Archive for September, 2015

DC Event on 10/13 – Actual Innocence: Discussion on the Crosley Green Death Penalty Case

Join the Washington Council of Lawyers for Pro Bono in Action: Actual Innocence: Discussion on the Crosley Green Death Penalty Case on Tuesday, October 13 at 12:00 PM.

This brown bag lunch will discuss Crosley Green’s conviction for the murder of a young man in Florida. Green was sentenced to death and remained on death row for nearly 20 years until his pro bono lawyers at Crowell & Moring succeeded in having his death sentence vacated and converted to life with the possibility of parole.  Now they are fighting to overturn his conviction.

The discussion of this pro bono death penalty case will be moderated by Erin Moriarty of CBS News and feature three of Mr. Green’s lawyers from Crowell & Moring: Robert Rhoads, Keith Harrison, and Jeane Thomas.

There is no cost to attend this event. To register, click here.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 25, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • 2015 Trudeau Foundation Fellows announced;
  • Montana task force hears about problems with public defense system;
  • University of Georgia School of Law to launch Atlanta externship program;
  • Legal Services Corporation announces 2015 Pro Bono Innovation Grant recipients;
  • Legal Aid Ontario boosts students’ legal aid clinic funding;
  • Mid-Shore Pro Bono (Maryland) celebrates 10 years;
  • Tennessee attorney pro bono hours increase;
  • Federal funding for domestic abuse programs in New York;
  • ABA committee proposes eliminating ban on academic credit for paid externships for third time;
  • University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Memphis Area Legal Services, and area hospital develop unique partnership;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 15, 2015 – “The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation congratulates this year’s recipients of its prestigious research fellowships. These fellowships recognize public intellectuals in the humanities and social sciences who venture beyond the boundaries of their disciplines to find new solutions to complex issues of major importance to Canadians. The five new fellows appointed this year conduct research on: assisted suicide, Arab-Canadian youth, Canada’s relationship with the Indo-Pacific, justice as applied by armed rebels, and ethnobotany in support of Indigenous land claims. In addition to receiving a total of $225,000 over the next three years, each new fellow will enjoy unique access to the rich intellectual network of researchers and practitioners who have joined the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation community before them.  The Fellows are: Jocelyn Downie, Faculty of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia), Bessma Momani, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo (Ontario), Cleo Paskal, Visiting Fellow at the Montreal Centre for International Studies, Université de Montréal (Quebec), René Provost, Faculty of Law, McGill University (Quebec), and Nancy Turner, Environmental Studies, University of Victoria (British Columbia).”  (Trudeau Foundation)

September 17, 2015 – “Overworked public attorneys and a civil rights group on Thursday told Montana lawmakers and lawyers that funding problems may be seriously hurting the defense of the accused. Niki Zupanic, the policy director for ACLU of Montana, said a 2005 overhaul of the state’s public defense system has not corrected the problem of inadequate representation for defendants. The issue has persisted since the ACLU’s 2002 lawsuit that led Montana to rethink its approach to providing for the right to legal counsel, Zupinac said. A county-based system was replaced with the Office of the State Public Defender a decade ago, but running the office has been increasingly expensive. ‘Even though that inadequate (county-based) system no longer exists, the issues still persist,’ Zupanic said. Public defenders say they simply need more attorneys to handle a backlog of cases.” (Flathead Beacon)

September 18, 2015 – “The University of Georgia School of Law is opening an Atlanta campus next semester to give students more opportunities to gain real-world legal experience. Starting in January, second- and third-year students can gain practical skills through full-time, unpaid externships with Atlanta courts, government agencies, nonprofits and businesses. Possible placements could be with the offices of the governor or the attorney general, the Georgia Supreme Court or the House Democratic Caucus, according to the law school. The students will also take a clinical seminar, led by UGA Law’s civil clinic director, Alexander Scherr, to discuss their externship experiences and further their professional development. Students earn 10 credits for the externship and clinical seminar. They also have the option of taking up to two doctrinal classes.” (Daily Report)

