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!
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!