The Office of the Counsel to the Mayor provides legal advice to the Mayor and City Hall staff and manages legal and other policy initiatives on inequality at the direction of the Mayor, including universal broadband access, green jobs and Fire Department diversity.
About the Role:
The Office of the Counsel to the Mayor is now accepting applications from admitted attorneys for an Assistant Corporation Counsel to primarily manage the processing of requests under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and assure compliance with conflict of interest rules. Through work with others in the Office, City Hall staff and City agencies, the Assistant Corporation Counsel will further the administration’s commitment to effective government. Responsibilities of the Assistant Corporation Counsel in this position would include:
• Coordinating with City Hall staff concerning FOIL and document retention requests;
• Reviewing potentially responsive documents to FOIL requests, in some cases utilizing specialized document review software;
• Administering and further developing as necessary the Offices system for tracking FOIL requests;
• Producing weekly updates on FOIL processing;
• In coordination with other staff, ensuring effective communication with FOIL requestors;
• Educating City Hall staff and staff at other agencies about the requirements of FOIL;
• Assuring compliance with Chapter 68 of the Charter and the rules of the Conflict of Interest Board.
Is this your entry-level dream job? Check out PSJD to see the full-post.
We are very pleased to announce the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner: Gabrielle Lucero. This year we selected 10 finalists and chose a winner from the largest pool of candidates we’ve had in recent memory. We’ve also selected two Merit Distinction recipients. All three will be guest bloggers for the PSJD Blog.
In addition, we will be presenting Gabrielle with her award (and her $1,000) at Duke University School of Law in Durham, NC. I look forward to meeting her, her family, and all those who helped her advance the work of the Veteran’s Assistance Project and Coalition Against Gendered Violence.
Here is the full announcement, with all the great finalists. We are so grateful to them for their incredible work!!!
22nd Annual PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award
This prestigious award honors one law student nationwide for their pro bono contributions to society, and recognizes the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education through public service work.
Duke University School of Law
Gabrielle is dedicated to helping her community directly and by creating infrastructures that will continue to serve clients after she graduates. First, recognizing a need to assist veterans and changes Legal Aid was undergoing in its work with veterans, Gabrielle took up the leadership of the Veterans Assistance Project (VAP). Along with a Legal Aid attorney, she established a structure for students to more easily and regularly complete the needed work. She created documents to be used and replicated, quick references for students on each step of the process, and established connections with local practioners to ensure continuity of service. She identified Military Sexual Trauma (MST) cases as a particular need, and developed a network and training materials to handle these cases. Gabrielle did all this, while volunteering herself assisting clients. Because of her good work, she was hand-picked to take on the first MST case. These cases can present some of the most difficult advocacy issues, both because this area is comparatively new and because of the sensitive subject matter. Not only was Gabrielle successful on behalf of her client, but she produced research and connections with a physician that specializes in MST care that will enable many more successes. Thinking longer term, Gabrielle created connections with UNC School of Law and NC Central University School of Law to broaden the scope of the project’s impact.
Additionally, Gabrielle took over the recently inactive student group Coalition Against Gendered Violence (CAGV), and focused in on two major components. Gabrielle created a pro bono project with the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, volunteering to provide assistance to college campus victims of sexual assault during the university adjudication hearings. The second prong of the Coalition’s work is addressing the needs of victims and survivors who are part of the Duke Law community. Gabrielle’s hard work and dedication were instrumental in creating pro bono opportunities and community assistance that will long outlast her time at the law school. As her nominator stated, “[w]ithout her focused efforts to work with Legal Aid and redesign our VAP program or to redesign our CAGV, we would likely have lost both projects.”
Gabrielle summed up her dedication best. “When people ask me why I am so involved in the community and put so much of my time towards service, it is an easy answer: people. While I have a busy schedule of two graduate degrees, Army ROTC, and a number of school and community activities, it never feels overwhelming because of the people.”
Texas Tech University School of Law
Derek is committed to solving LGBT issues. As a 2L, he became president of Lavender Law, and used this platform to create an environment where students, faculty, lecturers and the community come together to discuss and advance the LGBT community. His most significant contribution began with listening to the needs of this population. Since March, Derek has been working to establish a Gender Marker and Name Change Clinic at the law school. During his 2L year, members of the University’s Gay Straight Alliance approached Derek regarding several transgender student who needed help changing their identification documents. Derek was moved to create a service for his community that would help transgender individuals change their identification documents to match their gender identities. The Gender Marker Clinic was born, and in May had its first successful gender marker change. Derek is not only part of this community, but he is part of creating positive change for those around him.
One of Derek’s recommenders aptly summed him up this way: “In addition to a passion for service, Derek has true courage. He continually speaks out for the voiceless and champions the rights of the vulnerable. He never compromises his principles, but works to ensure that all individuals involved in a situation are heard and respected.”
Temple University Beasley School of Law
The highlight of Lilah’s career at Temple Law was her creation, single-handedly, of a participatory workshop that simulates life as a refugee. This community education event, called Between Borders: A Refugee Simulation, was held in March. Lilah, who recruited twenty-four volunteers to run the project under her direction, sought to change the narrative about how we view “the other.” Between Borders depicted five stages of the refugee experience: persecution, fleeing to and living in a refugee camp, the resettlement process, life in the Unites States, and becoming a U.S. citizen. Nearly sixty participants placed themselves in “the shoes of a refugee” in order to gain understanding of the refugee experience. In the discussions afterward, many people were already beginning to talk about creative solutions to the problem of stigmatization, and explore other ways they could provide help to their refugee community.