September 18, 2015 – “15 legal aid organizations will receive grants to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients. Many of the projects will use technology to connect low-income populations to resources and services, while others aim to increase efficiency and effectiveness through partnerships with law schools, community organizations, and in-house corporate attorneys. Some projects will address issues affecting specific populations such as seniors, veterans, and low-income students. All the projects seek to engage and recruit pro bono lawyers and other volunteers to leverage LSC’s federal funding and increase the resources available to low-income clients.”  See the press release for the list of recipients. (Legal Services Corporation)

September 21, 2015 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will increase the funding of each Student Legal Aid Services Society by$100,000 annually. As a result, these clinics will provide additional services to low-income Ontarians while helping to train the lawyers of tomorrow. Ontario’s seven Student Legal Aid Service Societies operate out of law schools, allowing students to provide legal services under the supervision of qualified lawyers. The student legal aid clinics plan to use the additional resources in the following ways:

  • Community and Legal Aid Services Program at York University’s Osgoode Hall will begin offering employment law services and increase the hours of existing staff.
  • Community Legal Aid at the University of Windsor will begin offering consumer law services and expand its existing employment law services.
  • Community Legal Services at London’s University of Western Ontario will take on more criminal and housing law cases.
  • Downtown Legal Services at the University of Toronto will expand its housing law services and launch a new employment law division.
  • Queen’s Legal Aid at Kingston’s Queen’s University will hire another lawyer to expand all its services.
  • The Community Legal Clinic at the University of Ottawa will expand its bilingual housing law services.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay is in the process of establishing Lakehead Legal Services. The clinic will receive its additional$100,000 during the 2016/17 fiscal year.” (CNW)

September 21, 2015 – “Mid-Shore Pro Bono will celebrate 10 years of service to the community and honor individuals and organizations that have contributed to a decade of achievements at an awards reception Thursday, Oct. 15. Receiving the Retired Pro Bono Volunteer Award will be Marianne Dise, and Andie Ross will be the recipient of the Distinguished Pro Bono Volunteer Award. Talbot Senior Center will receive the Non-Legal or Organizational Involvement Award for its support of the delivery of pro bono legal services to low-income clients. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Judge Karen Murphy Jensen for her continued efforts in furthering Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s mission. ‘We welcome everyone to come out and help us recognize these extraordinary individuals and organizations that contribute so much to our community,’ said Sandy Brown, Mid-Shore Pro Bono executive director. ‘We could not have served our clients so successfully for the past ten years without them and countless other volunteers and groups.'” (The Star Democrat)

September 21, 2015 -“The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has released its annual report showing that attorneys in Tennessee have increased the number of hours of free and reduced-rate legal services they are providing to those in need. The report shows that the number of hours of pro bono service volunteered by attorneys in Tennessee went up by nearly 3,000 hours in the last reporting year. ‘Tennessee attorneys continue to respond to the need for free legal assistance, but the Commission believes that there is more work being done than is being reported,’ said Doug Blaze, chairman of the Commission. The report relies on data collected in 2014 for work done in 2013.” (The Chattanoogan)

September 21, 2015 – “U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $750,000 in federal funding for the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and the Unity House of Troy. Specifically, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York will receive $400,000 to strengthen civil and criminal legal assistance programs for adult and youth victims of domestic violence and the Unity House of Troy will receive $350,000 for a broad range of holistic, victim-centered transitional housing options and supportive services. The funding was allocated through the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women.” (Press Release)

September 22, 2015 – “For the third time in less than two years, an ABA committee has proposed lifting the ban in the law school accreditation standards on students receiving academic credit for paid externships. But the Standards Review Committee, which met Friday and Saturday in Atlanta, also agreed to forward such a proposal to the governing council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in case the council decides to keep the ban. ‘We’re just trying to be fair,’ said committee chair Scott Pagel, a professor and associate dean for information services at George Washington University Law School. ‘They’re the ones who have to decide, based on their reading of our proposed changes and the comments they receive from the community, if such a prohibition is still necessary.’ The ban on paid externships has been one of the most contentious issues to come before the council in recent years. The Law Student Division has lobbied hard to eliminate the prohibition, saying it limits the amount of field placement opportunities available to students. But many clinicians believe that eliminating the ban would undermine the academic purposes of the placements.” (ABA Journal)

