Archive for May, 2013

Job o’ the Day: Immigrant Justice Attorney with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, North Carolina

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, a non-profit provider of civil legal assistance to low-income persons in the Charlotte area and Western North Carolina, seeks candidates for Staff Attorney assigned to the Immigrant Justice Program with primary concentration in immigration law.

Here’s a portion of the job description from PSJD.org:

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PSJD Public Interest News Bulletin – May 31, 2013

by Christina Jackson

Happy Friday!  I can’t believe it’s the end of May already.  Now it’s time to turn our attentions to summer interns and summer counseling.  It’s also the time to update resources, so stay tuned.  And here’s this week’s headlines.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Is access to a computer for legal research the same as access to the courts?;
  • Six entities in Alabama receive funds to help families facing forclosure;
  • Law Schools – veteran’s benefits an area begging for pro bono;
  • OPM launches new job search and operating status apps;
  • Penn Law launches new center to improve U.S. justice system;
  • New pro bono program provides DCF (Connecticut) kids with legal representation;
  • New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman creates advisory group to examine role of non-lawyer advocates in legal service to the poor;
  • Cuts in staff at Gulfcoast Legal Services could mean a loss of funding and closing of an office;
  • ABA says law students should be able to work for free on pro bono matters;
  • Federal Government posting jobs during sequester;
  • Are ethics rules impairing access to justice?;
  • Federal Defender furloughs increased to 20 days;
  • Texas legal aid increase signed into law;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – ProBono.net
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

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Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with Human Rights First in New York City (Deadline Tomorrow!)

Human Rights First (HRF) is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington DC. HRF builds respect for human rights and the rule of law to help ensure the dignity to which everyone is entitled and to stem intolerance, tyranny, and violence. They advance the rights of refugees and U.S. leadership to protect refugees and other vulnerable migrants from a range of human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, violence, and lack of access to protection, by advocating for access to asylum, fair immigration court procedures, and for U.S. compliance with international refugee and human rights law.

HRF is currently seeking applicants for a staff attorney position in the New York-New Jersey area. Here’s a portion of the job description:

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Applying for a Project-Based Post-Grad Fellowship? PSJD’s Got You Covered.

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Hey public interest law students!

If you have a great idea for a project that could greatly help a legal aid or nonprofit organization provide better services to their clients, it may be time to start applying for sponsored post-graduate fellowships. (And if you have no clue what a sponsored post-graduate fellowship is, no worries – just start here.)

For most project-based fellowships, the official application cycle doesn’t open until the fall. However, many organizations have their own process of choosing the right project proposal and co-applicant, and they may be starting that process right now. Here are a couple of steps you can take to stay on the right track, all with a little help from everyone’s favorite virtual public interest resource center (ahem – that means PSJD):

Step One. After educating yourself with our Background Info & Resources, reinforce that knowledge with Yale Law’s Guide to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships. Keep reviewing the basics and get some tips on the application process!

Step Two. Stay up-to-date with deadlines by using PSJD’s Fellowship Application Deadline Calendar. We update it on a rolling basis, so you should stay even more ahead of the game by signing up for our daily email alerts.

Step Three. Do yourself a favor: check out PSJD’s mini-guide “Project-Based Fellowships: Tips from Those Who Know” as early as possible! Use this downloadable resource to find out what works and what to avoid when drafting a project proposal or fellowship application. Be sure to contact your career counseling office and have them take a look at your application as well!

With that said, good luck to everyone applying for a 2014 fellowship! If you have any questions, you can email us anytime at psjd@nalp.org or during regular business hours at (202) 296-0076.

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Job o’ the Day: The Center for Popular Democracy in Brooklyn, NY is Looking to Sponsor a 2014-’16 Post-Graduate Fellow

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) works with partner organizations to deepen their capacity by building strong infrastructure and sophisticated organizing strategies. They catalyze change by tacking critical issues facing low-income communities through campaigns desigend to increase economic justice and civil rights. CPD also regularly partners with leading community organizations, networks, coalitions, labor unions, think tanks and academic institutions to effectuate change.

CPD is seeking applicants for a sponsored 2014-2016 post-graduate fellowship, with possible funding from organizations such as Equal Justice Works, Skadden, Soros, Kirkland Ellis, Liman and other school-specific fellowships. From the PSJD job posting: Read the rest of this entry »

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Job o’ the Day: Entry-Level Staff Attorney with the Midwest Innocence Project in Kansas City, Missouri

According to the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP), recent studies conservatively estimate that between 2% and 5% of all inmates in America are falsely convicted. Some estimates reach up to 7%. In plain language, these stats mean that somewhere between 2,000 and 7,000 citizens in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas are locked away – sometimes for life – for crimes they did not commit.

