Archive for May, 2015

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 29, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  Can you believe it’s the end of May already?  Time to turn our attention to summer plans.  Are you going to a new city?  Check out PSJD’s Having Fun on the Cheap series for fun and inexpensive activities in your area.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • William & Mary’s Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic receives Dominion Foundation grant;
  • Maine Governor proposes public defender system;
  • Layoffs in DA’s office in Massachusetts;
  • Susan M. Finegan named co-chair of Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission;
  • Legal aid, law firms, and lawyers of color;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 21, 2015 – “William & Mary Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic received a $25,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources, parent company of Dominion Virginia Power. ‘Dominion Foundation is joining William & Mary Law School in supporting work on behalf of veterans in procuring their disability benefits,’ said Davison M. Douglas, dean of the Law School. ‘We now have a model we want to take to other law schools across the country; this support from Dominion Foundation is going to be of tremendous help.’ Part of the Dominion Foundation’s grant will be used for seed funding for the National Law School Veterans Clinic Coalition, a recently established organization created to provide a unified voice to identify and advance the needs of law school veterans clinics and, more importantly, the veterans they serve. It will serve as an advocate before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Congress and other federal entities. With the seed funding from Dominion, it is hoped that the coalition will double its clinic membership in the coming year, and significantly increase the number of veterans served by law school clinics nationwide.” (W&M Law School press release)

May 26, 2015 – “Gov. Paul LePage has submitted legislation that would create a new system of public defenders to assure that every poor Maine resident charged with a crime receives adequate legal representation. Maine is the only state without public defenders, and has long relied on paying individual lawyers on a case-by-case basis. Sen. David Burns, a Republican from Whiting, co-chairs the Judiciary Committee and is sponsoring the bill for the governor.”  (MPBN News)

May 26, 2015 – “Four Norfolk County prosecutors have been laid off due to statewide budget cuts on district attorneys, and leaders in the legal community are concerned that the firings are an ominous harbinger for the criminal justice system. ‘It’s a bit of a frightening situation because these are the people in the front lines,’ said Marsha V. Kazarosian, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. ‘They do the lion’s share of the work. It’s of great concern that you have to start laying people off. The end result is, people won’t have access to justice.’ Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said the layoffs came in response to Gov. Charlie Baker’s unilateral budget cuts in early February. That essentially doubled the impact on Morrissey’s office, he said, because he had only half a fiscal year to make up the difference.”  (Boston Herald)

May 27, 2015 – “Susan M. Finegan, a Member at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. and the firm’s first full-time Pro Bono Partner, has been named co-chair of the third Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, a 24-member body appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court. The Commission is charged with the mission of providing leadership, vision and coordination in the search for equal justice for all persons in the Commonwealth. She will serve alongside Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine S. Hines.”  (Business Wire)

May 28, 2015 – My predecessor Steve Grumm has always been a strong advocate for civil access to justice.  He’s blogging from Idaho on this and other issues.  He took a look at recent data and found legal aid is doing better than the private sector on diversity.  See the numbers and his thoughts on the issue on his blog.  As always, his insights are thought-provoking and right on point.  (That Much Further West)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Access to Justice advocate Fiona MacCool.

Fiona MacCool is the Project Manager of Your Legal Rights, an online resource produced by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) to provide free legal information for people in Ontario. Fiona was previously the Project Manager of CLEONet, a precursor to Your Legal Rights. For over 10 years, she has worked as an IT project manager, software trainer, and web content developer. Fiona is passionate about helping non-profit organizations take advantage of the cost-efficient and time-saving power of the Internet to support community partnerships, share resources, and make a difference. The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice visited the CLEO offices to speak to Fiona MacCool about her work on Your Legal Rights. You can see the full interview here.