September 22, 2015 – “In what officials called the first local partnership of its kind, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital will collaborate with Memphis Area Legal Services and the University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law to address the legal and social issues affecting patient health, representatives of the three institutions announced Tuesday. Called Memphis CHiLD (Children’s Health Law Directive), the partnership will provide legal services, education and advocacy for children and their families. It will feature a variety of training and educational programs and a legal clinic at Le Bonheur where U of M law students have devoted space to work on cases and referrals and meet with patients and medical professionals. The initial focus of the collaboration will be assisting families with children suffering from severe asthma. Memphis CHiLD will try to get help for the families in dealing with issues such as mold in rental housing.” (The Commercial Appeal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) announced today that it has selected BNY Mellon, a signatory to the CPBO Challenge® initiative, White & Case, and the National LGBT Bar Association (LGBT Bar) to receive the 2015 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award in the Large Law category. The awardees were selected for their collaborative development of the Online LGBT Tax Resource, an innovative tool that leverages technology to provide pro bono legal assistance to same-sex married couples in the United States. CPBO, the global partnership project of Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), will present the award at the 2015 PBI Annual Dinner on November 5 in New York. (CSR Wire)

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

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Job’o’th’Week (Experienced Edition) – Disability Rights Oregon

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Interested in disability rights? Disability Rights Oregon is looking for an attorney to advocate for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities who have legal issues related to their disability. DRO is a non-profit law office, whose mission is to promote and defend a broad range of rights for individuals with disabilities.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application Deadline: September 30, 2015)

 

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Upcoming Equal Justice Works Free Student Debt Webinar

If you’re trying to get a handle on student loans, check out this message from our friends at Equal Justice Works:

Fall semester is here, and law school is officially back in session! As law students settle into a routine of classes, casebooks, and study groups, Equal Justice Works is here to remind everyone that it pays to be smart about student loan debt – especially for those in the public interest law profession.

 

To help you out, Equal Justice Works will be hosting a free webinar, “JDs in Debt: What Law Students &Lawyers Need to Know about Managing Student Loans & Earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness,” on Thursday, September 24, 2015 from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT. Whether you’re currently a law student or have already graduated, our webinars provide you with the in-depth information you need to know about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans, and more. Learn to manage your student debt, and take control of your career and financial future.

 

Click here to register now!

 

We’ll be updating our student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future, later this year to keep all law students and graduates up to date on any legislative and regulatory changes that occur. If you download it now, we’ll notify you when we’ve updated it with the new information.

 

Campaign to Save Public Service Loan Forgiveness

 

One potential legislative change that every public interest law student and lawyer needs to know about is the possibility that Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) may be capped or eliminated in 2016. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a proposed FY2016 budget that recommends eliminating loan forgiveness for those who choose to dedicate their careers to public service. President Obama has also proposed capping PSLF to only allow forgiveness up to the undergraduate loan limit of $57,500 – a significant blow to law graduates burdened with a heavier debt load.

 

As veteran public interest attorney Estelle H. Rogers wrote in a guest post for our Huffington Post blog, “Making a Dent in Law School Debt,” “[t]he Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a crucial ingredient in preserving – we can only dream of expanding – a vibrant public interest legal community.”

 

Here at Equal Justice Works, we couldn’t agree with Estelle more. If you agree too, take action by filling out our survey on preserving Public Service Loan Forgiveness and join the ABA’s Save #Loan4Giveness campaign.

 

Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. Our webinars are tailored to law students and lawyers, but the information is applicable to anyone who needs help managing the burden of student loan debt. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter (@EJW_org, #studentdebthelp) and on Facebook!