One of Lilah’s collaborators explained the impact this way: “This exceptionally comprehensive, thorough, and impactful program was a feat of organization. Given the state of public discourse around refugees, it was also a crucial intervention both for participants and for other Philadelphia residents who learned about the simulation from news coverage. Lilah worked tirelessly to ensure that every detail of the simulation was as compelling and accurate as possible, and succeeded at creating a model workshop.”
Sahar Moazami, Fordham University School of Law
In just two years devoted more than 1,000 hours to volunteering and creating pro bono opportunities for others.
Nadia Anguiano-Wehde, University of Minnesota Law School
Developed an alternate spring break trip to Texas to the Dilley family detention center.
Sean Brucker, Maurice A. Dean School of Law at Hofstra University
Served the Korean American community through grassroots organizing, education and advocacy that addresses immigration policies.
John Bruning, University of Minnesota Law School
Created an alternate spring break trip to the Dilley family detention center and launched the Law School’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Tristen Edwards,New York University School of Law
Worked tirelessly to combat systems of excessive punishments and to seek alternatives.
Michael Ludvik,Texas Tech University School of Law
Worked with veterans, children, and the homeless, and creating and implementing Paul’s Project.
Monica Valencia,University of San Francisco School of Law
Assisted the immigrant community, especially through her volunteer project with Justice Now.
by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships
Happy Friday! Registration is closing soon for the 2016 NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference. Register now! And as we will be sharing our news with you in person next week, the Digest will return on November 4th.
Here are the week’s headlines:
PACER fees face major legal test;
D.C. Council to consider free legal help for poor residents in housing cases;
USC Gould launches new public interest law certificate;
Check in with Washington’s Limited-License Legal Technician program;
The Utah Indigent Defense Commission hires executive director;
Florida Access to Civil Justice Commission re-established;
The U.S. should have a Defender General;
Fordham University School of Law launches new access to justice initiative;
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
Super Music Bonus!
October 14, 2016 – “The paywall that surrounds Pacer (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), an online database of papers filed by litigants in the US federal courts, is facing what may be its most serious test since the service emerged 28 years ago. Judge Ellen Huvelle of the US district court in Washington DC is expected to decide in the coming days whether a lawsuit accusing the government of setting Pacer fees at unlawfully high rates can proceed. The case, which is seeking class-action certification, is being led by three nonprofits: the National Veterans Legal Service Program, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Alliance for Justice. Each group says it has downloaded documents from Pacer and incurred charges alleged to exceed the cost of providing the records. All say the setup violates the E-Government Act of 2002, which authorizes the judiciary to ‘prescribe reasonable fees’—and which the plaintiffs argue should limit the government to charge users ‘only to the extent necessary’ to make the information available.” “The Appropriations Committee has not commented on the lawsuit. Nor has the Administrative Office or the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which is defending the case. But in court papers asking Huvelle to dismiss the lawsuit, the DOJ contends that the policies governing use of Pacer obligate users who think they have been billed in error to first request a refund from Pacer’s service center, an assertion that at least one federal court has rejected. The plaintiffs counter that the lawsuit has nothing to do with billing errors, but rather that the fees themselves are too high.” (Quart)
October 14, 2016 – “The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would provide free legal counsel to low-income tenants in certain housing cases, including evictions, housing code violations and rental subsidy program issues. The bill, written by council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), would create a funding stream for the D.C. Bar Foundation, the nonprofit group that provides most legal aid to D.C. residents involved in civil cases. Under McDuffie’s plan, the D.C. Bar Foundation would administer grants for lawyers to represent tenants with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. The council’s Judiciary Committee, chaired by McDuffie, will hold a hearing on the bill Wednesday.” “The legislation is part of McDuffie’s ultimate goal of establishing a ‘right to counsel’ in all civil cases in the District. Just as indigent criminal defendants are entitled to free legal help, low-income residents should be provided no-cost lawyers for a range of legal disputes, McDuffie said.” (Washington Post)
October 17, 2016 – “USC Gould School of Law is offering a new Public Interest Law certificate for students with social justice aspirations and interest in working in the non-profit or government sectors after graduating. Gould students will hone their skills by choosing an organized set of courses exposing them to important areas of nonprofit and government law, taking on an in-depth writing project, and working on real-world problems through clinics, practicum courses or externships.” (PR Newswire)
October 17, 2016 – “Those who cannot afford a lawyer have a new resource in Clallam County in the form of Vanessa Ridgway, the first limited-license legal technician to practice on the North Olympic Peninsula. She is only the 17th such technician in the state. Ridgway was sworn in to the Washington State Bar Association as an LLLT last Wednesday. ‘It is very exciting for me to be a pioneer in this field, and it’s also very rewarding,’ Ridgway said Friday. ‘I have always had a desire to help others find justice.’ Washington is the first state in the country to offer the services of LLLTs — intended as an affordable legal support option to help meet the needs of those unable to afford the services of an attorney, according to the state bar association. The state Supreme Court, with help from the state bar association, created the category of limited-license legal technician in 2015. LLLTs are trained and licensed to advise and assist people going through divorce, child custody and other family law matters in Washington.” (Peninsula Daily News)