Super Music Bonus!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 22, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  I hope you all enjoy a restful Memorial Day weekend!  And take a moment to remember those we lost in service to our country.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • More funding for legal aid tops docket of justice issues for incoming Alberta government;
  • Kiosks could help Floridians get access to the legal system;
  • El Paso County (Texas) chief public defender seeks grant to increase staff;
  • This is the moment for clinics;
  • University of Akron School of Law SEED clinic receives Small Business Administration award;
  • Law firm donation supports Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance with $250,000 donation;
  • Nearly one quarter of 2015 Presidential Management Fellowship Finalists are veterans;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 14, 2015 – “More funding for the province’s legal aid program tops the docket of justice issues facing the incoming NDP government.  Funding for Legal Aid Alberta, the non-profit agency that provides subsidized lawyers for low-income clients, has been a long-standing source of friction between the outgoing Progressive Conservative government and groups representing the legal profession. Officials at Legal Aid Alberta, which operates at an arm’s length from the government, have predicted the organization could face a $15 million deficit in the coming years without stable long-term funding.” (Calgary Herald)

May 15, 2015 – “People needing help with divorces, foreclosures or child support could use public computers at libraries, shopping malls or courthouses as a type of legal ‘triage’ under a proposal approved Friday by the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice. Also, non-lawyers could provide courtroom assistance to poor and middle-income people under another idea considered by the panel, the brainchild of Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.”  “‘The statewide portal will be a software-based access point that would be in libraries, courthouses, shopping malls that would be the point at which a person with a legal problem could go find someone to solve their problem, or even get forms or education to find out how to do it themselves,’ said commission member William Van Nortwick, a Jacksonville lawyer and former appellate judge. Individuals could access the portal through kiosks, public libraries or public computers in courthouses by the end of the year in certain areas, Van Nortwick said.”  (CBS Miami)

May 18, 2015 – “The county’s chief public defender is seeking a $1.2 million grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to hire additional lawyers who are needed to handle an increasing case load. On Monday the El Paso County Commissioners authorized the county’s chief public defender Jaime Gandara to submit an application for the grant. The state commission will make a decision on June 4.  ‘I’m getting more cases and need more lawyers in order to do a good job in representing our clients,’ he said to the commissioners. The grant will help hire eight lawyers, four office staffers, one investigator and one social worker, Gandara said.”  (El Paso Times)

May 18, 2015 – The National Law Journal has a good piece on law school clinics and provides some great examples of innovative approaches.  “Law school clinics are having a moment. They have become an increasingly important part of the law school curriculum during the past five years, as schools faced pressure to provide students with practical, hands-on experience. In this special report, we highlight six law school clinics taking new approaches to student learning, breaking into new areas of the law or that have impressive track records of success.”  (National Law Journal)

May 19, 2015 – “As many small businesses owners know, it only takes a small seed to grow into a successful enterprise. On May 7, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland District office presented its 2015 Legal Services Champion award to the Small Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Legal Clinic at The University of Akron School of Law. The SEED Legal clinic provides low-cost legal assistance to emerging businesses in Northeastern Ohio. The clinic, in turn, provides law students the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience. ‘This is the first time we are honoring a member of the legal profession during small business week,’ said Gil Goldberg, district director of the Cleveland district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA recognizes small businesses and other organizations that create jobs, lift local economies, and give back charitably to the communities where they live and work.”  (Akron Legal News)

May 21, 2015 – “Gori Julian & Associates believes in supporting local organizations and making a difference in their community. Recently, the Edwardsville-based law firm donated $250,000 to the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that provides free civil legal services to low-income persons and senior citizens in 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation handles civil cases and provides services ranging from telephone advice or brief service, to representation in court or at administrative hearings. The type of services provided depends on the legal issues, case merits and staff availability. Randy Gori, one of the founding attorneys at Gori Julian & Associates, said ‘Our commitment to those in need is one of the pillars of Gori Julian & Associates so we are happy to support an organization such as Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation because their work benefits so many lives.'”  (River Bender)

