Archive for June, 2013

Pathways to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships – hosted by the Washington Council of Lawyers, EJW, NALP, and Georgetown University Law Center

Final exams: check

Diploma: check

Bar exam: check

Exciting job as public-interest lawyer: ???

The job market for law students is tough, and it can be especially competitive for students who want to practice public-interest law. But a public-interest legal fellowship can be an ideal option for many new lawyers. So if you’re a public-interest-minded law student – or if you advise or mentor one – we invite you to attend our panel on project-based legal fellowships in both the nonprofit and public sectors.

The panel takes place on July 11 at 6:30 pm, and features an expert panel, including lawyers from Equal Justice Works, the Partnership for Public Service, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. You can learn more and RSVP here, or by clicking on the image below:

Fellowships 2013

This free panel discussion will be held at the Georgetown University Law Center, McDonough Hall, Hart Auditorium, 600 New Jersey Avenue NW, (entrance on 2nd Street NW). A reception (with light refreshments) will follow. The event is cosponsored with Georgetown Law, Equal Justice Works, and NALP.

Finally, if you’d like a preview of the event, you can take a look at this Storify of last year’s fellowships panel.

I hope to see you on July 11, and look forward to helping law students find the public-interest jobs of their dreams!


With kind regards,


Nancy Lopez (@NancyLopezWCL)

WCL Executive Director


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 28, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday!  Can it be the end of June?  I’m not sure where the time is going.  So, here’s what’s going on in the world of public service.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • NYC expected to shift funds away from 18-B panel attorneys to legal services nonprofits;
  • Tennessee using faith-based approach to access to justice;
  • Indiana lawmakers boost funding for indigent defense;
  • Lay-offs begin at federal defender offices;
  • Legal Services NYC strike is over!;
  • Get inspired – “Gideon’s Army” – the new HBO documentary premiers July 1;
  • Sarasota County (Florida) to sever ties with Gulfcoast Legal;
  • Utah State Bar program aims to expand access to legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – Holly Skolnick, prominent Greenberg Traurig attorney and pro bono champion dies at 59;
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

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2013 Public Defender Advocacy Training & Hiring Conference: Registration Now Open!

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

2013 PATH Conference


August 3, 2013

Held at the UC Berkeley School of Law

On Saturday, August 3, 2013 the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and the UC Berkeley School of Law will co-host the fourth Public Defender Advocacy, Training & Hiring (PATH) Conference.

PATH is designed for law students and recent graduates who are interested in learning more about careers in indigent criminal defense representation.

Beginning with an opening plenary, the day includes 4 concurrent tracks for you to choose from, taught by public defenders from throughout the country. Additionally, the Lunch with the Defenders offers you an opportunity to sit in small groups and discuss with talented and committed advocates how their offices hire, what types of candidates they seek and other information to help you plan your careers.

Registration is now open!

Please click here to sign up for the conference.


Summer is here! It’s time to relax with PSJD’s Summer Reading List

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow (and the PSJD Staff & Advisory Group!)

Every summer, the PSJD staff and our awesome Advisory Group comes up with a summer reading list just for public interest law students and lawyers.

I know, I know… after ending an intellectually challenging year of law school, who would want to torture their brain with even more legal jargon? Not to worry – our Summer Reading List is casebook-free! Check out our picks to find the best reads to entertain yourself while sharpening those social justice claws over summer vacay.

If you’re having a super-busy summer and don’t have any time for heavy reading, here’s a list online blogs and periodicals to stay educated on the latest in public interest news and developments:

  • One of the leading legal news and information networks. This site posts the latest legal journalism from publications like The American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, Legal Times, and more.
  • SCOTUSblog: The official blog for the Supreme Court of the United States. ‘Nuff said.
  • ABA Journal: The American Bar Association is great for keeping up with the latest in legal news, and also has a pretty good Blawg Directory. Peruse their listings by topic to discover blogs on the public interest issue of greatest interest to you.

