Archive for January, 2017

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 27, 2017

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

Happy Friday! We continue to see an increase in interest and participation in pro bono since the inauguration.  If you’re looking to volunteer, PSJD has you covered.  Check out PSJD for law student and attorney pro bono opportunities nationwide.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Indiana nonprofit legal aid celebrates 1 year anniversary;
  • Trump’s election sparks new interest in pro bono;
  • Proposed bill to raise Montana civil court fees to help fund legal aid;
  • New online tool helps immigrants know their rights and access legal aid;
  • Miami legal services receives $1 million gift;
  • Louisiana public interest attorneys launch new social justice initiative;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 19, 2017 – “In the original business plan for the legal clinic, Justice Unlocked, the staff expected 15 to 20 cases in its first year, executive director Jamie Sutton said. However, since the nonprofit opened in December 2015, Justice Unlocked said it has opened 88 cases.The organization’s legal services have helped get clients out of jail, regain custody of their children and have a place to live after being evicted, Sutton said. Justice Unlocked is a local nonprofit that provides low-cost legal services for people unable to afford attorneys. It provides services in areas like criminal law, family law, landlord and tenant law, small claims court, and a victim’s justice clinic. The nonprofit is a sliding scale legal clinic, Sutton said, which means it provides low fees based on income and household size.” (Indiana Daily Student)

January 19, 2017 – “Since Donald Trump was elected president on a platform that many fear would curb protections for society’s most disadvantaged, donations have flooded into public interest groups. And at many large law firms, pro bono coordinators are seeing a spike in offers to volunteer. ‘The interest level is extremely high,’ says David Lash, the managing counsel for pro bono and public interest services at O’Melveny & Myers. ‘People involved in all things pro bono have largely reacted to the election by framing it as a call to action. They are responding with a renewed commitment to helping vulnerable groups of people.'” “But the uncertainty over what a Trump administration would do has made other pro bono planning difficult. ‘Most groups are urging caution,’ says Steven Schulman, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld who leads the firm’s worldwide pro bono practice. ‘We don’t want to overplan.’ Kevin Curnin, a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and the new president of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, says that his members are talking daily among themselves. ‘It’s not too soon to start thinking,’ says Curnin, who is the founding director of Stroock’s public service project. ‘We can collaborate and strategize to come up with reasonable and practical responses.’ There is one area where advocates feel pressure to move quickly. ‘The most urgent discussions are around immigration,’ says Schulman. ‘That’s an area where it’s more predictable than others where individuals might be affected.’ Ellyn Josef, pro bono counsel at Vinson & Elkins, recalls that the day after the election, five lawyers contacted her asking for immigration assignments. ‘I probably don’t get five calls in a typical month,’ says Josef.” “Josef, who also sits on the board of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, urges firms to advocate for more funding for legal services groups, as well as dig deeper into their own pockets.” (National Law Journal)

January 20, 2017 – “On a split vote Friday, the Montana House approved raising some civil court filing fees for the first time in several decades, with added money going to help fund legal assistance for the poor. House Bill 46, by Rep. Kimberly Dudik, D-Missoula, passed on a preliminary vote 54-46 and must clear a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate. Dudik said the bill is the product of a four-year study by the Montana Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and is supported by Gov. Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, AARP, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Trial Lawyers Association and some other groups. She said some of these civil filing fees haven’t been raised in 20 or 30 years.” (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

January 25, 2017 – “In response to President Trump’s threat to deport up to 3 million immigrants, the Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net have launched immi – a free online tool to help immigrants know their rights, understand their legal options, and access civil legal aid to avoid risk of deportation.” “Immi was created by the Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net, who are dedicated to increasing access to justice for low-income immigrants and other vulnerable populations through innovative and effective technology, with support from Open Society Foundations, the MacArthur Foundation, and other donors.” (Sampan)

January 25, 2017 – “Legal Services of Greater Miami has received a $1 million gift from commercial real estate broker Edie Laquer to endow the nonprofit organization’s first attorney chair focused on women and children’s rights. The donation established the Edie Laquer Foundation women and children’s rights endowed attorney chair. Rebecca Schram of the legal services group has been named to the post. The gift will ensure ‘our most vulnerable neighbors — women and children — will always have an attorney dedicated to providing them with representation in our civil justice system,’ the nonprofit said in a news release.” (Daily Business Review)

