Archive for January, 2014

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 31, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe it’s the end of January?  It’s spring public sector career fair time.  For a listing of ones in your area, check out PSJD.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • West Toronto Community Legal Services to remain open;
  • Justice Department Canada provides federal funding to assist women at risk of violence;
  • Summer Public Interest Job Search Series webinars now available online;
  • MA Governor Patrick proposes $1M more in legal aid funding;
  • New Immigration Justice Corps seeking first members;
  • PSJD launches a new Postgraduate Fellowships Application Deadline Calendar;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Modern day abolitionists;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 27, 2014 – “West Toronto Community Legal Services is off the chopping block after a year of working side-by-side with Legal Aid Ontario, who has reversed its 2012 decision to not fund the clinic.”  “I think it’s fantastic for the community,” said Elisabeth Bruckmann, acting executive director of the centre. “I think it means that the community will continue to have direct access to legal support, which is informed by an understanding of the pressures facing the community and provided by professionals who know the community and care about the challenges facing low-income people in the west-end.”  (

January 27, 2014 – “Minister of Justice Peter Mackay and Minister of Labour and Status of Women Dr. K. Kellie Leitch today announced the Government`s support for the Girls Action Foundation’s project Building Bridges for Female Youth: National partnership project to address intimate partner violence and increase access to justice among marginalized young women.  The project, funded under the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, is a pan-Canadian initiative designed to improve access to justice for marginalized young women and girls who are victims of partner violence or at risk of becoming victims. The project will offer these women and girls educational workshops on the justice system and their legal rights, along with other tools to assist them when experiencing dating violence.”  (Digital Journal)

January 28, 2014 – Did you miss the free two-part webinar series, co-sponsored by NALP and Equal Justice Works, that provides both law students and CSO professionals with insight on the key elements of the summer public interest job application process?  Not to worry – you can view them now on the NALP website.

January 28, 2014 – “Lonnie Powers, executive director of Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, applauds Gov. Patrick’s proposal to increase legal aid funding by $1 million.  As part of his fiscal 2015 budget plan, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has recommended a $1 million increase for civil legal assistance, an increase that could potentially benefit the state’s low income residents who need legal representation.  The additional funding, part of Patrick’s proposed $36.37 billion spending plan for fiscal 2015, would bring the state’s allocation for civil legal aid to $14 million. The funding would go to the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp., which makes grants to 16 civil legal aid programs statewide.”  (Cambridge Community Television)

January 28, 2014 – On Tuesday the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a poverty-fighting philanthropy, approved more than $1.3 million in funding for the new Immigration Justice Corps.  “The group’s plan is to recruit 25 graduating law students or recent graduates, immerse them in immigration law and then farm them out to community-based organizations. The young lawyers would commit to at least two years of service and as many as three.”  “The corps intends to hire a cadre of 25 lawyers every year, each earning a salary of $47,000 plus benefits. They will be assisted by recent college graduates with multilingual skills who will handle less complex cases, such as naturalization applications. The team will be supervised by a group of staff lawyers and advised by veteran lawyers.”  The initiative will start in New York City before being expanded nationally.  The Corps is another initiative stemming from Judge Robert A. Katzmann, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who has tirelessly championed increased access to justice.  (The New York Times)

January 29, 2014 – PSJD launches an exciting new feature – the Postgraduate Fellowship Application Deadline Calendar.  Search for postgraduate fellowships by post date, deadline date, or fellowship type, and view them in a convenient calendar or grid.  Add a fellowship of interest to your favorites.  See the Blog post from earlier this week for How-To’s on using this new resource.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: On this day in 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  (  With that slavery was on it’s way out.  Except that it wasn’t.  “‘Are you Shandra? Yes, I am.’ With those few words, a young Indonesian with big dreams of a better life found herself catapulted into the murky underground world of sex slavery and violence.”  “After losing her job as a financial analyst in a bank in the chaos unleashed by Asia’s economic crisis, Shandra replied to a newspaper ad for temporary work in a hotel in Chicago.  In 2001, having passed a test, and armed with a visa from the US embassy, she left her young daughter, promising to return home soon.  But on her very first night on US soil, she was put to work in a New York brothel, before being passed from pimp to pimp — a Malaysian known as Johnnie Wong, a Taiwanese guy, a man who only spoke Cantonese, and even an American.”  This story is far from unique.  “The Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking estimates about 14,000 to 17,000 men, women and children are smuggled illegally into the US every year to work in the sex trade or in factories, farms and bars as forced labour.”  Thousands more are young American runaways.  Thank you to those who work every day to save these men, women and children!  (Timeslive)  Here’s how you can help.  
Super Music Bonus!  As a parent, I am pleased (forced) to listen to a lot of kids songs.  Here’s a complilation that I could listen to repeatedly.


