Archive for June, 2014

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 27, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • FL attorneys file petition to increase fees to help legal aid;
  • Legal Aid Foundation launches Thunderdome Tallahassee;
  • Anonymous donor gives $4 mil to SMU for legal clinic;
  • New federal agencies sign up for virtual interns;
  • B.C. lawyers to withhold legal aid in protest;
  • “And Justice for All” welcomes first legal fellow;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: “Clerical Queen” Cindy Jensen;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 19, 2014 – “A coalition of attorneys, including former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, filed a petition Monday with the state’s top court seeking to hike fees on lawyers to help fund legal services for the poor.  The Florida Bar wasted no time reaffirming its opposition to the effort to increase Bar fees by $100, noting there are lawyers struggling to make ends meet.  Bar President Eugene Pettis said the Bar doesn’t oppose the intent of the petition, rather how the funding ‘crisis’ and the continued delivery of legal aid is addressed.”  (Florida Courier)

June 23, 2014 – “The Legal Aid Foundation has announced a new program: Thunderdome Tallahassee, a hands-on legal group training program to provide education, camaraderie, networking, leadership and recognition to a new generation of lawyers serving the community.  For 45 years, the Legal Aid Foundation has matched volunteer lawyers to low-income families needing legal solutions to desperate situations. Though many lawyers in our area volunteer free representation to those who need it, finding a family law volunteer is particularly difficult.”  “Thunderdome Tallahassee addresses this gaping need for equal access to the law, while supporting volunteer lawyers with the best in legal education and leadership development. This summer, 15 to 20 diverse young lawyers will apply or be nominated for LAF’s inaugural class. Each will commit to volunteer representation for a family law case more than 9 months of training, mentorship and leadership development.  Upon completion of the program, participants will be invited to return as mentors and presenters to future Thunderdome Tallahassee classes. This supportive environment will foster new and continued volunteerism, benefiting local families and children.”  (Tallahassee Democrat)

June 23, 2014 – “An anonymous donor has given $4 million to SMU’s Dedman School of Law to endow the new VanSickle Family Law Clinic to provide free legal help for Dallas residents and skills training for law students.  The clinic, expected to open in fall 2015, will help low-income North Texas residents with divorces, annulments, paternity actions, custody and visitation issues, and child support.”  (Dallas News)

June 23, 2014 – “A dozen federal agencies have signed on to a virtual internship program run through the State Department that fields out special agency projects to American college students.”  The Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship program “received 315 requests from federal agencies for e-interns this year, a record number compared to the 276 requests in 2013.”  “The 315 projects available this year include work in research, computer programming, graphic design, journalism, data analysis, social media, finance, blogging, STEM, food security, public diplomacy and law. If selected, e-interns will commit to volunteering 10 hours per week starting in September 2014 through April 2014.”  Students can apply to their top three projects on between July 2 and 22. The 320 projects will be posted on the VSFS website at the end of June.  (Nextgov)

June 23, 2014 – “B.C. lawyers are being urged not to work on legal aid cases next month to protest what some legal advocates are calling a chronic underfunding of the system, possibly leading to empty courtrooms. ‘The idea is that we’re going to keep judges very unbusy for the month of July,’ Birgit Eder, a member of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee, said in an interview.”  “Ms. Eder said lawyers in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops have been asked not to schedule any legal aid matters for next month. The committee says the amount of money put into legal aid by government lags far behind other court spending, and that 40 per cent of people accused in criminal court must now represent themselves. It says 90 per cent of people in small-claims court represent themselves, while in family court, it’s 95 per cent.”  “Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, in a written statement, said government recognizes the important role legal aid plays in providing services. She said that’s why the province increased the Legal Services Society’s budget by $2-million this year, to $74.5-million.  She expressed confidence the protest would not bog down the court system.” (The Globe and Mail)