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 18, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • University of Pittsburgh School of Law announces incubator;
  • Hawaii State Judiciary self-help centers hit big milestone;
  • HBO comedy host John Oliver helps raise money for New Orleans public defenders;
  • Penn Law receives over $12 million for student scholarships, public interest and legal practice skills programming;
  • Florida considers automation to keep legal aid costs down;
  • Maryland public defender investigating every juvenile life-without-parole case;
  • ABA, DOJ weighs in on constructive denial of right to counsel case;
  • Pro bono in the park in British Columbia;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 14, 2015 – “The University of Pittsburgh announced plans to open the Pitt Legal Services Incubator in January 2016. The idea of assistance for young lawyers might leave some puzzled, but these aren’t your typical graduates. The Legal Services Incubator is looking for recent graduates who are interested in starting their firms to help underserved client communities. ‘There’s so much legal need out there. People say there are so many lawyers, and that’s not true,’ says Professor Thomas Ross, Professor of Law at Pitt and the Faculty Director of the Legal Services Incubator. ‘The problem is there are too many lawyers chasing the same client base.’ ‘The job market is pretty tough for young lawyers. A lot of them would like to start solo or small law firms, but they feel uncertain about their capacity to do it,’ says Ross. The incubator will assist young lawyers to get a head start by providing workspace, connections and resources to help each lawyer start a firm. Applications will open in late October after the Bar Exam results are published. For its first year, the incubator is aiming to accept a group of six to eight recent graduates to start their practices in the space.” (Next Pittsburgh)

September 14, 2015 – “The Hawaii State Judiciary’s Self-Help Centers have helped their 10,000th person. These are centers, located statewide, that are set up to provide legal consultation to people representing themselves in court. According to the judiciary, these centers are free to litigants and cost the state ‘virtually’ nothing. ‘This milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of volunteer attorneys who have donated their time and professionalism to helping those who otherwise might not be able to afford a lawyer,’ said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald in a Sept. 10 Hawaii State Judiciary news release. ‘I’d also like to extend a special thanks to the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, the Hawaii State Bar Association, all county bar associations, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and its AmeriCorps program, and our partners in the community who have helped us make significant strides in providing greater access to justice.’ There are currently six of these centers located in courthouses across Hawaii.” (mauitime)

September 14, 2015 – “An unusual crowdfunding campaign launched by the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office got a boost overnight Monday from a TV diatribe launched by former ‘Daily Show’ commentator John Oliver on his HBO comedy show,’Last Week Tonight.’ New Orleans served as one of the poster children for the British comedian as he waxed indignant for 15 minutes about the thinly stretched state of public defense nationwide. Lamenting a ‘meet ’em and plead ’em system’ for indigent defense, Oliver cited a somewhat dated 2009 study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers that found bloated caseloads for some public defenders in New Orleans left them with just seven minutes per case, on average.” “The impact was seen immediately on a crowdfunding campaign that Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton’s office launched last week to try to offset a projected $1 million drop in revenue. The total amount raised jumped from $7,000 to about $14,500 overnight, with donations rolling in from as far away as Hong Kong and the Netherlands, said spokeswoman Lindsey Hortenstine.” “In an interview Monday, Bunton said Oliver’s on-air critique rang true. ‘When you’re watching it being presented in a national program, you really are struck by how absurd it is that we would depend on this kind of system to secure one of the original amendments to the Constitution,’ Bunton said. ‘We’re the only state that is so dependent on fines and fees that traffic tickets literally control their Sixth Amendment rights to counsel.’ Bunton recently announced a hiring freeze and four weeks of unpaid furlough for his staff, among other measures aimed at coping with the million-dollar budget slide.”  Due to the language in the original John Oliver piece, I will not link to it. However, it is a very insightful and intelligent piece highlighting the ridiculous state of public defense.  (The New Orleans Advocate)

September 15, 2015 – “The University of Pennsylvania Law School has received three major gifts totaling $12.1 million that will fund new scholarships and other forms of financial aid, public interest programming, and the teaching of legal practice skills.” “Robert Toll and Jane Toll, 1966 graduates of Penn Law and Penn’s Graduate School of Education, respectively, have given $2.5 million to further support public interest programs at Penn Law, through the Toll Public Interest Center. Toll, the Executive Chairman of the Board of Toll Brothers, Inc., the nation’s leading building of luxury homes, and his wife, Jane, have been longtime supporters of the Law School and its public interest programming.” (UPenn News)

