Archive for February, 2014

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 28, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  Can you believe it’s the end of February already?  Let’s hope spring is just around the corner.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Grim outlook for PMF Class of 2013;
  • SMU’s Dedman School of Law announces new law center;
  • The Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre (Ontario, Canada) now providing legal services;
  • Chicago’s Center for Disability & Elder Law celebrates 30 years;
  • Project measures access to civil legal services;
  • Women’s advocacy groups urge pilot projects to improve access to family services in British Columbia;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Dan Glazier;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 21, 2014 – “More than two-thirds of the 2013 finalists in the Presidential Management Fellows Program have not received jobs yet in the federal government, according to Office of Personnel Management data.”  Just 213 of 668 finalists in 2013 have received jobs so far.  A group of current finalists and alumni of the program are organizing a campaign directed at OPM to get more finalists hired. Finalists have one year to receive an appointment; the deadline for the 2013 class is April 8, but the group is seeking an extension.  Fellows must be completely on-boarded, not just hired, before the deadline.  With the government shutdown, furloughs, and deep budget cuts, this has been a particularly rough year for PMF.  Here’s hoping the deadline can be extended.  (Government Executive)

UPDATE:  OPM declines to extend the deadline.  Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta informed the PMF finalists in a recent letter she would not extend the eligibility deadline.  OPM will provide two additional job fairs before the April 8 deadline.  “In addition to the job fairs, OPM will host a workshop to help finalists market their skills and work with PMF coordinators at each agency to help get potential fellows hired.”  (Government Executive)

February 21, 2014 –   “Southern Methodist University has announced it will open a new legal center that will provide services for the victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking and other crimes against women.  Ray L. and Nancy Ann Hunter Hunt have committed $5 million for the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women.”  “Dedman students working in the new center will provide legal services such as protective orders; divorce, custody and child support agreements; and assistance with credit and housing issues.”  (KERA News)

February 26, 2014 – “The Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre can now add legal services to its cornucopia of programs already provided by the area hub.  Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is partnering with Davenport-Perth, on Davenport Road, just west of Symington Avenue, to offer family and immigration services, working in collaboration with its community legal clinics, West Toronto Community Legal Services included, so clients can have greater access to justice.  It is part of LAO’s quest to expand its current mix of services, according to Vicki Moretti, LAO regional vice-president for the Greater Toronto Area.” (The Register-Guard)

February 26, 2014 – The Center for Disability & Elder Law, which has provided free legal services for more than 30,000 senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Chicago, will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this week.  The Center for Disability & Elder Law (CDEL) was founded to provide legal services to low-income residents of Cook County, Illinois who are either elderly or who have permanent disabilities. Dedicated volunteers from some of the largest law firms in Chicago, and from firms and corporations located throughout Cook County, as well as paralegals, provide more than ninety percent of all legal services CDEL delivers, pro bono, to its clients. In its 30-year history, CDEL has provided services to more than 30,000 clients.  (World News Report)

February 26, 2014 –  “When trying to measure access to civil legal assistance, empirical data can be hard to find. But an ambitious online database released Tuesday by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law’s National Center for Access to Justice aims to solve that problem by showing state-by-state comparisons of available services such as affordable counsel and foreign language interpreters in state courts.”  “The ‘Justice Index’ attempts to quantify access-to-justice problems through interactive data visualizations and graphics that show which states are doing the most and least to meet people’s needs, said David Udell, director of the center.”  (New York Law Journal)

February 26, 2014 – “A women’s advocacy group is proposing two ways to address a critical lack of family law services in British Columbia, saying cuts to legal-aid funding have made access to justice nearly impossible for vulnerable citizens.  The group released a report Wednesday recommending two pilot projects — one with lawyers working in community agencies so legal services can be integrated with those of other professionals such as counsellors, social workers and interpreters.  The other proposal is for a women’s clinic led by student lawyers who would provide free and low-cost family law services in the Metro Vancouver area, with a travel and technology budget to serve remote regions.”  “West Coast LEAF’s recommendations were based on a year of consultations in 16 urban, rural and remote communities across B.C.”  (The Province)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Thank you to Carol A. Vizzier, Director, Public Interest Programs at Washington University School of Law for a wonderful spotlight candidate.

