Archive for September, 2013

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 27, 2013

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

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope everyone is doing well.  It’s a doughnut kind of day here.  I hope you have an equally delicious treat this Friday.  You’ll likely need it if you’re following the government shutdown debate.  Should the unthinkable happen, we will keep you posted with all the news that affects our public sector.  Until then, enjoy!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Wake Forest Law forms pro bono partnership to help cancer patients;
  • MA Bar Foundation awards grants to 11 area organizations;
  • PA House OKs legal defense bill;
  • NY holds meetings on legal services for the poor;
  • While US law schools shrink in size a Canadian looks to increase enrollment;
  • Ontario Legal Aid lawyers demand collective bargaining rights;
  • Jacksonville Legal Aid gets HUD grant;
  • MD Court of Appeals restores right to public defenders at bail hearings;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Pro Bono Students Canada Tax Advocacy Project;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 23, 2013 – “Wake Forest University School of Law’s Pro Bono Project has partnered with Winston-Salem-based health system Novant Health and law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice to help cancer patients with their legal needs.”  “The students will help cancer patients understand how important it is to complete advance directive forms, which formalize end-of-life care decisions ahead of time. Students have participated in specialized training before beginning their work with patients.”  (The Business Journal)

September 23, 2013– “Newly announced grants for agencies throughout the state include $241,500 to 11 agencies in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.”  “These grants support projects that either offer civil legal services to people who cannot otherwise afford them or improve the administration of justice in the state.  Funds for these grants are provided by the state Supreme Judicial Court’s Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts Program.”  (masslive.com)

September 23, 2013 – “The first in a series of public hearings to be held on meeting the legal needs of low-income New Yorkers took place last Tuesday in the Third Judicial Department.  Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann — along with Presiding Justice Karen Peters, Third Department; Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti; and New York State Bar Association President David Schraver — heard testimony from six panels for the purpose of assessing the resources needed to close the justice gap.”  Law students can and should play a critical role by volunteering and in clinics – not just in New York.  (Legislative Gazette)

September 24, 2013 – “On Monday the state House voted 198-0 to approve Toohil’s bill that will increase the fees placed on civil court filings by $1 to help support the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. The fees had totaled $3 and generated $11 million in revenue in fiscal 2011-12, [Tarah] Toohil, R-Butler Township, noted. The additional $1 is expected to generate $2.5 million annually.”  “The passage comes on the heels of another year in which the number of low-income individuals seeking legal assistance is increasing while funding has declined. Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network programs have reduced the number of cases from 100,000 just a couple of years ago to about 85,000 this past fiscal year, due to cuts in staffing and offices.”  The Bill now moves to the Senate, where there is hope for a speedy passage.  (Wilkes-Barre TimesLeader)

September 24, 2013 – While the headline seems sexy – The Faculty of Law at Queen’s University seeks to increase enrollment – it’s not really so.  The School has not increase enrollment since the 1970’s and tuition is still low ( approximately $16,000 in tuition, while the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall charge approximately $28,000 and $23,000, respectively).  Faculty of Law Dean, William Flanagan is confident the increased enrollment will not hurt “student placements in articling opportunities.”  “In 2011, three graduates of the Faculty of Law went unplaced.”  Maybe US law schools should be taking note.  (The Journal – Queen’s University)

September 25, 2013– Ontario Legal Aid duty counsel lawyers are seeking the right to collective bargaining.  Jillian Rogin, a criminal lawyer duty counsel, said Tuesday that the LAO board has ignored their requests to discuss this demand.  “Unlike the Crown attorneys — a majority of whom are men — we do not have the right to collectively bargain recognized. In light of this, we believe that Legal Aid lawyers are being treated differently than other provincial public sector lawyers,” Rogin said. “We are simply asking for the same rights as Crown attorneys and other public sector lawyers.”  LAO is an arms-length body of the Ministry of the Attorney General but Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen said he will have a discussion with the organization about this and other issues.  (Sun News)

September 25, 2013 – “Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. is one of six organizations in Florida set to receive funds totaling more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce housing discrimination.  The Jacksonville group will get a total of $774,750 for three programs — private enforcement of federal fair housing complaints, a lending discrimination fund, and public education campaigns.”  (wjct News)

