Archive for June, 2015

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 26, 2015

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships Happy Friday! Here are the week’s headlines:

  • State Bar of Georgia approves funding for incubator program;
  • Orleans Public Defender announces austerity plan;
  • New Hampshire Legal assistance receives grant from New Hampshire Bar Foundation;
  • Vermont launches patent pro bono program;
  • North Carolina State Senate proposes stripping another $3 million from UNC Law School;
  • Equal Justice Wyoming announces grants to legal service providers;
  • Need for access for  francophone legal services in Manitoba on the rise;
  • Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (of New York) launches project to provide LGBTQ services;
  • Rhode Island Supreme Court ruling expands legal services;
  • San Mateo County California approves budget for private defender system;
  • Boston Bar Foundation awards $950,000 in grants;
  • First class of New York Pro Bono Scholars are sworn in;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 19, 2015 – “The State Bar of Georgia’s Board of Governors on Friday narrowly approved funding for a new lawyer incubator program through which up to 30 new graduates from Georgia law schools will receive mentoring, office space and other help to start small practices.” The project will be run by a nonprofit group with an initial startup donation of $25,000 from each of the state’s law schools. (Daily Report)(free subscription required)

June 21, 2015 – “Three years after purging nearly a third of his lawyers amid a steep budget shortfall, Orleans Parish Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton has told his staff that a new round of stiff cuts — lengthy furloughs, possibly layoffs or some combination — is coming. Bunton put his austerity plan on paper last week, alerting the City Council, the mayor, judges and Sheriff Marlin Gusman that it ‘will likely cause serious delays in the courts and potential constitutional crises for our criminal justice system in New Orleans if no solution is reached timely.’ Bunton said he would institute a hiring freeze beginning July 1, the start of a new fiscal year in which he says he’s facing a $1 million shortfall from the current year’s budget of about $6 million. Barring a bailout before then, furloughs will come in October, Bunton said. His letter did not say how long the furloughs would run, but Bunton has told his staff they can expect to lose several weeks of pay.”  (The New Orleans Advocate)

June 21, 2015 – “New Hampshire Legal Assistance was recently awarded $488,000 from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s IOLTA Grants Program to provide civil legal aid services to New Hampshire residents in the coming fiscal year, according to a press statement.”  (Concord Patch)

June 22, 2015 – “Vermont is launching a program to help qualified inventors and small businesses get donated legal services from patent attorneys and agents. The program is made possible by the Leahy -Smith America Invents Act, which requires the US Patent and Trademark Office to work with law associations to create donated programs for under-resourced small businesses and independent inventors. Vermont’s program is part of a regional New England effort.”  (Washington Times)

June 22, 2015 – “State Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican, introduced a late amendment to the state budget last week that would cut $3 million from the law school in Chapel Hill—more than 10 percent of its proposed $27.2 budget for next fiscal year. The Senate passed the amendment by a 30-19 vote, and the proposed budget is now before the state House of Representatives. In February, the UNC Board of Governors voted to strip money from the law school’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. The center is now supported through private donations.”  (The National Law Journal)

June 22, 2015 – “Equal Justice Wyoming, formerly the Wyoming Center for Legal Aid, recently announced the award of grants to five, nonprofit, legal service providers totaling $852,777 to provide civil legal aid to the low-income population of Wyoming, the maximum amount available in the budget approved by the legislature. Equal Justice received 12 grant proposals requesting more than $1.5 million. The grants awarded are one-year grants.”  (Casper Journal)

June 22, 2015 – “Manitoba’s growing francophone population is putting pressure on the province’s judicial system to provide legal services in French. And that’s got some influential players doing what they can to try to ensure people are equally able to have a trial or preliminary hearing in either of Canada’s official languages. ‘Because you have a more significant French-speaking population in Manitoba (than in previous years) that isn’t always comfortable with English, the requirement for French legal services and trials is going up,’ said Renald Remillard, executive director of the Centre Canadien de Francais Juridique Inc., a training centre for judges, police officers, lawyers and private sector jurists to hone their French language skills. Another new development is lawyers now have a professional obligation to inform their clients of the right to have a trial in French or English, said Lorna Turnbull, dean of the law school at the University of Manitoba, an obligation that they didn’t have in previous years. The right to have a French-speaking lawyer and judge only applies to criminal matters, she said.”  (The Carillon)

