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!

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