October 17, 2016 – “The Utah Indigent Defense Commission announces that Joanna E. Landau has been hired as its Executive Director. Ms. Landau is highly qualified, and brings her experience as a public defender with the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association, where she worked for several years representing indigent criminal defendants on appeal to the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Court of Appeals. She also assisted many trial court judges while working as an attorney in the Third District Court. Pursuant to legislation sponsored by Utah State Senator Todd Weiler and passed in the 2016 General Session, Ms. Landau will work with the Commission and local governments to assist the state in meeting its obligations to provide assistance of counsel to indigent defendants, consistent with the state and federal Constitutions and the Utah Code. To fulfill that obligation, the legislation tasks the Commission with many duties, including the development of guiding principles to assess and oversee indigent criminal defense services in the state, and using legislatively-appropriated funds to make grants to local governments to assist them in providing constitutional indigent defense services. Creation of the Commission was recommended after a multi-year study of indigent defense services in Utah, conducted by a Task Force of prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, local government representatives and legislators. The 11 voting members of the Commission were appointed by Governor Herbert and confirmed by the Senate over the summer. With Ms. Landau on board, the Commission can begin its work.” (Utahpolicy.com)
October 17, 2016 – “On Tuesday, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga signed an eight-page administrative order that re-established the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice as one of the court’s standing committees. Formed in November 2014, the commission expired June 30. Thousands of Floridians struggling to make ends meet, including many residents with moderate incomes, still face barriers when they seek access to civil justice, Labarga said when he signed the order. So the work to bring down those barriers must continue, he added. The permanent commission will ‘study the remaining unmet civil legal needs of disadvantaged, low income and moderate income Floridians,’ the order states. The order directs the commission to examine the issue from all perspectives and consider the viewpoints of all entities involved in civil justice, including staffed legal aid programs, pro bono services, resources provided to help people who choose to — or must — represent themselves, technology solutions and ‘other models and potential innovations.’ Labarga will chair the 23-member commission through mid-2018. West Palm Beach attorney Gregory Coleman, a past president of The Florida Bar, will serve as chair of the commission’s executive committee.” (Daily Record)
October 19, 2016 – Dean Andrea D. Lyonof Valparaiso University Law School makes an excellent case for a Defender General, along the lines of the U.S. Attorney General and Solicitor General. “There has been no voice at the policy table for the accused, incarcerated and paroled. We have an attorney general of the United States. We have a solicitor general of the United States. The only lawyer that is enshrined in the United States Constitution is referenced in the Sixth Amendment: ‘In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to … the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.’ Yet, the defense is not, and has not been a part of policy decisions regarding criminal justice matters. There is currently no office to represent criminal justice interests at the executive level the way that the attorney general does.” (Indiana Lawyer)
October 19, 2016 – “Judges from along the Eastern seaboard convene at Fordham University School of Law Wednesday night for a discussion on the intersection between civil and criminal access to justice and how to better handle the overlapping deficiencies in both systems. The panel marked the launch of the law school’s new access to justice initiative and the relocation of the National Center for Access to Justice—an independent nonprofit that utilizes data to improve the justice system—to Fordham from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The center had been housed at Cardozo for the past five years.” (New York Law Journal)(subscription required)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:
Foley Hoag LLP pro bono managing attorney Rebecca Cazabon is the recipient of the 2016 MAHA Leadership Award, given by the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys (MAHA). Cazabon is being recognized for her longstanding advocacy in promoting social justice for victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as her dedication and commitment on behalf of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable. As managing attorney for Foley Hoag’s pro bono program, Cazabon coordinates and oversees all pro bono work for the firm and facilitates pro bono training initiatives. She also represents low-income domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in abuse prevention, immigration, privacy, housing, criminal advocacy and appellate matters. Congratulations! (Foley Hoag News)
Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.
SEIU is a progressive, dynamic and growing labor organization representing over 2 million members in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, principally in the property service, public service, and health care fields. Attorneys in SEIU’s Legal Department engage in innovative lawyering to further the organization’s interests in organizing new workers, improving working conditions, engaging in political action, and achieving social justice. This includes representation of SEIU in litigation before courts and administrative agencies involving the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, election campaign finance laws, and local and state labor relations statutes.
Law clerks and externs in the SEIU Legal Department conduct legal research and draft legal memoranda, work with attorneys on pending litigation, attend hearings and conferences, and meet with union leaders.
Think this internship will kick your legal career off right? Checkout PSJD for the full-post.
by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships
Happy Friday! It’s October, and we’re looking forward to welcoming Deborah Vagins, Chief of Staff and Principal Attorney Advisor for the Office of Commissioner Charlotte Burrows at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as the keynote speaker of the 2016 NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference. NALP member public interest career counselors, pro bono program managers, and other public-service career professionals from the law school and employer communities – join us for some great programming. Register now!
Here are the week’s headlines:
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma launches state-wide expungement project;
Six Alaska tribal health facilities to add legal aid;
Legal Services, Part 2: technology’s part in closing the justice gap;
DLA Piper’s Krantz Fellowship recipients spend a year doing pro bono;
Squire Patton Boggs Public Interest Fellowship goes abroad;
Six million in federal grants awarded to Michigan criminal justice agencies;
University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s law school launches business law clinic;
Northeast New Jersey Legal Services received $460,000 grant to aid domestic violence survivors;
Virginia State Bar won’t back pro bono reporting;
Behind the redesigned USAJobs.gov;
New Mexico public defenders office files a notice of unavailability of lawyers to represent adult criminal defendants;
A look at legal tech and access to justice in Canada;
Ensure eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness;
Ontario celebrates inaugural Access to Justice Week;
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
Super Music Bonus!
