Archive for June, 2013

Are You ‘Drowning in Debt’? Check Out EJW’s June Webinars (and Get the Deets on Last Month’s Promotion Winner!)

From our friends at Equal Justice Works:

Thank you for the overwhelming response to last month’s promotion for our student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future. We’re happy to announce that C. Lee of Brooklyn, NY was the winner of the $100 Amazon gift card!

Even if you didn’t win (we never win anything either!) we still urge you to purchase Take Control of Your Future. At only $5.99 it won’t break the bank, and it’s an incredible resource for anyone who has (or constantly gets asked) questions about borrowing, repayment or forgiveness for federal student loans.

In other news, our free June webinars are:

Drowning in Debt? Learn How Government and Nonprofit Workers Can Earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Wednesday, June 12, 3-4 p.m. EDT

Thursday, June 27, 3-4 p.m. EDT

A must attend for anyone with educational debt planning to work or currently working for the government or a nonprofit, this webinar explains how you can benefit from income driven repayment plans, including President Obama’s new Pay As You Earn program, and exactly how Public Service Loan Forgiveness works.

While you’re waiting for the next webinar, catch up on all the student debt news at the Student Loan Ranger. Last month we reviewed the proposals in Congress to halt the imminent doubling of interest rates on subsidized Federal Direct Loans, examined the student debt struggles of service members, and took  a look at a proposal to simplify the student loan system (that would be nice!). This month’s topics include the effect of the upcoming budget battles on education and take a look at if (or how much) the Department of Education profits on student loans.


Job o’ the Day: Urban Justice Center – Community Development Project Transactional Legal Fellowship

This job is for our litigation-shy students out there. The Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project is accepting applications for a 2013 Transactional Legal Fellow.

The Community Development Project strengthens the impact of grassroots organizations in New York City’s low-income and other excluded communities.  Currently, transactional legal services work includes land use, community benefits agreements, nonprofit law, corporate governance, federal income tax exemption, for-profit worker cooperative business structuring, and affordable housing.

Applicants with experience working with, in, or on behalf of community-based organizations are strongly encouraged to apply.  Applicants must either be admitted to the New York Bar, or sitting for the New York Bar not later than July 2014.  Applicants of color and applicants with foreign language abilities, particularly Spanish, are also encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is June 13, 2013 (this Thursday!). For more information and application instructions, check out the full job description at (log-in required).


In DC for the Summer? Check out “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River” on 07/18!

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Save the date! The East of the River Casehandlers group is having their annual lunch-and-learn next month on 07/18, and it’s sure to be an eye-opening and informative experience for any public interest law student or lawyer working in D.C. over the summer.

From the group:

The East of the River Casehandlers group invites all legal interns, summer associates, law students and pro bono attorneys to find out more about practicing public interest law east of the Anacostia River. This brown bag lunch program and panel will feature attorneys from legal services providers that serve the residents of these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. The panel will include a former legal services client who will help us better understand the challenges low-income residents face every day. Imoni Washington of the DC Bar Foundation will also join us to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers east of the river. Registration for this event will open on June 24, 2013.

For those unfamiliar with Washington, D.C. geography, “east of the Anacostia River” refers to the historically under-served communities of Wards 7 and 8 in the southeast and southwest sections of the city. The hosting group – East of the River Casehandlers – meets every three months in Ward 8 to share information, discuss strategies and plan legal information programs for community members and legal services attorneys.

The event will take place from 12 – 1:30pm, and is tentatively located at Neighborhood Legal Services Program of D.C., at 3101 MLK Avenue SE. To register for “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”, contact Heather Hodges at or (202) 269-5100.


PSJD Public Interest News Bulletin – June 7, 2013

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

Happy Friday! Welcome to June.  I hope those of you attending the Diversity Summit are enjoying the wonderful programming and camaraderie.

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

Today we congratulate the 2013 ABA Pro Bono Publico Award winners.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Pro Bono Institute summary of Marketplace of Ideas;
  • July hike in student loan interest rates explained;
  • Student loans part II – a good summary of the legislation;
  • A break down of which states have the highest/lowest law graduate to legal job ratio;
  • Burlington, Mt Vernon public defenders on trial;
  • Florida’s capital punishment system going from bad to worse?;
  • Missouri bill could ease public defender caseload;
  • Boston Bar task force examines legal aid issues in state;
  • Laura and John Arnold Foundation Announces Partnership with Louisville Metro Government to Improve Criminal Justice system;
  • California Senate Passes Law to Revoke Status of Nonprofits With Anti-Gay Policies;
  • Law graduate discharges student loan in bankruptcy;
  • Update: Talks resume in Legal Services NYC strike;
  • Late bar exam results negatively impacting graduate employment statistics;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants – ABA Pro Bono Publico Winners
  • Super Music Bonus featuring Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow!

The summaries:

May 30, 2013 – The Pro Bono Institute held its annual conference, which included two dynamic sessions entitled “Marketplace of Ideas.”  Here organizations discussed their pro bono innovations.  Check them out.  (PBEye)

June 3, 2013 – Ok, I think everyone knows by now that student loan repayment is not my strong suit.  Well, here is an article that explains the pending hike in interest rates in terms that even I can understand.   The good news is the interest rates will only increase on federally subsidized Stafford Loans, which are need-based and for undergraduate students only.  But stay tuned, there is proposed legislation that would effect law student loans and debt that we will be following closely.  (ABC News)

June 3, 2013 – Student loan crisis, part II.  Here is a pretty good summary of the proposed legislation.  (Tuition IO)

June 3, 2013 – By now we all know that the law school graduate legal job ratio is not 1-1.  For those folks counseling students with some geographic flexibility, this article may be of some use.  Unfortunately, as with most things, the data lags, so this is based on 2011 employment data.  But, according to this analysis, Alaska, Wyoming and Nevada are the best bets.  (The Atlantic)

