PSJD Public Interest News Digest – November 15, 2013

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

Happy Friday!  This week I had the honor of presenting the 2013 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award to J. Martin Bunt at Emory.  Check out his great work and find out how you can be nominated at PSJD.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Rutgers School of Law-Newark, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and Disability Rights New Jersey and the Education Law Center seek pro bono volunteers;
  • Committee formed in Cleveland, OH to boost awareness of need for pro bono legal services for low-income people;
  • Canadian law students fill legal needs gap;
  • Gulfcoast Legal Services receives grant from Manatee County;
  • NYC unveils pilot program to give legal defense to detained immigrants facing deportation;
  • Lawyers to pay new fee in Missouri that will help fund legal aid for the poor;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Dorothy Bernholz,  Founder and Director of Carolina Student Legal Services;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

November 5, 2013– “The Education Law Center is seeking lawyers from the private sector to volunteer to represent children with disabilities whose parents or guardians cannot afford to hire an attorney.  Along with with Rutgers School of Law-Newark, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and Disability Rights New Jersey, the ELC will hold a day-long seminar Nov. 19 in Newark to train lawyers”  Perhaps you can help.  (

November 5, 2013 – “The Access to Justice Committee will meet during the rest of this year to establish goals and begin implementing programs in 2014, said Lake County Bar Association President Lora Lynne Krider.  Former Congressman Dennis Eckart and Willoughby attorney Ann Bergen will serve as co-chairs of the committee.
Access to Justice was announced during National Celebrate Pro Bono week, Oct. 20-26.  ‘It is essential that the entire legal community engage in conversation and action that results in equal access to justice for all,’ Krider said in a news release.”  (The News-Herald)

November 5, 2013 – “For the last 13 years Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) — University of Saskatchewan chapter has been providing free legal services to the community. The 80 students volunteer three to five hours per week working on projects for various organizations in Saskatoon.”  “PBSC has chapters in all 21 law schools in Canada and is the only national pro bono service in the world. The U of S chapter is the only one that is funded by the law school itself. Last year, they partnered with 23 organizations and provided nearly 7,000 hours of volunteer service.” (The StarPhoenix)

November 6, 2013 – “Gulfcoast Legal Services Inc. will receive $10,531 from the county this year to help finance legal aid for the poor, the Manatee County Commission decided Tuesday.  Gulfcoast will work with an agency with a similar mission, Legal Aid of Manasota, which received $56,667 from the county, officials said.”  (Bradenton Herald)

November 7, 2013 – “On Wednesday, a coalition of seven public defender, legal advocacy and community activist groups unveiled the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the first program in the nation to win public funding for legal defense of detained immigrants who cannot afford to hire lawyers. In June, the New York City Council appropriated $500,000 for the pilot, which organizers say will be enough to meet about 20 percent of each year’s need. Under the program, detainees whose income falls at no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty line can receive pro bono legal counsel from New York Immigrant Defenders, which consists of public defender offices in the Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Defense Services.”  “Organizers of the project trace its descent to the efforts of Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Katzmann, who in 2010 commissioned two separate studies of detained immigrant representation in the city. ”  (Latin Times)

November 9, 2013 – “The state Supreme Court said yesterday it will impose a new fee on thousands of attorneys who work in Missouri to help fund legal aid for low-income residents in civil court cases.  The $30 annual fee is to be paid by all licensed attorneys starting in 2014 and is expected to generate at least $750,000.  The money will go toward Missouri’s legal services fund, which helps pay for attorneys to aid people in civil cases such as custody disputes, protective orders, home foreclosures and bankruptcy cases.”  (Columbia Daily Tribune)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  After more than 30 years serving UNC’s students, the director of Carolina Student Legal Services is preparing to hand over the program she fought to create.  Dorothy Bernholz, who has served as CSLS’s director and staff attorney, said she will retire June 30.  See how she started this first-of-its-kind program over some major opposition and created a model for others to follow.  Congratulations on an outstanding career!  (The Daily Tarheel)

Super Music Bonus! Here is a lovely little blast from the past.  Enjoy!

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