Want to know how to use PSJD’s new Fellowship Deadline Calendar?

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Look no further – we’ve got your step-by-step instructions, including screenshots, right here!

First things first: Head over to’s Resource Center by clicking the link in the header of the site.

Deadline Calendar - Resource Center

(Click the screenshot to enlarge.)

It’s a good idea to log-in now, because you’ll need access to all the fellowships later!

The new Fellowship Deadline Calendar will be the last link in the Postgraduate Fellowships section of PSJD’s Resource Center. If you really, really like our old list of deadlines and just hate calendars, you can always click the link above it to get to the previous version:

Deadline Calendar - Main Link

After you click the link, you will see PSJD’s new Fellowship Deadline Calendar! At first, it may look like this:

Deadline Calendar Main - Grid

This is called a Grid View. You can change this by clicking Calendar View, right under the gray Search Fellowships bar and right above the Search Results.

Your Calendar View will look like this:

Deadline Calendar Main - Calendar

You can filter all the results you see in the grid or calendar by using the gray Search Fellowships bar:

Deadline Calendar Main - Search Bar

This bar will be your command center while searching for postgraduate fellowships. You can filter results by date range, fellowship type, and deadline type. There’s also an option to limit your results by Favorites! Here’s a breakdown of what you see:

Date Range: You have two ways to filter the date range of PSJD’s postgrad fellowships – by deadline, and by the date it was posted on PSJD. This is really helpful if you’re only looking for fellowships you need to apply for right now, or if you’re only looking for fellowships that were recently posted so you can get a head start on the application.

Fellowship Type: Each fellowship is posted under a category. When filtering your results, hover over the question mark next to the name of the fellowship type to get more information on what types of opportunities are listed for each:

Deadline Calendar Main - Hover Question Marks

Deadline Type: Fellowships have different types of deadlines – some may be rolling until filled, and others may be in the spring, fall or summer. Job-seekers can also view fellowships archived on PSJD with past deadlines.

You may see an entry on your Calendar View that has a plus sign and a number next to it, like this:

Deadline Calendar - Plus Number on Calendar

Depending on how you filtered your search results, this +3 just means there are 3 other fellowships that were posted on that day, or have a deadline that falls on that day.

If you’re interested in any of the fellowships you see, just click the name for application info – it’s hyperlinked right to the PSJD posting.

Got more questions about the new PSJD Fellowship Deadline Calendar? Shoot me an email at or give the PSJD office a call at (202) 296-0076. We’re happy to help you navigate this new feature!


Join EJW’s Law Students for Pro Bono Campaign Today! Petition ends FRIDAY, 01/31/2014

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Equal Justice Works (EJW) has been working on an initiative to help law students bridge the justice gap while gaining practical skills and hands-on experience. They’re calling it Law Students for Pro Bono, and hundreds of law students, recent law grads and lawyers have already joined in on the campaign.

From the Law Students for Pro Bono site:

The ABA should amend Proposed Interpretation 303-2 to include an aspirational goal for all law schools to promote student participation in at least 50 hours of pro bono service during law school that can be fulfilled in a wide range of activities, including pro bono legal services, credit-bearing clinics, summer public interest internships, and externships that help under-served communities.

Earlier today, I sat down with EJW’s executive director David Stern to talk about the petition. David explained the inspiration for this initiative, why pro bono is important to everyone in law school including those who want to work for private firms, and what this could mean for the public interest job market.

Given the dearth of access to justice, this initiative is necessary to make sure we meet the legal needs of vulnerable populations who need help the most. The deadline to sign is this Friday, January 31, 2014.