June 3, 2013 – The public defenders in Burlington and Mt Vernon, Washington go on trial today.  “They are accused of spending little or no time on client cases.”  “The suit is asking a federal judge to require the cities to appoint supervisors to make sure the public defenders are doing all they can for their clients. ”   (

June 3, 2013 – A debate over the Timely Justice Act in Florida is highlighting the potentially dismal defense those accused of capital crimes could face because their public defenders are so overworked and underfunded.  “The measure would require the governor to sign a convicted murderer’s death warrant within 30 days after the conclusion of all appeals and would require an execution by lethal injection to take place within 180 days. It also limits the appellate options available to defense attorneys fighting on behalf of their clients and seeks to ensure — feebly, under the circumstances — that death row inmates are given better representation by their court-appointed counsel.”  In a state which has averaged more than one capital exoneration every two years since 1973, moving the capital punishment system to go faster does not seem like a good solution to the problem.   (The Atlantic)

June 3, 2013 – “Legislation that could ease the caseload of Missouri public defenders is being considered by Gov. Jay Nixon.”  The bill would allow the public defender system to petition the presiding judge of a judicial circuit for a conference to discuss caseload issues. The judge could then decide whether to grant relief in a particular case.  (the News Tribune)

June 3, 2013 – “This first stage will involve determining which geographic and demographic segments of the Commonwealth are in greatest need of civil legal aid, but not getting it, said J. D. Smeallie, president of the Boston Bar, in a statement.”  The next steps will be to identify ways to deliver civil legal aid in the most cost effective manner.  Additionally, a Supreme Judicial Court decision which took effect in January will allow corporate counsel who are not licensed in Massachusetts to provide pro bono legal aid.  (Boston Business Journal)

June 4, 2013 – The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) has announced a multi-year partnership with the Louisville Metro government to increase public safety and make the criminal justice system more cost-effective, efficient, and fair.  The focus of the grant is to use data-driven solutions, technology, and analytics to reduce crime, promote just outcomes, and make the best use of public resources.  The Foundation plans to evaluate which tools and system reforms work best and replicate them nationwide.  One of the areas the Mayor hopes to address with the grant is overcrowded jails.  The focus of the project is the front end of the criminal justice system from arrest to sentencing.  (The Foundation Center)

June 5, 2013 – The California Senate passed the Youth Equality Act, which would require tax-exempt organizations that discriminate to pay state taxes, while donors supporting such groups would have to pay taxes on their donations. The bill now advances to the state assembly. (Sacramento Bee)

June 5, 2013 – A law student has been allowed to discharge most of his student loan debt in bankruptcy.  The facts of this case are fairly specific, but this ruling by the Ninth Circuit could have a widespread impact on student loan debt.  In this case, the individual failed the bar twice (thus losing his attorney job) and then missed the third test due to a mishap.  Since then, he has made every effort to pay his monthly payment, including accepting a garnishment of wages.  When the lender sought to increase the garnishment to something he couldn’t afford, he filed for bankruptcy.  One of the keys to this discharge is that the borrower did everything in his power to repay the debt.  But, I’m certain there are equally as compelling stories out there, so this is something to watch.  (Morning Money)

June 5, 2013 – Both sides are negotiating in good faith and seem to be making progress on some key sticking points.  Union and management officials are hopeful as they resume talks.  The strike is now in its third week.  (New York Law Journal)

June 6, 2013 – Law school deans across the country have concerns that late bar exam results are having a significant negative impact on graduate employment statistics.  In response, the “ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday will take up a proposal to move the data collection timeline from nine months after graduation to 10 months. The council’s data policy and collection committee, which put forth the proposal, said it is an effort to level the playing field between states that release bar exam results and admit new lawyers relatively quickly, and states that take more time.”  “Should the council sign off, the new timeline could go into effect for this year’s graduating class, said Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education. ”  Note: NALP Executive Director James Leipold contributed to this story.  (The National Law Journal)

May 30, 2013 – “Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law a bill that will increase funds dedicated to legal aid for indigent Texans from civil penalties and civil restitution recovered by the Texas attorney general.  House Bill 1445, authored by State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, will raise the cap on the amount of money raised through civil penalties and civil restitution that can be dedicated to legal aid for indigent Texans.”  (Austin Business Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is presented each year by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service to honor individual lawyers, law firms, law schools, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that have enhanced the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor.  The recipients are:  Bruce B. Blackwell | Orlando, FL; Jeffrey Trachtman | New York, NY; Patricia Lee | Las Vegas, NV; Exelon | Chicago, IL; Leonard, Street and Deinard | Minneapolis, MN  (ABA)

Super Music Bonus! PSJD Fellow Ashley M. keeps bringing the fun with a particularly applicable choice! Enjoy!

This is dedicated to all the public interest law grads struggling to pay off their student loans:


Job o’ the Day: Chief Assistant District Attorney with the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office in Canton, NY

This one’s for our more experienced public interest attorneys. The St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office, located in rural New York is currently accepting applications for a senior level position:

The St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office is seeking an admitted attorney to fill a full time position as Chief Assistant District Attorney.

Duties would include training and supervision of six other attorneys, prosecuting felonies from case review thru trial, frequent court appearances, and outreach.

Duties would also include many and varied administrative responsibilities.

Candidates must be admitted to practice law in New York, have at least ten years of experience, at least five of which has been as a prosecutor. Candidates must have substantial criminal trial experience. Candidates must also possess strong research and writing skills, excellent organizational and time management skills, the ability to work cooperatively in a small office, a valid driver’s license and a cell phone.

The deadline to apply is August 1, 2013. Still interested? Check out the full job description at (log-in required).