MIP is a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to the investigation, litigation and exoneration of wrongfully convicted men and women in six states throughout the region. Founded a decade ago through the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, MIP is a part of the National Innocence Network. The Kansas-City based organization is currently seeking a staff attorney to join its ranks.

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Public Interest News Bulletin – May 24, 2013

by Christina Jackson, Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!  It’s been quite a week, so let’s get to it. . .

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  This week we congratulate and say thank you to Assistant Dean Eve Biskind Klothen of Rutgers School of Law-Camden.  She retires after 11 years directing the pro bono and public interest programs.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New proposal for lessening student loan debt – reduce number of undgrad years required for a JD;
  • Juris Master programs on the rise?;
  • Muskegon County, Michigan creates a Public Defender Department;
  • A Federal District Judge in Omaha has an interesting solution to cuts in indigent defense due to the sequester;
  • Bay Area Rural Access to Justice Collaborative launched;
  • Let in-house corporate counsel do pro bono work  – An “easy” way to add more pro bono attorneys to the mix, right?;
  • University of Kansas School of Law cutting incoming 1L class size.  Should other schools follow suit?;
  • NJ Public Defenders sue to halt closing of jail;
  • Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law pledges money to create Fund for summer stipend for students committed to committed to public interest work and rural community sustainability;
  • Ron Flagg appointed as Vice President of Legal Affairs for Legal Services Corporation;
  • LSC to provide grants for legal assistance for Sandy victims;
  • “Low Bono” an emerging trend in the practice of public service law;
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoes legal aid appropriation;
  • Miami-Dade public defender allowed to withdraw from cases due to workload;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – If there is someone you think we should recognize, let me know.
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

May 18, 2013 – In an interesting twist on the debate about how we balance the high debt load of law students against the shrinking job market.  Instead of the usual calls to lower law school tuition or shortening JD programs, the National Law Journal suggests reducing the required undergraduate general education.  The Journal posits that since, in their opinion, many JD programs have a component of general education to them, that a 4-year undergraduate degree might not be required to go to law school.  It is an interesting theory with a good comparison to the European model of legal education.  What do you think?  (from the National Law Journal)

May 18, 2013 – Need legal knowledge, but don’t want a JD and don’t need to sit for a Bar?  That’s the population the Juris Masters programs want to attract.  Emory Law School is the latest in a string of nearly 30 law schools that have or soon will offer a master’s degree for nonlawyers, up from just a handful two years ago.  This move is just one way schools are responding to the economic impact of reduced applications for the traditional JD program.  (from the Connecticut Law Tribune)

May 20, 2013 – “Muskegon County is taking a step forward in its ability to provide indigent defense services in the county.”  The new department will consist of a staff of 16, including the County Public Defender, two senior Assistant Public Defenders, two more junior attorneys, and one entry-level attorney.  Officials are planning for the office to open January 1, 2014.  (from LegalNews.com)

May 20, 2013 – U.S. District Judge wrote on his blog that he is “seriously contemplating” dismissing a number of criminal immigration cases where the crime is being in the U.S. illegally.   He said this “will free up the 10 federal public defenders in Omaha and Lincoln who have a constitutional obligation to defend an accused person who cannot afford to hire counsel.”  A representative from the US Attorney’s Office said this would just mean they would have to refile the cases.  The Judge responded that he would dismiss then again.  While I’m not sure this is the solution to sequestration, this article does demonstrate the very dire circumstances already very strapped public defender offices find themselves. (from the DailyDealOmaha)

May 20, 2013 – “OneJustice and Cooley LLP, in collaboration with other Bay Area law firms and legal service providers, have launched the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative.” The Collaborative was developed to meet the goals of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel’s (APBCo) IMPACT Project. The objective of the IMPACT Project is to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services by utilizing pro bono volunteers.  The first of eleven free clinics set to be held over the next three months focused on immigration.  Subsequent clinics will focus on housing or immigration issues.  (from Stockhouse)

May 21, 2013 – like this guest blogger for the Pro Bono Institute, I thought a great way to get more lawyers involved in pro bono is to allow a pro bono exception to the in-house counsel rules in all states.  I now see that’s it’s much more complicated than that for a number of good reasons.  Adam Hellman, Senior Associate General Counsel in the UnitedHealth Group Corporate Legal Department, and member of the PBI/CPBO Multijurisdictional Practice Task Force provides good insight on why this is still a work in process.  (from the Pro Bono Institute The PBEye)

