Archive for August, 2015

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 28, 2015

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

Happy Friday! Did your school have a day of service as part of your Orientation? Tell us about it, and we’ll feature it during the month of September. The Digest will take a vacation next week, and will return on September 11th.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Young lawyers in  South Korea launch online legal help service;
  • Ava Maria School of Law gives back with day of service;
  • New York provides grant for legal services for HIV families;
  • Texas Tech’s School of Law announces public service requirement;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 21, 2015 – Here is an interesting take on direct legal services.  “You can book a movie ticket, order food or call a taxi via online and mobile tools. So, what about legal services? That idea had led three lawyers ― Park Hyo-yeon, 33, Lee Sang-min, 35, and Nam Ki-ryong, 36 ― to launch a ‘Help Me,’ website for instant messaging to better and more easily provide legal help. The three started the service in response to the growing needs of people who seek immediate help with cases not high-profile enough to warrant the services of large law firms, Park said. ‘People usually do not know where to find lawyers, and the idea of hiring a lawyer itself is a lot of stress amid the lack of credible information about who are the good ones,’ she said. ‘We hope to provide easier access to those who need legal help. We hope they will find out answers to any questions they may have regarding their current situation.’ Reservation is required with 10,000 [$8.52] won on deposit, and the service areas include finance, criminal cases, defamation, property disputes, school violence and start-up businesses. Not only instant messaging, but also counseling ― either face-to-face or via phone ― is available. The hourly fee for counseling is 110,000 won [$93.71]. Drafting legal documents costs 440,000 [$374.84] won for the first two hours, and 165,000 [$140.57] won is added for every hour after that. Since its launch on July 30, almost 3,000 people have visited the website.” (Korea Times)

August 21, 2015 –  “Ave Maria School of Law welcomed their newest class of students last week. As part of their annual volunteer commitment these 120 new students spent Saturday volunteering at different locations in Naples. Although the event was mainly for the first year law students Student Bar Association officers, alumni, faculty, and staff came out to volunteer as well. Monsignor Frank McGrath, Dean of Student Affairs Kaye Castro, Director of Admissions Claire O’Keefe, and the President and Dean Kevin Cieply were all in attendance.” (Naples Herald)

August 22, 2015 – “State officials are offering support and protections for HIV-positive individuals and their families through $2.5 million in grants awarded to 11 organizations across the state which provide these individuals with access to various legal services.” “‘Individuals living with HIV often have to deal with a long list of legal issues resulting from their illness and are unable to find or afford the proper assistance,’ said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. ‘This funding helps ensure that HIV-positive individuals and their families have access to the services and supports that can sometimes be difficult to obtain.'” (Nyack-Piermont Patch)

August 26, 2015 -“Texas Tech’s School of Law announces new public service graduation requirements beginning with the fall 2015 semester. New students entering the Tech School of Law in or after fall 2015 must complete at least 30 hours of public service before graduation. At least 15 of those hours must be in the form of pro bono legal services, with the remaining hours consisting of either pro bono or non-legal community service. All full-time faculty will be required to perform at least 10 hours of public service each year.” (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

The law firm Bodman PLC has been named to the 2015 State Bar of Michigan’s Circle of Excellence for its commitment to pro bono and community service.

The State Bar recognized Bodman at the “Leadership Level,” a designation given to firms that contribute more than 30 hours of pro bono work per attorney or give at least $500 per attorney in financial donations to approved organizations.

In 2014, Bodman attorneys devoted more than 5,400 hours of pro bono work to dozens of organizations and individuals. Highlights of the firm’s recent efforts include founding and coordinating a legal clinic at Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen and helping launch the Wayne County PPO Assistance Project, which assists victims of domestic violence obtain and defend their personal protection orders.

Bodman is one of only two firms in Michigan to employ a dedicated to pro bono counsel. Kimberley Paulson. Paulson joined Bodman in 2012 to focus on the firm’s pro bono efforts and works directly with individuals and organizations to coordinate these activities. (Oakland Press)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Job(s)’o’th’Week (Experienced Edition) – Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Attention! Multiple job opportunities! The Southern Poverty Law Center is looking for two staff attorneys, one in Miami, Florida, the other in Jackson, Mississippi and a senior staff attorney in Montgomery, Alabama. The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. Their legal department focuses on cases and campaigns involving the rights of children, prisoners, immigrants, the LGBT community, victims of hate crimes, and people living in poverty.