June 22, 2015 – “Westchester County now has an attorney dedicated to providing civil legal services to low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning individuals. The Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) has launched a project aimed at helping members of the LGBTQ community with issues such as changing their legal name and fighting discrimination. ‘We are extremely excited to start work on this new project,’ CEO Barbara Finkelstein said. ‘While civil rights for the LGBTQ community have expanded in recent years, there is still important work to be done.’ Deputy Executive Director Cynthia Knox said Legal Services of Hudson Valley is supporting the project with increased state funding for general civil legal services.”  (New York Law Journal)

June 22, 2015 – “A recent state Supreme Court decision is widening the menu of legal services Rhode Islanders can choose from when they represent themselves in court — a move advocates praise as improving access to justice for people who can’t afford the “Cadillac” of legal help. The high court earlier this month cleared the way for lawyers to provide a limited scope of representation — including writing briefs — for people representing themselves, as long as those services are reasonable and the litigant gives informed consent.  Lawyers must sign any pleadings that they help a client prepare and disclose extent of their role in the case.”  (Providence Journal)

June 22, 2015 – “The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $17.5 million budget for the Private Defender program, which provides private attorneys for defendants who can’t afford to pay for a lawyer. The Chief Defender John Digiacinto says the program, which replaces a Public Defender’s office, is run by the San Mateo Bar Association and is the only one of its kind in California. The Private Defender program has been in place for more than 40 years and was instituted to lower costs.”  There have been critics in recent years, particularly regarding case outcomes. “The Private Defender Program did receive an award for excellence from the American Bar Association. Chief Defender John Digiacinto said he would like to keep improving the program, hire more minorities, and get more community feedback.” (KTVU)

June 24, 2015 – “The Boston Bar Foundation – the charitable affiliate of the Boston Bar Association – announced today that it will provide $950,000 in grants to 23 community organizations that work to provide legal services to those in need. Approximately 40% of the funding is comprised of proceeds from the BBF’s annual John & Abigail Adams Benefit and BBF reserves, with the remainder derived from Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) funds. The grantee organizations administer legal aid to the most vulnerable and underprivileged members of the population, such as the homeless, domestic violence survivors, at-risk children, and veterans.” (Real Estate Rama)

June 25, 2015 – “The first class of Pro Bono Scholars, a program that allows 3L students to spend their final semesters of law school working in the field, was sworn in this week to each of the state’s four appellate division departments. The program has 106 participants statewide. This week, 72 of those were admitted to the bar. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman proposed the program in his 2014 State of the Judiciary address. Law students who qualify are allowed to take the bar examination in February of their third year of law school and then work for 500 hours over 12 weeks for groups providing legal services to the indigent. Provided they pass the bar exam and complete the program’s requirements, the participants can be sworn in just after graduation—up to one year earlier than classmates who take the July bar exam after graduation.” (New York Law Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The Pueblo County Bar Association and the local office of Colorado Legal Services honored former Municipal Judge Joe Ulibarri at its annual awards ceremony Friday night. Each year, legal services and the local bar association honors attorneys and firms that have devoted several hours to pro bono work in the community. Ulibarri was given a lifetime achievement award for his leadership and commitment to pro bono work. Read more about Judge Ulibarri’s commitment to his community here.

