Archive for December, 2015

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 18, 2015

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

Happy Holidays!  We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.  We are also celebrating with family and friends, and will return in the new year.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Michigan Voces gets $10,000 grant for immigrant legal services;
  • Can technology help the middle class close the justice gap?;
  • Legal Aid Ontario announces new CEO;
  • Utah Supreme Court approves creation of limited paralegal practitioners;
  • Collaboration helps New Yorkers facing foreclosure get live chat assistance;
  • New York mayor launches nearly $8 million assistance program for immigrants;
  • Legal Aid Ontario launches financial eligibility app;
  • Legal Services Corporation awards first Vieth grants;
  • Notre Dame Law School to launch  new clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 10, 2015 – “Voces, a Battle Creek-area [Michigan] organization that primarily assists Latino and Hispanic families, has received a $10,000 capacity-building grant to strengthen its immigration legal services. Voces is one of 10 groups in its category to receive funding from the National Council of La Raza, a Washington, D.C.-based Latino advocacy organization. The grant will be used to build a process to provide immigration services, to pay for training of staff and volunteers on how to provide immigration support and to assist the organization in earning accreditation by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. It also will allow Voces staff to represent community members in certain immigration cases, allowing them to forego a search for paid legal council.” (Battle Creek Enquirer)

December 11, 2015 – Here is an interesting editorial from the Jurist discussing how technology could help with disparities in justice. (Jurist)

December 14, 2015 –  “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is pleased to announce the appointment of David Field, a senior executive at Legal Aid Ontario, as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2016. He succeeds Robert Ward, who retires this December. Mr. Field’s 33-year financial and strategic planning career in the public sector includes his work as the Director and Chief Financial Officer, Business and Fiscal Planning Branch at the Ministry of the Attorney General, and Director Financial Planning and Business Management Branch at both the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.  In his most recent role as Vice President of Strategic Planning and Compliance at LAO, Mr. Field has been instrumental in LAO’s development of modern management methods to benefit client service and organizational effectiveness. Mr. Field has worked in various capacities for the Government of Ontario since 1982. He holds an MBA in public administration fromYork University as well as a BA in political science from the University of Waterloo. ” (Newswire)

December 14, 2015 – “There are issues with how Utahns access their justice system, a Utah Supreme Court justice said. Many people either can’t afford lawyers, Deno Himonas said Monday, or simply don’t want to hire one to help them navigate the court system as they file for divorce, settle debts or resolve eviction issues. ‘Lawyers have been incredibly generous with their time,’ Himonas said. ‘And are trying to address [those issues] through pro bono measures. But at the end of the day, though, we need to come up with an economically viable model that will help improve access for those individuals in our civil justice system.’ To that end, the Utah Supreme Court has approved the creation of a new legal profession: limited paralegal practitioners. An LPP, or paraprofessional, will have more training and responsibilities than a normal paralegal, but is not quite a lawyer. The paraprofessional will be able to help the public in those areas where Utahns generally aren’t hiring lawyers.” “The Utah Supreme Court has approved creation of the new legal profession — but it will take some time to implement the program. Now that the task force has presented its findings to the Supreme Court and the judicial council, a committee will be appointed to figure out the nuts and bolts of how the program will work, including what educational requirements will be needed and what the exact limitations will be.” (The Salt Lake Tribune)

December 14, 2015 – “LawHelpNY, a family of online legal information and referral Internet portals for low and moderate income New Yorkers, announces the launch of its LiveHelp chatting service for visitors to the New York State Unified Court Systems website, CourtHelp.  The LiveHelp service will allow visitors to the site to chat with operators who can guide them to legal resources and organizations that may be able to assist them in their case. The initiative is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations working to create a more seamless and integrated help system for vulnerable New Yorkers seeking assistance with legal problems. Since 2010, LiveHelp operators, primarily trained law student volunteers, have assisted individuals visiting the LawHelpNY website who are often facing serious legal problems, but can’t afford a lawyer. LiveHelp will now be available to visitors on the foreclosure pages of the CourtHelp website, primarily homeowners facing foreclosure, as well as tenants of buildings in foreclosure.” “The project is funded by an LSC (Legal Services Corporation) Technology Initiative Grant awarded to Legal Assistance of Western New York. The initiative serves as a pilot to explore the effectiveness of providing real-time assistance to unrepresented litigants visiting the CourtHelp website to further close the justice gap in New York State Courts.” (probono.net)

