Archive for February, 2015

Job’o’th’Week (Internship) — Choose Your Own Adventure in Illinois!

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

If you want to do public interest work this summer but haven’t been able to figure out how to pay for it, look no further: The Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)’s Law Student Internship Program is open to all 1L and 2L law students from across the country who are interested in working with legal service agencies in Illinois over the summer. These positions are paid : PILI raises the funds necessary for each agency to pay its PILI Interns (the funds are paid to the agency as a grant, rather than directly to the Intern as with many other internship funding programs).

Interns work 400 hours full-time, with PILI ensuring quality supervision by experienced agency attorneys, and providing extra educational, networking and mentoring opportunities.  Through this program, PILI helps our partner agencies increase their impact while also helping you develop your legal and client interaction skills, build your professional networks, and strengthen your commitment to public interest law and service.  Applications will remain open until all Internship positions are filled.

If this sounds like you, check out the more detailed, full post on PSJD.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 27, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • York County, Pennsylvania gives $50k to civil law fund for low-income residents;
  • Tennessee funding law could mean changes for prosecutors/defenders;
  • Funded Justice allows people to crowdsource funds for an attorney;
  • University of Michigan Law School working with University of Brazil to create human trafficking clinic;
  • Grant helps more veterans get assistance in Florida;
  • Settlement reached in MFY Legal Services strike;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 20, 2015 – “A new initiative by the York County Bar Association received a funding boost Wednesday when the county commissioners agreed to contribute $50,000 toward its program to help low-income residents involved in civil litigation.  There are more than 50,000 county residents who qualify for civil legal services, but there are only four full-time attorneys employed by Mid-Penn Legal Services who provide such assistance in the county, said Victoria Connor, CEO of the bar association.  The bar association is providing a 2-to-1 match — or $100,000 — to the county’s contribution because it’s such a ‘critical area of need,’ said Steve Feldman, president of the bar foundation’s board of directors. The foundation is the charitable arm of the bar association.”  (York Dispatch)

February 22, 2015 – “A law meant to ensure Tennessee counties fund their prosecutors and public defenders offices at roughly the same rates is on the legislature’s chopping block, a move touted as long overdue by prosecutors behind the movement but lamented by public defenders as a potentially dangerous blow to justice. Shelby County would see by far the greatest impact from any changes to the 23-year-old law, nicknamed the ’75 Percent Rule,’ which requires Tennessee counties to give public defenders at least 75 percent of whatever funding they give to prosecutors. The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office released a statement Friday strongly condemning House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 1324, saying they ‘would dismantle fiscally sound legislation’ that ‘helps ensure fairness’ in an adversarial justice system.”  (The Daily Herald)

February 23, 2015 – “Chicago attorney Michael Helfand noticed a fundamental problem in American courtrooms: the average American can’t afford proper legal representation.  Determined to address this disparity, Helfand founded Funded Justice, a crowdfunding platform for people struggling to pay attorney fees. Targeting people who don’t qualify for government-subsidized legal support but can’t afford to pay out of pocket for a private attorney, Funded Justice allows users to call on friends, acquaintances, and strangers for financial contributions.”  While in the very early stages, this is a trend to watch.  (Built In Chicago)

February 24, 2015 – “The University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic is working with a university in Brazil to create a similar legal clinic there in which law students will represent people who have been forced into slave labor in South America’s largest country.  U-M and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais-UFMG School of Law have developed a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for the creation of the new clinic, which will begin operating on March 2, 2015.  ‘Unfortunately, Brazil is a source, a destination, and a transit point for men, women, and children subjected to human trafficking and slave labor,’ said Carlos Henrique Haddad, a federal judge in Brazil and a member of the law faculty at UFMG. ‘I think the new clinic will help victims of slave labor in Brazil, and also that this is our opportunity to collaborate on international and cross-border cases.'”  (Michigan Law press release)

February 24, 2015 – “Thanks to a hefty new grant, a few more Broward County veterans may soon get some needed help.  Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project, which provides free legal assistance to local veterans, recently received a $50,000 grant from the NBCUniversal Foundation.”  “Recently word came that NBCUniversal Foundation’s 21st Century Solutions awarded Legal Aid Service the $50,000 grant in recognition of the service’s ‘new and innovative programs.'”  Legal Aid Service will use the money to hire an additional attorney.  (Sun Sentinel)