September 15, 2015 – “The Florida legal system is taking inspiration from an unlikely source: eBay. The online auction website sends disputes through an automated process that doesn’t involve employees until it’s absolutely necessary, solving 90 percent of 60 million annual disputes without using manpower. The Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice is considering recommending a similar process for the first steps of common legal actions such as divorces and wills, said Florida Bar past president and commission member Greg Coleman. The goal is to reduce the financial burden of legal services for low- to moderate-income Floridians. ‘The folks that work paycheck to paycheck … if they need to get divorced, they can’t hire a lawyer at $25 an hour, much less $250 an hour,’ the West Palm Beach attorney said. ‘They don’t get legal aid. They don’t qualify. They wander into a system that’s not designed for them.'” “Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga created the commission last November to come up with ways to reduce inefficiencies and the costs of civil litigation. They must submit their first report by Oct. 1.” (Daily Business Review)

September 15, 2015 -“Maryland’s Office of the Public Defender’s post-conviction division has launched an effort to investigate all cases of inmates who, as juveniles, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, following through on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2012 that such sentences violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and illegal punishment. The Youth-Resentencing Project will look for cases it can take to court seeking resentencing based on Miller v. Alabama, in which Justice Elena Kagan’s majority opinion in the 5-4 decision noted that such sentences for juveniles preclude consideration of ‘chronological age and its hallmark features—among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences. It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds’ defendants. Resentencing of juveniles in such cases has been permitted in at least 12 states, and the decision will affect about 1,500 people now behind bars.” (ABA Journal)

September 15, 2015 – “The government and several national legal organizations have thrown their support behind two indigent defendants who are arguing before the state Supreme Court that the low funding levels of the Luzerne County Public Defender’s Office constituted a deprivation of their right to effective counsel. The U.S. Department of Justice and the American Bar Association recently filed amicus briefs in support of Adam Kuren and Steven Allabaugh, two men who have a case pending before the Supreme Court on the first-impression issue of whether they can seek prospective civil relief on constructive denial of counsel claims under the Sixth and 14th amendments ‘based on chronic and systemic deficiencies’ in Luzerne County’s Office of the Public Defender. Along with the ABA and the DOJ, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed an amicus, as did the Innocence Network and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Briefs for the indigent defendants, who are plaintiffs in Kuren v. Luzerne County, were filed Sept. 10, and briefs for the county defendants are expected to be filed within the next 30 days. The suit was launched by former Luzerne County chief public defender Al Flora Jr. when he sued the county and the county manager, Robert Lawton, in 2012, alleging indigent defendants were deprived of their right to counsel.”  (The Legal Intelligencer)

September 15, 2015 – “The Access Pro Bono Society of BC [British Columbia, Canada] held their seventh annual Pro Bono Going Public event in Kelowna, where legal advice of all varieties was provided to people of all incomes and backgrounds. ‘Primarily our client base is people with poverty-law issues who are dealing with important and serious legal matters that affect their livelihood and quality of life,’ said Jamie Maclaren, executive director of Access Pro Bono. ‘We also have a good number of people who find themselves in some kind of legal dispute or legal situation and just can’t afford to hire a lawyer to sort it out.’ Access Pro Bono has been operating since 2010, but is a product of two existing organizations that go back to 2002. The society has more than 1,000 lawyers who volunteer their time in clinics throughout the province.” (Castanet.net)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

A State Bar of Texas representative honored Judge Mary Lou Robinson at an induction ceremony for the Texas Legal Legends program Friday. Texas Legal Legends is a program through the State Bar of Texas that honors lawyers who have practiced within the state. Darby Dickerson, dean of the TTU School of Law, said in a statement: “Judge Robinson is truly unique. She entered the legal field at a time when very few women did so, and she has both excelled and has given back.” Robinson is currently a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Texas.  Read more about her career and contributions here.

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

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Job’o’th’Week (Fellowship Edition) – Juvenile Law Center

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Committed to advancing the rights and well-being of children in jeopardy? The Juvenile Law Center (JLC), located in Philadephia, PA, is seeking candidates to apply to the Sol and Helen Zubrow Fellowship in Children’s Law. The JLC combines individual case work, litigation, public policy initiatives and public education to advance the rights and well-being of children in jeopardy.