December 15, 2015 – “Although President Obama’s executive amnesty programs remain held up in the courts, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a nearly $8 million initiative to provide legal assistance to the illegal immigrant community in the city and prepare them for executive amnesty. ‘New York City’s commitment to our immigrant communities will not waver. While the courts delay executive action and much-needed relief, while some voices may attempt to create hostility toward immigrants, while more than 30 governors tried to resist the resettlement of Syrian refugees, New York City will demonstrate the power and values of our city.’ de Blasio said Monday, announcing the initiative. Dubbed ActionNYC, the $7.9 million program will create ‘navigation hubs’ in each of the five boroughs for immigrants to receive legal assistance and education about possible immigration benefits available to them.” “The program is slated to start in the spring of 2016 and will be administered by Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, in collaboration with the Human Resources Administration and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. The initiative will provide contracts to ‘community-based organizations’ and legal services to implement the program.” (Breitbart)

December 16, 2015 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is launching a mobile phone application (app) to help people determine whether they are financially eligible for a legal aid certificate. The app also gives applicants real-time access to call centre wait times. This is the first version of the app, and it follows the organization’s recent expansion of financial and legal eligibility criteria for legal aid services in Ontario. The app is available free of charge through app stores for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices. The app does not collect or store any user data.” (Newswire)

December 16, 2015 – “The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that seven legal aid organizations will receive grants from its new G. Duane Vieth Leadership Development Program, LSC’s first grant initiative to support training in leadership skills in the field of civil legal aid. Generously funded by the Arnold & Porter LLP Foundation, the program will award grants each year to leaders of LSC-funded organizations to support training, coaching, or other professional development in non-profit leadership skills. The competitive grant program honors long-time Arnold & Porter Managing Partner G. Duane “Bud” Vieth, who joined the firm in 1949 and is now a retired partner, and highlights the importance of developing entrepreneurial and business acumen among leaders of civil legal aid organizations. ” “This is the first named initiative to result from LSC’s Campaign for Justice, a private fundraising effort to expand the impact and capacity of civil legal aid providers across the country. The 134 LSC-funded legal aid programs will each be eligible to receive one grant of up to $10,000 every five years.”  (Legal Services Corporation)

December 17, 2015 – “Notre Dame Law School will launch a new clinic – the Notre Dame Tax Clinic – to help law students gain legal experience and to serve the community. The clinic will be funded by a grant from the Internal Revenue Service and support from the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Research. The clinic, approved by the faculty this month, will strengthen the tax law program for law students with the addition of an experiential component, and add a second litigation clinic, said Bob Jones, associate dean for experiential programs.” “The clinic’s academic component, scheduled to start in the 2016 fall semester, will enroll between eight and 10 students each semester. The Notre Dame Tax Clinic course would include a class covering skills, substantive law, and procedural law and about 10 hours of casework each week. Students would be the primary attorneys working with the clients, supervised by a licensed attorney.” (Notre Dame Law School News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

United Airlines lawyers — recipients of the Public Interest Law Initiative’s 2015 Pro Bono Initiative Award.

United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago and its lawyers have worked diligently to establish a strong program that is truly making a difference for those in need. United’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee partners with local organizations to provide opportunities for attorneys and non-attorneys to do pro bono or community service work within their work day. Stressing the importance of passion, the Committee focuses on engaging individuals in causes they personally care about.

United attorneys volunteer with Cabrini Green Legal Aid’s Expungement Help Desk and Live Call hearings at 26th & California. They participate in the Center for Disability and Elder Law’s Senior Center Initiative, and work with the National Immigrant Justice Center at Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinics and represent asylum applicants. United attorneys help staff the Equip for Equality hotline on a weekly basis, facilitate court reform efforts at the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, and assist those in need with preparation of their tax returns. These are just some of the areas of focus for their pro bono program. (PILI press release)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang. And a bonus track from one Geek to all of you!

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Job’o’th’week (Entry Level) – South Texas Pro Bono Representation Project (ProBAR)

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The South Texas Pro Bono Representation Project (ProBAR) has an immediate opening for an attorney or law graduate at the ProBAR Children’s Project. ProBAR provides direct legal services to unaccompanied children detained along the southern border in Texas and the Children’s Project serves the population of over 2,000 detained, unaccompanied children at Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters across the Rio Grande Valley.