Super Music Bonus!  https://youtu.be/IPeo_X7hVe8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 19, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • 2015-2016 White House Fellowship finalists announced;
  • OPM announces then pulls back contract award for social media screening for applicants;
  • New collaboration in Victoria, British Columbia brings new help for child protection issues;
  • Changes in leadership in public interest organizations demonstrate a national trend;
  • Washington state study shows many low-income households don’t seek legal aid;
  • ACLU sues Idaho for lack of action to fix public defender system;
  • Office created to coordinate civil legal services in New York City;
  • Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law establishes Veterans Disability Law Clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 11, 2015 – “The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced the National Finalists for the 2015-2016 White House Fellowship. This year’s class of Finalists represents an accomplished and diverse cross-section of professionals from the private sector, academia, medicine, and our armed services. National Finalists have advanced through a highly competitive selection process, including a comprehensive written application and regional interviews with civic leaders at eight different cities across the country. The National Finalists were evaluated by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in Washington, DC over the weekend.”  (The White House)

June 15, 2015 – “The Office of Personnel Management began taking a few first steps last week toward incorporating social media and other publicly available information about prospective hires into the traditional background check process. But less than a week a later, the agency has backtracked without explanation. OPM, still dealing with a massive data breach that potentially compromised personal information from every federal employee, last week posted a notice stating its intent to award a sole-source contract to California-based tech company Social Intelligence. The company, which also has offices in Washington and Western Pennsylvania, claims to be able to use social media and other publicly available information to compile reports detailing ‘whether an individual’s publicly available online data contains information that may be relevant for the security clearance or employment suitability process,’ according to its website. Social Intelligence relies on proprietary algorithms and analysts, the site said. But on Monday, the solicitation was canceled, according to a notice on FedBizOpps.gov.”  (NextGov)

June 15, 2015 – “A new collaboration between Victoria Legal Aid and two community legal centres aims to achieve better outcomes for local families with child protection problems. Under the two-year pilot announced this week, lawyers with Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre will for the first time help people in the Family Division of the Children’s Court in Bendigo and Moorabbin, and at the pilot Family Drug Treatment Court. The community legal centre lawyers will provide eligible clients with advice, representation and referrals on the day they first come to court with a child protection legal problem, then continue to work with them on related ongoing casework.”  (Victoria Legal Aid News)

June 15, 2015 – “The Philadelphia public interest community is in the midst of a flurry of leadership changes, and as longtime pillars of the community pass on their organizations’ torches, the same appears to be happening nationwide as a generational shift occurs. ‘It’s a national phenomenon,’ said Catherine Carr, who is leaving Community Legal Services after serving as its executive director for 20 years. ‘Just in the last few days, I’ve seen probably three ads around the country.’ Carr attributed the increase in national turnover to the aging of the baby-boom generation. Many public interest organizations were founded 40 or 50 years ago, she said, and their leaders are reaching the ends of their careers.” This is an interesting article about the national trend.  (The Legal Intelligencer)

June 17, 2015 – “Despite an overwhelming percentage of low-income households in Washington facing civil legal problems, very few actually seek legal aid, according to information gathered in a study by the Washington State University Social and Economic Sciences Research Center. According to the report, more than 70 percent of low-income households in Washington had a civil legal problem within the past year, but three-fourths of those people did not seek or obtain legal aid, said Arina Gertseva, co-principal investigator with the SESRC. Those surveyed most commonly said they were unable to receive legal assistance because it was too expensive, they didn’t know where to go or their phone calls were never returned, she said.”  Many of the conclusions may already be known anecdotally, but the results are an interesting read.  (Moscow-Pullman Daily News)(subscription required)

June 17, 2015 – “Citing Idaho’s persistent failure to fix a broken public defense system, the ACLU followed through Wednesday on a threatened lawsuit to force the state to create a centralized public defense system and take other steps to insure compliance with federal and state laws on right to counsel and due process. The class-action lawsuit on behalf of five Idaho residents names Gov. Butch Otter and members of a legislative commission created in 2014 to address deficiencies in the state’s patchwork network of county public defender offices and practices. That commission was itself an outgrowth of an earlier governor-appointed panel. Commission after commission ‘passed the buck,’ the lawsuit charges. The group said it would file the suit Wednesday.”  (Idaho Statesman)