Interested? Check out the full post on PSJD. (Application deadline: Oct. 1, 2015)

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 11, 2015

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

Happy Friday and welcome to September! My favorite season has started – football season.  It’s also service project season.  Fantastic work out there folks. Keep those updates coming!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • ABA launches its first social media lobbying campaign to save Public Service Loan Forgiveness;
  • New pro bono rule in New York allows remote supervision;
  • ABA’s Blog the New Normal guest columnist posits current access to justice initiatives are ineffective;
  • Free legal clinics to be held for low-income families in Kentucky;
  • North Carolina consortium receives $2.6 million grant for health care navigation;
  • Nest and New Mexico Legal Aid form legal partnership;
  • First Arkansas transgender clinic assists more than 2 dozen;
  • For criminal justice reform, look to civil legal aid;
  • The Law Clinic at Valparaiso University Law School is accepting new clients;
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers report – Judges have too much control in federal public defense system;
  • New Orleans judge calls hearing to discuss public defender funding;
  • Boston University Law School and MIT create legal clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 27, 2015 – “For the first time, the ABA is incorporating social media into a major advocacy initiative as it seeks to protect the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program from possible elimination by Congress.” “In developing a strategy to preserve the PSLF program, Thomas M. Susman, director of the ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office, and other members of the GAO working on the issue determined that the usual methods of trying to get the attention of federal legislators wouldn’t be enough. They decided that the loan forgiveness issue would be a good fit for a social media campaign, especially since the issue is crucial to so many recent law school graduates. ‘This isn’t replacing our retail lobbying, but it is supplementing it,’ says Susman. ‘It’s an effort to step up a notch our ability to cut through the noise level on Capitol Hill.'”  (ABA Journal)

September 2, 2015 – “The New York Court of Appeals has broadened the rule requiring 50 hours of pro bono service for those seeking admission to the bar, allowing for remote supervision of pro bono work.” “On Friday, the Court of Appeals announced it had amended the rule, effective Sept. 16, eliminating the requirement that supervising attorneys be admitted in the same jurisdiction where the pro bono work is being performed. Bar groups and law school officials sent the court a letter in June, noting several scenarios that would be excluded under the initial rule. The letter said the global practice of law now may involve teams of lawyers worldwide using shared secured documents and video conferencing. ‘Close physical proximity is no longer the mark of supervision in law firms or law schools,’ said the letter from the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Pro Bono and Legal Services and law school officials from Columbia, New York University and Fordham. Margaret Wood, court attorney for professional matters at the Court of Appeals, said several applicants also contacted the court with questions about whether their pro bono work would count toward the rule, since their supervising attorneys were in other jurisdictions. The change ‘will allow for more opportunities for pro bono work,’ Wood said.” Here is a link to the Court’s Order. (New York Law Journal)

September 2, 2015 –  Guest blogger Dan Lear says the problem with current access to justice initiatives is that “[e]xpanding legal services access beyond the poorest and most disadvantaged is a significant challenge. Attempts to bring similar types of services and resources to large numbers of people—from infrastructure to transportation to medical care—have been tremendously expensive and time-consuming. Doing the same for legal services will certainly be a unique challenge.” He suggests part of the solution is changing the focus of the conversation. “One good initial, but admittedly small, step for legal services is semantics. Specifically, instead of talking about an ‘access to justice’ gap let’s switch the rhetoric and consider the ‘access to legal services’ gap instead.” He goes on to point out “[m]odest-means clients are also different than the access-to-justice clients. For one, while they may not be able to afford traditional full representation legal services but they can pay something. Further, many modest means clients are middle-income individuals, so they’re more likely better educated with better access to technology or other resources that would help them self-educate, receive unbundled legal services delivered partially or fully though technology or online, or navigate the legal system with only limited guidance from an attorney.” “There are pervasive legal access issues throughout the economy—from pro se litigants, to entrepreneurs who need business help, to families without wills or simple estate plans. This access gap is a significant problem for the legal profession and it won’t be solved overnight. It might not even be solved in our lifetime. But greater precision in how we talk about access challenges is an easy first step in the right direction.”  What do you think? (The New Normal)