June 24, 2014 – “‘And Justice for All,’ a Utah nonprofit organization that supports three legal service agencies and provides grants to five others, has launched a legal fellowship program thanks to a $10,000 grant from CIT Bank.  Mary Anne Davies, a recent graduate of Loyola Law School, has joined the Disability Law Center as the first ‘And Justice for All’ legal fellow. The center is a protection and advocacy organization for people with disabilities.  As a fellow, Davies joins a staff of about 30 in assisting people with disabilities who have experienced discrimination at work, school or in the community. The agency also advocates for people who are abused or neglected in institutional settings or in the community.”  (Deseret News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  This happens all over the federal government, but no one talks about it.  A great person with experience sees a problem and does something about it.  Enter “Clerical Queen” Cindy Jensen. Thinking there had to be a better way than the cumbersome manual payment process formerly used, which was based on hard-copy billing, Ms. Jensen began brainstorming a computerized billing program six years ago.  “Six months later, with the help of two technicians, a prototype had been developed. Today her CJA eVoucher (the CJA stands for Criminal Justice Act) is used in 18 federal courthouses in western states and, earlier this year, the director of federal courthouses announced that it would become the standard system throughout the country.”  The system is expected to speed up payment to indigent defense attorneys at more than 100 federal courthouses across the country.  Outstanding work Ms. Jensen!! (Las Vegas Sun)

Super Music Bonus! 


Interning in DC? Check out the “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

“Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

Friday, July 18, 2014  |  12:30 pm – 2 pm Deanwood Neighborhood Library  | 1350 49th St NE, Washington DC 20019

Metro: Deanwood (Orange Line)


The East of the River Casehandlers group invites all legal interns, summer associates, law students and pro bono attorneys to come find out more about practicing public interest law east of the Anacostia River.  This informal panel discussion will feature attorneys from DC legal services providers that serve the low-income residents of these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods.  Imoni Washington of the DC Bar Foundation will join us after the provider panel to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers east of the river.  We will also have information available on student internship and pro bono opportunities with EOTR legal services providers.


To register, contact Heather Hodges at 202.269.5100 or This program is intended to be highly interactive and driven by your questions.  We encourage you to submit any questions you have with your registration request.


The East of the River Casehandlers meet every three months at the Anacostia Library  to share program information and discuss strategies for dealing with issues of common concern to our low-income clients in Wards 7 and 8.  We also conduct legal information programs for community members and legal services attorneys.  Our next meeting will be on August 22, 2014.  Please send an e-mail to if you would like to join our listserv.


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 20, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Summer officially begins tomorrow, but it’s been HOT here for some time.  I just visited Fredericton, NB, where it was absolutely beautiful.  Thank you to all my Canadian hosts for a wonderful trip!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Montgomery Co, AL gets a public defender office;
  • Cleveland, OH firm launches pro bono veterans clinic;
  • NC House & Senate slash budget for legal services;
  • Canyon Co, ID appoints first chief public defender;
  • IN task force created to increase free legal aid;
  • GA public defender system sued;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: June 23 is UN Public Service Day;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 12, 2014 – “Aylia McKee is building Montgomery County’s first Public Defender’s Office from the ground up.”  “The state committed $2.2 million to fund the office, including salaries, benefits and office supplies. The Montgomery County Commission has provided the historic Greil mansion next to the county courthouse on Lawrence Street to house its staff.”  “McKee is currently looking to hire seasoned attorneys who will work as her deputy attorneys in the Public Defender’s Office. She hopes to have her key staff in place by the end of next month.  At full capacity, the public defender’s office will have a staff of about 30 people, with between 16-18 attorneys.  McKee does not yet have a set date when the office will start taking cases.”  “The public defender’s office will be phased in to the courtrooms in Montgomery County and as the office takes on more cases, the contract attorneys will be phased out. But McKee says there is still going to be a lot of work and responsibility for private attorneys. They will be needed to help handle any conflict cases or cases with multiple defendants.”  (WSFA)

June 12, 2014 – “McDonald Hopkins, working with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Veterans Administration Community Referral and Resource Center, has developed a new initiative to provide free legal advice and referrals to low-income veterans in need of help. This unique collaboration – conceived by Anne Owings Ford and R. Jeffrey Pollock, co-chairs of the firm’s Pro Bono and Public Service Committee – is the first of its kind in Cleveland, and connects low-income veterans with our volunteer lawyers to deliver direct legal advice and recommend a course of action. The inaugural Clinic, held May 7, 2014, was a rousing success.”  (Digital Journal)

