down Down Under;
  • IOLTA FDIC insurance change explained;
  • is law school pro bono’s future bright?;
  • in Gideon’s 50th anniversary year, a criminal justice reform proposal;
  • LSC’s TIG conference;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

  • 1.16.13 -“The Legal Aid Society is finally home again.  Hundreds of staffers returned to their headquarters on Tuesday, 2-1/2 months after Superstorm Sandy damaged the building at 199 Water Street and forced them to seek other office space.  The group found refuge at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, as well as at Legal Aid’s other satellite offices around the city.  The telephone lines remain out of service, but everything else is back to normal, said spokeswoman Pat Bath.  Legal Services NYC and the New York Legal Assistance Group also were displaced by Sandy but have already returned to their offices.  NYLAG’s staff members were housed at UJA-Federation of New York and at a host of law firms around the city before remanning their office at 7 Hanover Square last Thursday, said president Yisroel Schulman.  Legal Services was forced out of its downtown offices for about a week, with most of its lawyers moving to its Harlem office.”  (Story from Thomson-Reuters.)
  • 1.16.13 – “In the last 15 years, eight people have been exonerated in New Jersey, the majority with DNA evidence….  In an effort to bring more of these cases to light, the Last Resort Exoneration Project at Seton Hall University School of Law was established to offer pro bono legal services. It is the first and only program dedicated exclusively to the convicted innocent in New Jersey.  The Last Resort Exoneration Project recently filed its first petition…”  (Story from PolitickerNJ.com.)
  • 1.14.12 – “The Legal Services Expenditure Report 2011-2012 found that more than half of the top 30 Australasian firms reporting in both 2011 and 2012 registered a decline in pro bono work.  According to the web site Legal Business Online, the report also found that only 11 of the 46 firms that reported their 2012 figures hit the aspirational target of 38 hours of pro bono work per lawyer.”  (Story from the Global Legal Post.)
  • 1.14.13 – “With Congress failing to take action to extend unlimited coverage, as of Jan.1, 2013, FDIC insurance available to IOLTA accounts is limited to the standard amount of $250,000 per owner of the funds (client), per financial institution, assuming that the account is properly designated as a trust account and proper accounting of each client’s funds is maintained.”  (This blog post from the Washington State Bar Association goes on to explain how insurance coverage for IOLTA funds has generally reverted back to the pre-Dodd Frank norm.)
  • 1.11.13 – David Udell and Liz Tobin Tyler look toward the future of law student pro bono: “Law students have long been key players in important pro bono legal assistance efforts. They engage in a range of access to justice activities―working with mentoring attorneys on pro bono cases, staffing court pro se assistance programs, providing community legal education, and more. But the announcement last spring by the New York Court of Appeals of a 50 hour pro bono requirement for applicants to the New York Bar has brought the role of law student pro bono work into the foreground like never before. What is the role of law student pro bono in addressing the growing justice gap? In providing law students with practical legal skills? In instilling a professional responsibility for pro bono service in new attorneys? The effect of the New York rule―on the focus and structure of existing and developing law school pro bono programs, on law school accreditation standards, and on other state access to justice reform efforts―remains to be seen, but a significant impact seems likely. This article describes current law school pro bono program goals and structures, highlights key elements of the New York pro bono rule, and posits some of the potential implications of this first-of-its kind rule.”  (Full piece on the Bloomberg Law site.)
  • 1.8.13 – “The ‘perpetual crisis in indigent defense’ could be lessened by moving minor infractions—including minor drug offenses—out of the criminal justice system, according to a new report by an ABA committee and a national group of criminal defense lawyers.  The report concludes that the criminal justice system is flooded with petty infractions that could be dealt with through two front-end reforms: reclassification and diversion. In reclassification, criminal statutes are changed so that minor illegal acts are changed from criminal offenses to civil infractions that carry a fine. In diversion programs, individuals charged with low-level criminal offenses can have the charges dismissed if they perform community service, enter substance abuse treatment or follow other requirements.  The report (PDF) was released in advance of the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the March 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision finding a Sixth Amendment right to counsel.”  (Story from the ABA Journal.)
  • Finally it’s noteworthy that the Legal Services Corporation this week convened the 13th Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) Conference this in Jacksonville, FL.  LSC bills the event as “the nation’s largest convening of experts and persons interested in the use of technology to address the civil legal needs of low-income Americans.”  I haven’t seen news coverage, but conference attendees are, appropriately enough, creating a record using the Twitter hashtag #lsctig.  Check out the happenings.