June 17, 2015 – “Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation this week to create an Office of Civil Justice, which will be responsible for coordinating civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers. The office will fall under the auspices of the city’s Human Resources Administration and mirror the Office of Criminal Justice, which was established last year. It will issue regular reports on the need for civil legal services by low-income residents and the availability of free and low-cost services to meet that need, as well as review budget requests from city agencies that provide such services.”  (New York Law Journal)

June 18, 2015 – “Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law has established a Veterans Disability Law Clinic. The school says the clinic, which it calls the first of its kind in the state, will represent veterans whose disability benefits applications have been denied. Income-eligible veterans in Monroe, Greene, Lawrence, Brown, Owen and Morgan counties will be eligible for services. The clinic plans to begin accepting clients next month.”  (Inside Indiana Business)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Theodore Howard of Wiley Rein has long defended the rights of prisoners and fought against prison overcrowding across the country. John Relman of Relman, Dane & Colfax has championed the development of integrated communities in the fight for racial and economic justice. Howard and Relman received the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s 2015 Wiley A. Branton Award, named for civil rights advocate Wiley A. Branton Sr. Nearly 1,000 attorneys and business leaders gathered at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel for the awards ceremony.  Read more about their great work here.

Super Music Bonus!  https://youtu.be/tqw4LCOdD04

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – Jun 12, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  I hope your summer is going well so far.  We have a lot of new programs and services to report this week.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid Ontario lawyers launch constitutional challenge; 
  • Tennessee Legal Aid Society launches elder law program;
  • California Senate passes bill to help public interest lawyers;
  • New legal aid office opens in Saratoga Springs, New York;
  • Six tips for a federal resume;
  • Legal Aid Ontario announces significant expansion;
  • Bexar County, Texas to offer attorneys at initial hearings;
  • Proposal to allow pay and academic credit for externships moves forward in ABA;
  • Pennsylvania raises pro hac vice fees to support loan repayment program;
  • Michigan Indigent Defense Commission works on standards for public defenders;
  • NLADA report shows loan forgiveness critical to access to justice;
  • University of California providing direct legal aid to undocumented UC students;
  • Senate Appropriations Committee approves $385 million for Legal Services Corporation;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 4, 2015 – “Lawyers employed at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) along with The Society of Energy Professionals (The Society) launched a constitutional challenge following two years of resistance by Legal Aid Ontario to recognize their right to collectively bargain as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. ‘After two years of requests to our employer, LAO, and to the government for help, we have been forced to pursue our rights by filing the application to remedy this injustice,’ said Dana Fisher, LAO Lawyers’ spokesperson. ‘Rights enshrined in the Charter are for everyone, even lawyers.'”  (CNW)

June 4, 2015 – “A $40,000 grant from The Memorial Foundation will be used to support Legal Aid Society’s services to senior citizens. Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, announced today it has received a $40,000 grant from The Memorial Foundation to launch an Elder Law Program in parts of the region. The new Elder Law Program will provide ongoing legal and educational services for seniors residing in Davidson, Cheatham, Sumner and Robertson counties. As part of the program, Legal Aid Society staff will present community seminars to empower seniors and their caretakers by addressing common legal issues faced by the elderly, as well as educating them on their rights and responsibilities. The Elder Law Program will also provide free civil legal services to qualified seniors.”  (South Cheatham Advocate)

June 4, 2015 – “A bill that would allow the California State Bar to collect donations from members to fund a student loan repayment program for public interest attorneys was unanimously approved yesterday by the state Senate. The bill next moves to the Assembly. If the bill becomes law, an option to donate to the Public Interest Attorney Loan  Repayment Program could be added to State Bar dues statements as soon as next year.”  (Metropolitan News-Enterprise)

June 4, 2015 – “Residents of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties have a new place to get free legal help. The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York opened a new office Thursday in Saratoga Springs. The lawyers and paralegals will provide free civil legal services and education to low-income residents. Staff helps clients with issues related to their essential needs such as housing and health care.”   (WNYT)