January 26, 2017 – “Today, a group of Louisiana public interest attorneys announce the launch of a new social justice initiative – Green Justice Legal.  Green Justice will provide key services for individuals, communities and organizations that might otherwise not have access to important legal representation due to cost, the nature of the issue or other challenges. An independent non-profit organization, Green Justice will strategically align its work with the Center for Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans.” “Green Justice is a ‘low bono’ law group, meaning that it will charge some fees for services, but those are significantly less than a typical firm. The organization is meant to fill the gap for those unable to pay regular legal costs, but for whatever reason, also cannot access pro bono assistance.  By working with solo practitioners who supervise senior law students to collectively provide critical legal services, Green Justice can keep costs low. Students will learn important skills and clients are well served for far less expense.”  (PRNewswire)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors will present Pro Bono Service Awards on January 26 to five attorneys, a law firm, and a corporate legal department in recognition of their extraordinary commitment to equal justice.

Recipients of the Pro Bono Service Awards are:

  • Alston & Bird LLP and United Parcel Services Inc. (UPS) Legal Department, a law firm and a corporate legal department that have partnered for years to assist relatives and caregivers to obtain guardianships for impaired adults and minor children.
  • Randall L. Hughes, an attorney who has been a supporter of pro bono efforts for nearly four decades, dedicating countless hours to helping low-income Georgians receive the legal help they need.
  • Anne Seward Myers, an attorney who has handled 36 family law cases for Georgia Legal Services.
  • Jeffrey J. Nix, an attorney who has volunteered with Atlanta Legal Aid Society for more than a decade, helping veterans and cancer patients with estate planning and other important legal issues.
  • Huey W. Spearman, an attorney and longtime supporter of Georgia Legal Services Program who has accepted 53 pro bono cases over the years.
  • Juli A. Wilkes Wisotsky, an attorney who has taken on 13 pro bono cases, many involving complex litigation.

(Legal Services Corporation)

Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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Job’o’th’Week (Internship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Summer Legal Clerk

The Organization

The Advocacy Center of Louisiana protects, empowers, and advocates for the human and legal rights of people with disabilities and seniors living in Louisiana, in order that they may live an integrated life in the community, free from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Advocacy Center assists with a variety of legal issues including, public benefits (Medicaid), special education, advocacy for rights of residents of institutions including nursing homes and prisons, cases involving issues of inaccessibility or discrimination, community integration, and issues related to self determination.

The Position

Legal Clerks will provide assistance on to Advocacy Center attorneys.  Legal Clerks will assist attorneys on matters including legal research, investigation, advice to clients, negotiation on behalf of clients, and representation in court and administrative proceedings. We can usually arrange for some client contact and attendance at administrative or court hearings with our attorneys if this is of interest to the student.

Ready to start a new position in New Orleans? See a full-post on PSJD.

 

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Guest Blog Post – Equal Justice Works Public Interest Law Awards!

The Equal Justice Works Public Interest Law Awards are now open!

These awards are presented annually to eight law students at Equal Justice Works member schools who have a demonstrated commitment to public interest law and pro bono work. The Awards seek to identify and honor law students who have provided extraordinary service through clinics, volunteer work, internships, extracurricular projects, and more.

 

The deadline to apply for an Equal Justice Works Public Interest Law Award is March 10, 2017Click here to apply now!

 

Please forward all questions to Equal Justice Works at students@equaljusticeworks.org. Good luck!

