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!  https://youtu.be/d1VZNtlyEII

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