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

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A message from the ABA Division for Public Services regarding the Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program.

The Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program is seeking motivated law student interns to apply for stipends available for summer 2016. The Program will pay a $2,500 stipend to three law school students who spend the summer months working for a bar association or legal services program designed to prevent homelessness or assist homeless or indigent clients or their advocates. The ideal intern will have a demonstrated interest in public interest law and experience working with poor people or on issues affecting them. All law students are eligible, and first year law students are encouraged to apply. The application deadline for Summer 2016 is Monday, March 28, 2016. For more information and the application package, please visit http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_services/homelessness_poverty/john_j_curtin_jr_fellowship1.html.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 11, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Virginia Attorney General announces legal aid for veterans;
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law launches a human trafficking clinic;
  • Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report now available – NASA still number one;
  • Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP announces creation of Pro Bono Partner position;
  • Maryland Judiciary launches mobile app to improve access to justice;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 7, 2015 – “Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring came to Norfolk Monday morning to announce his office is launching pro bono veterans legal clinics around the state. Herring’s program will give low-income veterans free help in three areas: creating wills, power of attorney and advanced medical directives. ‘These are folks who have served our country in times of need and we owe so much to them this is a way we can begin to repay that,’ said Herring.”  “Herring hopes to help about 100 veterans at each clinic. This will be on a first come first served basis. In order to be eligible for services, veterans and their spouses must fill out a questionnaire on the Attorney General’s website. Paper copies will also be available at local Virginia Department of Veterans Services Benefits Center.” (WAVY)

December 7, 2015 – “Case Western Reserve University School of Law, with a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, will launch a human trafficking law clinic in which students, under faculty supervision, will represent victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. Professors Judith Lipton and Maureen Kenny will serve as co-directors of the Human Trafficking Project, which will provide legal services to survivors of human trafficking and education and awareness to service providers, educators, students and the general public on this important issue.” “Lipton said the state grant will support the creation of a Human Trafficking Law Clinic. Meanwhile, the grant enables Case Western Reserve law students to immediately represent victims of human trafficking through the Criminal Justice Clinic.” (newswise)

December 8, 2015 –  The headline reads “NASA is the best place to work in government, Homeland Security is the worst – again.”  The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report is out for 2015.  “The level of job satisfaction among federal employees at agencies with similar missions in areas such as law enforcement and public health varies widely, according to a new analysis of the ‘Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.’ For the first time, the authors of the report – which is based on data from the Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey – grouped 75 federal organizations by six mission areas: energy and environment, financial regulation, law enforcement, national security, oversight and public health.” “Agencies that were at the top and bottom last year occupied those slots in 2015 too. For the fourth consecutive year, NASA was the No. 1 place to work among large federal agencies, with a job satisfaction and commitment score of 76.1 (out of 100) among employees. The intelligence community, departments of Justice, State and Commerce rounded out the top five. The rankings include 391 federal agencies and their subcomponents.” (Government Executive)

December 8, 2015 – “Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP today announced the creation of a Pro Bono Partner position at the firm.  Dan Brown, a partner in the Firm’s Business Trial Group and current Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, will fill that role.” “Brown will devote the majority of his time to managing the firm’s pro bono program, while continuing to litigate for his and other firm clients.  As Sheppard Mullin’s pro bono Chair, Brown was responsible for leading a firm-wide initiative to rejuvenate and expand the role of pro bono within Sheppard Mullin, resulting in pro bono and billable hours being treated the same for associates, and pro bono becoming a factor in the annual partner compensation review process.” (Sheppard Mullin Press Release)

December 9, 2015 – “The Maryland Judiciary unveiled a new free mobile app designed to improve access to justice. The Maryland Law Help app, released Wednesday, aims to help citizens better understand and navigate the court system, and make legal information readily available on smartphones and tablets. App users can access the Judiciary’s most popular resources including finding a lawyer or mediator, self-help videos on how to use the courts, locating proper forms, learning about Maryland law, and chatting with an attorney at the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center, which is operated by Maryland Legal Aid. ‘The new mobile app brings court access into the digital age,’ Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera said in a release. ‘With this innovation, we are improving access to justice by using technology to facilitate people meeting their legal needs.'” (ABC2 News)

 

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Children’s Law Center in Washington, DC held a special reception at Covington’s DC office recently to honor Covington litigator Tony Herman and his commitment to pro bono. CLC executive director Judith Sandalow first met Tony at a soccer field watching their sons play together. They bonded over their shared experiences as adoptive parents. After Judith learned about Tony’s commitment to legal aid and closing the justice gap, she eventually asked him to join CLC’s board. That long involvement culminated in Tony serving as CLC board chair for four years, a position from which he stepped down a couple of months ago. CLC also announced that several Covington attorneys chose to honor Tony’s service by establishing the Anthony Herman Adoption Litigation Fund, which will allow CLC to support more adoptive families with legal advocacy. (Bisnow)

Super Music Bonus!  Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Eulen Jang. And a bonus track from FLOTUS!