And if you’re looking for something even lighter, check out these funny blawgs:

  • What the Public Defender: An anonymous self-described 20-something public defender details the trials and triumphs of her daily life through the art of the .gif. Read it and weep (with laughter).
  • When In Law School: Satirical memes showcasing the law school experience in all its glory.
  • Lowering the Bar: Created by a pro-bono-minded partner in a San Francisco law firm, Lowering the Bar is a legal humor website that pokes fun at absurd cases and news.
  • EffYeahScotus: This hilarious Tumblr breaks down Supreme Court cases for you in .gifs. Enjoy!

Also, don’t miss our PSJD Public Interest News Bulletin every Friday! Our Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships Christina Jackson summarizes the biggest stories in the public interest legal world, just for you! Subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box to the right to get the Bulletin in your email inbox every Friday.

Happy summer reading!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 21, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships


Happy Friday!  The first day of summer is today, and I’ve been reminded often this week of events 50 years ago during a particularly volatile summer in US history.  Most would agree, that summer changed America forever.  So, we look back at those who fought the good fight and strive to help those continuing today to serve in the public interest.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • CA poised to require practical skills training AND pro bono before bar admittance;
  • Massachusetts Attorney General announces new Summer Public Interest Scholarship;
  • NOLO prosecutors commended for bringing down murder rate – PD Office can’t handle indictments;
  • Michigan set to overhaul criminal indigent defense system;
  • Local nonprofits gain grant to help domestic violence victims in Georgia;
  • Could the unpaid internship be gone forever?;
  • Another way to create community practices – law school incubator programs;
  • NY mandatory disclosure of pro bono hours and contributions will be publicly available;
  • And the NY Courts broadened the definition of pro bono for the disclosure requirement;
  • DC Bar Foundation grants &700,00 to civil legal services;
  • MD Court of Appeals to decide Public Defender access to arrestees;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law;
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

June 14, 2013 – “A task force of the State Bar of California has recommended that new attorneys be required to complete at least 15 hours of practical skills training and 50 hours of pro bono service before they are admitted to practice. ”  If passed, California would be the first state to require the practical skills training.  The State Bar Board of Trustees could vote as early as October and the measure could be implemented for 2015.  (National Law Journal)

June 14, 2013 – Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley announced the establishment of the Nathaniel Downing Public Interest Internship for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s 2013 Legal Intern Program.  The internship is in honor of Nathaniel S. Downing, a third year law student and employee of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Division who died unexpectedly last April.  The first recipient is Michelle Bauer.  She will receive “a scholarship over the course of the summer to help further pursue her goals.”  (

June 14, 2013– In the last 30 days, there have been major indictments of multiple defendants to include multiple counts of murder in the Orleans Parish.  There has been a 22% decrease in homicides year-to-date over last year.  “The public defender’s office in New Orleans called group prosecutions ‘a commendable effort to address the city’s violence.’ But the office noted that effort ‘stresses an already strained public defense office and criminal justice system.'”   With large indictments comes a number of requests for public defenders.  After the PD and conflict offices are exhausted, the other defendants may qualify for contract counsel.  But, with the recent budget cuts, there are not enough contract attorneys to handle the overflow.  Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton agreed with District Attorney Cannizzaro’s policy of making the City safe, but he said, “Without resources – including stable, predictable, reliable, adequate funding – many of these cases will go nowhere. You can only prosecute as fast as you can defend.”  (The Times Picayune)

June 14, 2013 – “The Senate and House on Thursday approved identical bills, setting the stage for them to be finalized and sent to the governor as early as next week, to create the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission. The 16-member body would be tasked with researching, developing and enforcing minimum standards for constitutionally-guaranteed legal representation in jurisdictions around the state.”  The system is currently managed at the county level, which can lead to varying levels of representation.  The commission would establish state-wide standards.(MLive)