June 12, 2014 – “The state Senate budget proposes to cut more than $2 million in legal aid funding, which could make it more difficult for North Carolina’s poorest residents to defend their rights.  Under the Access to Civil Justice Act, a portion of court filing fees are given to legal aid groups in North Carolina—$1.8 million per year. The Senate’s budget bill cuts this funding. The Senate budget also eliminates the Access to Civil Justice Grant, which provided more than $670,000 to legal services in North Carolina last year.”  “While the Senate’s proposed budget eliminates funding both from filing fees and the direct grant, in the House’s proposed budget, funding from filing fees is restored while the Access to Civil Justice Grant is eliminated.” (Indy Week)

June 12, 2014 – “The Canyon County Board of Commissioners has appointed Tera A. Harden as the county’s first chief public defender.  Harden will officially start her new role in July so she will have time to build her staff before the county’s new in-house Public Defender’s Department officially goes into service on Oct. 1. The Public Defender Department will be housed in the newly built Canyon County Administration Building in Caldwell.”  (Idaho Statesman)

June 16, 2014 – “An Indiana Supreme Court task force plans to submit recommendations next week for how to increase the amount of free legal services Hoosier attorneys donate to the poor.  The Supreme Court has already decided against mandatory pro bono services, instead asking a task force to suggest ways to implement mandatory reporting of pro bono hours.”  “The task force is also looking at other administrative issues, including how to define pro bono work.   The justices will make the final decision on how to implement the requirement.”  (Indiana Public Media)
June 16, 2014 – “A former Middle Georgia public defender has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleges breakdowns at all levels of the state’s indigent defense system.  The lawsuit, filed Monday, said that public defenders in the Towaliga Judicial Circuit were forced to work in unsanitary and dilapadated offices and carry crushing case loads. The plaintiff, Jim Kight, who worked as a defender in the circuit for eight years, was fired in retaliation last year after he complained about the conditions, the suit said.”  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The UN Public Service Day intends to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.  The United Nations Public Service Day 2014 theme is, “Innovating Governance for Sustainable Development and Well-being of the People.” (United Nations)

Super Music Bonus! Try to stay cool out there folks! 


Fellowships 101: An Introduction to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships Wednesday, July 9, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Fellowships 101: An Introduction to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships
Wednesday, July 9, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Georgetown University Law Center
McDonough Hall, Hart Auditorium
600 New Jersey Avenue NW
(building entrance on 2nd Street NW)
Washington, DC 20001
Union Station or Judiciary Square Metro

Join the Washington Council of Lawyers, Equal Justice Works, NALP, the Partnership for Public Service, and Georgetown University Law Center, as they co-sponsor an interactive panel discussion of the ins and outs of project-based fellowship programs.  Our expert panelists will offer tips and insights about how to craft the best fellowship proposals while in law school.

This panel discussion will be held at the Georgetown University Law Center, McDonough Hall, Hart Auditorium, 600 New Jersey Avenue NW, (entrance on 2nd Street NW), and will be followed by a networking reception offering light refreshments.

Our program features opening remarks by Christina Jackson, Director of Public Service Initiatives and Fellowships, NALP.  Our panelists will be:

  • Ashley Fox, Program Associate, Partnership for Public Service
  • Evan Henley, Skadden Fellow, The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
  • Sterling Morriss, Manager, Fellowships & Advancement, Equal Justice Works
  • Vytas Vergeer, Legal Director, Bread for the City

Our moderator will be David Steib, Office of Public Interest, American University, Washington College of Law.

The cost to attend is $5 per person.
WCL members attend for free!

Click here to join WCL.

Register Now!


Discover the PATH to becoming a public defender.

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia invites you to discover the PATH to becoming a public defender on Saturday, August 2, 2014.  If you are considering a career in criminal defense, this panel is for you.  This comprehensive program will give you a roadmap for achieving your goals, with frank discussions and insider tips not found anywhere else.  And the event is FREE.  Visit for more information and to register.

Hosted by The George Washington University Law School, 2000 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052.