May 21, 2015 – “The latest crop of Presidential Management Fellow finalists includes 131 candidates who identified themselves as service veterans, slightly more than last year, according to statistics from the Office of Personnel Management. The 2015 class of PMF finalists totals 600, with 508 traditional finalists and 92 candidates focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. OPM announced the group on March 26, and the finalists have until March 26, 2016, to land a two-year appointment. As of May 21, twenty finalists already have received appointments.”  (Government Executive)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Charles W. Bone

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, has awarded the first ever Gallatin Community Award to Charles W. Bone, founder and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC. The award was announced Tuesday evening during a reception at the Gallatin Public Library. Members of Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin office – which serves Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties – selected Bone as Legal Aid Society’s first community award recipient because he has championed the non-profit law firm in the community and his firm has been a financial and pro bono supporter to Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin office and its Nashville office.  Thank you for your commitment to pro bono and support of legal aid.  Read more about Mr. Bone here.

Super Music Bonus!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 15, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • St. Louis law firm gives $250,000 to legal aid;
  • New York State Bar Association honors pro bono service;
  • San Francisco unveils $10 million funding for services to immigrants;
  • Lawyers with lower pay report more happiness;
  • New Mexico public defender shortfall results in cutting contract attorneys;
  • Colorado pro bono patent program expands;
  • UMass Law Justice Bridge Incubator expands;
  • Legal Aid Ontario signs funding agreement with Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC);
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 7, 2015 – “In keeping with the true spirit of #giveSTLday, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) celebrated an individual who represents the best of St. Louis philanthropy, John Simon and the Simon Law Firm, P.C., who made an unrestricted gift of $250,000 gift to the organization earlier this year.”  “Held on May 5, #giveSTLday is an online fundraising initiative from the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation which encourages everyone in the community to come together for one special day to support St. Louis non-profits. LSEM was one of 790 non-profit organizations that participated in  #giveSTLday across 14 counties in the St. Louis region. More than $2 million was raised in just a 24-hour period. LSEM raised more than $5,000 through this effort and those funds will help the non-profit agency provide civil legal assistance to more than 16,000 low-income clients and their families this year.”  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

May 7, 2015 – “President Glenn Lau-Kee (Kee & Lau-Kee) and President-elect David P. Miranda (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti), co-chair of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, recognized twenty honorees during a luncheon at the State Bar Center. ‘Attorneys in New York have a long and distinguished tradition of helping the disadvantaged,’ said Lau-Kee. ‘Their selfless commitment to increasing access to justice for New Yorkers provides us with inspiring examples of what is possible and helps raise public awareness about the importance of access to justice for all — not just for those who can afford it.’ In addition to honoring attorneys representing 12 of New York’s 13 judicial districts, the awards were given to a lawyer under age 36 or practicing less than 10 years, a senior lawyer, law school group, law student, in-house counsel, small firm, mid-size firm and large firm.”  Read the full list here.  (Read Media)

May 7, 2015 – “San Francisco City Hall announced the allocation of $10 million over two years for assistance to the city’s immigrant community, including additional legal services, financial education, a new labor center for immigrants and other support services. The funding is aimed at strengthening citywide efforts including San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, the DreamSF Initiative and the implementation of President Barack Obama’s Administrative Relief to help undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows.”  (

May 12, 2015 – Let me say that again.  Lawyers with the lowest pay report more happiness.  This New York Times article discusses something we already know – when you like what you do, you’re happier.  And public interest lawyers tend to love what they do.  “Researchers who surveyed 6,200 lawyers about their jobs and health found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost zero correlation with happiness and well-being. However, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money, like public defenders or Legal Aid attorneys, were most likely to report being happy. Lawyers in public-service jobs also drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers. And, despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups reported about equal overall satisfaction with their lives.”  Read the full story for more analysis and ways to help students find what they love.  (The New York Times)