PSJD launches the new Postgraduate Fellowship Application Deadline Calendar

Have you searched postgraduate fellowships on PSJD and wished you could see them on a calendar?  We’ve listened to your requests, and are excited to announce the Calendar is here!  Check out it and all the other great postgraduate fellowship resources in the Resource Center on PSJD.  Stay tuned for How-To’s on this convenient new resource coming later today!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 24, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  We have had our first big winter snow storm this week, and I forgot how much fun snow sports can be.  I also forgot how much “fun” driving in DC in the snow can be.  If you’re experiencing cold temperatures, don’t forget about your neighbors, especially the elderly.  Check on them if possible.  Stay safe and vigilant out there everyone.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Batch of death penalty cases drains Wyoming Public Defender budget;
  • Annual diversity scholarship available for Ohio law students;
  • Goodwin Procter LLP announces its 2014 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color;
  • ABA considers new law school accreditation standards, including pro bono requirements;
  • WV access to justice commission releases plan for future;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Pro Bono Partnership;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 16, 2014 – “A rash of actual and potential death penalty cases left the Wyoming Public Defender’s Office pinched for money last year, the agency’s director said Wednesday.  The office spent $665,000 on seven potential cases between July 1, 2012 and Oct. 31, 2013 compared to only one capital case in the past two budget cycles, Diane Lozano said during a budget hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.”  “Lozano said she had to ask Gov. Matt Mead for authority to hire an additional attorney and may need to ask for a second.  She is asking the Legislature for an immediate appropriation of $370,000 to replace dollars borrowed from other agency accounts to pay costs of the capital cases.”  While at this point the office is able to handle these cases, the money needed for mitigation investigations has not been forthcoming.  Linda Burt, director of the Wyoming chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Wednesday said it’s important that defendants get the best representation they can.  The ACLU will be monitoring the situation as well in the coming year.  (Billings Gazette)

January 17, 2014 – The Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys’ annual Law Student Diversity Scholarship program is open to incoming second- and third-year African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pan Asian and Native American students enrolled at Ohio law schools.  Incoming second- and third-year female law students enrolled at Ohio law schools also are eligible regardless of race or ethnicity.  Up to two scholarships worth $1,250 each will be awarded to successful applicants.  Applicants are required to submit a completed application, law school transcript and a cover letter addressing the following: academic, personal and professional accomplishments and why they should be selected as a recipient of the scholarship. Applicants can submit up to three letters of recommendation.  The completed application and all other requested material must be received by April 18. Winners will be announced in June.  The 2014 OACTA Law Student Diversity Scholarship Application can be found at  (The News-Messenger)

January 17, 2014 – Goodwin Procter LLP, a national AmLaw 50 firm, today announced its 2014 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color program, which provides awards of $7,500 to law students of color who demonstrate outstanding academic performance, leadership skills and a commitment to community service. The fellowships are designed to help support students who plan to work in public interest law positions in the summer following their first year of law school. This year, four fellowships will be awarded. Application guidelines and forms are available online; the application deadline is March 14, 2014.  (Herald Online)

January 19, 2014 – “The ABA is weighing a comprehensive proposal to change the Accreditation Standards for American law schools. The proposal, developed during an administrative process conducted by the ABA over the past several years, touches on many important aspects of legal education and law school accreditation, including pro bono service, experiential learning credit requirements, and law professors’ tenure.”  With respect to pro bono, the current Standards require law schools to provide students with “substantial” opportunities to perform pro bono service, without defining the term “substantial.”  The National Center for Access to Justice and Equal Justice Works, in separate comments, have urged the ABA to modify the standards regarding law student pro bono service to specify the number of hours.  By memorandum issued September 6, 2014, the ABA has invited submission of Comments by January 31, 2014 in anticipation of a hearing that will be held at the ABA on February 5th and 6th, 2014.  Comments received by the ABA are posted on the ABA’s Notice & Comment web site.  Law students can weigh in on the issue by signing a petition initiated by EJW.  (NCAF Blog)