June 14, 2013– The Judicial Council of Georgia Domestic Violence Committee awarded an almost $1.7 billion grant that “will help bring legal services to around 4,500 people with low income around Georgia who have suffered from domestic violence and are working to bounce back.  A spokeswoman for the Judicial Council reported that the funds are given each year to develop domestic violence training and legal services for victims.”  “For the Fiscal Year 2014, the nonprofits receiving the grant include Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc., Gateway House, Georgia Law Center for the Homeless, Georgia Legal Services Program, Northeast Georgia Shelter Collaborative, Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, Inc., Peace Place, Salvation Army of Central Georgia and Wayne County Protective Agency/Fair Haven.”(Mableton 11 Alive)

June 15, 2013– Not for every organization, but for for-profit employers, it could be on the decline.  A Georgetown Law Student successfully sued Fox Searchlight Pictures.  “A federal judge in New York ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who worked on production of the 2010 movie Black Swan.”  In response to the company’s assertion that the interns gained valuable benefit, the Judge wrote, “Undoubtedly Mr. Glatt and Mr. Footman received some benefits from their internships, such as resume listings, job references and an understanding of how a production office works.  But those benefits were incidental to working in the office like any other employees and were not the result of internships intentionally structured to benefit them.”  This ruling may cause many organizations to rethink their internship programs. (Sun Herald)

June 17, 2013 – Even in a good market, it might be tough for law students and graduates to find their public service niche.  In a down economy, they need all the help they can get.  That is where law school incubator programs can come in.  Similar to law school clinics in structure, one big difference is the number of cases handled.  A typical law graduate in an incubator program could handle 25 cases vs the 1 or 2 in a clinical setting.  But this is not for the faint of heart.  After the term of the program, participants will open their own practices and one must have the drive to serve the community or the venture will fail.  Four schools are featured in the article, but there are about a dozen more programs if you are looking to start one.  (US News)

June 19, 2013 – The pro bono hours and contributions to groups providing legal services that New York lawyers will need to provide on the biennial registration forms will be available to the public.  “It is our responsibility to give it out,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in a recent interview. “If someone asks for the information, they can have it.”   Some lawyers don’t feel so good about the new rule.  Many are worried about what they consider a disclosure of confidential information.  Some are concerned the next step is mandatory pro bono.  The disclosure requirement has been in place in Illinois, Florida and Maryland for years.  In Maryland and Illinois the information is confidential.  In Florida, it is subject to public disclosure.  (New York Law Journal)

June 19, 2013 – Responding to a major concern that transactional attorneys who frequently advise nonprofit clients in their pro bono practice would be deterred for doing so if it didn’t count as pro bono for the rule, the NY Courts expanded the pro bono definition.   “In response to the objections, the court amended its definition of pro bono for the disclosure rule: lawyers should now use the pro bono interpretation under Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct to report their hours.”  (New York Law Journal)

June 20, 2013– The DC Bar Foundation announced DC Civil Legal Services (DC-CLS) awards totaling $700,000 to support direct civil legal services for the poor and underserved in the District, as well as $7,770 in mid-year Poverty Lawyer LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) Awards, the latter funded by an appropriation from the District of Columbia Council, and awarded by DCBF pursuant to its grant agreement with the District of Columbia, Office of Victim Services. (DC Bar Foundation)

June 20, 2013 – MD Court of Appeals set to decide when indigent criminal defendants are first entitled to counsel.  The issue is whether lower-income arrestees had the constitutional right to a public defender at the initial stage of the judicial process.   Currently, public defenders are available only after an indigent client has been held as per a commissioner’s decision, and has to appear before a District Court judge for a bail review hearing. (Baltimore News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  In honor of Juneteenth and the 50th Anniversary of dedicated work on behalf of those who couldn’t fight for themselves, today we honor the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Conceived by President John F. Kennedy on this date in 1963, it enlisted the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity.  And work still remains.  You can help in moving America toward justice.  Here’s how.

Super Music Bonus! From PSJD Fellow Ashley M. – If I Had A Hammer – the Trini Lopez version hit the charts in the Summer of 1963.  Enjoy!