October 6, 2016 – “Numbers used to describe Oklahomans who are or have been incarcerated are staggering. As of 2014, the National Institute of Corrections reported that the state has an estimated 79 percent higher rate of adults in prison per 100,000 people than the national average. In addition, one in 12 Oklahomans are estimated to have a felony conviction on his or her record. Due to this, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO) ‘has observed that many Oklahomans with criminal records have trouble finding or maintaining a job, experience difficultly obtaining housing, and find their records to be a barrier to accessing education.’ In an effort to combat this trend, LASO has partnered with Pro Bono Net, with funding from Legal Services Corporation, to create an online program targeted at helping people expunge their criminal records and have a smoother transition to a normal way of life.” “The program partners with pro bono attorneys who can connect with people eligible for the program through a secured online portal. Those using it will be able to prepare legal documents and converse with the attorneys and give them easier access to starting the process of expungement, especially for Oklahomans living in rural areas.” (Stillwater News Press)
October 6, 2016 – “Hospitals typically are not in the business of providing legal aid to patients, but several tribal health facilities in Alaska are going to start doing just that. The pilot project is being funded through a multi-state grant that’s placing AmeriCorps volunteers in tribal facilities in six states. Nicole Nelson is executive director of the nonprofit Alaska Legal Services, which serves low income and disadvantaged people. She said the new partnerships with tribal health organizations will help Alaskans enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Americans.” “Nelson said Alaska Legal Services has fewer than 30 attorneys statewide so the addition of six AmeriCorps members is a significant expansion. She said it will help address unmet needs, and take legal services to where the people are.” (KNBA)
October 7, 2016 – In this Legaltech news article, author Ian Lopez recaps the discussion regarding legal tech and access to justice that took place at Thomson Reuters’ annual Law Firm Leaders Forum, titled, ‘The Future of Legal Services in the United States: The ABA Issues a Clarion Call for Change.’ “Judy Perry Martinez, chair of the American Bar Association’s presidential commission on the future of legal services, the organization behind the report, suggested that lawyers need to begin working with technologists and engineers on new solutions for persisting legal problems. She said that the ABA group behind the report currently has a governing council that includes a founder of the MIT Innovation Lab and an angel investor.” (Legaltech news)(subscription required)
October 7, 2016 – “Jennifer Eldridge, a first year associate in DLA Piper’s Chicago office, has big aspirations for the next 12 months: She hopes to assist domestic violence victims, file asylum paperwork for refugees, and help some past offenders clear their juvenile criminal records. It’s a bit different than the standard associate workload because Eldridge is one of two recipients of DLA Piper’s Krantz Fellowship, which gives her an entire year to only work on pro bono projects. ‘I’m really looking to get some litigation experience,’ said Olga Slobodyanyuk, the other recipient of the fellowship. ‘You get to run your own discovery, potentially go to trial, talk to opposing counsel, have your own practice going. That’s a great experience.’ With around 4,000 lawyers and 90 offices around the world, DLA Piper is taking advantage of its vast resources and allowing two associates to spend a year working on pro bono projects. There’s no contract that requires the associates to stay at the firm at the end of the year, but DLA Piper believes the investment will help groom the associates and claims it’s the only firm offering associates a full year of pro bono work at the same salary. Overall, it placed 28th on The American Lawyer’s 2016 national pro bono ranking, with its lawyers clocking an average of 73.3 hours per week — the firm has said the average for associates is actually higher. It’s not alone in its pro bono efforts: other firms including Arnold & Porter, Paul Hastings and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, offer programs that allow summer associates to split their time between firm and public interest. Hogan Lovells offers first-year associates four-month pro bono rotations, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom offers externships with the Legal Aid Society’s Community Law Office and Lawyers Alliance for New York. DLA Piper founded its fellowship in 2011, which it named after retired DLA Piper partner Sheldon Krantz, a former director of New Perimeter, a nonprofit firm affiliate that develops pro bono projects in under-served regions around the world.” (Bloomberg Law)
October 7, 2016 – “A foundation funded by Squire Patton Boggs is broadening its scope by providing fellowships to students at law schools in Qatar and Belgium. For more than a decade, the nonprofit, now called the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation, has funded fellowships for American law school students who wish to do public interest work in the summer. This fall the firm’s Brussels office will establish a similar fellowship at the College D’Europe in Bruges. The firm will also fund a fellowship for a Russian student doing graduate work in human rights law at the George Washington University Law School. “We are exploring fellowships with other of the firms European office locations,” said the foundation’s president, John Oberdorfer, a retired partner at legacy firm Patton Boggs. ‘The hope is to be able to expand in that direction.'” (The American Lawyer)
October 7, 2016 – “Criminal justice agencies across Michigan will receive more than $6 million in federal grants to strengthen anti-drug and crime fighting efforts, Gov. Rick Snyder announced today. Funding comes from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners (RSAT) Program. Grants include $2.32 million to multijurisdictional task forces that investigate drug crimes and other categories of crime in regions of the state.” (mLive)
October 7, 2016 – “The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s law school has received a $1 million grant to create the state’s first business innovation clinic. The grant from the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office was announced Friday for UALR’s William H. Bowen School of Law. The new clinic will focus on providing business law advice and services to small businesses, nonprofit organizations and others. Law students, under the supervision of a business law attorney, will work with entrepreneurs to launch and build their businesses, negotiate contracts and protect ideas and innovations. The clinic will also offer educational programs.” (THV11)
October 10, 2016 – “A Hackensack-based not-for-profit law firm has been awarded nearly half a million dollars to help provide legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults in Hudson County. Northeast New Jersey Legal Services received the $460,000 grant from the Department of Justice to fund its ‘Hudson Legal Assistance for Victims Project,’ a program targeted to help victims — particularly recent immigrants — obtain free legal services in domestic or sexual assault cases. John H. Fitzgerald, executive director of the firm, said in a statement the three-year grant will help victims who already face a number of legal costs, including restraining orders, to protect them from their attacker.” (nj.com)