January 22, 2014 – “A commission meant to help residents gain better access to the state’s justice system released a three-year plan Wednesday that recommends creating forms in “plain language” and asks attorneys to do more charitable and free work.  In its strategic plan, the West Virginia Access to Justice Commission says it will continue to examine and identify barriers West Virginians face while utilizing the legal system.”  One recommendation is to develop a “self-help center” and an online assistance center.  The idea is to “provide assistance to those who may have been turned away from Legal Aid due to funding cuts or statutory restrictions and provides an opportunity for attorneys to engage in pro bono work, the report states.”  (The Charleston Gazette)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “Since the Great Recession, it has been a challenging time for nonprofits. In addition to struggling with dwindling financial resources, they have had to comply with new federal and state regulations regarding transparency, accountability and governance. Some have sought strategic alliances or merged with others in order to survive.  Fortunately, many nonprofits in the greater New York metro region and beyond have been able to become more viable in fulfilling their missions, thanks to the services of a very unique resource. It is the Pro Bono Partnership, a dedicated staff of 18 professionals including nine lawyers who supervise hundreds of volunteer attorneys in providing pro bono services to qualified nonprofits that serve the disadvantaged or enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods. Among the legal issues addressed are corporate structure and governance, real estate, employment law, environmental law, compliance with state and federal regulations, fundraising, lobbying, intellectual property among others.”  What makes the Partnership unique is that they are the only organization in the country that is focused primarily with corporate in-house counsels and the only one that is doing so in several states.  In addition to serving the nonprofit communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the partnership recently started an affiliate in Atlanta and is in the process of establishing another in Cincinnati.  To read more about it’s founding and the amazing work they are doing, see the Westchester Business Journal.
Super Music Bonus!  A little cool jazz for a cool day.


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 17, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  And welcome back to all the law students.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • TX counties receive overdue indigent defense grants;
  • Study examines connection between legal services and health for vets;
  • Latest budget bill would help legal service providers;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: US Olympic athletes;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 14, 2014 – “Gregg County commissioners learned the meaning of deferred payment Monday in accepting an $81,800 state grant for indigent defense that lawmakers withheld in 2011 to balance their budget.  Similar one-time payments are being sent to counties statewide, a letter from Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said. (news-journal)

January 14, 2014 – “The connection between legal help and medical and quality of life outcomes for veterans has been observed anecdotally in recent years. Now, for the first time, a study will be undertaken to quantify those results with the hope of embedding more free legal services in veterans’ facilities across the country, and giving veterans with mental health and housing needs more opportunities to live productive lives.   The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, the first legal organization in the U.S. to set-up shop in a VA setting, and the New York Legal Assistance Group will embark on a two-year study financed by nearly $700,000 from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. Partnering with VA researchers in West Haven, they will follow the legal experiences and outcomes of 400 veterans with mental health and/or housing problems who are being served in West Haven, Newington and two New York City sites.”  (The Register Citizen News)

January 15, 2014 – “The nation’s legal aid providers stand to get back funding this year under Congress’ latest budget plan.  A bipartisan appropriations bill moving through Congress this week would undo last year’s $25 million budget cuts to Legal Services Corp, a spokesman said today. Those cuts, which came as a part of sequestration, brought a 7 percent reduction in grants for the 134 legal aid agencies that rely on LSC funding. Lawmakers also included $2.5 million in the bill for LSC to start a new grant program—the Innovation Fund—to promote creativity in the expansion of legal assistance. The $2.5 million came at the request of the staff of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who heads the House appropriations subcommittee that controls LSC funding.  Overall, LSC would receive $365 million for the 2014 fiscal year under the new appropriations bill. That is the same level as the previous fiscal year, but without the budget cuts from sequestration in March.”  The bill should go before Congress soon.  (The Blog of LegalTimes)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  I love the Olympics.  I love sports and competitions in general, but the Olympics provide a sense of the country coming together that we rarely feel these days.  On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The “International Winter Sports Week,” as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.  (  You can follow and support this year’s athletes in Sochi Russia starting on February 6th.  USA!!
Super Music Bonus!  A little homeage to the 90’s.


Just Posted: Photos from the 2013 Pro Bono Publico Award Reception at Emory Law

A big congratulations to our 2013 PBP Award Winner Martin Bunt! Click here for more info about the Pro Bono Publico Award. Check out the pics on PSJD’s new Google+ page!



PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 10, 2014

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

Happy New Year!  Welcome back to the Digest.  How many of you made New Year’s Resolutions?  I hope they included giving back to your community.  This week we have a number of great stories to kick off the new year.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Grant helps legal aid reach more in East Tennessee;
  • Lawyers ask for millions after public defender suit victory;
  • Law school fellowship puts students to work;
  • Eligibility thresholds for free legal aid increase in Montreal;
  • Kansas courts look for ways to handle budget shortfall;
  • Chicago law schools join public defender project;
  • Charlottesville Legal Aid gets new leader;
  • Great annual pro bono project at UT Law;
  • Unprecedented barrister strike in UK over cut to legal aid;
  • Indigent defense vouchers in Texas;
  • Gulfcoast Legal employees vote to form union;
  • Iowa considers new rules for law students;
  • Harvard gets $10 million grant for public interest;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Duval County and 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Jean Johnson;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 21, 2013– “The Tennessee Bar Association has awarded a 2014 IOLTA Program Grant to the Legal Aid of East Tennessee, which they hope will aid in the help of low income people in need of legal assistance.  The award, totaling $95,699, will make available additional civil legal services for low-income families in the region.”  (