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 13, 2014

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

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!  This week there is a lot going on.  The big news is the extension of PAYE.  Here’s hoping it means more folks can follow their passions.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • The 2014 Public Sector & Public Interest Attorney Salary Report now available;
  • Ontario justice groups launch access to justice collaborative;
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service receives grant;
  • DOJ starts legal aid program for immigrant children;
  • The Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana seeks to withdraw from multiple capital cases citing budget problems;
  • FL firm launches veterans scholarship;
  • CA pioneers court-aided one-day divorce;
  • President Obama extends PAYE;
  • ABA Council says no to paid student externships;
  • Senator Warren’s student loan bill stalls;
  • FL Gov. Scott vetoes legal services funding & Board of Governors rejects proposed bar fee increase;
  • DC Bar Foundation awards $600,000 for legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: NYC Bar Association honors public service;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

The Public Sector & Public Interest Attorney Salary Report is now available in the NALP bookstore.  It is THE definitive source for public sector salaries.  You can search by employer type and region.  There is also great information LRAP programs and federal government salaries and benefits.

June 5, 2014 – The Law Society of Upper Canada’s access to justice initiative, known as TAG, creates a forum for the legal and justice sectors to foster teamwork on the access to justice front.  “LSUC Treasurer Thomas Conway, who created the initiative, says this is ‘without a doubt’ one of his biggest accomplishments.”  “Two years ago, when I was first elected, the goal I set was to define a new role for the law society in improving access to justice,” says Conway.  “At the meeting, participants discussed what they are already doing to share their knowledge with other justice groups, and brainstormed innovative ideas to make justice more accessible. Their suggestions included creating a sort of “incubator” for lawyers building a practice to help underserved clients, coaching self-represented litigants, and setting up a ‘legal brokerage’ to assist family law litigants at a reduced fee.”  Collaborators will use the information they have to press government and other agencies to work together to provide better access to justice.  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

June 5, 2014 – “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has recently granted $100,000 to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to support three key program areas. $50,000 will be designated to support the LIRS Access to Justice Program, which engages congregations to help provide holistic services to immigrants and migrants released from detention on the journey to integration. The grant will expand educational resources for local congregations, increase staff capacity, and cover travel to support local partners.”  “As the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the U.S., LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. Celebrating 75 years of service and advocacy this year, LIRS has helped more than 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.”  (

June 6, 2014 – “The Department of Justice said on Friday it will help provide lawyers for the growing number of children coming to the United States illegally, without parents or relatives accompanying them.  The new program, established in conjunction with the agency that administers the AmeriCorps volunteer program, will seek out around 100 lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services to the children, the department said.”  The new justice AmeriCorps members will also “help identify unaccompanied immigrant children who have been victims of human trafficking or abuse to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those who perpetrate such crimes on those children.” (Reuters) (DOJ)

June 6, 2014 – The Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana (CAPOLA) has filed motions to withdraw as council in multiple capital cases, citing budget issues.  “Court records document the issue:  ‘In recent years the contractual arrangements and awarding of the annual contracts have been handled by the Louisiana Public Defender Board (LPDB)… The Executive Director of CAPOLA has been informed by the LPDB that LPDB has made no provision to fund CAPOLA for the upcoming fiscal year.’  CAPOLA received almost $1.4 million funding in 2013from the state board’s $33m dollar budget.”  “Louisiana State public defender Jay Dixon says they’re reviewing CAPOLA’s operations and calls the motions to withdraw ‘premature.’  Prosecutors say allowing CAPOLA attorneys to drop cases could affect their ability to try for the death penalty, a claim Dixon denies.”  The state board meets with CAPOLA board members this week to examine their performance review.  (KTBS)

June 6, 2014 – “Florida traffic attorneys Katz & Phillips, PA announced a new scholarship this week for veterans of the armed forces pursuing a law degree.  The $1,000 Law Scholarship for Veterans is the first of its kind offered by Katz & Phillips, which issues a number of law school scholarships every year. It’s aimed at high-achieving, passionate law students who are either current or retired members of the military.”  “The scholarship is open to veterans of any branch of service, who served at home or overseas, who are attending or have been accepted to law school. Details and an application can be found online.”  (Digital Journal)
June 6, 2014 – With budgets being slashed and more and more litigants doing their own cases, the new reality of access to justice has to include helping individuals “do it themselves.”  The California Courts have taken up the charge with a new program for those seeking a divorce.  “In California, roughly three-fourths of family law litigants lack lawyers, said Maureen F. Hallahan, supervising judge in the family law division at San Diego Superior Court.”  “So now some courts in California offer one-day divorce programs for people who either can’t afford or don’t want to hire a lawyer. ‘The reality is, people are going to do it without lawyers, and we had to accommodate that,’ said Judge Hallahan.  The program doesn’t mean a divorce is truly started and completed in a single day — residency and notification requirements have to be met first. You must, for example, already have filed a divorce petition and served your spouse with divorce papers to participate. But the program does allow you to wrap things up in a single day, or even a matter of hours, once you meet the initial criteria.”  Currently, San Diego and Sacramento have programs.  I suspect we will see more soon.  (New York Times)