February 25, 2015 – “A settlement was reached Tuesday in the 22-day-long strike by attorneys and support staff at MFY Legal Services in New York.  The Legal Services Staff Association, a unit of the United Auto Workers, overwhelmingly ratified the three-year contract.  Union spokesman Brian Sullivan said the contract provides for 40 paid childbirth leave days, along with salary increases of 2.75 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.25 percent in each year.  Staff attorney Nahid Soroofhyari, 31, who joined MFY two years ago, said the new contract would bring ‘family friendly’ policies to the organization that will ‘encourage people like me to stay and become better lawyers for our clients.’  MFY Executive Director Jeanette Zelhof said the contract ‘expands on an already generous compensation package, and gives MFY administrative changes that we need to run our nonprofit more efficiently’ and will ‘allow MFY to continue to expand much needed legal services to underserved communities.'”  (New York Law Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Deborah Templer, a commercial litigation partner in the Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP Toronto office, has been named the winner of the Canadian Bar Association’s 2015 Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award. “Deborah is an outstanding lawyer with a steadfast commitment to access to justice,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chair and CEO. “Pro bono legal service forms an essential part of both her practice and her contributions to our firm and profession. We’re tremendously proud of Deborah, and are delighted to see her efforts recognized through this prestigious award.”

A long-time supporter of Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO), Templer was behind the formation of a unique partnership between Gowlings and PBLO to launch a medical-legal clinic at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Under her leadership, Gowlings has delivered free legal advice and information sessions to over 100 low- and moderate-income families on tax, employment, insurance, and estate matters.  Congratulations and well-deserved!  (Gowlings press release)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/KnIozPJWTPM

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 20, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Corporations help pay legal aid costs in Connecticut;
  • No new money for legal aid in British Columbia;
  • Oklahoma Senate panel passes measure to fund civil legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 15, 2015 – “Some of the world’s largest companies have chipped in to help provide free legal help to poor people across Connecticut in what’s billed as the first program of its kind in the country.   Connecticut-based mega corporations General Electric, United Technologies and Xerox, along with several other companies, have teamed up with the state’s three legal aid organizations to start LawyerCorps Connecticut. The program will pay the salaries and benefits of young attorneys dubbed ‘fellows’ who will work with the legal aid groups to represent several hundred clients a year in civil and family courts.”  “LawyerCorps was conceived about two years ago by Connecticut Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and is based on [Teach for America], which recruits and trains teachers to educate students in low-income areas.”  “LawyerCorps is now reviewing applications from dozens of young or future lawyers and plans to hire three — one for each legal aid organization in the state — who will begin working by September.”  (New Haven Register)

February 18, 2015 – “The budget announced this week by the British Columbia government has more money for police, for courthouse renovations, and a new correctional facility. Despite a projected budget surplus of nearly $900 million, there is no new funding for legal aid services in the province.  Legal organizations in B.C. that have been outspoken about what they say is the chronic underfunding of legal aid, expressed disappointment over the budget, which also included a tax cut for people earning over $150,000 annually. ‘This is 25 years with no new funding,’ says Birgit Eder, a defence lawyer and co-chairperson of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee.  The Canadian Bar Association-British Columbia chapter also expressed its concerns about the budget.  ‘This is a big part of the access-to-justice problem,’ says Alex Shorten, a Vancouver lawyer and president of the CBA-BC. ‘There needs to be more money for legal services for the most vulnerable in the province.'”  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

February 19, 2015 – “A Senate panel passed a measure Wednesday to fund legal services in civil cases for low-income people.  Senate Bill 459, now moves to the full Senate for consideration after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure diverts 65 cents of a $2 filing fee on civil cases to the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission from the Council on Judicial Complaints. The remainder would stay with the Council on Judicial Complaints. The diversion is expected to generate $178,000.The Oklahoma Supreme Court created the seven-member Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission last March, said Vice Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs, who appeared before the panel to answer questions. The commission was created to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Oklahomans, Combs said. It coordinates with groups that currently offer legal civil services to low-income individuals, Combs said.”  (Tulsa World)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Jan R. Jurden became the first female president of the Delaware Superior Court when she was sworn in on Monday afternoon.  The oath was administered to Jurden by Susan Del Pesco, the state’s first female Superior Court judge, in front of a packed courtroom in the New Castle County Courthouse.  Jurden, who has been on the bench since May 2001, will fill the vacancy left by Justice James Vaughn Jr.  Congratulations President Judge Jurden!  (Delaware Online)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/f_rt9bZhrF8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 13, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day weekend. There’s a lot of public interest love this week in the news.  Enjoy!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • EEOC joins federal partners to produce resource guide on disability hiring for employers;
  • Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid raise more than $1 mil;
  • Mobile legal aid office to help homeless youth;
  • NYLAG head resigns amid allegations of financial wrongdoing;
  • New Jersey State Bar begins efforts to lower legal services costs for middle class;
  • Madison, Wisconsin non-profits uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented;
  • Idaho panel tries to ease load of public defenders;
  • Chicago legal aid names new Executive Director;
  • Idaho Appellate Defender seeks to close wage disparity;
  • Hogan Lovells introduces mandatory community service requirements for all employees;
  • LA School Board oks attorneys to offer free legal aid to students at risk of deportation;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 6, 2015 – “On Tuesday, Feb. 3, at a Summit on Disability and Employment, the White House announced a new guide for employers that compiles key federal and federally funded resources related to the employment of people with disabilities. The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format.  The guide was produced by the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative — a federal interagency effort working to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for people with disabilities. ”  The guide is a central repository of information and resources to increase employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities.  (JD Supra Business Advisor)

