PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 6, 2013

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

Happy Friday and welcome to December!  Happy St. Nicholas Day!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hanukkah filled with light, food and family.  Also a big hello to all our Canadian members at their Winter Meeting.  And finally, tomorrow is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  Remember a vet and say thanks.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • UNLV Law School clinic reports on alleged detainee abuses;
  • Echoing Green Fellowship applications opens December 3;
  • National Association of Attorneys General expands their Bridge to Practice program opportunities;
  • Governor Cuomo announces $1 million for legal aid for Sandy victims;
  • Elon opens its fourth clinic;
  • Proposed FL bill would provide loan relief for young prosecutors and defenders;
  • New organization in Hattiesburg, MS to offer free legal services;
  • Legal Aid Ontario accepting applications for funding;
  • BC Law School launches new experiential learning center;
  • Pitt Law clinic celebrates 25 years;
  • NY – rule change allows in-house attorneys to do pro bono work;
  • CFPB will supervise large student loan servicers;
  • Legal Aid Ontario signs historic GTA Clinics’ Transformation Project Framework Agreement;
  • Washington judge finds defender programs deficient;
  • Southeastern Ohio Legal Services to close 3 offices;
  • ASU plans to open largest non-profit law firm in nation;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Chief Justice of Ontario, Warren Winkler;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

November 21, 2013– “People held at the Henderson Detention Center as immigration detainees have been subjected to mistreatment, according to a UNLV Boyd School of Law Immigration Clinic report released on Nov. 19.”  So far ICE and the Detention Center have not discussed the report.  “Fatima Marouf, co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the UNLV Boyd School of Law, addressed Henderson City Council.”  For the article, Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul said, “We’re reviewing the report and are speaking with ICE about it.” He noted that the center has remedied problems revealed by past inspections regarding immigration detainees.  (The Henderson Press)

November 21, 2013 – Echoing Green is one of the many “non-legal” fellowships that greatly appeal to law students.  “The 2014 Echoing Green Fellowship application will be open from December 3, 2013 to January 6, 2014.  Echoing Green’s Fellowship Programs will offer more than $3.8 million in seed-stage funding and support this year to emerging leaders working to bring about positive social change. From thousands of applicants, only about 1 percent are ultimately awarded a Fellowship. During their first two years, Fellows receive up to $90,000, participate in leadership development gatherings, and have access to the powerful network of Echoing Green Fellows, partners, and friends. We continue to support our Fellow community long after their initial funding period with ongoing programs and opportunities at critical inflection points in their organizations or careers.”  Echoing Green manages three fellowship programs including the new climate fellowship for 2013.  (Echoing Green)

November 25, 2013 – The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is pleased to host bridge-to-practice fellows from the Class of 2014.  NAAG is the professional organization for the Attorneys General Offices of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five territories.  Through its training and research arm, the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute, it conducts training in both professional skills and substantive issues for the Attorneys General and provides research assistance.
Our law school graduate fellows whom we have been privileged to host have been invaluable members of our staff and have experienced a wide variety of activities.  They have conducted research and authored manuals for the Attorneys General offices; attended meetings with White House, congressional, and international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Association of Prosecutors; assisted with the editing of Supreme Court amicus briefs; conducted research and assisted in the writing of briefs for NAAG’s Tobacco project; helped provide legal research for our substantive trainings, such as intellectual property theft and human trafficking; developed articles for the NAAGazette; assisted with our International Fellows program; and attended NAAG professional trainings and meetings.  Several have gone on to full-time jobs with Attorneys General offices; all have subsequently found full-time jobs in their areas of interest in the law.

We would encourage you and your graduates to consider NAAG as a host for your bridge-to-practice fellowship program.  If you have any questions, please contact Chris Toth, Executive Director, National Association of Attorneys General at 202-326-6021 or ctoth@naag.org.

November 22, 2013 – “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $1 million award to the Disaster Recovery Clinic at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University to help families and small businesses in Nassau and Suffolk Counties affected by Superstorm Sandy. The award will expand the pro bono counseling services at the clinic to an additional 250 homeowners and businesses.”  “The funds were made available through the State’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The award to Hofstra Law’s Disaster Recovery Clinic will allow for continuing services until at least May 2015.”  (LongIsland.com)

November 25, 2013 – “The Elon University School of Law said last week it will open a Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic in January at the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship. It will be the Greensboro law school’s fourth public clinic and its first aimed at business.  This small-business center will operate like Elon’s other clinics: It will be staffed by law students — and it’s free. John Flynn, a Greensboro attorney and a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Elon law school, will oversee the clinic.”  (News & Record)

November 25, 2013 – “A bill pending in the Florida House and Senate could provide some relief for young attorneys who want a career as a state prosecutor or public defender. Under it, the state would pay up to $44,000 toward the law-school debt of any attorney who works in those public-sector jobs for a set number of years. It has the support of the Florida Bar , Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Florida Public Defender Association . And last year, the Florida Innocence Commission included it in a list of recommendations on how to strengthen the criminal-justice system and help prevent innocent people from being sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.”  (Hispanic Business)