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Job’o’th’week (Entry/Experienced) – Homeless Action Center

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Homeless Action Center (HAC) is seeking a Staff Attorney to primarily represent clients in applications and appeals for SSI/Social Security Disability benefits and Medi-Cal. HAC is a community based legal services program founded in 1990 to provide legal services to homeless people in Alameda County, California. The position will be based in Oakland, CA.

If this sounds like something for you, check out the full post here. (Application Deadline: January 4, 2016)

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Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Calendar Year 2014 Report

Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

One of the biggest benefits of federal employment for recent law school graduates is student loan repayment assistance. Federal agencies are authorized to provide up to $10,000 in loan repayment assistance per year for federally-made, insured or guaranteed student loans with a total lifetime cap of $60,000 per employee. In exchange for each year that an employee accepts this benefit, she or he must commit to working for the federal government for an additional three years. If an employee accepts this benefit and leaves (separates either voluntarily or involuntarily) before this period expires, she or he must repay the full amount.

While not all agencies offer this benefit, many do. In 2014, 33 federal agencies provided more than $58.7 million in loan repayment assistance to their employees.  This represents a 6.5 percent increase in the number of agencies offering a loan repayment program from 2013, and a 10.9 percent increase in agencies’ overall financial investment in this particular incentive. However, the average student loan repayment benefit in CY 2014 was $6,937, a 4.1 percent decrease compared to CY 2013.

The five agencies that provided the most loan repayment assistance in CY 2014 were:

Agency Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Total Amount of Assistance Change in Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Change in Total Assistance from CY 2013
Department of Defense 1,774 $12,135,381 -23.5% -25.6%
Department of Justice 1,728 $12,897,251 105.2% 119.5%
Department of State 1,415 $11,136,296 8.7% 2.8%
Veterans Affairs 713 $4,145,654 27.5% 53.5%
Securities and Exchange Commission  

675

$6,170,327 4.6% 6.5%
Subtotal 6,305 $46,485,200    
28 other agencies 2,164 $12,261,655    
Total 8,469 $58,746,855 15.8% 11.0%

 

Most notably, the Securities and Exchange Commission used the majority of its loan repayment funds on mission critical occupations, with Attorney-Advisor being the largest category of recipients (371 attorneys received benefits in CY 14) and the JD advantage position Securities Compliance Examiner (32).  The Department of Veterans Affairs also used a large portion of funding on the JD advantage positions of Contract Specialists (116) and Human Resource Specialists (106).

Overall, departments and agencies report that the use of student loan repayment assistance as a recruitment and retention tool for highly skilled workers has been effective.  For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission uses its funds mainly as a retention tool, providing a majority of the benefits to mission critical occupations such as Attorney and Energy Industry Analyst.  Of special note, Housing and Urban Development provided loan repayment assistance to their Presidential Management Fellow in addition to other legally related positions.

Agencies continue to report that the primary barrier to using student loan repayments for recruitment or retention is a lack of overall funding for the program.  Other reported barriers were the corresponding three-year service agreement, the tax liability associated with the student loan repayments, and the yearly cap of $10,000 on benefits.  Some agencies reported candidates were unwilling to commit to three years of service in return for the student loan repayment benefit. Both the tax liability and the cap in relation to rising student loan debt were seen as diminishing the value of the benefit.  However, the primary impediment appears to be need — many agencies do not have hard-to-fill jobs or don’t have difficulty recruiting and retaining employees.

The following departments or agencies provided loan repayment assistance to one or more attorneys: Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Regulatory Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Government Accountability Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Postal Regulatory Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Surface Transportation Board.

The following departments or agencies provided loan repayment assistance to one or more JD advantage positions: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Federal Regulatory Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Postal Regulatory Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, 9 agencies recently established student loan repayment assistance programs that they did not use in CY 2014.  These agencies include the Agency for International Development, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Government Printing Office, National Capital Planning Commission, Office of Government Ethics, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. AbilityOne Commission.