October 10, 2016 – ” A proposal to require lawyers to report their pro bono contributions each year will go to the Supreme Court of Virginia without the blessing of the Virginia State Bar. Members of the VSB Council voted 29-25 Friday not to endorse mandatory reporting of pro bono hours and donations.” (Virginia Lawyers Weekly)(subscription required)
October 11, 2016 – In a follow up to last week’s articles criticizing federal hiring, here’s a good review of the changes to USAJobs launched in August and where OPM hopes to take the system with the upcoming October changes. “The Office of Personnel Management delivered perhaps the most sweeping update to its USAJobs.gov federal employment website in August since first moving the hiring process online about 20 years ago. While the website in the last two decades has seen scattered progress as the digitized hub for government hiring — one which many have bemoaned as largely ineffective and too complicated — OPM now has its sights set on transforming USAJobs ‘from a job board to a career portal,’ Michelle Earley, the site’s program manager, told FedScoop.” (FedScoop)
October 11, 2016 – “Felony cases have spiked amid a struggling economy in the oil patch of Southeastern New Mexico, and now the Hobbs Public Defender says it won’t accept any more clients because it does not have the resources to adequately represent them. The decision to deny public representation to criminal defendants in Hobbs may just be the beginning of a trend in courthouses where strained budgets have become a way of life because of the state’s budget crisis. Other areas of the state could face the same problem of not having the means to provide lawyers to indigent defendants, said Ben Baur, New Mexico’s chief public defender. ‘What we’re saying right now is that ethically we cannot represent people on new cases,’ he said Monday. ‘Right now we’re struggling to handle the ones we have.’ The Hobbs News-Sun reported that the public defender’s office in Hobbs has filed a notice of unavailability of lawyers to represent adult criminal defendants appearing in Magistrate Court. Baur on Monday told The New Mexican he made the decision from Santa Fe ‘because of the high caseloads and the lack of staff to handle the increased caseloads in Hobbs right now.'” (CorrectionsOne.com)
October 11, 2016 – There is a vibrant discussion going on in Canada about the role legal technology could and should play in closing the access to justice gap. Here is a look at access and legal tech that posits that perhaps taken as a whole, it appears we’ve made more progress than we actually have. “While increasing efficiency has the potential to reduce costs, there are a number of arguments to suggest that this will not have a real impact on access to justice.” (Slaw)
October 12, 2016 – U.S. News & World Reports contributor Betsy Mayotte for Student Loan Ranger wrote a good article you can share with your alumni about to seek loan forgiveness and those just starting with qualifying employers. (U.S. News & World Report)
October 13, 2016 – “Five exceptional events will mark Ontario’s inaugural Access to Justice Week (A2J), which will be held in Toronto from October 17-21, 2016. This week will include a range of engagement and learning opportunities for the public, legal professionals, community workers, students and other access to justice advocates — including remarks from The Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario. Organized by TAG, The Action Group on Access to Justice, along with the Law Society of Upper Canada and other partners, the week will feature key access to justice issues including technology, child welfare and public legal information.” (CNW)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:
Casa Cornelia, a nonprofit that provides free legal services for immigration cases, has named Jae Park as its attorney of the year. Park, a litigator for the global law firm Dentons, spends most of his professional hours handling business-related disputes. For the past 10 years, he has also volunteered his time to take on cases for Casa Cornelia’s clients, work he said is especially meaningful to him because he is also an immigrant. His family moved to the United States from Korea when he was 12. ‘I know how challenging it is to move to another country where you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the language, you don’t know the system and have to adjust to that,’ Park said. ‘Being able to help these refugees who have come with nothing in their pockets and risk their lives to save their lives, I really connected with that feeling.’ Casa Cornelia has been part of San Diego’s immigration law community for more than 20 years. It started by dealing with asylum cases and today represents three main groups of immigrants: asylum seekers, immigrants who have been victims of serious crimes and children. The organization also works to educate the community about immigration law and policies. (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.
The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services will sponsor The New York City Social Justice Post-Graduate Fellowship (SJPF) a full-time program for law school graduates to gain professional experience within municipal government. In its inaugural year, SJPF will run as a pilot program for nine months from January 2017 – September 2017.
Fellows will be placed within City agencies, offices, or the City Council in roles that complement their skill sets, interests, and expertise. The work will be legal in nature. Fellows will work on projects that foster equity for under served and under resourced communities, and engage in issue areas that impact communities that experience disparate outcomes across the five boroughs. In this capacity, Fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate with senior level policymakers, elected officials, and participate directly in the work of policy making and governance.
While taking part in the work of government, SJP Fellows will also be required to participate in specially designed educational and professional development programming throughout the year that will help them serve as effective government leaders.
Think this is your golden opportunity? Visit PSJD to see the full post.
by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships
Happy Friday! Welcome to October and the official start of pumpkin spice everything. We are also looking forward to the 2016 NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference for NALP member public interest career counselors, pro bono program managers, and other public-service career professionals from the law school and employer communities. Register now!
Here are the week’s headlines:
University of Oregon School of Law receives grant to expand domestic violence clinic;
Legal Services Corporation announces 11 Pro Bono Innovation Grant recipients;
Pennsylvania Supreme Court orders adequate funding for public defense;
Gulfcoast Legal Services Executive Director retires after federal audit finding deficient record-keeping;
University of Hawai’i Mānoa law school breaks ground on new clinical building;
Senate subcommittee holds hearing on hiring in federal government;
Indiana Legal Services receives grant to aid seniors;
Federal funding for fair housing initiatives in Massachusetts;
Georgia State University College of Law establishes Center for Access to Justice;
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law opens new tax clinic;
Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey detailed results are out;
Technology CLE’s now required in Florida;
University of Michigan Law School receives grant to examine shaken-baby cases;
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
Super Music Bonus!