May 12, 2015 – “Chief Public Defender Jorge Alvarado sent a letter to chief judges statewide saying the predicted budget crisis had materialized for his office, resulting in a decision to stop providing contract defenders for indigent defendants who aren’t jailed because there’s no money to pay them. Contract defenders typically are hired when there is more than one defendant in a case, or in rural areas such as Lincoln or Cibola counties, where the Law Office of the Public Defender doesn’t have staff. The move could lead to a lawsuit – something that could be decided as soon as Wednesday, when the New Mexico Public Defender Commission has a special meeting in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico School of Law. ‘The commission is considering all options, including litigation, but no decisions have been made about how to proceed,’ said commission Chairman Michael Stout. ‘We do know we have inadequate funding, and we have to address it in some forum or another.'”  (Albuquerque Journal)

May 12, 2015 – “The Pro Bono Patent Program is an initiative led by Mi Casa Resource Center and the Colorado Bar Association Intellectual Property Section.  It pairs low-income inventors with patent professionals. Since its launch, 67 inventors have begun the application process and two were able to get their ideas patented. On Tuesday, the reach of the program grew. Mi Casa, the Colorado Bar Association and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the extension of the program — or ProBoPat — to the states of New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. ‘By providing the opportunity for under-resourced inventors to obtain patent counsel to assist in the filing and prosecution of their patent application, that is a way to promote both fairness for all and solid economic growth right here in the local community,’ said Robin Evans, interim director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Denver Satellite Office, which opened in June. With the regional expansion announced Tuesday, the ProBoPat program now is in 49 states, Evans said.”  (The Denver Post)

May 13, 2014 – “An innovative program at UMass Law is expanding thanks to a three-year $225,000 grant from Bristol County Savings Bank, according to a UMass Dartmouth news release. The Justice Bridge law practice incubator started in Boston nine months ago is going to be expanded to Taunton and New Bedford.”  The Boston office of Justice Bridge, that opened last August hired nine lawyers, mostly graduates of UMass Law, and processed more than 500 client matters. The New Bedford office has hired eight attorneys, mostly UMass Law graduates, and will host an open house later this spring. Some of those attorneys will spend eight hours a week at a Taunton office as well, according to the release.  (South Coast Today)

May 14, 2015 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will provide the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) with $100,000 over two years to provide post-conviction legal services and education. Over the years, LAO has both directly and indirectly supported the goals and aims of AIDWYC and the legal needs of its clients.  This pilot project will continue LAO’s relationship with AIDWYC by funding some of AIDWYC’s expenses related to reviewing claims of innocence, such as forensic expert opinions and private investigations. AIDWYC will continue to conduct case reviews on a pro bono basis, with the help of volunteer lawyers. Seventy per cent of the LAO funds will go towards the case review process and 30 per cent towards legal education about wrongful conviction. This agreement aims to recognize and correct wrongful convictions, by providing greater access to legal services after conviction.” (CNW)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Benjamin Evans, Fall River supervising attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services. The Massachusetts Bar Association honored Benjamin Evans, a Fall River public defender, with its Access to Justice Defender Award.  In a press release, the Massachusetts Bar Association said Evans’ priority, when assigned to represent an indigent defendant, is to let the client know that someone is in their corner. For some defendants whom Evans represents, that is a first for them, the MBA said.  Read more about Mr. Evans’ great work for his clients here.

Super Music Bonus!


Consider attending the Washington Council of Lawyers Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum

Calling all summer interns.  If you will be here in DC for the summer, the Washington Council of Lawyers Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum may be an event you want to add to your calendar.

When:  Thursday, June 11, from noon – 2:30 pm

Where: Arnold & Porter (555 12th Street NW).