December 21, 2013 – “The attorneys who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the public-defender systems in Mount Vernon and Burlington are seeking more than $2.4 million in attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs over the 2011 lawsuit.  Earlier this month, after nearly two years of litigation and a lengthy trial, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik found that the two cities routinely violated the rights of poor defendants of misdemeanor crimes by failing to ensure they had adequate legal representation.”  (The Seattle Times)

December 25, 2013 – There is a unique fellowship program in San Francisco that’s putting attorneys-in-training to work for local governments and nonprofits.  The pilot class of fellows for Lawyers for America, which is a program conceived by Hastings professors to give law students hands-on training in the public sector, and give cash-strapped governments and nonprofits the opportunity to enhance their ranks is hard at work. “The Contra Costa District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices are the first to take advantage of the program, which commits the students to their ranks for two years — one year before and one year after graduation.”  New offices will be added to the program this year.  Brooklyn Law is also examining becoming part of or replicating the program.  (Contra Costa Times)

December 27, 2013 – The increase of 15.3% came into effect on January 1, 2014 and will bring the eligibility threshold for free legal aid to $16,306 and the maximum eligibility threshold for contributory legal aid to $26,309 for single individuals.   Single individuals represent 73% of the legal aid clientele in Quebec.  “As of June 1, 2015, eligibility thresholds will increase once again, with the minimum wage as a reference point. Thereafter, eligibility thresholds will be kept at this level through an indexation clause linking the thresholds to the minimum wage. Ultimately, the eligibility threshold increase for free legal aid will be 35.8%, which will facilitate access to justice for the portion of the population that works, but has limited income. The same is true for seniors living alone whose principal source of income is their Old Age Security benefits and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.”  (CNW newswire)

December 27, 2013 – “Kansas court employees could face 10 days of unpaid furlough in fiscal year 2015 as the state’s judicial branch tries to deal with an $8.25 million budget shortfall, a committee appointed to study the finances has concluded.  The furloughs would cut $2.5 million from the deficit, the committee said, while much of the rest would come from delayed judicial appointments, reduced training hours, the elimination of 19.5 court service officer positions and by leaving more than 100 court positions unfilled.”  “The committee also recommended reducing by $250,000 a grant to Kansas Legal Services. Employees of that agency, which provides legal help for people who can’t afford to hire lawyers, could be forced to take nine furlough days to make up for the lost funding.”   It is unknown if the Kansas Legislature will take action after seeing the report.  (The Wichita Eagle)

December 30, 2013 – “The University of Chicago Law School and Northwestern University School of Law are the fourth and fifth schools, respectively, to sign on to [Gideon’s Promise’s] Law School Partnership Project. The effort was announced in November with the American University Washington College of Law; University of California at Los Angeles School of Law; and New York University School of Law.  Each school has agreed to pay the salary of one or more new graduates in a southern public defender office, and that office in turn pledges to hire the graduate full-time within a year. The project is intended to make it easier for public defenders to hire new lawyers while creating a smoother path to those jobs for students.”  For more information, go to Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Project.  (National Law Journal)

January 1, 2014 – “Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center is getting new leadership at the top for the first time in 20 years as Executive Director Alex Gulotta leaves to take a post as head of the Oakland-based Bay Area Legal Aid. Stepping into his place is Mary Bauer, a longtime litigator known for her work on immigrants’ rights issues.”  We welcome Ms. Bauer back to the community.  (c-ville)

January 4, 2014 – The University of Texas Law Pro Bono Project is making it’s annual January trip to help those in need.  “36 law students, accompanied by alumni and law school professors, will travel to the Rio Grande Valley for the UT Law Pro Bono Program’s annual January trip to write wills, offer workshops for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and provide immigration assistance.”  The Project partners with the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to provide Wills on Wheels services.  The DACA clinics will be organized by UT Law Pro Bono along with South Texas Civil Rights Project.  And or the immigration assistance services, UT Law Pro Bono will work with South Texas ProBar and South Texas Civil Rights Project.  (The Horn)