September 25, 2013 – “Maryland’s highest court ruled Wednesday that poor suspects should have access to counsel at all bail hearings, overturning the General Assembly’s attempt to spare already-stretched public defenders from attending hundreds of thousands of proceedings each year.”  “After a similar court ruling in 2012, lawmakers passed a law making clear that free representation would be available starting with bail review hearings, at which judges review commissioners’ decisions.”  The court ruling has made clear the Constitution requires representation beginning with the commissioner hearings.  (Baltimore Sun)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  In an attempt to level the playing field in tax court, Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) and Dentons Canada LLP partnered in 2011 to pilot the innovative Tax Advocacy Project (TAP).  The only pro bono project of its kind in Canada, TAP enables law students, with the assistance of a team of highly regarded tax litigators from Dentons Canada LLP, to gain practical experience representing low-income taxpayers before the Court.  The PBSC-TAP currently operates in several Canadian law faculties, including McGill, Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, as well as the University of Toronto where the program originated.  All of the projects are run in partnership with Dentons, which has developed and delivers a rigorous training program for the students, and provides supervision to the students on all aspects of the files.  Most recently, PBSC-Dalhousie teamed up with the Atlantic law firm McInnis Cooper LLP, and a Halifax TAP will launch this Fall.  Check out the great work being accomplished!  Congratulations.

Super Music Bonus!  A nice country tune from a Canadian artist today.  Fun!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySxLyzgVFZ0

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Job o’ the Day: Executive Director for the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP) in Washington, DC

From the PSJD job posting:

Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP) is delighted to announce that we are building a stronger organizational foundation by bringing on board a new Executive Director while the Founding Director assumes the role of Legal Director.  Because we are a small organization, the ED not only runs DV LEAP but also participates in the programmatic work of the organization.  The following describes the position and qualities sought.

The DV LEAP Executive Director leads the organization and manages its daily affairs, including program development and administration, appellate litigation and trainings, financial management, fundraising, outreach, public relations and development, and Board development and relations.  The Executive Director must be committed to advancing the interests of battered women and their children through appellate litigation and system reform, in partnership with the Legal Director.

DV LEAP is looking for applicants with at least 2 years of legal experience working with domestic violence survivors and substantial appellate litigation experience. Applicants should also have experience with fundraising and supervising other lawyers. The starting salary is $70,000 – $100,000 a year, depending on experience.

For more information, check out the full job description at PSJD.org (log-in required).

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 20, 2013

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

Happy Friday!  Autumn begins this weekend with the cooler air (I hope), spiced cider and football!  This time of year is also the start of the career fair season.  Check out PSJD for a list of public interest career fairs.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • NY defers mandatory reporting of pro bono;
  • Nonrent fees for Bronx Tenants are focus for Advocates’ report;
  • Legal Aid Justice Center has a new advocacy director;
  • Federal funding to aid sexual assault victims in NY;
  • Panel established to improve access to justice in VA;
  • Student Press Law Center sponsoring “Tinker Tour”;
  • NY modifies pro bono requirements for foreign LL.M.s;
  • One great idea for how to help the rising number of veterans who need legal advice;
  • BC legal aid told not to book any trials for early 2014 due to funding;
  • Federal courts exhaust indigent defense funding;
  • Law students may work as unpaid interns at firms on pro bono matters;
  • 140 groups urge Ontario legislature to make public advocacy bill a top priority;
  • Michigan Legal Help assists 200,000 in first year online;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: QLaw Foundation’s LGBT Legal Clinic;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 13, 2013 – New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti announced that the Administrative Board of the Courts has decided to defer until April 2015 “the public disclosure of information regarding the pro bono hours and financial contributions of attorneys registered to practice in New York.”  New York State Bar Association President David M. Schraver has responded favorably stating the requirement is of concern and the Bar looks forward to continuing dialogue on the issue.  (readMedia)

September 13, 2013 – “[A] new report by Community Action for Safe Apartments, a project of New Settlement Apartments known as CASA, and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center charges that some Bronx landlords are using so-called nonrent fees — for having certain appliances as well as for late rent payments and apartment damage, among other things — as a way to drive up rent bills and push out longtime residents, who often pay far less than newcomers.  The report, which [was] released on Saturday, found that one major Bronx landlord, Chestnut Holdings, charged some tenants in rent-stabilized apartments hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in fees. It calls for the state to take steps to ensure the fees are being properly charged.”  (The New York Times)