If any of these positions sound like something for you, check out the full postings on PSJD:
Staff Attorney (Miami) | Staff Attorney (Jackson) | Senior Staff Attorney (Montgomery).

(No Application Deadlines Specified)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 21, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal aid failing in Alberta says Justice Minister;
  • California moves to provide interpreters in all court cases;
  • St. Tammany Louisiana Public Defender’s Office gets new office and new management strategy;
  • St. Lawrence County, New York District Attorney cuts services;
  • Washington Attorney General cracks down on unauthorized legal assistance to immigrants;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 14, 2015 – “Legal experts, politicians and Canada’s top judge are saying it’s increasingly difficult for low- and middle-income Canadians to get access to the courts. Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, who was attending a Canadian Bar Association convention on Friday, told reporters there needs to be a review of the province’s legal aid since it appears to barely be getting the job done. ‘We’re sort of rapidly moving toward a crisis point and we need to start considering what it is we can do to solve that,’ Ganley said. Ganley said a review is to be done, but it’s still too early to say when it will be conducted and what the parameters will be.” (CBC News)

August 16, 2015 –  “Legal advocates say throughout [California], litigants in divorce, child custody, eviction and other civil cases who have difficulty with English are going into court without qualified interpreters. Instead, many are forced to turn to friends or family members — or worse yet, the opposing party — for translation. That’s because California only guarantees access to an interpreter in criminal cases, not civil cases. But the state is looking to change that. Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, California’s Judicial Council this year approved a plan to extend free interpretation services to all cases by 2017. ‘You can’t have a court hearing without having your client understand it correctly,’ said Protima Pandey, a staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid.” “Some courts have been extending the provision of interpreters. Los Angeles County, which was part of the Justice Department’s probe, has been among the most aggressive in expanding access to interpreters, legal advocates say. In addition to domestic violence restraining orders, the court now provides interpreters to anyone who needs them in other family cases, as well as eviction, child guardianship, conservatorship, civil harassment and small claims cases. The rollout has faced challenges. The court has found it difficult to find certified interpreters in some languages with origins in South America, said Carolyn Kuhl, the court’s presiding judge. And travel times for interpreters needed in more than one courthouse on the same day can be a challenge. But so far, the court has been able to meet the needs, and judges are pleased, according to Kuhl.” (ABC News)

August 17, 2015 – The public defenders for the St. Tammany and Washington Parishes move into their new offices with a new outlook. They have spent the better part of a year in cramped, borrowed offices at City Hall while their offices had been modernized.  “The move affords [Chief Public Defender John] Lindner and his roughly three dozen staff members the opportunity to make something of a new start after a year in a poor physical environment and, perhaps more important, a work environment riven with division and strife, problems compounded by poor management. Those problems prompted a raft of complaints from current and former employees to the Louisiana Public Defender Board, which oversees all of the state’s public defenders. An ensuing investigation found an office crippled by the perception of favoritism for some employees and lack of support for others. The situation was exacerbated by Lindner himself, who admitted referring to a black employee as a ‘Negro.'” Intensive training and staff changes have followed. “Louisiana Public Defender James Dixon said things seem to have settled down at the office but that he intends to take inventory again in the coming months.”  (The New Orleans Advocate)

August 20, 2015 -“St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain has announced she will be cutting services due to low staffing levels and the county Legislature’s refusal to fill a vacant position in her office. In a letter to county justice courts dated Aug. 17, Ms. Rain said she is instituting the ’emergency measures’ to continue giving attention to her office’s caseload. That includes prosecutors no longer attending normal court calendars for town, village and city courts, effective Monday, except to conduct scheduled hearings and trials, Ms. Rain wrote. ‘All other physical appearances will be temporarily suspended for a period of six months, at which point the office will re-evaluate its position,’ Ms. Rain wrote.”  (Watertown Daily Times)

August 20, 2015 – “Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that he has taken action against four companies accused of offering fraudulent legal services to immigrants. Ferguson, speaking at a news conference in Seattle, said his office has stepped up enforcement against the companies and owners of companies in Lakewood, Tacoma and Everett. He said that unlicensed immigration consultants who refer to themselves as ‘notarios’ or ‘notarios publicos’ are misrepresenting themselves to consumers as having advanced legal training. Victims face losing their immigration status if a deadline is missed or paperwork is filled out incorrectly, he noted.”  (The Lewiston Tribune Online)(subscription required)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

Pro Bono Institute (PBI) announced today that it will present Sidley Austin LLP with its 2015 John H. Pickering Award at its Annual Dinner on November 5 inNew York. The Pickering Award is presented annually to a law firm that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to pro bono service.