“When he was growing up, Dan Glazier couldn’t decide whether to be a lawyer or a social worker.  So he became both.  He is director of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, which provides free lawyers for poor people facing eviction, consumer rip-offs, health care cut-offs and other legal messes they can’t afford. The group employs both lawyers and social workers.”  “There’s a Jewish expression, tikkun olam — ‘to repair the world.’ That sort of was how I was raised,” Mr. Glazier said.  He landed at Legal Services in 1981 and never left.  What an amazing lawyer and person.  Thank you for your many years of service to the poor.  Read more about his amazing work here.

Super Music Bonus!   In my counseling days, this was the time of year when I started to feel exhausted.  Time to take a humor break and check out the History of Hip Hop.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTpn30Pms8I

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SMU Law Opens New Domestic Violence, Sex Trafficking Legal Clinic

From the National Law Journal:

The Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law is launching a center for victims of domestic violence, financed by a $5 million donation from university alumni Ray and Nancy Ann Hunt.

The center will house a clinic through which law students will represent clients in matters including protection orders, divorce, child support and housing. It also will focus on victims of sex trafficking.

“As a result of this program, participating law students will enter the legal profession with a deeper understanding of the victims of exploitation, trafficking and abuse and what they need for their lives to be restored,” Nancy Ann Hunt said. “Their suffering may be hidden from sight and may be uncomfortable to acknowledge publicly. But through the availability of free legal services, we hope they will feel empowered to come forward and obtain help.”

Administrators plan to work with existing community organizations in the Dallas area, including the Genesis Women’s Shelter for domestic violence victims and New Friends New Life, which assists sex trafficking victims.

Congrats, SMU Law! Click here to read more.

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JUST ADDED: Two New Public Interest Law Happenings on the PSJD Career Fair & Events Calendar

Looking for the latest public interest law conferences, career fairs and events? PSJD has got you covered!

We just updated our Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar – look for upcoming dates in bold. The two most recently added events are the Washington Council of Lawyers’ “Meet the Jolly Good Fellows: Tips on Public Interest Fellowships from Current & Former Fellows” coming up on March 18th, and “Career Paths for Young Attorneys in the Energy Sector,” an April event hosted by the LSU Law Center and the Institute for Energy Law (IEL).

Do you have an upcoming event that you’d like to post to the PSJD Events Calendar? If so, we’d be happy to help! Just shoot us an email to psjd@nalp.org with the details.

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Spend your spring break with Baltimore Law’s Human Rights Alternative Break program!

Click the link to view a flyer for the University of Baltimore Law School’s Alternative Spring Break!

Any law student can volunteer. The program runs from March 16-19th, 2014. Every day, students will work with a basic human right – the right to housing, the right to food and water, the right to representation, and the right to work.

For more info, view the posting on PSJD or contact Emily C. Rogers at ERogers@ubalt.edu.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 21, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  The snow continues for many of us, so stay warm out there.  Are you finding watching the Olympics as inspiring as I do?  Now it’s your turn.  Get out there and inspire.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Private attorneys can keep pay rate for federal indigent defendants;
  • Audit of LA Public Defender Board found poor monitoring of attorneys;
  • Unclaimed judgements in OR may fund legal aid;
  • Study finds DE indigent defense constitutionally deficient;
  • Legal Aid Ontario pilots independent legal advice for mediation clients;
  • BC government increases legal aid funding;
  • Public defender system could change in ID;
  • LA Public Defender’s Office turns 100 this year;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Marty Needelman;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 13, 2014 – A judicial committee has reversed a sequester-related pay cut for lawyers in private practice who represent indigent defendants in federal criminal cases. Starting March 1, those “panel attorneys” will generally make $126 an hour, while lawyers in capital cases will earn $180, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said in a statement issued Feb. 13. Last August, the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States had chopped the standard fee from $125 to $110 an hour in response to the across-the-board budget cuts. As part of a final fiscal 2014 spending plan approved this week, the committee restored the higher hourly rate and an added one percent inflation-related increase to push it to $126. The decision follows the signing of a full-year appropriations bill that partially rolls back another round of budget cuts scheduled for this year. Under the bill, the judiciary will get about $6.5 billion, or roughly equal to its pre-sequester funding level for last year, the news release said.”  (Federal Times)

February 17, 2014 –   The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office released a report Monday finding the Louisiana Public Defender Board does a poor job of monitoring attorneys that defend clients accused of first-degree murder and facing the death penalty.  “The audit says the board hasn’t reviewed the work as required under its contracts and hasn’t established any performance standards for lawyers.  The board disagreed with some findings, saying it does more monitoring than the audit suggests. But it also said it would make improvements.”  (SFGate)

February 18, 2014 – “The Oregon House on Monday approved a controversial bill that would change what happens with the unclaimed money damages from class action judgments or settlements in state court.  Under House Bill 4143, those unclaimed funds would be used to bolster legal aid services for low-income Oregonians, rather than automatically being returned to the company that lost the lawsuit, as they are now.  Unclaimed funds are a common occurrence with class actions, either because people entitled to funds fail to claim them or can’t be found, or because the individual claims are so small that the cost to disburse them exceeds their value.”  The bill now heads to the State Senate.  (The Register-Guard)

February 18, 2014 – “An independent review of Delaware’s legal defense system for the indigent concludes it is “constitutionally deficient” and effectively denies many poor Delawareans their right to adequate representation.  The 200-page report by the nonprofit Sixth Amendment Center was commissioned by Delaware Public Defender Brendan O’Neill and paid for with a $120,000 federal grant.”  The study determined that while the state does a good job for indigent defendants facing felony charges, it fails to provide adequate representation for lesser, misdemeanor charges.  (delawareonline)

February 18, 2014 –  Under a new pilot aimed at reducing unrepresented family litigants and improving outcomes, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will cover the cost of a family lawyer to support clients who choose mediation and to transform those agreements into legally-binding documents. “In looking at expanding access to justice for low-income Ontarians, mediation is a good alternative to having a judge or a third party step in to resolve family relationship issues,” says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. “This voluntary process empowers people to resolve their family legal issues for themselves – and with this pilot, they can be assured that the end result is legally binding.”  (Digital Journal)

February 18, 2014 – The government of British Columbia today increased the budget of the Legal Services Society (LSS) in 2014-15 by $2-million. The funding will be maintained for the next three years.  (Digital Journal)

February 20, 2014 – “Legislation has been proposed that would establish a permanent public defender in counties across Idaho. This would abolish the current system of contracting law firms to perform those duties.”   “If the bill passes both houses and is signed into law by Governor Otter, because of the emergency clause on the bill, it would become effective immediately, but would not be enforced against attorneys with contracts until July 1. Effective that date, lawyers would no longer be able to negotiate the terms of their contract, but they would be honored until expiration.”  (TetonValleyNews)

February 20, 2014 – “This year marks 100 years since the establishment of the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. The founding of the nation’s first such office occurred nearly half a century before Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark 1963 US Supreme Court case that established the right to counsel for indigent defendants in all criminal cases.”  “Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first female attorney in California, became the principal advocate for the creation of a public defender.”  “In 1913, with a now greatly expanded voting franchise, Los Angeles voters approved a Foltz-sponsored amendment to the Los Angeles County Charter to establish a public defender’s office.  In January 1914, pursuant to this recently enacted charter, the nation’s first public defender’s office was formed. Walton J. Wood was appointed Public Defender, and his original staff consisted of four deputies and a secretary. (Today, the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office employs more than 700 attorneys.)  Congratulations on 100 years of great work.  (WSWS.org)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: As Chief Counsel of Brooklyn Legal Services, Marty Needelman aims to keep Williamsburg’s most vulnerable safe from the bullies who sabotage their homes. He advocates with the people, not for them.  While less dangerous than it used to be, the neighborhood’s very trendiness creates many of the problems Mr. Needelman fights against.  Just one example of the problem is rent control.  As warehouses shut down and luxury condos moved in, landlords attempted to capitalize by driving out the working class and immigrant populations in very underhanded ways.  Marty Needleman worked to stop them.  To those he fights with, he is a local hero – a celebrity.  Thank you Mr. Needleman for your tireless fight to give hardworking individuals a chance to grow and prosper.

Super Music Bonus!    Go Team USA!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCqUESCoB1w

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The ABA’s Steve Grumm Breaks Down New York’s New Pro Bono Scholars Program

During last week’s annual State of the Judiciary address, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the new voluntary Pro Bono Scholars Program. This new initiative would allow 3Ls to study and sit for the February bar exam and spend the rest of their final year of law school completing pro bono work with an academic component.

Steve Grumm, friend of NALP and director of the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives, recently posted a few initial thoughts and reactions on the Program for the ABA’s Access to Justice blog:

  • How are we defining “pro bono”? Clearly academic credit is not a barrier b/c it’s a part of the Program. How about paid/stipended placements? Since the Program is connected with the 50-hour Rule, maybe the Program will use the 50-hour Rule’s broad definition of pro bono. [EDIT: a law school administrator friend weighed in: “The definition will need to comply with the requirements of participating law schools’ clinical/externship/academic programs. So it is not clear that pro bono work for which law students are paid will be allowed because the law schools will not be allowed to grant academic credit for paid pro bono work (even though certain paid pro bono work can count towards the 50-hour bar admission rule).”]

  • Can/will law schools reduce tuition on 3L spring semester?

  • Could a student participate in the Program without sitting for the Feb. bar exam?

  • To whom do 2Ls apply to participate in the Program? Their school, NY Board of Law examiners, NY courts? My guess based on the Chief’s announcement is that the schools will administer Program participation.

  • When will the Program roll out? Presumably this depends on the pace of the Advisory Committee and Task Force work, and the time law schools will need to create administrative structures.

To read the full blog post, including Chief Judge Lippman’s full address, head over to the ABA Access to Justice blog.

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 14, 2014

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

Happy Friday and Happy Valentine’s Day!  Show some love this week and every week by volunteering.  We will love you for it!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Number of Ohio lawyers reporting pro bono work increased;
  • MO public defenders seek pay raise;
  • Legal Hospice of TX receives King Foundation grant;
  • Human Rights First opening new Houston office;
  • NY law students have the option to do pro bono work for credit during their third year;
  • Report details economic impact of NC legal services;
  • NALP  Board adopts changes to Part V of the Principles & Standards;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: This week a special thank you to those who help out in bad weather;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 7, 2014 – At the beginning of January, attorneys with an active Ohio registration received an email from the Supreme Court asking lawyers to voluntarily report their 2013 pro bono work and financial contributions to organizations providing civil legal services to those of limited means.  Nearly 1,800 lawyers responded.  This is an increase of approximately 300 lawyers over this time last year.  The data is provided anonymously, reported in the aggregate, and will be used to improve delivery of civil legal services to people and families who cannot afford an attorney and to identify gaps in services.  (The Akron Legal News)

February 7, 2014 – “The head of Missouri’s public defender system is seeking a pay raise for the attorneys who represent low-income criminal defendants.  Public Defender System Director Cat Kelly says entry-level attorneys in her office are paid a salary of about $38,500. She says that’s nearly $5,000 less than beginning lawyers in the state attorney general’s office. Kelly says both should be paid the same amount.”  “Gov. Jay Nixon has recommended a 3 percent pay raise for all state employees.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer says he would prefer to give targeted pay raises to certain professions instead of an across-the-board increase.”  (KOAM TV)

February 7, 2014 – “Legal Hospice of Texas received a $10,000 grant from the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation to continue providing legal services at no cost to clients in Dallas County.”  “LHT addresses health related, civil legal needs of low-income individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness or HIV. LHT provides legal counsel, representation, and advocacy at no cost to clients who are HIV positive or terminally ill and reside in one of the 16 North Central Texas counties it serves.”  (dallasvoice.com)

February 10, 2014 – “Human Rights First announced it will open a new office in Houston this April at South Texas College of Law, bringing its award-winning pro bono legal representation program to asylum seekers and attorneys in America’s fourth- largest city.”  “Houston is a diverse and dynamic city where there is an increasing need for our services,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Hundreds of asylum seekers in Houston go unrepresented in a system where having a lawyer can mean the difference between return to persecution and the chance to start a new life in safety and freedom. Our Houston team will help to bridge the gap between this pressing need and the services currently available, giving the city’s pro bono legal community the tools they need to help.”  (Human Rights First)

February 11, 2014 –  New York’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is proposing an option where students spend their last semester doing free legal work for credit.   He says “this approach will also help fill the vast ‘justice gap’ for the poor, who often face civil issues like eviction, foreclosure, custody and denied benefits without legal help.  Calling it the Pro Bono Scholars Program, Lippman says Tuesday that the state Board of Law Examiners has already approved it and the initiative will be offered in all the state’s 15 law schools.  The advantage for students, in addition to practical experience, will be the opportunity to take the bar exam in February during their third year of school, instead of July after graduation.  (The Republic)

February 11, 2014 – Here is something we already know – legal services provide tangible impacts on their communities.  North Carolina sought to quantify the impacts.  “A recently released report finds the work of legal services providers across the state generated $48,775,276 in economic impact in 2012.  Written by the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, the report, ‘A 108% Return on Investment: The Economic Impact to the State of North Carolina of Civil Legal Services in 2012,’ details the direct economic benefit, indirect economic impact, and cost savings attributed to the work of three North Carolina legal services providers, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Pisgah Legal Services.”  (JDNews.com)

February 13, 2014 – At its recent meeting, NALP’s Board of Directors voted to adopt a series of provisional changes to Part V of NALP’s Principles and Standards. The updated guidelines 1) incorporate a 14-day reaffirmation provision within the 28-day offer response window for those candidates not previously employed and 2) change the offer response deadline for those candidates previously employed by an organization to 28 days following the date of the offer letter or October 1, whichever is later, rather than November 1. The updated guidelines are on the Principles and Standards page of the NALP website, and there is a memorandum more fully describing the changes along with the full-text of Part V. The Board also adopted a new Interpretation 22 on using the reaffirmation provisions.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: I could talk about an outstanding legal public servants, but let’s face it, this week we really need to say thank you to the men and women who clear the roads, man the hospitals, keep our road safe, and respond to emergencies.  Thank you to all of you who make it possible for life to keep working in the midst of chaos.
Super Music Bonus!  I had to do it – it’s Valentine’s Day!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840NbiFF1zM 

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BLSA & DC Public Defender Service Partner Up for 2014 Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute

Want to spend your spring break brushing up on your lit skills? The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia has got you covered:

The Black Law Students Association Alumni Committee of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia is pleased to present the 2014 Spring Break Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute (Institute).  The Institute seeks to help students cultivate effective trial advocacy skills and explore indigent criminal defense work.  The program consists of a week of workshops on how to conduct opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closing arguments.  In addition, students will learn how to develop theories of defense, master the rules of evidence, and impeach witnesses at trial.  At the end of the program, students will participate in full-length mock trials presided over by Superior Court judges.

The Institute will be held March 10 March 14, 2014.  The program is free of charge to students, although students are expected to provide their own transportation and lodging.

To apply, students must be a member of the school’s Black Law Students Association and commit to the entire program. Students should submit their applications electronically by clicking the link under the ‘events’ tab of the PDS website, www.pdsdc.org  The deadline to submit  applications is Friday, February 26, 2014.

If you have any questions, contact Jennifer Thomas, the Legal Recruiting Director, at JenThomas@pdsdc.org. Good luck!

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Is Your Legal Start-Up Strapped for Cash? Yale Law Wants to Help!

The Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale is providing start-up money for projects that protect the legal rights or interests of inadequately represented groups. If you have an innovative project that is having some difficulty getting funded because of the subject matter or approach, this one’s for you:

We fund cutting-edge projects whose successful execution might be a model for other organizations seeking new and better ways to represent clients. Please visit the Initiative website for more information about our grants: http://www.law.yale.edu/stuorgs/initiative.htm.

Qualifications

The most important selection criterion for projects is that they that protect the legal rights or interests of inadequately represented groups. The Initiative generally funds projects on which the applicant will work full time, after graduation from law school. Although a wide variety of projects are selected for funding, the Initiative gives priority to projects that:

  • Might provide a model for similar projects around the country;
  • Would be performed in coordination with a sponsoring organization;
  • Could be completed in a single year, or that demonstrate potential to become self-supporting or to receive support from alternative sources within the year (we will also consider projects that can be completed in less than a year);
  • Are submitted by graduates of Yale Law School;
  • Would operate in the state of Connecticut.

Priority criteria are not requirements. For example, the Initiative has frequently funded proposals from non-Yale Law students, as well as projects that operate outside the state of Connecticut. Please see our list of Past Grant Recipients.

The Initiative welcomes applications for both domestic and international projects.

The salary is up to $35,000 and the application deadline is March 1st. See the website for more information!

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 7, 2014

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

Happy Friday and welcome to February.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New federal defender named for New Orleans;
  • MA attorneys mobilize for legal aid;
  • ME AG and Legal Services for the Elderly team up;
  • NALP now accepting applications for the 2014-2016 StreetLaw Fellow – must be a law school graduate to apply;
  • IN Legal Services to get additional funding;
  • OR Innocence Project forms;
  • Hackathon for access to justice planned;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Katy Sorenson;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 30, 2014 – Claude Kelly was appointed federal public defender for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which spans 13 parishes including Orleans and Jefferson.  “Kelly, 52, replaces Virginia Schlueter, the longtime federal public defender who resigned in October after the office was forced to make deep budget cuts.  When budget negotiations stalled last may, the judiciary took a $350 million hit that quickly began to trickle down. As a consequence, Schlueter last year reduced her staff from eight attorneys to five and fired both staff investigators.  That will present challenges for Kelly, who is set to start work later this year, following an FBI background check.”  “I think in all of law, there’s nothing more honorable than criminal public defense work,” Kelly said this week following his hiring, which is done by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “Although the office has suffered tremendous budget cuts this year, the staff that remains is superb. And those eight years I spent as an assistant federal public defender, those were the best years of my life.”  He takes office just as the US Attorney’s Office is ramping up under new leadership.  (The Times-Picayune)

January 31, 2014 – “Hundreds of Massachusetts attorneys joined forces and visited the state capitol in Boston last week to lobby for increased state funding for civil legal aid programs. This funding has been hard hit in the last six years; according to the Equal Rights Coalition, it has dropped 85 percent since the 2008 fiscal year. Funding for legal aid is an issue about which all nonprofits should care deeply, since it provides civil justice that would be otherwise unavailable to low-income people on issues like housing, benefits, and domestic violence. As such, it complements and advances the work of many types of community groups.”  (Nonprofit Quarterly)

February 1, 2014 – “Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is teaming up with Legal Services for the Elderly to start a task force to combat financial exploitation and other crimes against elderly residents.  The task force will address barriers to prosecuting these crimes and examine issues like whether law enforcement and prosecutors may need more training to work with elderly witnesses or victims. Other questions include whether elderly victims are reluctant to come forward if the perpetrator is a family member and what the state can do to bolster law enforcement’s ability to pursue and prosecute these crimes.” “The task force will be chaired by Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin and include prosecutors, court personnel and members of the Department of Health and Human Services.”  (Daily Reporter)

February 3, 2014 – NALP is now accepting applications for the 2014-2016 StreetLaw Legal Diversity Pipeline Project Fellow postion.  For a complete description of the position and application details, check out PSJD.  This position is a postgraduate fellowship.

February 3, 2014 – “After watching its federal appropriation sink to $4.7 million during the economic downturn, Indiana Legal Services is set to receive a boost in funding for the 2014 calendar year.  The extra money is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 which was approved by Congress in mid-January.”  ILS is funding by Legal Services Corporation.  The funding will enable ILS to increase services to their clients.  (City-County Observer)

February 5, 2014 –  Lewis and Clark Law School and the Metropolitan Public Defender, a Portland-based nonprofit law firm, are getting together to create the Oregon Innocence Project.  The Project’s “mission is to exonerate the innocent, educate and train law students, and promote legal reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions.”  (OPB)

February 5, 2014 – “The ABA Journal and Suffolk University Law School are planning to host a “hackathon” in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting this Aug. 7-12 in Boston.  There’s been no formal theme selected. But there’s a general consensus that the project should further access-to-justice efforts in some way.  During the hackathon, lawyers and law students will work alongside developers and graphic designers in teams. Each team will work to plan and develop a Web application or mobile app over the course of the hackathon. At the end of the hackathon, the participants and our panel of experts will rate each of the teams’ work, and a winning team will be chosen.  At this stage, we’re soliciting ideas for problems that the teams can work to resolve with a tech solution as part of the hackathon.  If you have a problem you think we should tackle, or a data set that we can work with, please take this quick survey here and share your ideas.  (ABA Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:   Thank you so much to Sharon Booth, Assistant Director-Public Interest Programs for the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center at the University of Miami School of Law for sending in this week’s spotlight.  Katy Sorenson is the founder, president and CEO of The Good Government Initiative at The University of Miami (and former 16-year member of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners).  The Good Government Initiative is a program to educate elected officials at the state and local level about the important issues of governance, to cultivate leaders of excellence through development and training, and to engage the community through outreach and education.  Find out more about the project itself and about Ms. Sorenson (who has a really interesting story!).  So many dedicated and good-hearted individuals go into public service as an elected official with little relevant experience and/or no background in governance.  Thank you to Ms. Sorenson and the Initiative for giving these folks the guidance they need to accomplish their goals.
Super Music Bonus!  Does anyone else feel like this?  Thank you to Anna Strasburg Davis, Director of Public Interest Programs, UC Irvine School of Law and Rachel Kronick Rothbart, Career Services Office, University of Southern California Gould School of Law for this gem.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu_bGbZiiQ

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