Music!  Tennessee’s Lucero has long been one of my favorite rock bands.  Here’s “Tears Don’t Matter Much”, their homage to some fellow songwriters and to the way that a good song can stop you dead in your tracks.  Great chorus.

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Job o’ the Day: Deportation Defense Fellowship in the Beautiful Bay Area!

Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, llp is a nationally renowned, full-service immigration and nationality law firm.  The firm was founded in 1980 and represents a wide range of clients.

We are seeking a licensed attorney with one to three years of experience or a recent law graduate to serve as a Deportation Defense Fellow for two years.  The fellow will work directly with partners on a wide range of immigration cases, including deportation defense, federal court litigation, family, asylum, naturalization, and a variety of cases involving the intersection of criminal and immigration law.  Cases involve representing clients before the Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, CIS, ICE, CBP, and the federal courts. Fellow will work closely with attorneys in the firm, handling day to day tasks in a cutting edge, diverse and complex immigration law practice.

Here’s the full job listing (PSJD login required).

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Big Interview Coming Up? Check out Forbes’ List of the 50 Most Common Interview Questions

While prepping for a job interview, it’s completely normal to obsess over what you’re going to say. It’s a good idea to thoroughly research the organization first to make sure you’re prepared for the types of questions the potential employer may ask, and to make yourself feel comfortable with the organization before stepping foot in the office.

But there’s another way to prep for interviews: anticipate the questions! Luckily for you, Forbes has featured Glassdoor’s list of the 50 most common interview questions, including tips on responding and preparing for the interview.

Before we feature the list, we must remind you that Part 2 of the Summer Public Interest Job Search webinar series takes place on Tuesday, 01/22, and we’ll be talking all about Interviewing & Networking. You can click here to register.

Without further ado, here’s the Top 50 Most Common Interview Questions:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  6. Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  9. Are you willing to relocate?
  10. Are you willing to travel?
  11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  13. What is your dream job?
  14. How did you hear about this position?
  15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  16. Discuss your resume.
  17. Discuss your educational background.
  18. Describe yourself.
  19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  20. Why should we hire you?
  21. Why are you looking for a new job?
  22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  24. What are your salary requirements?
  25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  26. Who are our competitors?
  27. What was your biggest failure?
  28. What motivates you?
  29. What’s your availability?
  30. Who’s your mentor?
  31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  32. How do you handle pressure?
  33. What is the name of our CEO?
  34. What are your career goals?
  35. What gets you up in the morning?
  36. What would your direct reports say about you?
  37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
  38. If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?
  39. Are you a leader or a follower?
  40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
  42. What are your hobbies?
  43. What is your favorite website?
  44. What makes you uncomfortable?
  45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  46. How would you fire someone?
  47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
  50. What questions do you have for me?

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Job o’ the Day: Elderly Project Director for Volunteers of Legal Service in New York

Do you have a demonstrated expertise in the law of life-planning and knowledge of issues related to low-income elderly people? Today’s Job o’ the Day could be for you:

Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) seeks a Project Director for our Elderly Project. VOLS’ mission is to leverage the good will, resources, and talents of some of New York City’s best law firms to provide pro bono legal services to the city’s neediest residents. Each year, over 800 volunteer attorneys from 40 law firms provide legal assistance to more than 3,000 low-income New Yorkers through VOLS’ projects.

Founded in 1990, VOLS’ Elderly Project works closely with senior centers in Manhattan and participating law firms to coordinate pro bono legal services for low-income elderly people. A major emphasis of the Project is on enabling volunteer attorneys from law firms to assist seniors with life-planning, including wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney, and medical directives. The Project also advises and refers seniors on a wide range of other legal issues, including housing, consumer debt, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, and other government benefits.