To learn more about the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, visit opm.gov or contact human resources representatives at the federal agencies in which you are most interested. Click here to view the complete report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for calendar year 2014.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 4, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  Welcome to December.  If you are looking for job search tips to employ during your winter break, look no further  than the Resource Center on PSJD.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Alberta (Canada) Justice launches review of legal aid;
  • Dentons supports Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods revitalization with multi-year pro bono commitment;
  • Mississippi Supreme Court approves new student rule allowing more work for the poor;
  • Chief Judge Lippman announces creation of Legal Hand in New York;
  • Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and The Cumberland hires first technology director;
  • U.S. lawmakers launch legal aid caucus;
  • Texas legal aid group receives $20,000 grant to assist immigrants;
  • The Association of Pro Bono Counsel publishes its inaugural annual report;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

November 25, 2015 – “The government-led review will start mid-December and will look at the affordability and sustainability of legal aid, its governance model, what services Legal Aid Alberta should offer, financial eligibility guidelines for clients, and pay for lawyers. It will also suggest a long-term strategy to deal with court orders for publicly funded representation. ‘The current structure and delivery of legal aid is struggling to meet the challenges of a growing population,’ Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Wednesday. On a recent day, Legal Aid Alberta fielded 1,100 phone calls, compared to last year’s daily average of 600. Between July and September, the society saw a 33% increase in certificates issued for legal representation. ‘We want to make sure we are protecting the most vulnerable Albertans by provided adequate access to legal services,’ Ganley said. ‘At the same time, we also have a responsibility to ensure that tax dollars are spent prudently.'” “Legal Aid Alberta said it will co-operate with the government-led review as long as experts and those affected are consulted. Ganley said a comprehensive consultation process will kick off with interviews, focus groups, online surveys and written submissions. The review is expected to cost less than $100,000 and be finished by spring 2016.” (Edmonton Journal)

November 25, 2015 – “Global law firm Dentons today announced a multi-year pro bono commitment in support of the Westside neighborhoods revitalization project currently underway through a joint effort between the Westside Future Fund and the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. As part of the initiative, Dentons has pledged up to $375,000 in legal and public policy counsel over the span of three years in conjunction with the project.” “As part of the relationship, Dentons will provide ongoing legal counsel on matters pertaining to real estate preservation, zoning, land use, economic development, contracts, policy compliance, litigation and other aspects of the project. Lawyers and public policy professionals across the Firm will be engaged to create a multi-faceted team to address the many legal and governmental issues that can arise in a project of this magnitude.” (Dentons News)

November 26, 2015 –  “Law students will be able to do more legal work for poor Mississippi residents under a rule recently approved by the state Supreme Court. ‘Students attending law schools in other states and those who are not getting course credit for the work can now help attorneys representing people who cannot pay,’ said Tiffany Graves, executive director of the state’s Access to Justice Commission. ‘The new rule will provide immediate and long-term benefits,’ said Professor Meta Copeland, director of experiential learning at Mississippi College School of Law. ‘More law students can now assist low-income clients with legal issues,’ she said in a news release from the state court system. ‘More lawyers will accept pro bono cases with the assistance of a limited practice student at no cost.’ The new rule supplants a state law which also allowed only state or legal services employees to supervise the student workers. Now such services can be provided as part of a clinical legal education course, law school legal internship program, or through a volunteer legal services program under the supervision of licensed attorneys, Graves said. Graves said the students cannot represent clients directly, but may only help a supervising attorney or teacher. The rule was approved Nov. 19 and took effect immediately.” (SFGate)

November 30, 2015 – “Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was in Crown Heights on Monday to announce the creation of a new program called Legal Hand that will provide free legal advice and referrals to low-income residents.” “‘The key feature of Legal Hand is that the help it provides does not come from lawyers, it comes from community volunteers who are specially trained to provide information and guidance to low-income individuals on how to navigate the court and social services systems and how to protect and represent themselves in a legal manner,’ Lippman said. ‘This program is the newest foray in the campaign to close the justice gap in New York and the first of its kind in the country.'” “The Legal Hand center will work in conjunction with three other legal service providers — the Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and the New York Legal Assistance Group.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

