PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 1, 2016

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

Happy Friday! Welcome to April.  The 2016 Annual Education Conference is only a week away.  We’re so excited to bring you another outstanding conference!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal aid now available in Arabic for Halton refugees;
  • 2016 Pro Bono Institute Conference review;
  • Age discrimination complaint filed against the Montana Office of the State Public Defender;
  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid receives grant to provide legal assistance to seniors;
  • Eastern Shore Maryland attorneys lead in pro bono hours;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 24, 2016 – “With the arrival and resettlement of Syrian refugee families in the region, Halton Community Legal Services (HCLS) says the demand for legal aid in Arabic will be increasing. That’s why it has developed a one-page information sheet in Arabic about the recent release of its Legal Health Check-Up tool. The survey helps low-income people find unrecognized every-day legal problems and get legal assistance before a crisis can develop, according to the Georgetown-based HCLS. The one-page sheet in Arabic is available through the clinic.” (Oakville Beaver)

March 24, 2016 – “Cherry blossoms were budding along the National Mall in Washington DC, and just a few blocks away, so were ideas about developing and maintaining world-class corporate pro bono programs.  Once the exclusive domain of law firms, more corporate legal departments are developing their own programs to build their teams, stretch their attorneys and deploy the unique skill sets of the legal department for the community good. Corporate legal departments, large and small, gathered at the 2016 Pro Bono Institute Conference the week of March 21st to discuss best practices in managing a pro bono program and to celebrate the good work and volunteer hours contributed in the pursuit of justice and the representation of those in need.” This article is a great recap of the conference. (Corporate Counsel Blog)

March 24, 2016 – “The Montana Office of the State Public Defender is under investigation by the state Human Rights Bureau for age discrimination. Montana Department of Labor and Industry Staff Attorney Timothy Little confirmed the filing Thursday. Little said he could not say for sure when the complaint was filed, although it was recent enough that an investigator has not yet been assigned, which can take up to two months. Once an investigator is assigned, the office has about 180 days to investigate and determine if the complaint should proceed to a hearing.” (Independent Record)

Update:  “Former Montana State Chief Public Defender Randi Hood has filed a suit with the Human Rights Bureau regarding its hiring practices. Hood, 66, filed a complaint in November 2015 with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry alleging the Office of the State Public Defender discriminated against her due to her age.” (Billings Gazette)

March 26, 2016 – ” The St. Cloud office of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid has received a grant of Older Americans Act funds from the Central Minnesota Council on Aging to provide legal services for seniors residing in Cass County. The funds will be used to provide legal advice, counseling and representation in court and administrative hearings. There is no cost for these services.” (The Pilot-Independent)

March 28, 2016 – “Eastern Shore [Maryland] attorneys donate more legal services than the rest of their Maryland colleagues, according to a recently released report, ‘The Current Status of Pro Bono Service among Maryland Lawyers,’ based on 2014 data.” “For 2014, 70.8 percent of the Eastern Region’s lawyers provided some pro bono hours, compared to 53.8 percent for the state as a whole, the report said. For full-time lawyers donating more than 50 hours, the Eastern Region again led the state at 32.2 percent, compared to the Maryland average of 19.9 percent.” (My Eastern Shore MD)


Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Pamela Robinson, Director of the University of South Carolina School of Law Pro Bono Program, was named the 2016 South Carolina Lawyer of the Year by South Carolina Lawyers Weekly. The honor was revealed at the “Leadership in Law” ceremony held on March 10 in Charleston.

Robinson helped create the School of Law’s pro bono program in 1989, which became the first 100 percent all-volunteer law school program in the nation. She has inspired a generation of lawyers to serve their communities through volunteerism, and has helped improve the lives of untold thousands of South Carolinians.

We at PSJD have the pleasure of collaborating with Pam regarding student pro bono.  This award is very well-deserved! Congratulations!!! (the fine print*)

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

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