September 13, 2013 – “A federal grant from the Department of Justice will help victims of sexual assault.  Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. received the grant in partnership with six local nonprofit service providers to help victims of sex abuse in an 11-county region.”  The grant seeks to make legal services more available to these victims.  (WETM News)

September 14, 2013 – “The Virginia Supreme Court’s chief justice signed an order Friday creating a commission to recommend ways to improve legal services for low-income residents in civil cases.”  “The commission, led by co-chairmen, will report its progress to the court on a quarterly basis for the first two years and annually after that.  According to the court, the commission will coordinate justice access activities among various groups, encourage lawyers to represent low-income people, identify barriers to legal services and develop solutions. It also will promote development of additional resources — simpler court forms and easy-to-understand legal information, for example — for underserved populations.”  (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

September 15, 2013– “The Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville has a new advocacy director.  Mary Bauer has taken the helm after overseeing the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. She says the center will always be a place where low income individuals can walk through the doors for help. But Bauer brings state wide goals as well.  ‘We have a sophisticated staff that’s really looking proactively at what are the barriers that poor people face in our community and across the state and what can we do as lawyers to get rid of those barriers,’ she said.  The center focuses on offering legal help to vulnerable individuals. Groups of children, immigrants, the elderly, and people in institutions also benefit.”  (NBC 29 News)

September 15, 2013– “Mary Beth Tinker was just 13 when she spoke out against the Vietnam War by wearing a black armband to her Iowa school in 1965. When the school suspended her, she took her free speech case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. Now 61, she’s quit her part-time job as a nurse and will travel the country telling her story.”  Ms. Tinker begins in Philadelphia and will travel to 18 states and log between 10,000 and 15,000 miles.  She encourages students to use their voice and stand up for what they believe in, just like she did.  (USA TODAY)

September 16, 2013 – We now know that NY requires 50 pro bono hours to be completed before being licensed in NY.  Previously, all those looking to be licensed in NY had to complete these hours either while a law student or between graduation and licensing.  What about foreign LL.M. students who typically only have a year program?  Well, the concerns have been heard, and NY is modifying the requirements for those students. “Trevor Morrison, the dean of New York University, praised the pro bono committee for ‘listening to the law schools’ concerns and addressing them so constructively.’ Morrison said his predecessor, Richard Revesz, argued before the committee to give LL.M. students more time to fulfill the requirement.”  “A number of law schools were concerned about the proposed pro bono service requirement for LL.M. candidates, because many of these students would have had difficulty in meeting the requirement during the eight months or so when they are here and not taking exams,” Morrison said Friday.  (New York Law Journal)

September 16, 2013 – What is perhaps THE hottest practice area out there – veteran’s issues.  This encompasses so many areas of law, and is a great area for student pro bono.  There are so many schools out there taking up this work and Syracuse Law is one of them.  The school will host another Valor Day (don’t you love the name?).  “The services are totally free, and there are no ‘hidden catches’, said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Josh Keefe, a third-year law student and an organizer of the event. ‘Most of the students involved are veterans or have military connections, and many of the lawyers are veterans, too,’ Keefe said.”  (syracuse.com)

September 16, 2013 – “Lawyers for the government-funded agency have been told not to book any trials for the early part of 2014.  It specifically impacts criminal and child protection cases.”  “In a note to its lawyers, the Legal Service Society says it’s facing a $2.5 million deficit in the criminal tariff and a $500,000 deficit in the child protection tariff.”  “The province has been under fire for not committing to further funding. The LSS says it will continue to try and work with the Ministry of Justice to try and find an alternative way.”  (News 1130)

September 17, 2013 – “The federal court system has temporarily run out of money to pay court-appointed lawyers who represent indigent defendants, officials said Tuesday.”  “The $20 million shortfall for the last two weeks of this fiscal year had been expected, but it means that the courts will start fiscal 2014 on the hook for the same amount, David Sellers, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said at a news conference.”  With no new money on the horizon, it’s the “worst case scenario.”  So, courts are looking to cut costs any way they can including reducing the fee for private attorneys appointed by the court, and cutting back on training and continuing the current hiring freeze.  This will impact representation in a number of ways including perhaps good attorneys no longer taking these cases.  (Federal Times)

September 17, 2013 – The ABA has received a response from the Labor Department to its letter seeking clarification on unpaid internships in the legal realm.  The response is about what we expected.  Here’s what the Labor Department said.  Law students may work as unpaid interns on pro bono matters at law firms, provided certain conditions are met.  The conditions are:

• The internship involves exclusively non-fee-generating pro bono matters.