December 1, 2015 – In what might be the latest trend in legal aid, “Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and The Cumberlands has hired Paul Swiney as its first director of technology. ‘The legal industry is increasingly reliant on technology to connect lawyers with clients and collect essential case information,’ Gary Housepian, Legal Aid Society executive director, said in the release. ‘Paul brings an extraordinary technical background and skill set, and his experience in the non-profit sector will serve us well. We feel fortunate to have found such a great fit.’ Swiney will be based out of Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office and service all eight of the entity’s offices across the region. LAS bills itself as Tennessee’s largest nonprofit law firm.”(Nashville Post)

December 1, 2015 – “Lawmakers in the House have created a caucus to make it easier for low-income families to get legal representation. Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) launched the Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus on Tuesday to advocate for civil legal aid programs and ensure access to representation is never limited by income. ‘Our legal system is where our nation makes good on the sacred promise of equal justice under the law,’ Kennedy said in a news release. ‘But too often that promise is far from guaranteed for low-income families, veterans, victims of domestic violence and thousands of other Americans forced to stand in our courtrooms alone each year with their homes, savings and futures at risk.’ In urging other lawmakers to join the caucus, the lawmakers cited a Boston Bar Association report that found 64 percent of cases in Massachusetts in 2013 that were eligible for legal aid programs were turned away due to lack of funding. The majority of cases covered by civil legal aid organizations in Massachusetts and Indiana involved family and housing. ‘This caucus will seek to change that, making sure that when civil disputes are brought to our judicial system, those involved, regardless of financial means, have access to appropriate legal resources and representation,’ Brooks said.” (The Hill)

December 2, 2015 – “The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), received a $20,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation so that the group can continue to ‘provide children and mothers who were released from the Karnes and Dilley Family Detention Centers with legal services.’ Since the summer of 2014, RAICES has provided free legal counsel to thousands of families held in South Texas. Many of them reside in the state after their release.” (San Antonio Current)

December 2, 2015 – “The Association of Pro Bono Counsel, a membership organization for lawyers who hold full-time positions managing pro bono practices at large law firms, is seeking to promote its message and work. Nearly 10 years after its formation, the New York-based nonprofit recently published its first-ever annual report, which became available online Wednesday. The report celebrates APBCo’s growth from a 60-member association in 2006 to more than 155 members today.” (American Lawyer)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) is recognizing Legal Aid Ontario’s Integrated Legal Service Office (ILSO) with a community leader award. ILSO and its predecessor, the Family Law Office, have worked with IWSO since 1999 to assist vulnerable immigrant women and their children. “Legal Aid has an understanding of violence against women and children and has made an extraordinary effort to help,” says IWSO Manager, Crisis & Counseling services Vivian Chan-Brouillette. “As a result, their work has had significant impact on this problem in the Ottawa community. For example, an abuser can lie to the victim about their rights or threaten to send them back home without the children. If these women don’t see a lawyer and learn about their rights, they may not even have the courage to think about leaving their abuser.” Congratulations! (Legal Aid Ontario Newsroom)

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

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Upcoming Equal Justice Works Free Student Debt Webinar

Equal Justice Works is hosting another Free Student Debt Webinar! Check out their message below: 

Our Christmas Gift To You: Free Debt Relief Webinar

It’s the holidays! For law students, ‘tis the season for intense study groups, first semester finals, and (hopefully) a much-needed chance to relax after it’s all over.

We know that the holiday season can be tough. That’s why we’re offering our free monthly webinar,  “Drowning in Debt! What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know about Managing Student Loans & Earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness,” on Thursday, December 17, 2015 from 3:00 to 4:00 pm EDT to help student loan borrowers plan out their finances just in time for the new year! Whether you’re currently a law student, recent law graduate, or professional attorney, this webinar will provide you with the information you need to know about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans, and more. Come check it out and learn how to manage your student debt!

New REPAYE Plan Almost Ready for Launch

The Department of Education recently announced the new income-driven REPAYE (Revised Pay As You Earn) plan will be available to borrowers in mid-December! This revamped option will cap your monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income, and will be available to all undergraduate and graduate federal loan borrowers regardless of when the money was borrowed.

Sounds like a great plan, but there are some potential pitfalls that every savvy borrower should be aware of. We discuss some of these dangers in our latest Huffington Post blog article, “Love and Student Debt: How the New REPAYE Plan Could Affect Marriages,” and we’ll be talking in-depth about the REPAYE plan during our webinar.