Sidley’s longstanding commitment to pro bono and public service is underscored by its robust and innovative pro bono program. A Signatory to PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® and a Founding Member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project, Sidley continually demonstrates its core values by working on behalf of pro bono clients around the world to enhance their clients’ quality of life and improve their communities.

Super Music Bonus!  Our first pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.

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Job’o’th’Week (Fellowship Edition) – Natural Resources Defense Council

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

It’s the beginning of the school year which means that Fellowship season is officially upon us! This week we feature a fantastic fellowship for those of you environmentally inclined. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is seeking a recent law school graduate to serve as the Charles Koob Environmental Litigation Fellow, to begin work starting in September 2016. The Koob Fellow will be based either in Washington, D.C. or San Francisco, CA and will focus on litigation to redress environmental and public health harms, air and water pollution, climate change, threats to endangered species, environmental injustice, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application deadline: September 25, 2015)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 14, 2015

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

Happy Friday! This week we welcome the 2015-2016 PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang.  We are very excited to have her, and are looking forward to a great year!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Gift helps Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Incubator expand;
  • Defender Association of Philadelphia gets new Chief;
  • Law library and Recorder join forces to answer property questions;
  • Missouri Public Defender asks Governor for $10 million;
  • Boston University President gives $1 million for public interest fellowships;
  • Vermont’s new NAACP chapter receives housing complaints;
  • Northwestern University School of Law receives $5 million bequest to assist public interest students;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 7, 2015 – “A new $118,500 gift to the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law from Ed and Kathy Womac of the Womac Law Firm will support the recently launched Loyola Incubator Program—an intensive mentorship and skills program for recent College of Law graduates who are engaged in solo law practice. ‘This major gift will support enterprising new lawyers who want to use their Loyola law degrees to pursue social justice work and make a difference in the world,’ said outgoing College of Law Dean María Pabón López.” (Loyola University New Orleans Newsroom)

August 10, 2015 –  Keir Bradford-Grey says a recent case is illustrative of the approach she will take as she moves on to become chief of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. “We’re not going to just kind of shuffle people through,” she said. “Our mission is to understand our clients’ needs, advocate for them on behalf of their cases and then find creative ways to . . . suggest alternatives for them.”  “In September, Bradford-Grey will become leader of the office where she began her legal career, and replace Ellen Greenlee – the woman who hired her. Greenlee retired in March after 25 years as chief defender.”  (Philly.com)

August 10, 2015 – “Residents of Madison County [Illinois] who have legal questions about property matters can now speak with an attorney at no cost in a trial program presented jointly by Recorder Amy M. Meyer, and the Madison County Law Library Pro Bono Program. The Law Library, which is operated under the direction of the Circuit Court and located in the Madison County Courthouse, provides free access to legal research and pro bono services. The Law Library and Recorder Meyer have worked together previously to provide property related self-help legal forms to the public. They are now expanding their efforts to help people understand the land recording process, answer legal questions about property, and prepare accurate and appropriate land recording documents.” (The Telegraph)

August 10, 2015 -“The director of Missouri’s public defender system is asking Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon for an additional $10 million. Director Michael Barrett said Monday that the money is needed to help the agency adequately represent the state’s poorest individuals charged with crimes. Nixon’s office did not have an immediate comment Monday about the request for more money. Barrett cited a federal report released in July on the St. Louis County Family Court, which said young people accused of crimes often lack adequate legal representation. Barrett says the agency’s most pressing need is to hire more public defenders. Nixon cannot give the department $10 million without first asking permission from lawmakers during the legislative session beginning in January.”  (FOX 2 Now)