June 5, 2015 – Federal government resumes will always be their own animal.  Government Executive put together 6 tips that are extremely helpful.  (Government Executive)

June 8, 2015 – “Legal Aid Ontario is embarking on the most significant and rapid expansion of services for low-income residents in a quarter century. The multi-year plan being announced Monday aims to address the growing needs of a range of vulnerable groups that are over-represented in the courts, including members of First Nations, victims of domestic violence and people suffering from mental illness. The array of new services includes everything from coverage for first-time offenders in criminal cases to complex matters in family courts, where more than 50 per cent of litigants do not have lawyers. Monday’s announcement is the latest in a series of legal aid expansions that have followed a commitment by the province last year to inject more than $150 million over four years to raise the income eligibility threshold and increase the range of legal services that qualify for assistance. The new services available to financially eligible adults were chosen in consultation with lawyers, judges and community groups, to provide early intervention and prevent legal matters from escalating.”  (The Star)

June 8, 2015 – “The Bexar County Public Defender’s Office will now provide attorneys to poor, mentally ill offenders at their initial hearing, making Bexar the only county in Texas to do so. The new service is possible because of a grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The grant will provide about $600,000 worth of support over four years.”  (San Antonio Current)

June 8, 2015 – “A proposed change to law school accreditation standards eliminating the current ban on students receiving academic credit for paid externships has been approved for notice and comment by the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Under the proposal, a law school could decide for itself whether a student should receive academic credit for a paid externship or field placement—but only if the school can demonstrate that it has maintained enough control over the student experience to ensure that the requirements of the standards are being met.”  (ABA Journal)

June 9, 2015 – “In an effort to revitalize a student loan debt program supporting attorneys who provide civil legal work for those who can’t afford representation, the state Supreme Court has nearly doubled the fee for out-of-state attorneys to appear in Pennsylvania courts. The increased revenue from the fee hike will go toward the state’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which provides student loan debt assistance to attorneys in Pennsylvania who serve the legal needs of the poor. The program is not funded with tax money, but solely through the revenue from the pro hac vice fee.”  (The Legal Intelligencer)

June 10, 2015 – “The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission on Tuesday hashed out a first draft of its first set of proposed standards for public defenders in Michigan, saying appointed attorneys should be well-educated and continually trained, should meet quickly with their clients, should thoroughly investigate their cases, and more. Jonathan Sacks, MIDC executive director, told commissioners meeting in downtown Lansing that he hoped to publish the standards within a couple of weeks. They will be posted on the commission’s new website, michiganidc.gov, and in trade publications ahead of an Aug. 18 public hearing. The commission hopes to deliver its recommendations to the Michigan Supreme Court by Oct. 1, with final approval from justices by spring 2016.”  (Lansing State Journal)

June 10, 2015 – “The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) has just released a 2,000-person survey showing that dramatically reducing student loan forgiveness for lawyers working in the public interest would profoundly diminish access to justice for low-income people. The Obama Administration has proposed capping payments for those participating in the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, and some in Congress have recommended completely eliminating the program. The survey — ‘The Critical Role of Public Service Loan Forgiveness in Access to Counsel and Equal Justice’ — makes it clear that cutting PSLF would force many with substantial loans from law school to take jobs in private practice rather than in public service, and the people who would suffer most are community members with limited incomes who rely on these attorneys.” The full analysis is available at the link.  (NLADA)

June 10, 2015 – “The University of California is the first public university in the country to start a legal center on this level, with full-time attorneys to provide legal aid to undocumented students and their families. The UC Undocumented Legal Services Center is based at the UC Davis School of Law, but the attorneys see students at six other campuses, specifically those that don’t have their own law schools: Santa Cruz, Riverside, Merced, San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. The attorneys say they’ve helped more than 100 students since the center opened in November.”  (KQED)