We’ll be updating our free student debt e-book Take Control of Your Future to include all the in-depth information you need to know about REPAYE. Download it now to be notified of all updates!

Help Protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness

As always, we urge you to take action to preserve Public Service Loan Forgiveness before Congress moves forward with capping or eliminating this vital program for public service workers. In addition to coming to the December 17th webinar for the latest legislative updates, you can join  the ABA’s Save #Loan4Giveness campaign today by taking action via social media!

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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Regional Highlights

NALP Regions Map - Final Version

Find your region below to learn more about job opportunities and public interest events happening in your area this month. (Click image to enlarge map)

Here are December’s Regional Highlights:

West/Rocky MountainAttorney (Various locations, New Mexico); Attorney (Albuquerque, NM); Family Law Staff Attorney (San Francisco, CA); Legislative Advocate (San Francisco, CA); Director of Litigation (Santa Ana, CA); 2016 Legal Fellow (Oakland, CA); Summer 2016 Clerk (Portland, OR); Part-time Pro Bono Coordinator/Staff Attorney (Portland, OR); Assistant U.S. Attorney (Spokane, WA); Attorney (Barrow, AK); Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence (Bozeman, MT); Law Clerkship, Summer 2016 (Honolulu, HI)

MidwestConsumer Protection Attorney (St. Paul, MN); Senior Attorney (St. Paul, MN); 2016 Summer Advocate (Madison, WI); Clinical Professor with the Wisconsin Innocence Project (Madison, WI); Staff Attorney (Grand Rapids, MI); Summer 2016 Legal Internship (Kalamazoo, MI); Assistant Dean for Career Services (Bloomington, IN); Intake Staff Attorney (Indianapolis, IN); Summer Law Student Internship (Kansas City, MO); Staff Attorney (Columbus, OH); General Counsel’s Summer Intern Program (Cincinnati, OH); CCLA Volunteer and Pro Bono Program Director (Chicago, IL); Law Student Internship Program for Summer 2016 (Alton, IL)

SoutheastAssistant United States Attorney – Appellate Division (Raleigh, NC);  Assistant Post-Conviction/Staff Attorney (Nashville, TN);  Assistant United States Attorney (Dallas, TX); Managing Attorney (Covington, KY); Staff Attorney (Oklahoma City, OK); Legal Internship (Miami, FL); Lucha Staff Attorney (Miami, FL); Human Rights Attorney (Sarasota, FL); Staff Investigator (Tallahassee, FL);

Mid-AtlanticSenior Attorney (Harrisburg, PA); Staff Attorney (York, PA); Law Clerkship 2016 (Philadelphia, PA); Assistant Attorney General – Educational Affairs Program (Baltimore, MD); Principal Counsel – Maryland Energy Administration (Baltimore, MD); Staff Attorney (Baltimore, MD); Legal and Policy Intern (Bethesda, MD); Legal Intern, Advocacy (Silver Spring, MD); Bioethics Fellowship (Bethesda, MD); Assistant U.S. Attorney (Newport News, VA); Attorney Adviser (General) (Arlington, VA); General Counsel’s Summer Intern Program (Washington, D.C.); Assistant United States Attorney (Washington, DC); Public Interest Law Internship (Washington, DC); Direction Attorney, Economic Security Team (Washington, DC); Spring 2016 Law Clerk (Washington, DC); Privacy Fellow (Washington, DC); Legal Fellow (Washington, DC); Advocacy Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean (Washington, DC); Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic Graduate Teaching Fellowship (Washington, DC)

Northeast Staff Attorney (Burlington, VT); Disability Law Project Attorney (Rutland, VT); Public Defender (St. Albans, VT); Abrams Clinical Fellowship – Yale Law (New Haven, CT); Summer Legal Intern (Boston, MA); Staff Attorney (Quincy, MA); 2016 Corporation Counsel Clerkship (New York, NY); Managing Attorney (Jamestown, NY); Supervising Attorney – Civil Action Practice (New York, NY);  Director of Immigration Project (Staten Island, NY); Legal Advocate (Brooklyn, NY); Legal Fellow – U.S. Legal Program (New York, NY); Assistant General Counsel (Manhattan, NY); New York State Bar Association – Minority Fellowships in Environmental Law (NY Summer Funding/Scholarship)

CanadaPSJD Resource: Careers in Social Justice

 

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