The keynote speaker, Stephen Bright, is President and Senior Counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights.  He is a dynamic speaker and certainly someone you’ll want to hear speak.  But that’s not all.  The Summer Forum includes lunch, the keynote address, and the opportunity to learn more about pro bono opportunities and public interest practices in DC by attending a panel highlighting opportunities in these substantive practice areas:

Death Penalty & Criminal Law

Civil Rights & Civil Liberties

Human Rights & Immigration

Non-litigation Practice

Representation of Families and Children

Environmental Law

The Summer Forum is inspirational, informative, and memorable. It also is a great way to demonstrate your support for pro bono work and DC’s public
interest community.

The event routinely sells out, and early bird pricing ends on June 1 – so be
sure to get your tickets soon.  Many employers sponsor their summer interns for this event, so if you’re interested, check with your organization or firm first.

Click here to register!

You can learn more about the Washington Council of Lawyers and all of their upcoming events at


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 8, 2015

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

Happy Friday and hello from sunny Austin, TX!  Here at the ABA/NLADA 2015 Equal Justice Conference, we’ve come together to discuss issues such as delivery of legal services to the poor and low income individuals in need of legal assistance.  How can you help?  Check out the pro bono opportunities in your area!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Stetson law students honored for pro bono service;
  • 2015 Gary Bellow Public Service Award recipients honored;
  • Denver law firm donates to both Colorado law schools to create more experiential learning opportunities;
  • New York Office of Court Administration adopts changes to pro bono reporting;
  • Louisiana State Bar honors law student for pro bono service;
  • Wisconsin panel approves hiring 35 more public defenders;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 29, 2015 – “Stetson University College of Law student Rebecca Watts won the Law Student Pro Bono Award and students Tamara Major and Kelly Green received honorable mention from Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit for their commitment to creating pro bono service opportunities for students at Stetson.  Watts was nominated by the Community Law Program for her extraordinary pro bono service.” (PR Web)

April 30, 2015 – “On April 20, Harvard Law School honored two members of its community—Donna Harati ’15 and Laura Maslow-Armand ’92—with the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, established in 2001 to recognize commitment to public interest work.  The annual award, which is entirely student-run, honors one student and one graduate whose commitment to social justice ‘makes us proud to be members of the law school community,’ said Colin Ross ’16, one of the students announcing the winners at the event. The award was established in memory of the late Gary Bellow ’60, a pioneering attorney specializing in public interest and poverty law, who founded and directed the HLS Clinical Programs.” (Harvard Law Today)

May 1, 2015 – “Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, a Denver law firm with offices in 13 states, donated $500,000 to be split between the University of Colorado Law School and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, officials announced Friday. The $250,000 gifts — the largest gift to CU from a law firm — will be used to create endowed fellowship programs. The experiential learning programs will be designed to provide students with hands-on experiences, officials said. The Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Fellowship private-sector-focused law program at DU is expected to start as early as this fall. CU’s program, which will focus on government, is scheduled to start this summer. ‘We are just delighted that the firm is ‘paying it forward’ in this very impactful fashion, supporting our students gaining valuable experience over the summer and serving the public,’ Phil Weiser, dean of the CU Law School, said in a statement.”  (The Denver Post)

May 4, 2015 – “The Unified Court System has revised its requirements that lawyers report the amounts of time and money they donate to pro bono causes, rules that prompted an at-times bitter fight between Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the New York State Bar Association.  The revisions to the Rules of the Chief Administrator, 22 NYCRR Part 118, mandate that lawyers submit an anonymous statement, made separately from the registration forms filed every two years, in which they report their voluntary pro bono services and contributions. Mandatory reports will concern pro bono as described in Rule 6.1 of the attorney Rules of Professional Conduct.”  Lawyers also may report services and contributions not covered in Rule 6.1, including “unpaid public, community or charitable services such as not-for-profit boards, bar associations or soup kitchens, religious organizations or arts groups, as well as financial contributions to any charitable cause or enterprise.”  (New York Law Journal)