• The internship is structured to provide the student with professional experience in furtherance of his or her education.

• The hiring of unpaid law student interns does not displace regular employees.

• The law student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.

• The law firm and the law student agree that the student is not entitled to wages.

The analysis only applies to current law students.  Law grads would be judged under a different structure.  (ABA Journal)

September 19, 2013 – “Over 140 groups, including environmental organizations, unions and freedom of expression advocates, are calling on the Ontario legislature to adopt strong legislation to prevent Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) from being used to limit freedom of expression, public participation and prevent the abuse of libel laws.” “In May, Attorney General John Gerretsen submitted Bill 83, the first government-sponsored anti-SLAPP bill in Ontario. This follows a 2010 report by the Ontario Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel which found that SLAPPs deter people from speaking out against what they see as social wrongs.”  (The Sacramento Bee)

September 19, 2013 – “The Michigan Legal Help website was created to provide free legal information to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney and need to represent themselves in simple legal matters. It makes legal information easier to understand and shows self-represented people how to navigate the court system properly and efficiently. The website contains information on many areas of law in the form of articles, toolkits, forms and instructional checklists to help prepare people who represent themselves in court.  The website can help users look for a lawyer in their area if they need more assistance, and includes information about legal self-help centers and local community services as well as details about the court where a website visitor’s legal issue may be handled.”  (PrideSource)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Marriage equality is just one issue the LGBT community faces on a regular basis.  There are many organizations who help in many ways big and small.  Today, we congratulate the QLaw Foundation’s LGBT Legal Clinic on work very well done. The Clinic, at the Seattle Counseling Service’s location, provides a 30-minute legal counseling session from the simple to the complex.  In addition to aiding gay and lesbian couples in various issues, the clinic has also made great strides for people in the transgender community, helping to leverage the legal resources available for transgender and trans-identifying people to give them the legal voice they need.Now, with approximately 70 lawyers volunteering their time and over 400 people assisted by the clinic, the Washington State Bar Association is honoring the center with the Pro Bono Award.  To see why, check out this article on their great work.  (the capitol hill TIMES)

Super Music Bonus!  Just a little Fall color for your viewing pleasure.  The music is really relaxing as well.  Enjoy!


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UPDATED RESOURCE: NYU’s 2013 Public Defender Handbook on PSJD’s Careers in Public Defense Page

Attention all future public defenders!

Is your dream is to provide counsel for indigent defendants, but you have no idea where to start? Look no further than PSJD’s Careers in Public Defense page, located in our Resource Center on PSJD.org.

New York University School of Law just released the updated version of their amazingly helpful 2013 Public Defender Handbook (look for it on the Careers in Public Defense page). This guide is divided into FAQ’s and information about selected public defender offices. It also includes information on capital defense offices that hire entry-level attorneys.

Check it out now on the PSJD Careers in Public Defense page, and don’t forget to take a look at the other helpful guides from Harvard Law and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Happy job hunting!

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Have you registered for the 2013 Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair? The deadline is right around the corner!

Hey, public interest law students – it’s that time of year again!

Every fall, some of the best nonprofit and government employers in the nation convene in Washington, DC for the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair, the largest public interest career fair in the country.

Packed with workshops and interview opportunities, the EJW Conference provides a great platform for law students to network and make a lasting impression on employers. It’s an awesome and fun way to find a public interest career that is right for you.

So what are you waiting for? The deadline to register (it’s only 25 bucks) is right around the corner (Monday, September 16th!) and the conference will be held on October 25 & 26, 2013. Find out more information in the Student Registration Guide and make sure to visit PSJD’s Career Central for tips on preparing your cover letters and resumes!