Calling All Equal Justice Heroes: Nominations Now Open for the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s 2013 Kutak-Dodds Prizes

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association is now seeking nominations for the 2013 Kutak-Dodds Prize, an annual award that goes to a lawyer whose work makes a significant contribution to improving the human dignity of the poor.

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Washington Council of Lawyers’ Brown-Bag Series: Perspectives on Poverty Law from the Bench

If you’re in D.C. for the summer, this is a great opportunity to network with other public interest law students and lawyers! Check out the details and a message from our friends at the Washington Council of Lawyers after the jump:

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PSJD Public Interest News Bulletin – June 14, 2013

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships


Happy Friday!  And Happy Father’s Day to all those Dads, Grandads, and Dads in spirit.  We so appreciate you!!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Sector sheds 500 jobs in May;
  • Texas State Bar budget includes funding for pro bono fellowships;
  • Law School clinics provide legal services worthy of a fee award;
  • ABA announces 2013 Innovation Grants;
  • The unpaid internship debate rages in Canada as well;
  • NJ proposed bill would allow money from increased court fees to go to legal aid;
  • Harvard is taking the school funded fellowship to the next level;
  • Good tips for taking on pro bono at any experience level;
  • Another federal defender victim of sequestration – complex or high-profile cases;
  • Legal Services NYC strike taking toll on clients;
  • Senator urges funding for law school clinics to help vets;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – Shout out to Touro Law School’s Disaster Relief Clinic;
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

June 7, 2013 – The legal sector shed 500 jobs in May, but may not be a sign of continuing bad times.  “While the legal sector lost jobs in May, that did not significantly affect the number of people employed in the legal industry, which remained about 1.129 million, the bureau said. The report also showed there were 7,800 more people employed in the sector in May compared to the same time in 2012.”  Could this be a sign of improvement?  (Thomson Reuters)

June 7, 2013 – Subscription required – In response to a controversy over pro se divorce forms, “the next budget for the State Bar of Texas includes funding for fellowships for three new legal-aid family lawyers and for launching a pro bono awareness campaign.”  (Texas Lawyer)

June 7, 2013 – Apparently it took a court ruling to confirm what we already know – law school clinics provide “real” and valuable representation.  In a case that took more than 4 years, Fordham University School of Law’s Family Advocacy Clinic aksed the New York City Department of Education for legal fees.  The Department objected saying much of the work was for educational purposes only.  Not so, responded the Judge.  He acknowledged that while some of the hours should be cut because it might have been duplicative for learning purposes, most of the hours billed were legitimate.   (National Law Journal)

June 7, 2013 – The ABA Access to Justice Commission Expansion Project announces its 2013 Innovation Grants.  These grants “promote innovation by encouraging Access to Justice Commissions to develop and test innovative new projects replicable in other states and expand the scope of their ongoing activities into broad new areas beyond existing work. Grants target critical areas of potential innovation.”  The other goal is to replicate these innovations elsewhere.  (ABA)

June 10, 2013 – With fewer law firms hiring articling students and more students graduating from law school every year, the possibility of students taking unpaid articling opportunities has risen sharply.  The applicable rules are very similar to those in the US.  There is agreement that law students should have an opportunity to work on pro bono cases with law firms for free.  There is also a strong argument detailing the deleterious effects of unpaid internships.  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

June 10, 2013 – Proposed legislation in New Jersey would allow the NJ Supreme Court to raise court fees to fund modernizing the record-keeping system and provide a steady source of additional funding for legal aid.  If enacted, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2013. (NJToday)

June 10, 2013 – Taking on pro bono work, especially for law students and younger attorneys, may seem daunting.  As more states appear poised to require some amount of pro bono hours prior to admittance to the Bar, we’re going to see more students who never thought about pro bono before having to find resources and get it done.  Here are some great tips from our friends at the Washington State Bar Association that might help.  (Washington State Bar Association NWSidebar)