September 28, 2016 – “The Domestic Violence Clinic at the University of Oregon School of Law has been awarded $300,000 by the Oregon Department of Justice to continue and expand its office of Student Survivor Legal Services.” “The new grant will permit the office to offer legal services to students at Lane Community College and Northwest Christian University, in addition to the UO. Professor Merle Weiner, faculty director of the Domestic Violence Clinic and writer of the grant from the Department of Justice, said, ‘Legal services are vitally important to student survivors on all types of campuses. It is incumbent upon us all to think of creative ways to offer such services when they are not available. This grant will allow the Domestic Violence Clinic to offer a post-graduate fellowship to a graduate of the law school while also serving survivors on other campuses.'” (University of Oregon School of Law News)
September 29, 2016 – “The Legal Services Corporation announced today that 11 legal aid organizations will receive grants to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients. The grants from LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund are intended to encourage new and robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income people.” The full list of grantees is available here. (Legal Services Corporation)
September 30, 2016 – “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a precedent-setting ruling, found Friday that county governments have a constitutional responsibility to provide counsel to poor criminal defendants and ensure that their defense is adequately funded. The ruling came in a lawsuit by the former head of the Office of the Public Defender in Luzerne County and several criminal defendants, who alleged that funding cuts by the county commissioners had severely hampered the ability of the office to provide adequate representation in criminal cases.” “Typically, criminal defendants who assert that they have been represented by ineffective counsel do so after a conviction and on a case-by-case basis. Friday’s decision permits lawsuits alleging inadequate criminal defense when a local government fails to adequately fund its public defender’s office, effectively creating a new cause of action. The ruling did not provide financial guidelines to local governments. But it said public defender’s offices should be able to engage in timely consultation with clients, adequately investigate matters, and take other steps to test the prosecution’s case.” (The Inquirer Daily News)
September 30, 2016 – “The executive director, John Dubrule, of Gulfcoast Legal Services has retired in the wake of a critical federal audit report that said the agency failed to properly document how it spent $753,158 in federal grants.” “In its report, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice rapped Gulfcoast for failing to conduct a required audit of how it spent money from two grants it received to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. ‘While we found no evidence of fraudulent reporting involving grant funds,’ the report said, ‘in our judgment Gulfcoast’s records provide no assurance that grant funds are being paid only for grant-related activities.’ Among other problems, the report said, Gulfcoast did not require its staff members to track their time. It also submitted ‘inaccurate financial reports’ to the Justice Department offices that awarded the grants, and was slow to respond to the inspector general’s ‘repeated requests’ for information. In his response to the report, Dubrule blamed Gulfcoast’s failure to comply with grant requirements on ‘significant turnover,’ the temporary outsourcing of bookkeeping and financial reporting, and accounting software that ‘was not as robust as needed for efficient grant reporting.’ ‘While we cannot undo past transgressions,’ he wrote, ‘we have put protocols in place to prevent future issues. Gulfcoast also conducted the required audit.'” Dubrule served as executive director since 2014. (Tampa Bay Times)
September 30, 2016 – “The groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Clinical Building at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa. The new building will serve as space for the growing clinical care offered by law school students and faculty as part of course work for graduation. This clinical service provides thousands of hours of free legal help to some of Hawai’i’s most vulnerable people, including the elderly, troubled and incarcerated youth, veterans, and families living at or near poverty levels. It will also provide much-needed space to develop practical trial and advocacy skills. Students are required to serve a minimum of 60 hours of pro bono work in order to graduate.” (University of Hawai’i News)
September 30, 2016 – “The New Jersey State Bar Association is launching a Pro Bono Month e-campaign with the aim of getting attorneys to volunteer to help your clients. Lawyers Helping New Jersey will run Oct. 1-31. It will allow attorneys to volunteer to handle a matter for one of the state’s many pro bono providers. Attorneys can browse the categories of cases each provider handles to volunteer for one that best suits their interests or practice areas. All of the providers are on the Madden exemption list.” Visit njsba.com to learn more. (New Jersey Law Journal)
September 30, 2016 – While the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management’s hearing focused on bringing in new, millennial talent to replace the retiring federal workforce, the hearing did paint a bleak picture of overall federal hiring. There have been several new initiatives in the past few years designed to make the time for hiring window smaller. The exact opposite has been the result, with an increase from an average of 90 days in 2013 to 99.6 days in 2015. While most attorney positions are excepted service (and thus not representative of most of the hiring discussed) the articles provide a good overview of hiring authorities and demonstrate how government is going in the wrong direction with the hiring reform efforts. The bottom line is there may now be too many ways into the federal government, and hiring managers are having trouble using them.