May 21, 2013 – The University of Kansas School of Law is cutting the size of its incoming class in light of dwindling applications.  Law schools across the country are seeing a decrease in the number of law school applications.  So, schools will have to either cut class sizes or accept students with potentially lower credentials.  Either solution could have broad implications for the public service sector.  What do you think is the right way to go?  (from the Kansas City Business Journal)

May 21, 2013 – Access to justice also means being able to find your client when you want to talk to him.  That is one premise of the lawsuit filed by New Jersey’s public defenders want to stop Gloucester County from closing its county jail and splitting its 250 to 350 inmates among four other county jails.  The public defenders rely on jail visits to meet with their clients because there is no other workable space.  If moved, the inmates would have even less access to their attorneys.  Burlington County Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder will hear arguments May 24. (from Philly.com)

May 21, 2013 – The Legal Services Corporation announced today the appointment of Ronald S. Flagg, senior counsel in the Washington, DC office of Sidley Austin LLP, to the position of vice president for legal affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary.  He previously served in a number of public service positions including president of the DC Bar, chair of the DC Bar Pro Bono Committee, chair of the Governing Board of the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and member of the board of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force.  He currently chairs the board of the National Veterans Legal Services Program. (Press Release from LSC)

May 22, 2013 – Also from LSC – Legal Services Corp. will provide $950,000 in legal assistance to low-income people (that appropriations was reduced by $50,000 due to sequestration) and another $250,000 in financial assistance to cover damages caused by Sandy. All applications for these LSC grants must be submitted by June 21.  (from Government Security News)

May 22, 2013 – Stacey L. Leeds, Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law, pledged $50,000 for an endowed fund to support JD and Master of Law students committed to public interest work and rural community sustainability. The Public Interest and Rural Community Sustainability Fund will provide summer stipends to students who are pursuing public interest law or working with private firms in underserved communities. The Fund will allow students to accept jobs in sectors where they may not otherwise be paid for their work or where compensation is well below market rates compared to positions at private firms in the region.  The ultimate goal of the fund is to address problems of access to justice and rural economic development.  (from the University of Arkansas Newswire)

May 23, 2013 – Low Bono is a phrase we’re going to be talking about a lot more in the coming months.  The idea is to capture the clients who are currently going unrepresented because they make too much for legal aid but not enough to afford a private attorney.  Several recent Quinnipiac University School of Law grads are among many recent grads who are hoping this is a trend that’s going to catch on quick.  (from Law.com)

May 23, 2013 – Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes a $1million appropriation for legal aid as part of a series of appropriation vetoes.  The money would have gone to help in cases of elder and child abuse, domestic violence, disabilities, consumer fraud and immigration.  (from the SaintPetersBlog)

May 23, 2013 – “Describing what it called a ‘damning indictment’ of representation for poor criminal defendants, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the Miami-Dade County public defender’s office could withdraw from a large chunk of felony cases because of excessive workloads.”  This decision is a resolution of two related cases pending since 2008.  (from the Miami Herald)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “As a female student in the male-dominated law school culture of the early 1970s, Eve Biskind Klothen had such a terrible time that she figured she would leave, go into public-interest law, and never return to academia.”   But return she did, and made both Rutgers Law School-Camden and her community a better place.  She created a culture of service at the law school, where pro bono has become an important and expected part of the law student experience.  This is how she describes a law school’s duty to its community in civil cases where no right to counsel currently exists.  “A lot is at stake in those civil cases – you can be thrown out of your home, you can lose your child, you can lose your job. There are all kinds of really critical things that get litigated in civil actions, and if you can’t afford counsel, sadly, that’s too bad,” Dean Klothen says. “There is no meaningful access to justice without access to counsel, and because lawyers have a monopoly on the courthouse, they really hold the keys.”  She has put the philosophy into action by expanding the program and giving 1Ls and 2Ls the opportunity to contribute.  Congratulations to Dean Klothen on a wonderful career and an even better contribution to her community.  (Complete article from Philly.com)

Super Music Bonus! PSJD Fellow Ashley M. is kicking off the long weekend right with a Stepkids’ Jazz Cover of the Top 40 hit “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake ft. Jay-Z. Enjoy!

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Job o’ the Day: Seattle Law’s Center for Indian Law & Policy-Bristol Bay Native Association Fellowship

After a brief hiatus, PSJD’s Job o’ the Day is back! And it’s a good one.

