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!

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