February 8, 2015 – “The Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas set a record this year, raising $1,100,415 in their Equal Access to Justice Campaign. The fundraiser supports the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, which offers free legal assistance to more than 4,000 low-income families each year. The campaign raises money from Dallas lawyers to fund pro bono legal services for the poor.”  (The Dallas Morning News)

February 8, 2015 – “A new legal aid office on wheels will hit the road this month and begin reaching scores of youngsters who are homeless or in danger of landing in the streets, advocates said.  ‘Most of the youths who are moving around and experiencing some level of homelessness don’t know they have legal rights,’ said Stacey Violante Cote, a lawyer who directs the Teen Legal Advocacy Project for the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford.  This new endeavor of ours is to literally use a vehicle to reach out to this population.'”  “The project is believed to be the second of its kind in the country, said Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, which secured about $50,000 worth of grants and donations to buy the van and get it retrofitted. The first such mobile legal clinic focused on youth homelessness is in Chicago, she said.  ‘It’s bringing legal services to where the kids are,’ Stone said, ‘because the kids aren’t going to come to us.'”  (Hartford Courant)

February 8, 2015 – The head of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) stepped down amid a federal investigation into his alleged “accounting irregularities.”  “We are confident the matter involving our former CEO will not interfere with the important legal services our dedicated team provides New Yorkers on a daily basis,” NYLAG spokeswoman Camilla Jenkins said in a statement.  Yisroel Schulman will be replaced by Beth Goldman, who was appointed as New York City’s commissioner of finance in 2013 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Goldman will start her new position at NYLAG on Feb. 17.  (Jewish News)

February 8, 2015 – “The New Jersey State Bar Association is working on a way to make legal services affordable for the middle class.  The group has begun studying methods to hook up those who can’t afford the traditional retainer for a lawyer with attorneys in their price range.”  The group hopes to replicate the program involving Rutgers Law School.  “A blue ribbon panel that includes a pair of retired state Supreme Court Justices will look to create a commercially-viable model of that program, with elder lawyers supervising younger ones.”  The Bar hopes to present suggestions within 6 months.  (CBS Philly)

February 9, 2015 – Several Madison, Wisconsin nonprofit organizations are uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented immigrants who qualify for new immigration programs announced last November.  “The Madison City Council also approved $30,000 in assistance from the city’s contingent reserve last week to go toward the effort.  Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said that funding will go to a half-time staff member at Centro Hispano to coordinate information about the clinic’s hours, train volunteers and get responses from people wanting to go to the clinic.”  (The Cap Times)

February 9, 2015 – “In an effort to cut down on the use of public defenders in Idaho, a legislative panel introduced several bills that would change some misdemeanor charges to lesser infractions.  Republican Rep. Lynn Luker says the bills also try to match an appropriate penalty for the crimes.”  (Times-News)

February 9, 2015 – “The Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS), the second oldest legal aid organization in the nation, has announced that Karina Ayala-Bermejo, Executive Vice President of Human Resources & General Counsel at Metropolitan Family Services, will become Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society (LAS), effective April 1, 2015. Ayala-Bermejo also will continue to serve as Metropolitan’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President.”  LAS is part of Metropolitan Family Services, which has been empowering Chicago-area families to reach their greatest potential and positively impact their communities since 1857.  (Chicago Tribune)

February 10, 2015 – “Idaho’s appellate public defenders make nearly $16,000 less than the state’s Attorney General’s deputies, who often represent the other side while arguing the same case in court.  State Appellate Public Defender Sara Thomas asked legislative budget writers Tuesday for an additional $91,900 in fiscal year 2016 to raise salaries for her appellate public defenders.  Thomas says the amount still falls short compared to how much private attorneys charge. However, the income boost would close the disparity gap between her office and the lowest-paid counterpart in the Attorney General’s office.  State appellate public defenders currently make an average of roughly $56,000 a year. The average Attorney General deputy in the appellate unit makes more than $71,000.”  (KHQ)