The Elderly Project maintains close relationships with many community agencies serving low-income seniors by conducting twelve legal clinics at senior centers each month where elderly people can discuss their legal concerns in confidence, receive legal advice and, where appropriate, obtain referrals to volunteer lawyers recruited by VOLS. The Project also handles referrals and questions from an additional 80 community-based agencies, and conducts home-visits for homebound clients.

The Project Director will:

  • Recruit, train, and be an expert mentor for volunteer lawyers
  • Conduct trainings at law firms concerning life-planning
  • Conduct clinics and screen, assess, and prepare cases for placement with volunteer lawyers
  • Provide case consultation and training to staff of participating social service agencies
  • Supervise our Elderly Project Paralegal
  • Ensure that the Elderly Project maintains organized, accurate, and complete data concerning volunteers, cases, clients, and participating social services agencies and law firms
  • Oversee data collection and organization and ensure that monthly reports concerning Elderly Project services are provided to the Executive Director
  • Write grant proposals and reports to funders
  • Supervise editing and updating of A Guide to Burial Assistance and Funeral Planning
  • Edit and update online media concerning the Elderly Project

Successful applicants will showcase at least 5 years of legal experience and have a commitment to serving low-income elderly people. For more information on application instructions and qualifications, view the full job listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

(Also, if you are still a law student but interested in this type of position with Volunteers of Legal Service, be sure sure to check out their Spring and Summer internships, also available on PSJD.)

 

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Human Rights Opportunity: Apply to Attend the International Leadership Training Programme – A Global Intergenerational Forum

If you are committed to human rights law, why not reinforce that dedication by participating in a program built to nurture and develop your leadership skills in that specific field? The 9th Annual International Leadership Training Programme, a one week program to be held this fall at the University of Connecticut, promotes networking, sharing experiences, and empowering young leaders to enable them to play a crucial and constructive role in the development of human rights in their communities and in the world at large.

Co-sponsored by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the forum will take place from August 9 -18, 2013. Here’s a little bit more information about the program:

The International Leadership Training Programme, organized as a forum, is premised on a three-fold understanding of the vital role leaders play in society. The first is that every new generation of human rights leaders builds on the work of those who came before it. The second is that in today’s increasingly interdependent global world, where actions or events in any part of the global system have impact on people in other regions of the world, there is a need to build a network of solidarity and to nurture a new cadre of human rights leaders who can educate others and provide enlightened leadership to meet the complex and multifaceted challenges of the new millennium. And the third is that young people are a force to be reckoned with and that the future belongs to them. In order, to ensure that they are effective leaders for a better future, today’s leaders have a duty to impart their knowledge to the younger generation of leaders and to alert it of the pitfalls of the past. This is because, although the circumstances under which the new generation of leaders operates/will operate are different, the issues that confront them are not fundamentally new to humanity and the types of strategies that would help them tackle the various issues need not be completely reinvented but innovatively adapted to new circumstances.

In appreciation of the dynamics of an interdependent world, the UNESCO Chair will host an annual intergenerational forum that brings together young leaders from all regions of the world in the field of human rights once annually.  The forum will be held in August of each year to coincide with the International Youth Day, taking place on August 12, commemorated at the United Nations Headquarters in the USA. This will provide opportunities for participants to participate in Youth Day activities and meet with UN leaders. To complement the annual forum, regional fora will also be held in various continents.

Program participants will come from all parts of the world, and will be between the ages of 18 and 30. The application deadline is March 8, 2013. Click here for more information!

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Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with New Mexico Legal Aid

New Mexico Legal Aid is a nonprofit law office that offers free legal services in civil cases for low-income individuals throughout New Mexico, except San Juan County. Their mission is to increase access to the justice system for vulnerable populations and preserve basic legal rights including safety, financial stability and shelter.

From the PSJD job listing:

New Mexico Legal Aid has an opening for a Staff Attorney in its Santa Fe Law Office. NMLA represents low-income individuals and families in a wide variety of poverty law areas including family law, housing, public benefits, consumer and Native American issues. The attorney will be active in local bar and community activities. The attorney will provide representation in domestic relations proceedings (with a focus in domestic violence), low income housing proceedings, Social Security disability cases, and other poverty law proceedings involving low income clients. The work will include handling general poverty law cases; participating in community education and outreach to eligible clients; and recruitment of and collaboration with pro bono attorneys.