January 6, 2014 – Lawyers everywhere are standing up against cuts to legal aid.  “Thousands of barristers have chosen not to attend proceedings at courts in cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.  The nationwide protest is the first in the history of the criminal bar.  The Government plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19 – reducing them by as much as 30% in the longest and most complex cases.”  “Agencies involved in the criminal justice system will take steps to minimize any upset court disruption could cause for victims and witnesses involved in trials.”(Belfast Telegraph) (BBC News)

January 6, 2014 – After the right to counsel in criminal cases was granted, most jurisdictions tended toward a public defender model for providing these attorneys.  A new program in Comal County, Texas could change the system.  ” In Comal County, policymakers are going to try using a system of vouchers. Like the school voucher concept, the idea is to put money directly into the hands of the customers, who will then decide which attorney they would like to retain.”  “The Texas Indigent Defense Commission became aware of the voucher proposal when the Cato Institute advanced the idea in a 2010 paper.”  (Cato Institute)

January 7, 2014 – Employees of Gulfcoast Legal Services have voted to unionize.  GLS serves low-income residents in the Greater Tampa Bay area.  “According to the NLRB, Gulfcoast’s new union was certified Monday and is ready to represent its members.”  Employees voted to form a union in part due to the actions taken by the Executive Director since she took the helm in December 2012.  (Herald-Tribune)

January 8, 2014 – “The Iowa Supreme Court is considering whether to give law students and recent graduates more authority to provide legal services.  Several rules changes are being sought by Iowa Legal Aid and the Office of Professional Regulation as a way to serve more low-income clients.  They would expand circumstances under which students and graduates who are waiting to take the bar exam or receive results could engage in limited legal practice.  One change would allow graduates to temporarily practice on behalf of certain organizations and government agencies under supervision.  Another would make clear that students who’ve completed three semesters or more can represent clients in an administrative contested case proceeding without a supervising attorney present.  The court says it will gather input through March 10 before taking any action on them.  (WOWT)
January 9, 2014 – “Harvard Law School has received a $10 million donation from media magnate and alumnus Sumner Redstone.  The money will bolster the Sumner M. Redstone Fellowships for Public Service – a program created in 2010 with a $1 million gift from Redstone to support graduates who pursue public-interest law careers.  The inaugural 10 fellows worked in areas ranging from criminal defense and civil rights to family law and nongovernmental organizations.”  “The money comes from the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation and is the single largest donation the law school has received specifically to support public service.”  (National Law Journal)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “Circuit Judge Jean Johnson, whose love for practicing from the bench and hobbies such as reading murder mysteries was trumped only by her devotion to her family, died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 66.”  She became the first woman elected as a Circuit Court judge in Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit — Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.  In reading about Judge Johnson’s life and practice, I was reminded what one person can accomplish when they seek to affect change.  “Her passions for the law included promoting the importance of pro-bono work being done among the circuit’s top law firms. Among her many hats was serving as the chairwoman for the 4th Judicial Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee, which encouraged lawyers to volunteer their time to give legal advice to people in need of such help.”  Many people have Judge Johnson to thank for giving them access to justice.  Thank you for your service.  (Florida Times Union) (Jacksonville Daily Record)

Super Music Bonus!  A little Bing Crosby crooning about a cold winter.


Class of 2013 Skadden Fellows again a mixed group

The Skadden Foundation has listed its Class-of-2013 fellows.  Twenty-nine fellows, hailing from 16 law schools, will begin their projects next year.  Six schools had multiple fellowship awardees: Columbia (2); Harvard (6); NYU (4); Stanford (2); Georgetown (2) and Yale (3).  Other schools from which fellows come include Penn, Michigan State, University of Washington, Boston College, UCLA, UC Irvine, Washington & Lee, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois.  The 2013 Class includes four additional fellowships funded in memory of Joe Flom and Peter Mullen.  The Fellows will work in 10 states and the District of Columbia, focusing on issues ranging from the harassment of LGBT students in rural, impoverished regions of New York State to the foreclosure of homes of working poor Los Angeles families.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how previous Skadden Fellowship classes looked:

  • 2012:  28 fellows from 16 law schools;
  • 2011:  29 fellows from 21 law schools;
  • 2010: 27 fellows from 20 law schools;
  • 2009: 28 fellows from 14 law schools;
  • 2008: 36 fellows from 16 law schools.

Congratulations to the Class of 2013!  The Fellowship is such a extraordinary honor, and we look forward to seeing the great things you will accomplish.