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 13, 2013

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

Happy Friday!  And Friday the 13th to boot!  This week we also took a moment to remember to sacrifices of 9/11 as well.  We will never forget.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Registration now open for the NALP/PSJD Mini-Conference;
  • Bush Foundation Fellowship program might be of interest to law students;
  • Texas closes nonprofit providing unauthorized immigration services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Prof. Gary Blasi – sent in by our friends at USC Gould;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 9, 2013 – Ok – this isn’t really news.  Just a reminder that we have a great program scheduled for October 24, 2013 with the Public Interest Advising 101 to take place on Wednesday, October 23rd.  Details and registration information available on our website.  All NALP members and public sector employers are welcome.  Hope to see you there.

September 9, 2013 – A Bush Fellowship provides individuals with opportunities to demonstrate and improve their capacity for leadership as they learn by doing. The work of the Fellowship is to blend opportunities for personal development with efforts to effectively engage with others to create positive change within their communities.  The application deadline is October 14, 2013.  This looks like an exciting opportunity for the right law student to enhance his/her leadership in Native Nation building. (Bush Foundation Bush Fellowship Program)

September 10, 2013– “A Central Texas organization accused of providing unauthorized legal services to immigrants has been closed and must pay fines and restitution of more than $500,000.”  Officials say representatives of Cristo Vive wrongly presented themselves as licensed attorneys in immigration cases.  (KHOU News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Thank you so much to Rachel Kronick Rothbart, Assistant Director of Career Services at USC Gould School of Law for alerting me to this outstanding public servant.  And just to demonstrate how wonderful our public interest community is – our featured person is a professor emeritus at a rival school.

Professor Gary Blasi’s legal career began over a bag of carrots.  “Now, more than 40 years later, the 67-year-old Blasi remains passionate about the law and committed to social justice. He has built a resume that would make any aspiring poverty lawyer swoon. On Oct. 11, the UCLA Law School professor will be recognized with the 2013 Loren Miller Legal Services Award for his many contributions as a lawyer and a teacher.  Given during the State Bar’s annual meeting, the Loren Miller award recognizes attorneys who have made a longtime commitment to legal services and done outstanding legal work to benefit the poor.  Catherine E. Lhamon, director of impact litigation for Public Counsel in LA, wrote in a letter supporting Blasi’s nomination that Blasi helped shape the doctrine she and other poverty lawyers now rely on and continues to train young lawyers to follow in his footsteps.   Congratulations to Professor Gary Blasi for tirelessly championing the neediest among us!!  (California Bar Journal)

Super Music Bonus! Thank you to all those who have served on or since 9/11 and to the families and friends of those who carry on in their name.  http://screen.yahoo.com/snl-history-skits/cold-open-9-11-tribute-070000854.html

And – Happy Friday the 13th.  Don’t blame me if you listen and then can’t sleep.  Enjoy!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVNzb9GPwnY

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Equal Justice Works’ September Student Loan Debt Webinar Schedule

Here’s a message from our friends at Equal Justice Works:

Welcome to Fall! The weather is slowly getting cooler, students are back in school and all is right with the world. Well, the $1.2 trillion student debt problem still remains, but even that seems (slightly) more manageable right now.

If you need help, our next free webinar, Drowning in Debt? Learn How Government and Nonprofit Workers Can Earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness, is on Thursday, September 19, from 3-4 p.m. EDT. You can register on our website or by clicking here.

The August weather also seemed to get the New America Foundation all riled up, and they published a highly misleading blog post about Georgetown’s LRAP and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You can find our (measured and fact-based) rebuttal here and Georgetown Law’s response here.

Last month we also delved deeply into the long term implications of The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 (aka the don’t double my rates fix), gave student loan advice to budding entrepreneurs and shared the scoop on Obama’s plans to make college more affordable.

Our comprehensive student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future, has been selling like ice cream in August. Get it while supplies last!