September 3, 2015 – “A $30,000 grant from the Kentucky Bar Foundation will help low-income families get legal advice regarding family court. Those who qualify can talk one-on-one with local lawyers, for free, on issues regarding divorce, child custody and other family [matters] at an upcoming domestic relations clinic. Advanced registration is required to attend the clinic, because only those who are eligible can attend. You must be at or below the poverty line and have children to qualify.” (WPSD Local 6)

September 3, 2015 -“A group of 14 health care, social service and legal aid organizations has received more than $2.6 million in federal funding to help North Carolina residents sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Wednesday that the N.C. Navigator Consortium will receive the grant to help consumers sign up during the open enrollment period for 2015-2016. Legal Aid of North Carolina will administer the grant. Officials say the grant will fund about 250 navigators who will help consumers determine which plan works best for them, apply for financial help and complete their enrollment.” (WNCT)

September 4, 2015 – “After years of limited access to legal representation for their residents, The Nest domestic violence shelter is entering into a new partnership with New Mexico Legal Aid. The organization, that gives assistance in civil legal cases to people who otherwise are not able to afford a private attorney, has new funding that will allow an attorney from their Roswell field office to visit Lincoln County and Mescalero residents at the shelter on a consistent basis. ‘We have used New Mexico Legal Aid in the past, but with fewer attorneys and the nearest field office being in Roswell, there was either a very long wait for representation or transportation problems,’ Nest Executive Director Coleen Widell said. Widell went on to explain survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking encounter a variety of legal problems for which they require assistance, including Orders of Protection, child custody issues, child support, divorce or separation, landlord tenant problems, credit repair and access to benefits. Not only residents at The Nest will benefit from the new partnership. ‘In addition, survivors who do not want or need to come into shelter for safety or services can still meet with a NMLA attorney here,’ Widell said. ‘HEAL will coordinate the screening and referral of everyone in Lincoln County, regardless of whether they are current clients at The Nest, to ensure they meet criteria for free legal services.’ The program in Lincoln County will begin Oct. 1.” (Ruidoso News)

September 4, 2015 – “Earlier this summer, 27 people converged on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law to meet with attorneys at Arkansas’s first transgender legal clinic. In the end, 11 attorneys wrote up 43 notarized documents ready to file, including 25 name changes and 10 gender changes. Human Rights Campaign Arkansas was a primary supporter of these clinics and is co-sponsoring additional clinics planned in Arkansas as well. In addition Transgender Equality Coalition (ArTEC), the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and VOCALS worked together to create the clinic, which provided free legal advice and fee waivers. ArTEC has also pledged to continue assisting those who attended the clinic, should they encounter any difficulties when filing their documents in their respective counties.” (Human Rights Campaign)

September 5, 2015 – Our colleague David Udell, Executive Director of the National Center for Access to Justice at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, has an opinion piece this week linking the benefits of utilizing civil legal aid in combating the cycle of criminal justice abuses, particularly in the areas of fees. “Millions of evictions and foreclosures, domestic violence cases and accusations of neglect, debt collections and denials of benefits, civil asset forfeitures, civil court fees, suspensions of driver’s licenses and more churn through local courtrooms. When neglected, the problems fester, and lives go awry. The result is a spinning cycle of poverty and correctional control as hunger, isolation, stress and violence inevitably draw people into the system and burden our society.”  Check out his thoughts.  (Aljazeera America)

September 5, 2015 – “The Law Clinic at Valparaiso University Law School, which provides free legal representation to individuals with limited income, is accepting new cases. The Law Clinic represents low-income residents of the region in matters such as debt collection defense, consumer issues, landlord/tenant disputes, guardianships, adoptions and tax concerns involving the Internal Revenue Service. Potential clients must meet income eligibility guidelines, officials said. The Law Clinic’s legal services are provided by Valparaiso University law students, who receive firsthand legal experience by representing financially disadvantaged clients. Students work under the supervision of law school faculty.” (nwi.com)