February 11, 2015 – “Hogan Lovells has put in place a new broad-reaching policy that will require each of the firm’s more than 5,000 employees in about 25 countries to devote 25 hours per year to community service.  Employees will be able to count the 25 hours as part of their workday, according to Hogan Lovells CEO Stephen Immelt, with the expectation that the approximately 2,500 lawyers who work at the firm will spend their time on pro bono legal services.  While mandatory or highly encouraged pro bono work at Am Law 100 firms is hardly unique, Hogan Lovells’ requirement that nonlawyers participate appears to be the first of its kind. Another ambitious component of the policy is that it applies equally to employees in the firm’s offices outside the United States.”  (American Lawyer)

February 11, 2015 – “Staff attorneys with the Los Angeles Unified School District will be allowed to voluntarily provide free legal services to unaccompanied minors who live within the district and are facing the threat of deportation.”  “Under the program announced last month, 10 LAUSD attorneys will be expected to take on individual cases for an average of one to three hours a week. They will make up their work hours by working late or on weekends, according to the district.”  (CBS Los Angeles)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

A Hall County public defender will receive an award Tuesday for work in community service.  Public defender Nicki Vaughan is the recipient of the 16th Annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.  The award, which is presented by the State Bar of Georgia, honors members of the bar who “have made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrate the positive contributions of members of the Bar beyond their legal or official work,” according to a news release.  Vaughan is one of the co-founders of Georgia CASA, a group of court-appointed special advocates who assist children in foster care.  She is one of 10 recipients.  Congratulations!  (GainesvilleTimes.com)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/pB-5XG-DbAA

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 6, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this week, so six more weeks of winter.  I know many of you are ready for it to be over already. Stay warm out there.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Peace Corps and law school team up to offer Coverdell Fellowships in Hawai’i;
  • Equal Justice Coalition calls for greater legal aid funding in Massachusetts;
  • New York’s MFY Legal Services on strike;
  • Iowa attorneys will not support legal aid through yearly fee;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 29, 2015 – “The Peace Corps has announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law. The program will provide graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers who complete a degree-related internship in an underserved American community while they pursue their studies.”  “Competitively selected Coverdell Fellows will have the opportunity to pursue a juris doctor degree. The new partnership is the first between the Peace Corps and a university campus in Hawai‘i, and is one of only a small handful of Coverdell Fellows programs to offer a law degree.”  (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa)

January 30, 2015 – “Attorneys from private law firms and advocates of civil legal aid organizations in Massachusetts gathered at the State House Thursday, calling for a $10 million funding increase in next year’s state’s budget for civil legal aid.  Currently, the state provides $15 million in funding for civil legal aid. The group, which held its annual walk to Beacon Hill on Thursday, is pushing for the state budget to include $25 million in civil legal aid funding next year and then ratchet up to a total of $45 million in funding over the three years.  The annual walk is organized by The Equal Justice Coalition, which is composed of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, known as MLAC.”  (Boston Business Journal)

February 2, 2015 – “Lawyers are on strike at one of the city’s top legal aid organizations, leaving the firm with hardly any staff left to handle cases.  Attorneys, paralegals and secretaries at MFY Legal Services — which helps thousands of low-income New Yorkers each year with housing problems, family issues and discrimination cases — voted on Friday to reject a new contract because the raises were too low and MFY’s leadership asked for ‘givebacks’ in exchange for parental leave.”  (DNAinfo)

February 3, 2015 – “Iowa attorneys will not be required to pay a yearly fee to support low-income legal services, but the state needs to find more ways to provide representation to its poorest residents, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in a Tuesday order.  The order stems from a drive by Iowa Legal Aid for the court to establish a $100 yearly fee to help support its budget amid a decline in funding from the federal government and other sources. Iowa Legal Aid is the state’s largest organization offering civil legal services to poor residents, closing an average of 23,000 cases a year between 2008 and 2012.”  The Court, Legal Aid, and the Iowa State Bar Association will continue to look for other ways to meet the legal needs of poor Iowans.  (The Des Moines Register)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

A human rights organization at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law is one of nine nonprofit groups to win the 2015 MacArthur Foundation grants.  The MacArthur Foundation honors extraordinary organizations – in this case, recognizing the Human Rights Center’s investigations and research on war crimes and human rights abuses in more than a dozen countries and spotlighting the center’s recent work on wartime sexual violence. MacArthur will award the center $1 million to establish an endowment and expand its sexual violence program.  Read more about their excellent work here. (Daily Journal)

Super Music Bonus! http://youtu.be/4wfa6qZmz5A?list=PLVXq77mXV53_3HqhCLGv4mz3oVGYd2Aup

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