PSJD Public Interest News Digest – October 11, 2013

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

Happy Friday everyone!  As the government shutdown progresses, more and more programs are affected.  Now is a good time to think about what the needs are in your community and see how you can help.

And if you’re using PSJD as a resource – we’ve now added a downloadable Job Seekers User Guide, complete with step-by-step instructions.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Don’t forget to register for the NALP/PSJD Mini-Conference;
  • Office of the State Public Defender (of MT) asks court not to assign any more cases;
  • BC Law now offering a new program in public interest;
  • Legal Aid lawyers & BC province reach agreement;
  • Philadelphia, PA might hire private law firm for court-appointed cases;
  • ABA releases white paper on NY pro bono requirements;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Former President Jimmy Carter;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

October 4, 2013 – NALP and PSJD invite you to the 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference on Thursday, October 24 in Washington, DC. If you are a public interest career counselor, pro bono program manager, or work in any public-service career role at a law school or legal employer then this mini-conference is for you. The 2013 Public Service Mini-Conference is the perfect opportunity for you to meet and network with colleagues from across the country and attend substantive and skill-based programs. Following the Mini-Conference, we will host a law school/employer reception including representatives from eight agencies and nine national non-profits registered so far.  If you are a newcomer to the public interest arena, join us for the Public Interest Advising 101 program on Wednesday, October 23.

October 4, 2013– “The Office of the State Public Defender says it is overloaded with cases in the Helena area, and asking a judge to not assign them any more cases.”  “The request asks the Helena justice court to assign a private attorney to one ongoing case, and asks the court to assign private attorneys to new cases with indigent clients. It also asks the court to order the state to pay for the costs of the private attorneys because OPD argues it doesn’t have enough in its budget to do so. The filing also says the court could alternatively dismiss cases against some poor defendants.”  “The Lewis and Clark County attorney’s office argued in Tuesday’s brief that the Helena justice court does not have the jurisdiction to meet the OPD request. It said OPD is required by state law to provide indigent defense.  The brief argues that the public defender’s office needs to pursue other options of reducing its workload.”  (The Republic)

October 4, 2013 – “[Boston College] Law School has launched the Public Interest Designation Program (PIDP) to encourage, guide and recognize students who are committed to a legal career dedicated to public service.  Law School administrators say PIDP — the only program of its kind in Massachusetts — will provide a comprehensive academic and experiential curriculum that will prepare students for a career in public service immediately upon graduation.”  “The program reflects the efforts of 25 BC Law students from the Class of 2013 who had worked with Associate Director of Public Interest Programs Kate Devlin Joyce to create special recognition for students demonstrating commitment to a public service curriculum. The 25 were honored by BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau at this year’s graduation as the inaugural PIDP class and given the title of Public Service Fellows.” (The Boston College Chronicle)

October 5, 2013– “The threatened adjournment of hundreds of criminal trials by [British Columbia’s] legal aid lawyers has been averted.  The Legal Services Society of B.C. reached an agreement with Attorney General Suzanne Anton on Friday and is no longer recommending that lawyers avoid booking hearings for the six weeks between Feb. 17 and March 31, 2014.  ‘I can provide assurance that LSS will be able to pay accounts for all existing referrals to the end of the fiscal year,’ chief executive officer Mark Benton said Saturday in a special message to the bar.”  This agreement doesn’t mean there might not still have to be cuts, but for now services will continue.  (Times Colonist)

October 8, 2013 – In the “here’s one way to handle this” category comes the City of Philadelphia’s plan to contract with a private law firm to handle conflict criminal defense and other court-appointed cases.  “[t]he city of Philadelphia is planning to retain a private law firm to handle all court-appointed defense work for indigent individuals at an expected savings of $1 million annually.”  Currently, there are 300-350 lawyers that accept court-appointment cases.  The plan is to create a 75-lawyer private firm to handle all the court-appointed cases for a set fee of $9.5 million a year.  Not sure how the numbers are going to work out, but we’ll keep you posted.  (ABA Journal)

October 8, 2013 – The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has released white paper concerning New York’s 50-hour mandatory pro bono admission requirement and its potential application in other states. It’s available here:

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On October 11 2002, former President Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”  One of his key achievements as president was mediating the peace talks between Israel and Egypt in 1978.  But, it is always striking to me the great works one can do once given an opportunity.  Mr. Carter is a fantastic example in that he has done (in my opinion) his greatest works after leaving office.  “After he left office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn created the Atlanta-based Carter Center in 1982 to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering. Since 1984, they have worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes and raise awareness of homelessness. Among his many accomplishments, Carter has helped to fight disease and improve economic growth in developing nations and has served as an observer at numerous political elections around the world.”  Thank you to an outstanding public servant who continues to use his knowledge and skill to promote and protect human rights around the world.  ( (Carter Center)

Super Music Bonus! Something our community knows a lot about – Come on – let’s work together!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment