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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