June 11, 2013 – Those who know me know a big issue for me is funding for students to go out and make their dreams a reality.  Harvard Law School has taken up the call.  “Sixteen public service visionaries and social entrepreneurs from Harvard Law School have been selected as the inaugural recipients of grants from the Public Service Venture Fund, a unique program which will award up to $1 million each year to help graduating Harvard Law students and recent graduates obtain their ideal jobs in public service—even if those jobs don’t yet exist.”  The program is in response to the greater demand for more funding options for student-led projects.  (Press Release – HLS)

June 12, 2013 – The Federal Defender in Idaho is requesting withdrawal from a terrorism case due to limited resources.  In making the request, Executive Director Samuel Richard Rubin correctly points out that their responsibility is to handle 74% of federal indigent defense in Idaho.  That would become much more difficult if the resources required to be expended in the case were used in just one case.  The Judge has yet to respond to the motion.   (NPR as reported by Minnesota Public Radio)

June 12, 2013 – As the Legal Services NYC strike enters its second month, services have been affected.  A sign on the door of the Harlem office says they are not accepting any new clients. Potential clients are being referred to other legal aid organizations.  (WNYC News)

June 12, 2013 – U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen urged members of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Wednesday to pass a bill that would enhance law school programs that provide free legal services to veterans.  The bill she co-sponsored “would allow the VA to coordinate with law schools that offer legal services to veterans. She said 18 states have law school clinics for veterans but the goal is to have one in every state.”  (Air Force Times)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  This week we say thank you to Touro’s Disaster Relief Clinic and the many like it who are helping folks after natural disasters.  Long after the news media moves on to the next story, thousands of people with complicated legal problems are left behind.  This is where law students are so valuable!  Check out the details of one of their cases.  (Long Island News 12)

Super Music Bonus! PSJD Fellow Ashley M. says Happy Father’s Day from PSJD (she let me pick this one :))  She may never let me choose one again.  Enjoy!



Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition in Denver

Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition

From the PSJD job posting:

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition (CJDC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring excellence in juvenile defense and advocacy, and justice for all children and youth in Colorado. CJDC is a strong advocate for the right to counsel and strives to elevate the practice of juvenile defense by presenting continuing legal education seminars and developing materials for juvenile defenders. CJDC seeks to protect the rights and improve the treatment of children and youth in the juvenile justice system through non-partisan research, policy advocacy, and organizing. We believe in promoting the strengths and success of youth while holding youth accountable in developmentally appropriate ways that promote justice, healing, and public safety. CJDC, an effective non-profit that is young and growing, is in an exciting period of recent success and organizational development. Our team serves collaboratively with excellence and integrity and we seek an exceptional candidate committed to producing impactful outcomes for youth justice.

Position Overview

CJDC seeks a dynamic and talented Staff Attorney to help implement the juvenile defense and policy programs of the organization under the supervision of the Executive Director. This full-time salaried position with health benefits and paid vacation is based in Denver, Colorado, and has the potential for leadership advancement as the organization grows. Salary is based upon experience, starting at 55k. Periodic night and weekend work is required, as is occasional travel.

Sounds right up your alley? The deadline to apply is July 8, 2013. Be sure to check out the full job listing at (log-in required) for more information on salary and application instructions.


Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with the Bronx Defenders in New York

The Bronx Defenders is an innovative, progressive, holistic defense office in the South Bronx. They are currently seeking an energetic staff attorney with a commitment to social justice to fill an opening in its Civil Action Practice with an August start date.

From the PSJD job posting:

  • The Civil Action Practice seeks a staff attorney to provide comprehensive advocacy and representation to help our clients resolve a broad range of civil legal problems such as eviction & barriers to housing, loss of employment licenses, criminal record errors, access to public and disability benefits, forfeiture of property and police misconduct.
  • The attorney will work collaboratively with criminal defense and family defense attorneys, advocates and social workers to assess client legal needs.
  • The attorney will represent individuals in a range of activities, including negotiations, administrative and judicial proceedings and trials, with a particular concentration in housing court, public benefits and forfeiture proceedings.
  • The attorneys also will be involved in community trainings and public education.

The deadline to apply is July 1, 2013. For more information, view the full job listing at (log-in required).