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 20, 2017

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

Happy Friday! It’s Inauguration Day here in DC. That means long lines, lots of traffic, and hopefully a renewed commitment to what truly makes America great right now. As the public interest community, we play a vital role. This week in the news are a number of initiatives designed to increase access to justice. That is a great place to start! But, there is also an indication of what cuts to government President Trump plans to make – and that news isn’t good.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New program aims to increase pro bono service in southern Virginia;
  • Attorney General orders probe of Legal Aid Ontario;
  • Idaho legal aid launches new communication service;
  • Pilot project in Ottawa helping homeless overcome huge barrier — lost id;
  • ABA Center for Innovation accepting applications for inaugural fellowships;
  • Ontario justice partners launch new Steps to Justice website;
  • Trump team prepares dramatic government cuts;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 12, 2017 – “A new program is trying to increase the amount of lawyers across the state offering pro bono services. Virginia Legal Aid Society is putting together teams of local judges, lawyers, and members of the legal aid society to recruit lawyers to participate in Virginia Legal Aid’s Pro Bono volunteer program. Teams will also be formed in Farmville and Suffolk to recruit lawyers to service those areas. ‘Danville, Martinsville, Henry County these are all areas where we don’t have a lot of big firms with the resources to devote a lot of attention. We have a lot of solo practitioners,’ explained David Weilnau, a staff attorney in the VLAS’s Danville office. Specifically, VLAS hopes to, within two years, double the number of attorneys and cases in its pro bono volunteer program. The program is being funded by a $327,899 grant from Legal Services Corporation’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund. The new program will also allow Liberty University law students to do supervised pro bono work in Danville, Farmville, and Suffolk.” (WSLS)

January 14, 2017 – “The attorney general has ordered a third-party review of Legal Aid Ontario, after the agency announced last month that it was dramatically cutting back on services due to a $26-million deficit. Yasir Naqvi will be bringing in an external firm to review the arm’s-length government agency’s budget forecasting methodology, decision-making procedures related to budget management, and Legal Aid’s plan to balance its budget. The firm’s report must be delivered to Naqvi and John McCamus, chair of the Legal Aid board, by March 31, and will be made public ‘shortly after,’ Naqvi said in a statement.” “The agency’s president and CEO, David Field, told the Star in an interview in December that he would welcome an external audit, saying he was ‘very confident’ in Legal Aid’s financial situation. He reiterated that position to the Star in a statement Friday.” (thestar.com)

January 15, 2017 – “Need legal advice, but can’t afford a lawyer? Idaho Legal Aid Services can help with its new interactive communication system. Are you being evicted? Text the keyword ‘eviction’ to 208-718-1502 on your cellphone and within seconds Legal Aid will text back a link to its website containing eviction information.” “The new service focuses on basic information and doesn’t overwhelm a client with too much information. Even people who are familiar with the legal system can get overwhelmed and can use this messaging system for help.” “The information is written by Idaho attorneys and tailored for Idaho laws. The 13 topics available through the system are based on the most common areas ‘where self-representing people get stuck,’ said Steve Rapp, Idaho Legal Aid technology project developer in Boise. He expects the service to eventually expand into a more comprehensive and interactive tool. The service is free and there is no cellphone application to purchase or download.” (magicvalley.com)

January 17, 2017 – “A new pilot project is helping people from one of Ottawa’s most vulnerable populations replace lost or stolen identification — a process organizers say is simple for most, but ‘a big mountain to climb’ for those living on the street. Pro Bono Students Canada, the Ottawa Mission, Borden Ladner Gervais and Lawyers Feed the Hungry are working together on The ID Project, where volunteers help clients fill out forms twice a month. ‘I think a lot of us take it for granted that you would have identification,’ said Emily Cumbaa, a 28-year-old law student from the University of Ottawa. ‘It’s a huge barrier for people who are homeless or precariously housed.'” “The ID Project runs every third and fourth Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Ottawa Mission.” (CBC News)

January 18, 2017 – “The ABA Center for Innovation is accepting applications for its inaugural fellowship program. Open to both newly minted lawyers and mid-career professionals outside the law, the program seeks applications and proposals to create or develop projects to improve the legal industry. Those who wish to apply should have an idea that bridges the access-to-justice gap in the U.S.; utilizes technology to deal with a vital legal need; designs or builds a more effective way of delivering legal services; provides the public with easier access to legal information; reduces the backlog of cases in various courts throughout the country; creates tools that allow lawyers to better represent their clients; or helps pro se litigants represent themselves more effectively. The deadline for applicants is Jan. 31.” (ABA Journal)