“And this year, OPM began the Hiring Excellence Campaign to better educate hiring managers and human resources specialists about the existing authorities they have to bring in new talent. But persistent, repeat challenges are preventing agency chief human capital officers from hiring new talent — particularly candidates under age 40— more quickly. And removing those barriers will likely take many debate-filled proposals to shift the status quo. ‘It seems like every year or two there’s a new initiative,’ Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford (R-Okla.) said. ‘I understand some of those are for different people groups as well, and those are all strategic areas. My challenge is … when we come back to the data … in 2013, it took about 90 days to do a hiring. In 2014, it took 94.4 days to do a federal hire. In 2015, it now takes 99.6 days. Our length of time to actually get there is getting longer.'” (Federal News Radio)
“Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) read a list of government projects that once promised to bring new life to the federal hiring process, only to then show it in steadily declining health.” “Mark Reinhold, OPM’s chief human capital officer and associate director for employee services, defended the latest endeavor, saying the Hiring Excellence Campaign is designed to bring all the others together. ‘We’re attempting to take a more holistic approach,” he said, ‘so that we don’t over-emphasize any of those important aspects of hiring.'” (Washington Post)
And in related news: “President Barack Obama is directing America’s national security agencies to promote more diversity in their ranks, arguing that inclusiveness is an ‘imperative’ in a still-dangerous but increasingly interconnected world. Obama lays out his instructions in a Presidential Memorandum released Wednesday.” Read more about the directive here and the companion blog post here. (Politico)
October 2, 2016 – “A nonprofit law firm that aids low-income Indiana residents has won a $400,000 federal grant to help seniors who’ve fallen victim to neglect, battery or financial scams. Indiana Legal Services says the two-year grant will allow it to help about 400 seniors age 60 or older who’ve been victimized by helping them avoid eviction, seek protective orders against abusers and arrange other assistance for them. The grant was awarded through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to the nonprofit legal firm that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income people through eight regional offices. Executive Director Jon Laramore says senior abuse has risen along with Indiana’s growing senior population. He says more safeguards are needed to protect seniors, particularly those who are ill or live on small, fixed incomes.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
October 3, 2016 – “Worcester’s Community Legal Aid has received $300,000 out of $1.9 million in federal funding to bankroll fair housing initiatives in Massachusetts. The grant is through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to assist victims of housing discrimination. ‘Community Legal Aid in Worcester and fair housing organizations across Massachusetts play a vital role in our communities by working to prevent discrimination in housing,’ Congressman Jim McGovern said in a statement. ‘This new federal funding will help so many families by supporting the great work local organizations are doing to protect equal access to housing for everyone in Massachusetts.’ Other organizations in Massachusetts receiving awards were:
Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (Boston) – $300,000
HAP, Inc. (Springfield) – $125,000
Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, Inc. (Holyoke) – $300,000
SouthCoast Fair Housing, Inc. (New Bedford) – $425,000
October 3, 2016 – “Georgia State University College of Law has established the Center for Access to Justice, a regional and national base for the study of issues relating to access to criminal and civil justice for those with limited financial means. Similar centers exist across the United States, but there are none in the Southeast region. ‘There is a critical need in this area to ensure that the justice system functions fairly and effectively,’ said Lauren Sudeall Lucas, assistant professor of law and the center’s faculty director. ‘The experience of lower-income civil and criminal litigants is often fundamentally different from those with financial means. There are a lot of problems endemic to that system and not a lot of information available to understand the full scope of the problem or to find effective solutions.'” “Lucas will work with Darcy Meals, the center’s assistant director, and student fellows to generate, highlight and disseminate research that helps identify and better understand the problems people have in gaining access to justice, as well as inform potential solutions.” (Newswise)
October 3, 2016 – “A new tax clinic at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law aims to provide legal services to low-income families in need of tax law help while providing law students a unique educational opportunity to gain on-the-job experience before graduation. The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic program is a matching grant program from the Internal Revenue Service that provides federal funds to organizations so they in turn can provide services to taxpayers who are low income or who speak English as a second language. The University of Utah this month joins the list of several clinics across the country who help clients in need.” (University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law News)
October 3, 2016 – “The agency-by-agency results from the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey are out, and most agencies improved on their scores from last year. In 2016, overall satisfaction among federal employees improved one percentage point government-wide for the second consecutive year. The two major indices measure ’employee engagement’ (employees’ feelings about their job, organization and pay) and ‘global satisfaction’ (how satisfied they are with their leaders and the work experience). The average employee engagement score was 65 percent, and the average global satisfaction score was 61 percent. Just 6 of 37 large agencies experienced declines in their engagement scores, and 7 of the 37 saw dips in their satisfaction scores. Generally, small agencies performed better than large ones.” (FCW)
October 4, 2016 – While the technology CLE requirement has implications for more than just public interest attorneys, legal technology is a particularly important tool in bridging the justice gap. “[L]ast week Florida adopted new language into its Bar Rules which requires lawyers to stay abreast of legal technology advancements while alsomandating that lawyers complete 3 credits of legal technology CLE per biennial cycle. In an opinion issued on September 29th, the Supreme Court of Florida changed the number of bennienial CLE credits required from 30 to 33 and mandated that 3 of those credits must be ‘in an approved technology program.'” (mycase)
October 5, 2016 – “The law school at the University of Michigan is receiving a $250,000 federal grant to develop expertise to challenge certain child-abuse convictions. The school’s Innocence Clinic will use the money to work on convictions in so-called shaken-baby cases. In 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously overturned a murder conviction in Calhoun County. The court said Leo Ackley’s rights were violated by a defense attorney who did a poor job in failing to vigorously challenge the evidence. The death involved a young girl. The court said the prosecutor produced no witnesses who said Ackley was abusive. The Innocence Clinic believes there are other people who have been wrongly convicted on flawed shaken-baby evidence.” (The Washington Times)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:
Shearman & Sterling LLP partner Linda Rappaport was selected by The Legal Aid Society of New York as one of the recipients of the 2016 Pro Bono Publico Awards for outstanding service to the Society and its clients. Every year, the Society recognizes the outstanding work of volunteer lawyers, law firms, corporations and other professionals who participate in the Society’s pro bono program by providing exceptional legal services to low-income New Yorkers. (Shearman News)
Music Bonus!“> Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida (ACLU-FL) invites applications for the full-time position of Staff Attorney in its Miami, FL office. Specifically, we are looking for someone to advance the organization’s legal advocacy in core civil liberties and civil rights areas, although the person also will be expected to develop and lead the ACLU of Florida’s legal work on behalf of immigrants’ rights. The staff attorney will be a member of the Legal Department, working under the supervision of the Legal Director.