June 11, 2015 – “The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved $385 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in FY 2016. This amount represents a $10 million increase over LSC’s current funding and is $85 million more than the House approved last week. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.”  (LSC)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Retired Maj. General Kenneth D. Gray

Retired Maj. General Kenneth D. Gray, former vice president of student affairs at West Virginia University, is the American Bar Association’s 2015 Nelson Award recipient. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the ABA by an individual government or public sector lawyer. Winners are chosen by the American Bar Association Government & Public Sector Lawyers Division. Gray joined the ABA in 1972, when he was a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He is the first and only African-American general officer in the history of the JAG Corps since its inception in 1775. For more than 20 years, he has worked to ensure the voice of military lawyers is heard and that they are an integral part of the association.  Read more about Maj. Gen. Gray’s contributions to our community here.  (The State Journal)

Super Music Bonus!  https://youtu.be/UPNDK46QiRM

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Job’o’th’Week (Entry-Level) — LAST-MINUTE Children’s Rights Fellowship Opening!

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Late to the fellowship party? Interested in children’s rights or education? Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a statewide legal aid organization in Maine, anticipates hiring an attorney for a two-year fellowship in its KIDS LEGAL project (pending a funding request they expect to hear about soon). The KIDS LEGAL project focuses on training and advocacy related to the needs of the 43% of children in Maine from low-income families.  Issues the project addresses includes special education needs, barriers to enrollment, and suspensions of over 10 days. The fellow’s experience will vary widely as he or she handles cases, trains parents and stakeholders on educational rights and responsibilities, and provides consultations for local professionals handling education-related issues.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application deadline: July 2nd, 2015)

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Finding jobs and turning heads in the federal government

Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow (’14-’15)

The federal government is big and does a lot of stuff. [citation needed] Folks across the political spectrum approach this fact with various feelings, but it’s true. And with great scope comes great opportunity. Almost regardless of what your interests are as a lawyer, odds are some corner of the Fed might enable you to pursue them. If you’re in the midst of your job search and you haven’t taken a look around the government yet, you probably should. You never know what you might find.

USAJobs.gov handles so many different fields, it can be hard to find relevant information.

USAJobs.gov handles so many different fields, it can be hard to find relevant information.

The problem is, the federal government is big and does a lot of stuff. That means that taking a look around is far from simple. USAJobs.gov–the federal hiring portal– handles so many job notices in so many different fields, it can be hard to find relevant information. Moreover, once you find positions you want to apply to you’ll probably learn that the federal hiring process involves different conventions than most other employers.

Without help, overcoming these challenges can be slow and painful. Luckily, there are resources out there to speed things up for you:

  1. USAJobs Search/Alert Walkthrough. This winter, the PSJD Resource Center added a walkthrough to help jobseekers set up their USAJobs.gov accounts to locate positions that require or prefer candidates with legal training. (Courtesy of Georgetown Law’s Office of Public Interests Career Services) It’s your best option for getting up to speed on USAJobs and finding positions you’re interested in.
  2. Tips for Writing Federal Resumes. Last Friday, Lindy Kyzer of ClearanceJobs.com (and formerly of the DoD) published a new listicle of do’s and don’ts for your federal-government-specific resume. (Yes, you need a federal-government-specific resume.)