August 11, 2015 – “BU President Robert Brown issued a challenge to the law school in 2014: If you can raise $1 million by the end of June 2015 to fund public interest fellowships for BU Law grads, I’ll match it dollar for dollar. What ensued was a fundraising effort that brought in $1 million from alumni by Brown’s deadline, said Terry McManus, BU School of Law’s assistant dean for development and alumni relations. And Brown lived up to his promise, too. With the match from Brown, the law school has a total of $2 million, enough funding for 10 public-interest fellowships each year for five years, starting this fall. The positions will be in a range of settings, from a U.S. governmental organization to a non-governmental organization overseas.”  (Boston Business Journal)

August 11, 2015 – “Mary Brown-Guillory, president of the Champlain area NAACP, told a statewide civil rights panel Monday that her organization has received an ‘avalanche’ of discrimination complaints. In the month since they’ve been ‘open for business,’ Vermont’s first NAACP chapter has received at least 50 complaints. Most involve discrimination, she said, including housing discrimination. Vermont Legal Aid, a civil rights nonprofit law firm, recently released data from a study conducted by its fair housing program. The study shows preferential treatment toward white residents without children and without an apparent disability, said Marsha Curtis, of Vermont Legal Aid.” “Further outreach and education was recommended by most of the panelists as a possible solution to continued housing discrimination.” (VT Digger)

August 12, 2015 – “Northwestern University School of Law has received a $5 million bequest from the Estate of Dawn Clark Netsch to endow the Walter and Dawn Clark Netsch Scholarship Fund, which will provide financial aid for law students who are interested in pursuing careers in public interest law. The gift also will fund loan repayment assistance to graduates working in the public interest law field. Netsch, who died in 2013, was a beloved Northwestern alumna and long-serving professor who had a storied career in Illinois politics. The gift in Netsch’s honor will fittingly provide support for the next generation of public servants.” (Northwestern University News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Darleen Gondola Bonislawski

Darleen Gondola Bonislawski’s first job out of high school was working as a maid at Harvard, and her time as a union leader in the Harvard University Employees Representative Association led her to first become a paralegal and later a lawyer who advocated for workers’ rights.

“It really gets to me when Harvard says workers are a dime a dozen,” she said in 1979 while she was a vice president of the union, according to The Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper. “We should have the benefits of the wealth we help produce.”

She also spent 24 years as a Cambridge election commissioner, working to improve the city’s voting process and register scores of disenfranchised voters. “We have to fight against voter suppression,” she wrote at the end of her term in a letter to the Cambridge Democratic City Committee. “Even in so-called liberal Massachusetts, there is still so much to do.”

At 47, she realized a lifelong dream and became a lawyer. Most of her clients couldn’t afford representation, and she often worked pro-bono.

Read more about her amazing life here in the Boston Globe.

Super Music Bonus!  Starting next week, our PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang will be bringing you the music.  So, this is my last pick for a while.  Enjoy!

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Job’o’th’Week (Entry Level Edition) – Public Defender Services (DC)

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Attention recent grads and 3Ls!

Like criminal law and passionately litigating on your client’s behalf? Then this is the job for you! The Public Defender Services (PDS) for the District of Columbia is looking for an attorney to work with them in their Trial Division. This attorney would be expected to provide legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in criminal, delinquency, and mental health matters in the DC justice system.

To qualify, you must have a J.D. or an equivalent degree from an accredited law school by  June 2016, be a member of the DC bar or eligible for reciprocity admission to the DC bar, and excellent research, writing, and oral persuasion skills. Applicants must also be willing to make at least a 3 year commitment to PDS.

Interested? Check out the full post on PSJD. (Application deadline: September 4, 2015)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 7, 2015

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

Happy Friday! We are very sad this week to have to say good bye to Sam Halpert, our 2014-2015 PSJD Fellow and Sarah Mandehzadeh, our 2015 Publications Coordinator.  Both contributed so much to PSJD this year, and we will miss them greatly!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Bay Area Legal Incubator to launch in 2016;
  • Canadian federal government provides $130,000 for Victorian child advocacy centre;
  • The need for pro bono programs at law firms;
  • New York lawyer receives 2015 ABA Pro Bono Publico Award;
  • ABA delegates endorse transparency in law school loans;
  • Minneapolis NAACP chapter opens legal aid hotline;
  • Texas Access to Justice Foundation awards more than $63 million for legal aid services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 29, 2015 – The Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI), a two-year training program being launched by Berkeley Law and four other Bay Area law schools, seeks to fill the justice gap in California. BALI is the brainchild of Berkley Law’s Associate Director for Public Interest Programs Melanie Rowen and Tiela Chalmers, CEO of the Alameda County Bar Association. It is “a fulltime, two-year training program in which recent admittees to the California Bar will receive education, support, and professional mentoring to learn how to successfully operate a solo or small-firm law practice that serves the modest-means community. The project’s goal is two-fold: to close the justice gap and to provide sustainable, socially conscious employment for recent law school graduates. The five participating law schools are Berkeley Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, Santa Clara Law, UC Hastings, and the University of San Francisco School of Law. BALI will officially launch in January 2016, accepting 15 students (three from each school) from the class of 2015.” (Berkeley Law News)