January 18, 2017 – “Problems with landlords, unfair treatment at a job, and getting separated or divorced: these are some of the issues that Ontarians face every day. However, many cannot access the information they need to understand the legal implications of their problems and respond. Now they can go to Steps to Justice – a new website that empowers people in Ontario to understand and take action to deal with their legal problems. A first of its kind, Steps to Justice presents easy-to-understand, step-by-step information on common issues that people experience in family, housing, employment and other areas of law.” “Steps to Justice is led by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) and brings together key justice sector players such as the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, the Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario, Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario.” “Numerous justice sector partners are collaborating on content development to ensure the information is accurate and practical; the website will be updated regularly based on their input. Justice sector and community organizations will also be able to embed or present this automatically-updated Steps to Justice content on their own websites to share with their users.” (Newswire

January 19, 2017 – “Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending. Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.” “The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.” “The administration’s full budget, including appropriations language, supplementary materials and long-term analysis, is expected to be released toward the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office, or by mid- to late April.” “The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs. At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.”  (The Hill)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

Kristen Sonday is the co-founder of Paladin, a platform dedicated to increasing pro bono engagement across the nation. Their goal is to make sure that lawyers are abiding by their professional responsibility and helping those with legal needs that have historically not been met. “I bonded with my co-founder, Felicity Conrad, in the summer of 2015 over a late night conversation about this access to justice gap,” explains Sonday. “She told me a story about her recent pro bono work to gain asylum for a Latin American client, and we brainstormed ways to utilize technology to solve the access problem.” In 2017, the Paladin team, is committed to moving the platform out of beta, rolling out nationwide and expanding both internationally and across industries. Click on the link for the rest of the interview. (Forbes)

Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LSarhZpnMs&feature=youtu.be

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Job’o’th’Week – Experienced Edition

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

Staff Attorney

The Organization

We are a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations working together to end domestic and sexual violence through advocacy, public education, public policy, and program development in Montana. Incorporated in 1986, the Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (MCADSV) is a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations working together to end domestic and sexual violence through advocacy, public education, public policy, and program development. Our mission is to support and facilitate networking among our member organizations while advocating for social change in Montana.

The Position

The SALS Staff Attorney is the lead staff person responsible for providing holistic, comprehensive, direct civil legal services to victims of sexual assault throughout Montana. The SALS program consists of the Staff Attorney, Public Policy/Legal Director (supervisor), and a legal assistant/victim advocate. This is a grant funded position currently funded through September 2019. Being licensed to practice law in Montana is a requirement for the position.

Ready to bust a move in Montana? Check out the full post on PSJD.

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Resource Roundup – Practice Area Guides

Image courtesy of The Diamond Gallery

Image courtesy of The Diamond Gallery

The PSJD Resource Center has valuable information for law students, career counselors and lawyers about public service law jobs.

The PSJD Practice Area Guides are designed to give students and job seekers brief overviews of several different legal fields. The guides include practical information regarding the types of employers and practice settings in various fields of law. The guides also include skills that would be useful to gain during law school if a student is seeking to practice in that area after graduation.

 

resource-roundup-pag


*Career Counselor’s Corner*

 

Claudio Melo, JD, Director of the Career Center at University of Minnesota Law School says “I use these consistently with my 1L students. They provide a bite-size overview of common practice areas of interest. Also, if a student has an upcoming informational interview, I encourage them to review the attorney’s practice area of focus prior to the meeting.”

Couldn’t find the practice guide that you were looking for? Send us an email and we’ll do our best to create one and put it on the website.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – January 13, 2017

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

Happy Friday the 13th!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Connecticut legal aid hires new director;
  • A new way to fund legal aid;
  • University of Connecticut School of Law launches new incubator;
  • Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas gets new CEO;
  • D.C. creates legal defense fund for illegal immigrants;
  • British Columbia Law Society ends paralegal access-to-justice initiative;
  • Idaho Supreme Court hears arguments on public defense reform;
  • Equal Justice Works receives grant to launch New Mexico Immigration Corps;
  • Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