May 4, 2015 – “Loyola University New Orleans College of Law student Sophia Mire has been chosen to receive the 2015 Louisiana State Bar Association’s Law Student Pro Bono Award. The award is given annually in Louisiana to a student from an American Bar Association-accredited law school who has demonstrated dedication to providing legal services to the poor. Mire was nominated by Davida Finger, associate clinical professor in the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice.” (University Newsroom)

May 5, 2015 – “The Wisconsin Legislature’s budget-writing committee has voted to pay for hiring 35 additional assistant public defenders.  The Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to go along with Gov. Scott Walker’s recommendation to pay for the additional attorneys.  The move would actually save the state about $41,000 over two years because fewer private attorneys would have to be hired to represent defendants.”  (NBC 15)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund.  She was recently honored by the Education Law Center in New Jersey for her tireless work on behalf of  children. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Ms. Edelman began her career as an advocate for the disenfranchised in the 1960s. As the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson. In 1968, she moved toWashington, D.C., to work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as counsel to the Poor People’s Campaign. She later founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm, and served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University. In 1973, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund. As president of the CDF, Marian Wright Edelman has proved to be one of the most effective advocates for disadvantaged children and families not only of our time, but in American history. The CDF’s “Leave No Child Behind” mission is to ensure that every child gets a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life, and a successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.  Read more about her amazing work here.

Super Music Bonus!


Thank you to Lam Ho of CALA in Chicago for an inspiring Public Interest Luncheon!

We were pleased to host Lam Ho, Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA), as our keynote speaker for the annual Public Interest Luncheon during the NALP Annual Education Conference.  Lam began his career as a Skadden Fellow with the Chicago Legal Assistance Foundation. Prior to founding CALA, he was a staff attorney at Equip for Equality, where he defended the civil rights of people with disabilities.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was honored with many awards for his public service and dedication to his community.  In less than 10 years, Lam has made his dream of an organization that serves the marginalized where they live – in their communities – a reality.  If you want to know what community lawyering looks like CALA is a great example.  We were so inspired by the work he’s doing and the individuals he’s able to help. He’s truly uniting lawyers and community activists to bring free legal services back to  underserved populations in Chicago.  Learn more about CALA and Lam here.

We at NALP were privileged to make a modest donation in recognition of Lam’s contribution to our conference and support of CALA’s work.  If you’d like to do the same, below is the contact information, or you can visit the CALA website.

Community Activism Law Alliance

“Lawyering Beyond Boundaries…”

332 S. Michigan Ave.

Suite 1032-C297

Chicago, IL 60604-4434

Phone: (312) 999-0056

Fax: (312) 999-0076


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 1, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  We’re back from a great week of learning and connecting in Chicago.  I hope everyone enjoyed their time at the Annual Education Conference – we certainly did!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Settlement reached in Georgia indigent defense system case;
  • Albany Law School opens immigration clinic;
  • Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center receives grant to expand immigration clinic;
  • University of Chicago Law School receives gift for environmental clinic;
  • New York AG partnering with law schools to help technology start-ups;
  • Legal Aid Ontario tightens rules for refugee cases;
  • Wisconsin State Bar supports CLE credit for pro bono work;
  • New student legal aid clinic opening in Thunder Bay;
  • Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County adopts new online arbitration system;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 21, 2015 – “A settlement reached this week will improve legal representation for poor children and adults in a south Georgia judicial circuit, lawyers who filed a lawsuit on their behalf said. Lawyers with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in January 2014 against the four-county Cordele Judicial Circuit and other defendants. Among the problems they cited were juvenile defendants often appearing without a lawyer or represented by lawyers who met with them only briefly, public defenders unable to spend more than a few minutes per adult case, and chronic underfunding and understaffing. The Southern Center says the agreement with the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, its director, the Cordele Circuit public defender and the circuit’s four county governments was filed Monday. If it is approved by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, it will go into effect July 1 and will run for three years.” (Thomasville Times Enterprise)