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 6, 2013

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

Happy Friday!  Here in Virginia, school has started in earnest (darn traffic!), and we’re busier than ever here at NALP.  We’re feverishly updating career fair information and have added a new feature – Public Interest Events.  We will also periodically include these events in the news digest.  There is one included today.  Enjoy!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • 2013-2014 White House Fellows announced;
  • NY Governor announces inaugural class of Excelsior Service Fellows;
  • NLADA announces Beacon of Justice Award winners;
  • Skadden’s Impact Project celebrates it’s first birthday;
  • “Lawyers in the Library” – I love it!;
  • Public defenders office in Guam fights to stay open;
  • Emory Public Interest Committee hosts symposium on sex trafficking;
  • DOJ weighs in on indigent defense;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: BIA Pro Bono Project;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 27, 2013 – “[t]he President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced the appointment of the 2013-2014 Class of White House Fellows. The Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, varied professions, and have all shown a strong commitment to public service and leadership. The 2013-2014 Class of Fellows and their biographies are included in the following pages.”  (White House)

August 30, 2013– NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced “80 recent graduates, representing eleven colleges and universities will make up the first class under the Excelsior Service Fellowship Program. The fellowship program established earlier this year is an initiative to bring highly talented graduates of colleges, universities, and graduate, law and professional schools into government service. Fellows will start in early September and will be placed in the Executive Chamber and at 41 state government agencies and authorities.”  (LongIsland.com)

August 30, 2013 – “The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) is delighted to announce the names of the 2013 Beacon of Justice Award winners. The seventeen law firms honored have all devoted considerable time and resources to delivering on the mandate of Gideon v Wainwright, which fifty years ago established the right to counsel for people accused of a crime and facing a loss of liberty.  Each winner has been chosen for their accomplishments in advancing Gideon’s principles through law reform or individual representation.”  (NLADA Press Release)

September 1, 2013 – Twelve months ago, the Washington office of Skadden Arps, local legal aid groups, and three corporate legal departments started the Impact Project.  “The project created three virtual practice groups, each staffed with attorneys from Skadden, the three companies -Northrop Grumman, LivingSocial and Cisco and the three legal aid groups – Children’s Law Center, Legal Aid Society of D.C. and Bread for the City – to work on housing, guardianship and domestic violence issues.” In it’s first year, the Impact Project attorneys have worked on 55 cases.  Congratulations and keep up the good work!  (Washington Post)

September 2, 2013 – Libraries are so much more than a repository for books.  They are often the center of a community providing information, fellowship, and sometimes a place to be dry and warm in a storm.  Now, it’s also a place you can get legal advice.  “The San Joaquin County Bar Association has helped more than 500 individuals receive free legal advice through monthly clinics that are open to the public.  August marked one year since the launch of ‘Lawyers in the Library’ legal clinics, and the service continues.”  Volunteer practicing attorneys conduct brief meetings and assess and advise individuals on legal matters.  There are no income or residency restrictions. Services are on a first-come, first-service basis. (Recordnet.com)

September 2, 2013– “The federal Public Defender’s Office on Guam is fighting to remain in operation as the effects of sequestration are crippling the office’s ability to provide effective representation of criminal defendants.  Sequestration has had a major impact on the Public Defender’s Office on Guam. ‘We are being inordinately hit. The sequestration should be approximately 4.7% budget cut across the board however this year we’re slated to receive a 23% decrease in funds,’ explained federal public defender John Gorman.  He says this fiscal year the office made do with less – 11% less.”  (KUAM News)

September 4, 2013 – The Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC) invites you to attend its tenth annual conference, “Neighbors for Sale: Modern Slavery in Atlanta,” on Saturday, September 21, 2013.  Details and registration information can be found here.  Registration will be capped at 250 and the deadline to register is September 17th.

September 4, 2013 – In quite the historic move, the US Department of Justice has intervened in on a case about the quality of indigent defense in two cities north of Seattle.  According to Justice lawyers, this filing is nothing short of historic.  And “if a judge finds those cities should be on the hook, Justice lawyers urged that an independent monitor be appointed for public defender workloads, the first time ever in a federal case like this one.”  “We are absolutely committed to the principle that every indigent person who is accused of a crime is entitled to his or her constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel,” says Jocelyn Samuels, who leads the DOJ civil rights unit.  So, stay tuned for more developments in this case.  (NPR)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  It’s tough out there, especially for those who don’t speak English and are trying to navigate a complex immigration system.  The government joined with thousands of volunteers to make the process better.  The BIA Pro Bono Appeals Project matches vulnerable immigrants with pro bono counsel to defend their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  One of the nation’s most successful pro bono initiatives, the BIA Project partners with attorneys and law school clinics to provide pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants. Through a network of committed volunteers, trainers, and mentors, the BIA Project facilitates access to justice.  Since the Project’s inception in 2001, it has reviewed over 7,200 appeals cases.  You can help!  Here is more information, including how you or your clinic can volunteer.