June 9, 2014 – President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum Monday expanding Pay As You Earn (PAYE) to  an additional 5 million borrowers.  The program “let borrowers pay no more than 10 percent of their monthly income in payments, but was only available for those who started borrowing after October 2007.  Obama’s memo expands that program by making opening it to those who borrowed anytime in the past.”  “Obama also announced he is directing the government to renegotiate contracts with federal student loan servicers to encourage them to make it easier for borrowers to avoid defaulting on their loans.”  The President also to endorsed Sentate legislation that would let college graduates with heavy debts refinance their loans.  The Senate is expected to debate the legislation next week.  (PBS NewsHour)

June 10, 2014 – “It appears the American Bar Association’s ban on allowing law students to receive both pay and academic credit for externships will remain in force.”  “The council on June 6 took up a multitude of revisions to the accreditation standards and sent them for review by the ABA’s House of Delegates during its next annual meeting in August in Boston. The council could revise the standards depending on the delgates’ feedback, but it has the final say.”  (National Law Journal)

June 11, 2014 – “The Senate on Wednesday voted not to move forward on a bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would have allowed an estimated 25 million people with older student loans to refinance that debt at current, lower interest rates.  President Barack Obama and second lady Jill Biden had thrown their support behind the bill in recent days, and Obama on Monday rolled out new executive actions to help address student loan debt alongside the action in the Senate.”  (Politico)

June 11, 2014 – “For the fourth year running, Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed funding earmarked to provide legal service for low-income Florida residents.  According to the News Service of Florida, the June 2 veto eliminated $2 million that the 2014-15 state budget of $77.1 billion described as ‘civil legal assistance.'”  “Scott’s veto comes as the legal community debates a proposal by some to raise Florida Bar annual dues 27 percent, from $265 to $365, to fund legal services for low-income residents.”  The Florida Bar board of governors recently voted against the proposal, while proponents plan to petition the Florida Supreme Court on June 16 “to request The Florida Bar take up the issue” again.  (KeysInfoNet)

June 12, 2014 – “The DC Bar Foundation announces the FY14 DC Legal Services Grants awards to 20 organizations totaling $600,000 to support civil legal services providers, based in the District of Columbia, that serve low-income, underrepresented DC residents.”  “The Board of the Bar Foundation is pleased that we could add $600,000 to the ability of civil legal service providers to undertake their important work. This is an important supplement to the $3.4 million that we disbursed earlier this year for the Access to Justice Grants program. We will continue to work hard so this support can continue to expand in the years ahead,” said Marc L. Fleischaker, President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.  (DC Bar Foundation)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The New York City Bar Association last night honored the recipients of the 25th Annual Legal Services Awards, which give recognition to attorneys and non-attorneys who provide outstanding civil legal assistance to New York’s poor. Among the honorees was Margaret Becker, Director of LSNYC’s Staten Island Disaster Recovery Unit.  This year’s other recipients were: Alan Canner, The Legal Aid Society, Harlem Community Law Office; Bernadette Jentsch, MFY Legal Services; Liz Markuci, Immigration Project, Volunteers of Legal Service; and Leander McRae, Preserving Affordable Housing Program, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A . The Awards were presented by Hon. Jenny Rivera, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.  Congratulations and thank you for your great work!  (Legal Services NYC)

Super Music Bonus! Worst summer jobs with Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show.


2014 Public Sector & Public Interest Attorney Salary Report now available!

The Public Sector & Public Interest Attorney Salary Report is now available in the NALP bookstore!  It is THE definitive report on salaries in the public sector.  You can see median, average and middle ranges of salaries for employers by type, region, and years of experience.  There is also some great information about salary and benefits in the federal government.  If you are considering a career in the public sector, this is information you must have.