April 22, 2015 – “Albany Law School has announced that it will launch a new immigration law clinic to provide free legal help for immigrants in cases of domestic violence, protection of minors, deportation, detention and U-Visa applications. ‘Although we are a nation of immigrants, today’s immigration system is in an unprecedented state of disarray,’ Sarah Rogerson, an Albany law professor who will direct the clinic, said in a news release. ‘This new clinic will give our students the opportunity to provide compassionate legal service to people who really need it.’ The clinic will begin taking cases in the fall.” (New York Law Journal)

April 22, 2015 – “Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center announced that its immigration law clinic has received a grant to take on additional cases involving unaccompanied minors. Touro, which has operated its immigration law clinic since last fall, announced on April 1 that it received $100,000 from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, a church congregation that provides funding to outside agencies that address the ‘root of social problems.’ William Brooks, a Touro law professor who directs the school’s program, said the grant would allow the clinic to hire a staff attorney to assist with its growing caseload.”(New York Law Journal)

April 23, 2015 – “A gift made by Jonathan Mills, ’77, as trustee of a charitable trust, will benefit the University of Chicago Law School’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic. To be expended at the discretion of the clinic’s director, the gift provides funds for activities that support the clinic’s mission, which might include obtaining expert consultation, underwriting student travel for site visits and client interactions, and covering other litigation costs.” (University of Chicago Law School News)

April 24, 2015 – “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of  a partnership with local law schools to help start-ups navigate state laws and regulations. By partnering with Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP), the Fordham University School of Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy and the Tech Startup Clinic (CLIP), operated out of Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, Schneiderman hopes to promote regular interaction between government and technology start-ups.” (Capitol Playbook)(ABC News)

April 24, 2015 – “Legal Aid Ontario is tightening its rules for lawyers who take on refugee cases following a scathing report that showed thousands of Hungarian Roma were left high and dry by lawyers who made hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. Andrew Brouwer, senior legal counsel with Immigration and Refugee Law at Legal Aid Ontario, said starting this summer, lawyers who want to handle legal aid refugee cases will have to apply to be authorized to handle those kinds of cases, pass a competency test and meet certain standards and best practices.”  (CBC News)

April 24, 2015 – “The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors supports a petition that would allow Wisconsin attorneys to obtain continuing legal education (CLE) credit for doing pro bono work to foster practical learning and increase pro bono service. The 52-member board unanimously approved a petition developed by the State Bar’s Legal Assistance Committee – in consultation with the CLE Committee – allowing attorneys to claim one CLE credit for every five hours of qualifying pro bono service, up to a maximum of six credits per reporting period.” (State Bar of Wisconsin)

April 27, 2015 – “Lakehead Legal Services is the first legal aid clinic to open its doors at the law school in Thunder Bay, Ont.  Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is just two years old and adding a clinic seems like a natural progression, says Kimberley Gagan, the director of Lakehead Legal Services. This small law school only has 58 students in the 2L stream who have been waiting for the clinic to open since day one. ‘They are very excited and enthusiastic and they are looking forward, I think to the opportunity, for the chance to get their hands on real life files and come to court and represent real people,’ says Gagan.”  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

April 28, 2015 – “The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. announces that innovative online arbitration service will soon be made available to its clients. ‘Online arbitration will allow us to streamline our process while at the same time offering a much more cost-effective way to resolve legal issues for the disadvantaged citizens of Palm Beach County,’ said Bob Bertisch, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Florida.”  (PR Web)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Lam Nguyen Ho, founder and Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) in Chicago.  We were pleased to host Lam as the keynote speaker for the NALP Conference Public Interest Luncheon.  He shared his experiences and unique way of lawyering within the community, leaving us uplifted and inspired. As he described to us, he has experienced firsthand the challenges of community lawyering and civil legal services, and was inspired to innovatively confront these challenges through the creation of CALA.

We at NALP were privileged to make a modest donation in recognition of Lam’s contribution to our conference and in support of CALA’s work.  If you’d like to do the same, visit CALA’s website.

Super Music Bonus!