So check out these guides, and get out there! If you find anything unexpected in the federal government, feel free to share your surprise. If you come up with additional resources you’ve found helpful, let me know and I can pass them on.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – June 5, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • UnitedLex launches legal residency program;
  • Ontario launches pilot to strengthen access to justice in French;
  • Canadian legal clinics ramp up efforts to get justice for vulnerable workers;
  • NAACP Legal Defense Fund boosts grants to law school scholarship fund;
  • Seven people passed test to become limited license legal technicians in Washington;
  • ABA will revisit paid externships;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 28, 2015 – “UnitedLex, a leading global provider of legal services, announced today an innovative ‘legal residency’ program in conjunction with four top U.S. law schools: Emory University School of Law, the University of Miami School of Law, the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Vanderbilt Law School. Recent Emory Law graduates who participate in the two-year UnitedLex residency program will learn to use cutting-edge legal technologies and processes to provide high-quality and efficient legal services to corporate legal departments and top law firms. Those selected for the residency program each year will receive rigorous classroom instruction provided by senior attorneys, will serve in a supervisory capacity, and will work directly with clients to deliver legal services in such practice areas as litigation management, e-discovery, cyber security, contract management, patent licensing, IP management and immigration law. At the end of the residency, some residents will remain on UnitedLex’s permanent legal staff, while others will join employers seeking experienced attorneys trained in the technologies and processes of 21st-century law practice.” (Emory News)

May 29, 2015 – “Ontario is piloting an initiative in Ottawa to give French-speaking Ontarians timely and seamless access to French-language justice services. A pilot project at the Ottawa courthouse, delivered in partnership with Ontario’s chief justices, will help reduce potential challenges faced by French-speaking litigants, lawyers and other users of Ontario’s courts. The project, which responds to a number of recommendations set out by the French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory committee in its 2012 Access to Justice in French report and the French Language Services Commissioner’s 2013-2014 Annual Report, will help Ontario identify best practices to enhance access to justice in French at court locations throughout the province.”  (Ontario Newsroom)

May 31, 2015 – “For the precariously employed, getting justice for workplace violations is more often than not confusing, daunting and discouraging. Legal Aid Ontario does not provide any direct support for workers’ rights matters. Instead, it funds the province’s 76 clinics, about 40 per cent of which are in the GTA. They are the only source of legal support for the thousands of precariously employed people whose rights are violated at work each year. But for years, many of those clinics have been too overburdened to offer employment law services at all. And for decades, the working poor have not even qualified for their help because of outdated government eligibility criteria. Clinics are leaping on a sliver of opportunity presented by two recent developments: new money for the community clinic system from Legal Aid Ontario, and new guidelines that mean more low-income people are now able to use legal clinics. The new funding, first announced in March, will pump $9.8 million a year over the next two years into community legal clinics. Of that, $2 million will be devoted specifically to improving clinic capacity, including a boost to services such as workers’ rights law. ‘There are plans to expand in this area as there is an unmet client need currently,’ Geneviève Oger, Legal Aid Ontario’s media relations officer, told the Star.”  (The Star)

June 2, 2015 – “The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is overhauling its law student scholarship program, increasing the amount of grants and providing substantive civil rights training. The changes come as the organization celebrates its 75th anniversary of leveraging the law in pursuit of racial justice and education.  The Earl Warren Scholarship— launched in 1971 and named for the former chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who presided over the seminal school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education—has increased from $9,000 to $30,000, although the organization will limit recipients to five each year, down from about 15.”  (The National Law Journal)

June 2, 2015 – “Seven people have cleared a major hurdle to become the nation’s first limited license legal technicians. Nine people took Washington state’s first exam for limited license legal technicians, and seven of them passed. Washington is the first state with a program to allow limited license legal technicians to help litigants prepare legal documents and provide advice on legal procedures without a lawyer’s supervision. The seven applicants passed a test to work in domestic relations, the first practice area open to technicians in Washington’s program. The seven people will still have to show they have insurance and 3,000 hours of supervised experience. A licensing fee and trust account reporting are also required.”  (ABA Journal)

June 3, 2015 – The the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will again take up the issue of whether schools can allow paid externships in addition to granting academic credit.  We’ll keep you posted on their conclusions.  (National Law Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: On June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.  The women’s suffragist movement was founded in the mid-19th century by women who had become politically active through the abolitionist and temperance movements.  71 years and two wars later, the struggle for female enfranchisment was rewarded with passage of the 19th Amendment.  Thank you to all the brave women and men who fought for a woman’s right to vote.  (History Channel)

Super Music Bonus!  https://youtu.be/xQNqaERUYy4

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