Archive for July, 2016

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 1, 2016

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

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Mandatory pro bono reporting proposed in Virginia;
  • Special Report:  A Year of Service;
  • Illinois Bar Foundation renews $15,000 grant to PILI;
  • Iowa Supreme Court establishes access to justice commission;
  • Thunder Bay one site for Ontario pilot project to assist victims of sexual assault;
  • 2016 Access to Justice Conference explores urgent need for civil legal assistance;
  • DC Bar Foundation awards $900,00 to expand access to justice;
  • JAG recruiters return to Lavender Law;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 23, 2016 – “A Virginia Supreme Court panel has proposed a requirement that lawyers report the number of hours and dollar amount of donations they make to pro bono each year. The June 5 proposal – unanimously approved by the court-appointed Virginia Access to Justice Commission – was presented June 16 to the Virginia State Bar.” (Virginia Lawyers Weekly)(subscription required)

June 27, 2016 – “The American Lawyer’s latest survey of Big Law’s pro efforts, from law firm rankings to project profiles and the state of the Justice Gap.” On of the most striking aspects of the survey is the wide range of pro bono projects, and the scope of their work.  The survey also looks specifically at the Clemency Project.  Check out the link for the full survey, including law firm pro bono rankings. (American Lawyer)

June 27, 2016 – “PILI is grateful to the Illinois Bar Foundation for renewing their $15,000 grant to PILI. This funding helps to support our statewide pro bono efforts through our Pro Bono Initiative and our Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees. We share the IBF’s mission to enhance the availability of justice for those without attorneys, and through these programs we work to promote pro bono throughout the state.”  (Public Interest Law Initiative)

June 27, 2016 – “Too many Iowans can’t afford attorneys, giving people no choice but to represent themselves in the justice system, according to the Iowa Supreme Court. In response, the court is establishing the Iowa Access to Justice Commission to help remove financial barriers preventing people from getting legal representation, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in an order on Monday.” “Along with the establishment of the Access to Justice Commission, Cady ordered a grant by way of $26,646 to the ISBA Public Service Project for the sole purpose of providing staff for the commission through July 2017.” (Des Moines Register)

June 28, 2016 – “Ontario is piloting a new program in three cities, including Thunder Bay, that will give survivors of sexual assault access to free legal advice, regardless of how much time has passed since the incident. Starting June 28, survivors of sexual assault living in Toronto, Ottawa, and the District of Thunder Bay will be able to receive up to four hours of free, confidential advice from a lawyer. The pilot is expected to run until March 2018. During that time, the province will assess the effectiveness of the program and determine its next steps.” (CBC News)

June 28, 2016 – “An outspoken former Chief Judge of the New York courts challenged judges and other leaders across the country to step up the fight to provide access to justice for thousands of people who, because of financial need, are left to represent themselves in civil court cases.” “The 2016 conference brought together attorneys, judges, legal service providers and lay people to discuss ongoing challenges to providing legal representation for thousands of people who have no means to pay an attorney in civil cases that often involve basic needs, such as housing issues and parental rights. Also included on the day-long conference agenda were discussions about homelessness, landlord-tenant mediation, attorney training for self-help centers, affordable housing issues, implicit bias, and ceded land and quiet title actions.” (University of Hawai’i System News)

June 30, 2016 – “Between July 2016 and December 2017, the DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) will award $900,000 to 22 organizations that provide direct civil legal assistance to underserved and low-income DC residents. These grants are funded by private donations to DCBF and by the DC Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, which DCBF administers. The organizations receiving grants provide legal help in many areas of civil law, including housing, employment, domestic violence, immigration, education, health, and disability rights.” (DC Bar Foundation)

June 30, 2016 – In another historic step, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced today that, effective immediately, the US military will have a policy allowing for open transgender service. Not only is this great news for civil rights, but it also opens another avenue of legal service for many.  In response, the LGBT Bar has invited JAG recruiters to return to the Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair in August.  See the link for more details.  (LGBT Bar Association)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland presented its Pro Bono Service Awards to a wonderful group of attorneys.  The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland is the statewide coordinator of volunteer legal services. Recipients include:
Lee A. Caplan Award: Gerald Kelly, Esq., Kelly | Dorsey, P.C. – Howard County

Young Lawyers Section Alex Fee Memorial Award: Jonathan D. Kossak, Esq., Miller & Chevalier Chartered- Washington, DC

Judge Robert M. Bell Award: Tracey Turner, Esq., DLA Piper – Baltimore City

Distinguished Pro Bono Volunteer Award: Andrea Trento, Esq., Hogan Lovells  – Baltimore City

Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award: Pamela West, Esq., P.S. West, Attorney at Law, LLC- Montgomery County

Pro Bono Program Award: Catholic Charities of Baltimore – Immigration Legal Services, Esperanza Center and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Herbert S. Garten Special Project Award: “Life for Lifers” project – Michael P. Lytle, Esq., The Law Offices of Michael Patrick Lytle- Anne Arundel County and Erica J. Suter, Esq., The Law Offices of Erica J. Suter, LLC – Prince George’s County

(Maryland Pro Bono Resource Center)

Music Bonus!