November 28, 2013 – “Pine Belt attorneys will soon have the opportunity to help low-income community members turn their lives around.  Beginning in January, local law experts willing to donate their time and expertise for a good cause will be participating in Mission360, an offshoot program of PineBelt360 that will help provide people with the legal services they need for free.  With services being cut back for people who fall within the socioeconomic area of not being rich or poor enough to seek out legal counseling, Chancery Court Judge Deborah Gambrell said Mission360 members hope to be able to provide legal services to those who fall within the gap.”  (hattiesburgamerican)

November 29, 2013 – ” Legal aid clinics and community partners can now apply to Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO’s) $2 million Fund to Strengthen the Capacity of Community and Legal Clinics, which supports innovative and enhanced services that increase the number of clients served in a cost-effective manner.  nterested organizations can apply for this fund by completing the fund application form that can be found on LAO’s website: http://legalaid.on.ca/en/news/newsarchive/1311-07_newfundapplications.asp.  The deadline for submitting an application is January 15, 2014.”  (Digital Journal)

December 2, 2013 – “In an effort to get law students ‘lawyering’ before they graduate, the Law School will combine its clinical and experiential programs into a new unit that will serve as a ‘law firm within a law school.’ The new Center for Experiential Learning will serve clients seeking legal aid for cases ranging from civil litigation to wrongful criminal convictions.”  “The center will fold current offerings such as in-house clinics, internships, semester-in-practice and short-term externship programs into a clearinghouse designed to give students real-world experiences required by the profession.”  (The Boston College Chronicle)

December 2, 2013 – For 25 years the students of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid Services had provided low-income clients valuable family law services.  Washington County Judge Gary Gilman “noted that the family law cases are especially important and sometimes more difficult than trial or civil cases because they are “very personal and sensitive.” He pointed to child custody cases that can have long-term consequences for families.”  The clinic has served some 13,000 clients.  Congratulations!  (Observer-Reporter)

December 2, 2013 – “New York state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced a rule change that will allow attorneys who work in corporate law departments here, but who are not admitted to practice law in the state, to do pro bono work (so long as they are admitted to practice elsewhere, and are in good standing).  Previously, only lawyers who were admitted to the New York state bar were permitted to volunteer their services to work on behalf of poor or underserved clients. Those admitted elsewhere had to work under the supervision of a locally-licensed attorney or approved organization. The new rules are set to take effect on Wednesday, Dec. 4.”  (WSJ LawBlog)

December 2, 2013 – “Companies operating outside of the banking system that process student loan payments will be subject to federal examinations for the first time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday.  Starting March 1, the government watchdog will regulate the seven largest student-loan servicers that process payments for more that 49 million borrower accounts — representing a majority of the market. Sallie Mae, Nelnet, Great Lakes and Ed Financial are some of the firms that will come under the new supervision rule.”  (Washington Post)

December 4, 2013 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has signed a framework agreement with the GTA Legal Clinics’ Transformation Project Working Group that allows clinics to make important progress in how they deliver poverty law services. The agreement includes provisions for predictable clinic funding from LAO over the next two years.  With this agreement in place, GTA clinics will be able to reduce administrative costs and reinvest the resultant savings into enhanced client services.”   This is a win-win for clinics and clients.  (Digital Journal)

December 5, 2013 – In a case closely monitored by public defenders and the Justice Department, “U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik agreed with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that Burlington and Mount Vernon had not provided adequate representation to indigent defendants.”  So, the question now is whether the Judge will order federal oversight.  “If Lasnik appoints a federal monitor, this could give the DOJ leverage to pressure jurisdictions throughout the country to improve substandard public defender systems elsewhere, Jessica Eaglin of the Brennan Center for Justice told the newspaper. She serves as counsel for justice programs at the nonpartisan policy institute, which is part of New York University School of Law.”  (ABA Journal)

December 5, 2013 – Southeastern Ohio Legal Services is set to close the offices in Zanesville, Lancaster and Marietta on Jan. 31, said Tom Weeks, executive director of the Ohio State Legal Services Association. “The association is in charge of nine field offices providing representation to low-income Ohioans in 30 Ohio counties.”  Clients will be helped remotely by other offices, but the details haven’t been finalized. (Zanesville Times Recorder)

December 5, 2013 – “Arizona State University plans to open the nation’s largest non-profit law firm within its new downtown Phoenix law complex.  University officials on Wednesday unveiled the plans for the nearly $130 million Arizona Center for Law and Society. ASU hopes to break ground on the project in summer 2014.  The complex will house the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, which is now on the university’s Tempe campus, along with a non-profit law firm called the ASU Alumni Law Group.  The privately financed firm will hire recent law graduates to represent lower-income Arizonans.  The Arizona Board of Regents must still give final approval to the project, but officials hope to open the school and the law firm in 2016. The regents are expected to approve the plan.”  (azcentral.com)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Chief Justice of Ontario, Warren Winkler retires next Tuesday after a long and distinguished career of serving the public and making sure the system serves the people.  “Power imbalances are a theme in Winkler’s approach to access to justice — one of the key issues he sought to improve during his six-year tenure at the helm of Ontario’s Appeal Court.”  Read about how he has consistently worked to balance the system.  Congratulations Justice Winkler!

Super Music Bonus!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HobcNkKZkg0

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