Does this sound like the job you’ve been hoping for? If so, visit PSJD to see the full post.
Hi everyone, this post will be continuously updated as I receive more information about how law schools are celebrating and highlighting pro bono work throughout the month of October.
Image courtesy of Pace Law School flickr
Pace Law School
PILC Bagel Breakfast Table – Monday, October 24th from 10:30 – 11:30 AM Outside the Caf.
“Stop by to get a bagel and pick up some information on year-round Pro Bono training and opportunities, and the NYS 50-Hour Rule. We’ll be on-hand to answer your 50-hour rule questions!”
Image Courtesy of University at Buffalo School of Law Facebook
University at Buffalo School of Law
Pro Bono Table Days – Tuesday, October 25th and Wednesday, October 26th; 11 AM – 3 PM O’Brian Lobby
“Need a summer job?
Thinking about an externship next semester?
Graduating and need pro bono hours?
In recognition of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, come meet employers from public interest organizations from around the WNY region. Most of these volunteer opportunities qualify for externships (for credit) during the academic year or for BPILP’s funding during the summer; and fulfill the 50-hour pro bono requirement for admission to the bar in NYS.”
Image courtesy of Capital University Law School Facebook
Capital University Law School
Food Drive to Benefit M.A.S.H. Pantry – All week, October 23rd – 29th
“The Military and Service Heroes Pantry is a Non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable food pantry serving Veterans, Armed Forces, their families and survivors of the Columbus Metropolitan area. Place your donations in the blue bins located in the Commons and in the back lobby.”
Giving Back in the Real World – Fulfilling Your Ethical Obligation of Pro Bono Service – Wednesday, October 26th, 12 – 1 PM, Room A121
“Pack your lunch and join us for an informative an important panel discussion made up of Capital law Alumni.”
Low Income Wills Clinic for Veterans – Wednesday, October 26th, 4 – 5 PM Mandatory Training Room A122; 5:30 – 7:30 PM Wills Clinic Huntington Commons
“Join us for a Low Income Wills Clinic for Veterans. There will be limited spots available, so please sign up soon. You will be matched with an attorney to help veterans complete essential estate planning documents. NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NECESSARY- 1Ls MAY PARTICIPATE!
NOTE: If you are unable to make the clinic but still want to get involved in helping our veterans, we will be having an Advance Directives Workshop on Monday October 26th from 6:00 PM- 7:00 PM in Room A122. You will learn how to complete Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys by Marcia Palof of Legal Aid, and you will actually get to prepare the documents afterwards in advance of the clinic on Wednesday night! This is a great opportunity for experiential learning at its finest.”
Public Interest Designation & Pro Bono Nuts and Bolts – Thursday, October 13th, 12 – 1 PM
“Join us to learn about the Public Interest Designation Program and Pro Bono Program at BC Law. What are these programs? How do you participate in them? What requirements must you complete before graduation? 1Ls, 2Ls and 3Ls, all your questions will be answered at this program!”
Pro Bono Fair – Thursday, October 13th, 3 – 5 PM
“Come meet local pro bono organizations, learn about upcoming opportunities, sign the BC Law pro bono pledge and learn how to log your pro bono hours!”
Elon University School of Law
Image courtesy of ElonLaw.edu
Ask-a-Lawyer – Saturday, October 22nd, 10 AM – 1 PM
“The Elon Law Pro Bono Board and the Alamance County Bar Association are co-sponsoring an Ask-a-Lawyer Day event at the Ebenezer Center, 734 Apple Street, in Burlington. Members of the community will be able to walk in and receive free legal advice from a volunteer attorney about any legal issue except immigration matters. Volunteer attorneys will be assisted by law students during the event.”
Immigration Law Panel: “The Need for Pro Bono Asylum Assistance in North Carolina” – Monday, October 24th,
“Professor Heather Scavone, Director of Elon Law’s Humanitarian & Immigration Law Clinic, will moderate a panel with Elizabeth Collins of United Guaranty and Jessica Yanez, an Elon Law alum with Yanez Immigration Law here in Greensboro. The discussion will focus on how pro bono assistance could increase the number of asylum cases that can be handled by NC attorneys, and how law students might be able to participate, especially through research in support of country conditions reports.”
Law Panel: “From Pro Bono to Public Interest” – Tuesday, October 25,
“[C]omprised of public interest attorneys (one from legal Aid’s Greensboro office, one from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and one from the Guilford County Public Defender’s office) who will discuss their decisions to work in public interest and the need for pro bono support from students and other lawyers.
Below is a message from previous PSJD Fellow Ashley Matthews:
Image courtesy of Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of public interest lawyers, just launched the 2016-17 Student Representative program!
Open to second-semester 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls at Equal Justice Works member law schools, the Student Representative Program will help law students gain public interest law leadership experience while spreading the word about public interest law and Equal Justice Works on their campus.
Equal Justice Works Student Representatives are future public interest attorneys who want to support public interest law initiatives on their campus. They are the leadership division of Equal Justice Works’ JDs for Justice Network, and get the chance to connect directly with Equal Justice Works and our Fellows while assisting like-minded law school colleagues in having their voices heard.