Candidates must possess excellent writing and oral communication skills, ability to manage multiple tasks, skills sufficient to implement an array of advocacy strategies, ability to manage a caseload, ability to build collaborative relationships within the community; and ability to use computer systems including case management software. Proficiency in Spanish is a plus. Reliable transportation required. New Mexico bar admission or licensing in other states which qualifies for a limited license per NMRA Rule 15-301.2 is preferred.

The application deadline is February 6, 2013. For more information, view the full job listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

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Job o’ the Day: Public Benefits/Health Access Attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid

Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) is a legal advocacy organization committed to ensuring that Bay Area residents living in poverty understand and assert their rights to create stability for themselves and their families. Each year, BayLegal services benefit 70,000 Bay Area residents.

BayLegal is currently accepting applications for a staff attorney vacancy. From the PSJD job posting:

The Napa, Contra Costa & Marin (NaCoMa) Regional Office of Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) is currently accepting applications for a public benefits/health access attorney position.

The position involves client representation and impact advocacy in the areas of public benefits, health access and language discrimination. We are interested in candidates with a strong commitment to public interest and social justice advocacy. The position requires advocacy at administrative hearings and frequent court appearances. The position also requires community outreach presentations and coalition work with community organizations. This position will be housed in our San Rafael office, but travel to Napa will be required on a regular basis.

Successful candidates will speak Spanish, be in good standing with any state bar, and have some familiarity with government benefits programs. For more information, view the full job listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

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Let’s Play Two! But Not Three. Doing Away with the Third Year of Law School(?)

From the National Law Journal:

The third year of law school has long been a punching bag for critics who argue it’s a waste of time and drives up the costs of a law degree, but there have been few serious attempts to do anything about it. Until now.

Legal educators and top New York state court officials will gather on January 18 to discuss whether to allow candidates to sit for the New York state bar examination after just two years in law school. The idea was floated by Samuel Estreicher, a professor at New York University School of Law, who believes skyrocketing law school tuition and diminishing job prospects for new lawyers have created a climate favorable to reform.

“People have been asking for years: ‘Do we really need a third year of law school?’ ” said Estreicher, co-director of NYU’s Institute of Judicial Administration. “I’m simply proposing that we give students a choice to stay for three years or leave after two. The economic downturn is a big part of it.”

He believes additional states would follow suit if New York adopted a two-year option. The proposal may prove a tough sell to the legal academy at large, however, which has blocked previous attempts to drop the third-year requirement.

But there are some institutional hurdles:

Unless the ABA changes its accreditation standards, New York students who opt to take the bar instead of completing their 3L years would not receive juris doctor degrees. (The ABA requires completion of 83 credit hours for a J.D. A handful of schools offer accelerated, two-year J.D. programs, but students still must meet the 83-credit minimum.)

Convincing the New York Court of Appeals would require significant support from practicing attorneys and professional organizations, Estreicher acknowledged. Practicing attorneys tend to be receptive to the idea because many recall their 3L years as worthless, he said.

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A Bright Future for Law School Pro Bono?

In Bloomberg Law, two proponents of boosting public-service learning opportunities in law school look at where student pro bono may go in the near future, especially in light of New York’s new 50-hour requirement:

Law students have long been key players in important pro bono legal assistance efforts. They engage in a range of access to justice activities―working with mentoring attorneys on pro bono cases, staffing court pro se assistance programs, providing community legal education, and more. But the announcement last spring by the New York Court of Appeals of a 50 hour pro bono requirement for applicants to the New York Bar has brought the role of law student pro bono work into the foreground like never before. What is the role of law student pro bono in addressing the growing justice gap? In providing law students with practical legal skills? In instilling a professional responsibility for pro bono service in new attorneys? The effect of the New York rule―on the focus and structure of existing and developing law school pro bono programs, on law school accreditation standards, and on other state access to justice reform efforts―remains to be seen, but a significant impact seems likely. This article describes current law school pro bono program goals and structures, highlights key elements of the New York pro bono rule, and posits some of the potential implications of this first-of-its kind rule.

Read the full piece…

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