If you’re a recent law graduate looking for an out-of-the-ordinary fellowship, this job’s for you! The Center for Indian Law & Policy at Seattle University School of Law has partnered up with the Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA) to develop a project providing estate planning services to BBNA members in the remote Bristol Bay, Alaska area. The 9-month fellowship will begin in September 2013, and the Fellow will travel to villages with BBNA staff to meet with clients. The Fellow will receive supervision from Center personnel and an Alaska Legal Services attorney.

Sounds perfect for you? Keep reading for more information…

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Public Interest News Bulletin – May 17, 2013

Happy Friday folks!  Let me first introduce myself – I am Christina Jackson, the new Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships.  For those of you who don’t know me, I come from a law school counseling background after many years of law practice.  I was most recently at American University Washington College of Law.  I appreciate Steve in so many ways, but never more so than when I would read his weekly News Digests.  I think it’s going to take me a little while to get used to reading news with an eye toward what the entire public service sector may want and need, but hopefully this first installment gets it done.   The News Digest will now be posted as a Discussion so that those who want to comment may do so, and we will continue the weekly format.  There is a story below that rehashes what we already know – big justice gap that should be met with unemployed lawyers.  Easier said than done, but it’s always good to continue exploring ways we can get lawyers where they are needed most.

New Feature:  Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants.  Last week was Public Service Recognition Week.  Well, I think that should be every day.  So in each issue (I hope), we will be highlighting great work by great people!  And today we have an amazing story.

And in homage to Steve, the PSJD Fellow, Ashley Matthews, will provide us with the weekly music bonus.  So here we go. . .

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New York lawyers must now disclose pro bono hours;
  • UMMC, Center for Justice form partnership to benefit those with HIV/AIDS;
  • Legal Services New York staff goes on strike;
  • Time to put lawyers back to work in the public service – my thoughts exactly;
  • Another law school tries a 2-year law degree model;
  • Are law schools changing their admissions standards in the wrong way?;
  • 2013 Equal Justice Conference;
  • Equal Justice Works announces 2013 EJW Fellows;
  • Legal Aid is coming to Osceola County, Florida;
  • New Jersey may be the next state to require pro bono;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – John Meynink, a Coos County public defender, retiring after 30 YEARS!
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

May 6, 2013 – this story’s password-protected, but FYI: New York lawyers must disclose on their biennial registration forms how many pro bono hours they provided and the amount of financial contributions they made to pro bono programs during the previous two years.  From the Legal Intelligencer

May 9, 2013 – “The University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Center for Justice, both in Jackson, are forming a partnership aimed at providing free civil legal services for people living with HIV and AIDS.  The Center for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, will offer on-site legal assistance at the Crossroads Clinics. The assistance will focus primarily on HIV-related housing and employment discrimination.”  (Story from the Mississippi Business Journal)

May 15, 2013from the Wall Street Journal and Thomas Reuters: The staff of Legal Services NYC, the largest civil legal services provider in the country, went on strike Wednesday morning for the first time in two decades.  More than 200 attorneys, paralegals and other employees voted overwhelmingly to reject management’s proposal for a new two-year labor contract.  The union has worked without a contract since July 2012. The last strike, in 1993, lasted for a month.

May 16, 2013 – “A recent report by the non-profit Legal Services Corporation cites estimates that at least 50 percent of Americans who qualify for free legal assistance because of their income or needs don’t get the help they need because legal aid organizations don’t have the funding or capacity to meet their needs. That’s a large number when you consider that 61.4 million Americans qualify for legal assistance from non-profit and government-funded programs — a number that has increased by more than 10 million since 2007.”  This is something we all know, but the Huffington Post does a good job of consolidating statistics on the issue.  (Story from the Huffington Post)

May 16, 2013 – Brooklyn Law School joins a few other schools in offering a 2-year JD program.  It is a 24 month program with no breaks, making it a very intense program.  There will be a separate admissions process for this program.  The program was created in an effort to target a new group of students who may not want to take off 3 years to gain a law degree and in relation to declining enrollment.  (from the ABA Journal and the National Law Journal)

May 16, 2013 – For my law school peeps – here is one example of how law schools may be reacting to lower application rates nationally.  Many law schools are considering other factors (other than LSAT scores) in admissions.  This was a big topic of news this week, so I leave it to you to discuss whether this is a good or bad trend.  (from the ABA Journal)

May 16, 2013 –  The Equal Justice Conference was held last week, and by all accounts was fantastic.  Sponsored by the ABA and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, it ”brings together all components of the legal community to discuss equal justice issues as they relate to the delivery of legal services to the poor and low-income individuals in need of legal assistance.”  If, like me, you were unable to attend this year, you can access the workshops and materials on the ABA website.