Washington Council of Lawyers – Fellowships 101 – July 9 at 6:30 pm

The Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) will be offering their Fellowships 101: An Introduction to Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships on Wednesday, July 9, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Georgetown University Law Center.

Information about how to register can be found on their website,, or the direct link to the registration page is here:

This is an amazing and informative program.  If you think you want to apply to a post-graduate fellowship in your 3L year and you’ll be in DC this summer, you need to check it out!!!


West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest announces its 2014 summer Public Interest Advocates Fellows

The West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest (WVFLIPI) is proud to announce its 2014 class of Public Interest Advocates Fellows.    The following students have been awarded 10 week paid fellowships for the summer of 2014:

  • Patrick Holbrook, Legal Aid of West Virginia, Morgantown, W.V.
  • Martin McKeen, Legal Aid of West Virginia, Clarksburg, WV.
  • Stephanie Welsh, Legal Aid of West Virginia, Wheeling, WV.
  • Alex Meade, Legal Aid of West Virginia, Logan, WV.
  • Bethany Burdette, Legal Aid of West Virginia Beckley, WV.
  • Lia Deane, Legal Aid of West Virginia Charleston, WV.
  • Brown Holston and Laura Lee Partington, Senior Legal Aid, Morgantown, WV.
  • Phil Wachowiak, Child Law Services, Princeton, WV. P
  • Shane Snyder, West Virginia Advocates, Charleston, WV.
  • Allison Santer, Mountain State Justice, Charleston, WV.
  • Jordan Smith, Mountain State Justice, Clarksburg, WV.
  • Jenny Thoma, Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Whitesburg, KY.
  • Aaron Moss, WV Public Defender, Harrison County, Clarksburg, WV.
  • Taylor Graham, Federal Public Defender, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, Clarksburg, WV.

WVFLIPI is a non-profit organization that works to fund fellowships for WVU College of Law students to spend the summer working in public interest organizations throughout West Virginia. Founded in 1987, the fund seeks to help students gain a deeper understanding of the grave importance of public interest work. These students provide legal services to help West Virginians, including the elderly, the poor, children, and victims of domestic violence. The Fund is aided greatly by the fund-raising efforts of the Public Interest Advocates (PIA) at the West Virginia College of Law. PIA works closely with the Fund for the Public Interest to select candidates and supports the fund by raising funds throughout the year, including hosting online book sales and the annual Spring Auction.

The Fund awards PIA fellowships annually to West Virginia College of Law students through a competitive selection process. Since its inception, over 320 students have received fellowships at public interest organizations. These include Legal Aid of West Virginia, Senior Legal Aid of West Virginia, Mountain State Justice, the Public Defender’s Office, The Appalachian Center on the Economy and the Environment, West Virginia Advocates, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and ChildLaw Services, Inc. The Sprouse Public Defender Fellowship is particularly competitive and students apply in the Fall to be awarded this opportunity. The selected candidate then chooses the county in which he or she will work with the public defender.

For more information, contact the Director of the Center for Law and Public Service/Executive Director of the WV Fund for Law in the Public Interest:

Jennifer Powell, M.S.W., J.D.


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 6, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  We’ve welcomed our summer project assistants this week.  Check out the PSJD blog all summer for their insights on job searching and other fun topics.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Public defender system for immigrants facing deportation would pay for itself study finds
  • House passes funding for LSC;
  • Victoria Legal Aid welcomes fines reform;
  • Stetson students respond to President’s clemency initiative;
  • TN legal aid takes initiative in helping vets;
  • FL courts implement new Family Law Guardian ad Litem pilot program;
  • Pacific Legal Foundation opens DC office;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Breck Hopkins;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 29, 2014 – “On Friday, the New York City Bar Association plans to release a study contending that cost should not be an obstacle to the creation of a public defender system, paid for by the federal government, for indigent immigrants facing deportation.  The 37-page study estimates that a system that provided legal counsel for every poor immigrant facing deportation would cost about $208 million per year.  But the program would pay for itself by saving about the same amount in reduced government expenditures to detain and remove immigrants and in other savings associated with the overburdened enforcement system, the study says.”  The the study makes the argument for the first time that appointed counsel is cost-effective.  The study is based on federal data, academic studies and interviews but acknowledges the available data is “incomplete.”  (NY Times)