Super Music Bonus!  We’ve highlighted a number of fellowships today, so in honor of that – here you go!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rZBYbBG9f0

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New on PSJD.org: Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar

PSJD.org has always housed a Career Fair calendar, a one-stop shop for public interest lawyers, recent grads and law students to find information on upcoming job fairs throughout the year.

To make this resource even better, we’ve just added general public interest events to the calendar! Now, law schools and public interest organizations can use PSJD’s  revamped Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar to publicize large meetings, conferences, or special events that are open to the local or national public interest law community. We’ll be posting and publicizing both school-sponsored and student-sponsored events on the calendar, as well highlighting some on the blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

First on the new Events calendar: The Emory Law Public Interest Committee’s 10th Annual Conference, “Neighbors for Sale: Modern Slavery in Atlanta”:

Date: Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM to 4:45 PM (continental breakfast served 9:30 to 10:00 AM)

Location: Emory University School of Law, 1301 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322

The Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC) invites you to attend its tenth annual conference, “Neighbors for Sale: Modern Slavery in Atlanta,” on Saturday, September 21, 2013.  Led by keynote speaker Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, a host of state and local government and non-government organization leaders will assemble to discuss the realities of modern slavery in Atlanta, to share their own stories of modern abolition, and to share how attendees can become involved in the fight against slavery.

Registration: Please register via the link below by Tuesday, September 17.  A continental breakfast and boxed lunch will be provided for as many as funding permits on a first-come, first-served basis.  Attendance is capped at 250 registrants.

http://www.law.emory.edu/intranet/current-students/student-organizations/epic/conference.html

What to expect: Attorney General Olens will begin the morning discussing the local realities of sex trafficking and all that can be done to combat it.  After this primer, attendees will chose two from among a series of panel discussions addressing victim rescue, victim aftercare, the changing face of forced prostitution, criminal investigation, criminal prosecution, and structural transformation through lawmaking.  The day will close with a full-conference panel on what more can and should be done to combat sex trafficking in Atlanta, beginning with the Attorney General’s “Georgia’s Not Buying It” campaign.

Selected Panelists:

  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernan Keenan will discuss the work of GBI’s Human Trafficking Unit.
  • Georgia Department of Education Chief of Staff Joel Thornton will discuss the DOE’s efforts to identify trafficking victims in public schools.
  • Fulton County Prosecutor Camila Wright and DeKalb County Prosecutor Dalia Racine will discuss their work trying sex trafficking cases.
  • Representatives from Atlanta-based organizations including Mary Frances Bowley, founder of Wellspring Living, as well as others from StreetGrace, and Nightlight will discuss their efforts to find and rescue trafficking victims.

If you’d like to include an event or career fair on PSJD’s calendar, please forward all information to our PSJD Fellow, Ashley Matthews, at psjd@nalp.org.

As usual, we are always looking for ways to make PSJD.org an even better resource for public interest law students and lawyers. If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to contact us!

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2013 Pro Bono Publico Award Nominations: Deadline extended to Friday, September 6 at 5pm!

Now that the school year is back in full swing, PSJD wants to make sure everyone gets a chance to nominate a deserving law student. We extended the deadline to this Friday, September 6th at 5 pm so those of you who missed the deadline last week can go ahead and send it in!

The PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award recognizes the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education by performing pro bono work.  This year, the initial nomination process is even easier and the award has been increased to $1,000!

Everything you need to nominate that great student can be found on the NALP website.  Deadline is Friday, September 6 by 5pm ET.  You can email your packet to Christina Jackson, NALP/PSJD’s Director of Public Service Initiatives and Fellowships, at cjackson@nalp.org or fax to 202-835-1112.  If you have any questions, please contact us at psjd@nalp.org!

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