May 16, 2013 – Equal Justice Works announces it 57 2013 EJW Fellows with a variety of projects in 11 states.  The complete list of fellows is now available.

May 16, 2013 – The Osceola County (Florida) Bar Association voted to establish the first legal aid society in the county.  The organization will initially focus on family law, veteran’s affairs, and credit card mediation.  (from the Orlando Sentinel).

May 17, 2013 – A committee made up of attorneys, law school officials and retired judges has recommended the NJ follow NY’s lead and adopt a 50 hour pro bono requirement in order to sit for the Bar.  The proposal is based on a broad definition of pro bono, which includes a number of existing law school programs, such as clinics, internships and clerkships.  The committee will accept public comments on the proposal through June 21Under the proposal, the pro bono rule would apply to anyone admitted to the New Jersey bar after Jan. 1, 2015, as is the case with New York’s requirement. (from Thompson Reuters)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  John Meynink, a Coos County public defender, is retiring after 30 years on the Southwestern Oregon Public Defenders Office.  For more about this outstanding individual, here is the full article from The World.

Super Music Bonus!  Our PSJD Fellow Ashley Matthews is fabulous!  One of the things I love about her is her wide-ranging taste in music.  So to honor Steve’s tradition and to get a new voice into the conversation – here is Ashley’s first super music bonus (a double!):

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A Notice to Public Interest Law Students and Employers: Recent Changes to Law Clerk Hiring Plan Could Affect Your Summer

Besides housing PSJD, the National Association for Law Placement, or NALP for short, is an association of over 2,500 legal career professionals who advise law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools in North America and beyond. The NALP Judicial Clerkship Section has a special message they would like to share with the PSJD community about recent changes to the federal law clerk hiring plan. These changes will affect summer internship scheduling and could possibly create conflicts of interest and other issues for employers and participating law students.

From the NALP Judicial Clerkship Section:

Last month, the federal judges’ committee overseeing the federal law clerk hiring plan announced a modification to the 2013 hiring schedule. Instead of hiring 3Ls after Labor Day, the new application submission date for federal clerkships is Friday, June 28. Beginning June 28, judges can review applications from rising third-year students, schedule and conduct interviews, and extend offers.  This change also affects state court clerkship hiring, as some states have moved their hiring dates in response to the federal change.

Employers who are currently welcoming second-year students into your summer programs may be confronted with issues not faced since the late 1990s. Some students will be coming to their summer jobs already committed to a judicial clerkship commencing in 2014, or perhaps 2015. Some students will have applications pending with judges or will be submitting applications to judges in June, in accordance with the new hiring plan date. Judges reviewing applications during the summer are likely to schedule interviews in June or July, which may present scheduling challenges for students.

Factors employers may want to consider include:

  1. If an intern receives one or more clerkship interviews, will he/she be able to miss work to travel to interviews?
  2. Does your organization have technology such as videoconferencing or teleconferencing available to students for clerkship interviews?
  3. Who is the best person at the organization for students to talk to about questions or issues that arise surrounding clerkships, including possible conflicts of interest on cases/matters, and when is the best time to have that conversation?

Students, we encourage you to discuss the implications of this timeframe with your career services offices and with your employers, paying special attention to the questions above, where relevant to you, and to due dates for assignments that fall around late June and early July, when judges may be interviewing.

We hope this blog post will offer a starting point to frame the issues and develop responses attuned to your individual programs. Many of your law school colleagues have begun to deal with these issues and would be eager to continue a discussion with you. We encourage you to be in touch with colleagues at schools from which you hire interns, to benefit from their insights and share your perspectives with them as you both seek to provide students the best advice and opportunities.

The NALP Judicial Clerkship Section leaders and members look forward to the opportunity to talk through these issues with public interest employers. This message was brought to you by:

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section Chairs: Melissa Lennon (Temple, 2012-13); Amy Perez (Miami, 2013-14)

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section, OSCAR Work Group: Susan Staab (Chicago), Vice-Chair; Marilyn Drees (Yale); Sheila Driscoll (George Washington); Eric Stern (Berkeley)

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section, Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan Work Group: Amy Killoran (Georgetown), Vice-Chair

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