May 30, 2014 –  “The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation early Friday that provides $350 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2015. The measure passed by a vote of 321-87.  The Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies (CJS) FY 2015 Appropriations bill would cut current funding by $15 million but is $50 million more than the House voted to allocate last year.”  “The Senate will mark up the FY 2015 CJS Appropriations bill in subcommittee on Tuesday and in full committee on Thursday.  The vast majority of LSC’s funding is used to support local nonprofit organizations via grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.”  (LSC)

May 30, 2014 – “Sweeping recommendations for further reform of the fines system have been welcomed by Victoria Legal Aid.  Following today’s release of a Sentencing Advisory Council report into the fines system, Victoria Legal Aid Social Inclusion Program Manager Joel Townsend said the recommendations, if adopted, would address concerns that the fines system is severely affecting the most vulnerable in the community.  ‘The current system has had a disproportionate impact on people affected by disability, mental illness, homelessness or poverty,’ Mr Townsend said. ‘We agree with the Council that people who can’t pay their fines for these reasons should be treated differently to people who can afford to pay but deliberately avoid payment.’ ”  “The Bill’s introduction of work and development permits as a way of dealing with fines is also welcomed by Victoria Legal Aid. These permits allow people with mental illness or intellectual disability, drug or alcohol addiction, or financial hardship, to undertake treatment or counseling, or to build their life skills through voluntary work, courses or mentoring, instead of paying a fine, and have been successful in New South Wales.”  (Victoria Legal Aid)

May 30, 2014 – “The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a new clemency initiative, designed to prioritize clemency applications for certain non-violent offenders who would likely receive lesser sentences if they were sentenced today. To date, more than 35 Stetson Law students have signed on to assist the Office of the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida in identifying former clients who may qualify for the new clemency initiative. The Stetson Law students will help gather information relevant to the clemency criteria as part of a new pro bono project on campus.”  (Digital Journal)

June 1, 2014 – “Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, has partnered with Operation Stand Down Nashville and drawn on its Volunteer Lawyer Program to ensure at-risk veterans are receiving the resources they need. With more than 20 referrals from Operation Stand Down Nashville (OSDN) since the start of the year, Legal Aid Society has provided low-income veterans vulnerable to homelessness the legal counsel needed to maintain or secure permanent housing. This is possible because of a Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. SSVF is a homeless-prevention and rapid re-housing program which provided funding to OSDN in October 2013.”  “The Volunteer Lawyers Program staffs monthly clinics at OSDN that provide general advice and legal counsel to veterans. The clinics have helped veterans on a wide range of topics, including custody, drivers’ licenses, divorce and landlord-tenant issues. Many of the volunteer attorneys who staff the clinics are veterans themselves.”(Murfreesboro Post)

June 2, 2014 – “More than two dozen lawyers from the Icard Merrill law firm have signed up to be guardians ad litem as part of a new Family Law Guardian ad Litem pilot program backed by the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.  The program, directed by judges Lee Haworth and Charles Williams, will provide children caught in the middle of contentious cases in the Circuit’s Family Law Division with guardians ad litem.” For Williams, the program is an added tool in the judges’ toolbox to assist in making the right decisions. “There are always money issues and property issues,” Williams said, “but really the issues that keep us judges up at night are children — those are the real difficult decisions to make.”  (Bradenton Herald)

June 5, 2014 – “The conservative nonprofit law firm Pacific Legal Foundation has opened a Washington, D.C., office in an effort to expand its congressional and media outreach.  The office will be operated by Todd Gaziano, a new hire and former staff to the Heritage Foundation, and will advocate on issues related to federal health care reform and the impact of environmental protection laws.”  (Sacramento Business Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Breck Hopkins, longtime Arkansas Department of Human Services’ legal chief is retiring after more than three decades with the state agency.  Among many accomplishments, he developed the first computer-based case management system for the agency’s chief counsel office and wrote the child custody chapter in the Arkansas Bar Manual.  Thank you for your service!  Read more here.

Super Music Bonus! What summer movie are you excited to see?