July 31, 2015 – “The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada’s office announced funding of $130,000 over two years for the Victoria Child Abuse Prevention and Counselling Centre to support the opening of a new child advocacy centre that will serve Victoria and southern Vancouver Island. Child advocacy centres (CACs) and child and youth advocacy centres (CYACs) help child and youth victims and their families navigate the criminal justice system. They provide a safe child- and youth-friendly environment where a coordinated team of professionals works to meet the specific needs of each person. The work of a multidisciplinary team in a CAC or a CYAC can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to child and youth victims involved in the criminal justice system. In Economic Action Plan 2015, the Government of Canada committed to provide additional funding to CACs and CYACs. Starting in 2016-17, the Government will provide $5.25 million over four years, and $2.1 million on an annual basis thereafter, to make the support and services provided by CACs and CYACs more accessible in communities across the country.” (Market Wired)

July 31, 2015 – Our friend Lisa Dewey, Partner and Pro Bono Counsel at DLA Piper, has written a very good article on the need for robust pro bono programs at law firms.  She is a great champion of pro bono, and this is a fantastic read. (Legal Solutions Blog)

August 4, 2015 -“The American Bar Association has awarded New York attorney Daniel L. Brown its Pro Bono Publico Award for his outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. Brown, of New York City (Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton), received the award at a luncheon during the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago on August 1. Brown, a New York State Bar Association member, performs extensive pro bono work in the areas of disability rights and human rights.”  (Read Media)

August 4, 2015 – “The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates on Tuesday adopted a resolution urging law schools to better inform students about their educational loans and how to repay that debt. The ABA’s Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education sponsored the resolution. That group—an outgrowth of an earlier task force that examined the future of legal education—spent nearly a year looking at tuition, student debt, student diversity and graduate employment.”  (National Law Journal)(free subscription required)

August 4, 2015 – “The Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP is launching a legal aid service in the wake of a controversial confrontation between Metro Transit police and a Minneapolis man on July 8. Draon Armstrong, who is black, was stopped by police for not paying a light rail fare and forcefully arrested. NAACP Minneapolis chapter president Nekima Levy-Pounds said her organization thinks existing measures to protect civil rights — like internal police investigations — don’t adequately address concerns of minority communities. The NAACP service will include a telephone and email hotline, a Facebook page and monthly office hours. The organization is still looking for attorneys to volunteer their time to help staff the service, Levy-Pounds said. The hotline is for general legal concerns.” (MPR News)

August 6, 2015 – “The Texas Access to Justice Foundation will distribute more than $63 million over the next two years to 30 nonprofit organizations across Texas to provide civil legal aid to disadvantaged residents.The foundation recently announced its grant recipients, noting that each year more than 100,000 disadvantaged Texas families receive legal aid as a result of the program.Public interest and pro bono lawyers, with the help of the foundation grants, provide civil legal representation to low-income Texans in matters such as obtaining benefits for veterans and addressing foreclosures.” (Texas Bar Blog)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession gave five women lawyers its 2015 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. The recipients are: Mari Carmen Aponte, ambassador of the United States to El Salvador; Flora D. Darpino, lieutenant general, United States Army, Judge Advocate General; Fernande R.V. (Nan) Duffly, associate justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Mary Ann Hynes, senior counsel, Dentons US LLP; and Emma Coleman Jordan, professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center.  Read more about their outstanding accomplishments here.  They are an amazing group of advocates!

Super Music Bonus!  This week we have 2 picks — Director of Technology and Electronic Information Resources Lisa Quirk and PSJD Fellow Sam Halpert.  Can you guess which is which?

And

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