September 9, 2015 – “A tough new report has concluded that the federal government’s system for defending poor people needs to change. The nearly two-year study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said judges who are supposed to be neutral arbiters too often put their fingers on the scales. The report said defense lawyers for the poor who work in the federal court system need more resources to do their jobs. That means money, not just for themselves, but to pay for experts and investigators. In an adversary system, lawyers for poor defendants say they need to operate on equal footing with prosecutors. But the study, the first of its kind in more than 20 years, found the source of most concern rests with judges who exercise too much control over the process. In many cases, judges cut fees without explanation. And there’s no way to appeal. ‘It’s just not a good situation to have the judge that you’re appearing before have that much control over your practice, over ultimately how you represent your client,’ said Gerry Morris, a longtime defense attorney in Texas and president of NACDL. The new report doesn’t offer a clear solution to the independence problem. But Morris pointed out that the chief administrative body of the U.S. courts has launched its own study of the system for representing poor defendants.” (NPR)

September 10, 2015 – “A New Orleans judge has ordered the parish’s chief public defender Derwyn Bunton to appear in court Friday (Sept. 11), to explain whether his office can meet the constitutional mandate of providing legal representation to poor people charged with crimes. Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter called for the hearing on his own motion on Wednesday, after reading an op-ed piece in The Washington Post by New Orleans public defender Tina Peng. She opines on the fiscal crisis faced by her employer that hurts the office’s ability to provide an adequate criminal defense to indigent people. ‘I asked Derwyn to provide an answer to a simple question: Whether his office can provide constitutionally effective assistance of counsel to indigent defendants,’ Hunter said Thursday morning.” (The Times-Picayune)

September 10, 2015 – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University School of Law “have partnered to launch a new clinic in which law students offer legal help to MIT and other Boston University students launching start ups or technology projects. As part of the new Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic, law students will spend Fridays on the MIT campus, advising student entrepreneurs on everything from how to set up and finance their fledgling ventures to negotiating contracts and registering trademarks and copyrights. The clinic will also help the student entrepreneurs evaluate any regulatory matters their ideas or startups might encounter. ‘The students get the chance to put the doctrine they’ve learned in the classroom into practice, and they get a better idea of how clients look at the world,’ said Boston University law dean Maureen O’Rourke. ‘They learn client counseling skills and negotiation skills.'”  (National Law Journal)(free subscription required)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  

“At 8:46 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.”  This was the first of three incidents that would have a profound change on America and the world. Please take a moment to remember all those who sacrificed on this day and since in an effort to respond to this attack.  (History.com)

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

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Job’o’th’Week (Internship Edition) – ACLU Capital Punishment Project – Summer 2016

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Interested in capital punishment, prisoner, or human rights? The Capital Punishment Project (CPP) of the ACLU’s National Office in Durham, N.C. is seeking applicants for its Summer 2016 Legal Internship program. The Capital Punishment Project, part of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, challenges the unfairness and arbitrariness of capital punishment while working toward the ultimate goal of abolishing the death penalty. The Project engages in public advocacy and strategic litigation, including direct representation of capital defendants. The Project’s litigation is conducted throughout the country, with a particular focus on the South.

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

Additionally, check out other internship and fellowship opportunities with the ACLU on PSJD.

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Equal Justice Works Career Fair & Conference – Last week for interview applications!

The Equal Justice Works annual Conference and Career Fair is the largest national public interest legal career fair in the country.  More than 1,200 students from 165 law schools attend for two days of interviews, workshops, networking and other career opportunities.  More than 140 public interest employers conduct interviews for internship and full-time positions and meet with students in informal “table talk” settings to discuss public interest legal opportunities.  The Conference and Career Fair also features workshops on various public interest careers and job search advice, resume and cover letter review, mock interviews, and more. Students and recent graduates can apply for interviews through September 14 and may register to attend informal table talk networking and workshop sessions through October 9.

For more information, visit the Equal Justice Works website.

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Job(s)’o’th’Week (Entry-Level Edition) – USDOJ Honors Program

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

While many of you are getting ready for the long Labor Day weekend, why not set aside some time to apply for the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program? Frequently voted one of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, the Department of Justice leads the nation in ensuring the protection of all Americans while preserving their constitutional freedoms.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post on PSJD. (Application deadline: September 8, 2015)

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