January 5, 2017 – “New Haven’s legal aid agency has hired a new executive director. The State Street-based agency, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, announced that its Board of Directors has chosen Alexis H. Smith of Hamden as its next executive director.  She replaces Susan Garcia-Nofi, who departure was announced in late October. She has been serving as the interim chief.” (New Haven Independent)

January 6, 2017 – Interest on IOLTA has been the second largest source of funding for civil legal aid for years.  But in recent years, with falling interest rates, that funding has been significantly curtailed.  “Into this breach emerged a new program, equally as compassionate and as effective. In Massachusetts and Ohio, several banks have launched programs where law firms can choose to donate to IOLTA programs some or all of the ‘cash back’ benefits generated by millions of dollars of credit card transactions. Genius. Citizens Bank has taken the lead and is one of the first financial institutions to get involved. They have announced that law firms in both Massachusetts and Ohio have the opportunity to sign-on and direct their cash-back rewards to the local IOLTA distribution system. ‘The Citizens team has listened to the needs of their clients in the legal community and done a great job coming up with an innovative solution that helps law firms ensure the fairness of our legal system by contributing to civil legal aid for low-income and vulnerable Ohioans,’ said Angela Lloyd, Executive Director of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation.” (Above the Law)

January 6, 2017 – “UConn School of Law is launching a new Hartford-based incubator in February to provide affordable legal services to people who need it and help lawyers establish solo practices. Dubbed the Connecticut Community Law Center, the incubator is an initiative of the law school and the Hartford County Bar Association that aims to help people traditionally underserved by the justice system. That typically includes low- and moderate-income clients who don’t qualify for legal aid but can’t afford standard legal fees. The center and the Justice Legal Center at the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, also scheduled to open early this year, will be the first in Connecticut.” (Hartford Business Journal)

January 6, 2017 – “After a thorough national search, the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas named Maria Thomas-Jones as the new chief executive officer, effective immediately. The board met last month for its quarterly meeting, during which board members unanimously voted to select Thomas-Jones, who has served as interim CEO since February 2016. ‘On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to officially welcome Maria Thomas-Jones as the new CEO of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas,’ says Jan Langbein, board chair. ‘Maria has served LANWT effectively in many different capacities during her 17-year tenure with the firm.'”  (My San Antonio)

January 9, 2017 – “The nation’s capital is joining several other heavily Democratic cities in pledging to spend tax dollars to defend illegal immigrants against efforts by the incoming Trump administration to deport them. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Monday she plans to award grants to defense lawyers and nonprofit organizations to represent any of the District’s estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants who are faced with deportation. The $500,000 fund will also help illegal immigrants in the District apply for asylum and will provide representation for those residing in the city legally with green cards to obtain permanent U.S. citizenship. In a statement, Bowser said the District is ‘doubling down’ on its status as a sanctuary city, where D.C. police have already been instructed to not cooperate with federal authorities working to deport residents.” “Bowser will launch the initiative by shifting funds from the Office on Latino Affairs to a new Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant Program. City officials said that the fund would also accept donations from individual residents or groups. Nonprofits, private organizations and law firms in Washington will be eligible to win the grant money. Groups can begin applying Jan. 23, the first Monday that Trump will be in the White House. Although the funds are coming through the Latino affairs office, groups that serve immigrants from any region are eligible for grants, aides to the mayor said. The aides also said they envision nonprofit immigrant groups pairing with law firms to win grants, harnessing pro bono work of big firms and creating a network of new legal services for illegal immigrants.” (Washington Post)

January 9, 2017 – “Rose Singh, vice-president of the B.C. Paralegal Association, said hopes for a robust provincial system of less expensive legal services similar to Ontario’s 10-year-old paralegal scheme have been doused.” “In January 2013, a two-year pilot project was launched in the B.C. Supreme Court and the Provincial Court allowing paralegals under the supervision of a lawyer to appear in select locations on some family-law matters. The project ended in the Supreme Court in December 2014; the Provincial Court soldiered on until October 2015. Of the province’s roughly 13,000 lawyers, three participated, not enough data for the Law Society to conclude that paralegals provided a benefit.” The article is a good overview of the program, the shortcomings of the pilot, and other potential access-to-justice programs. (Vancouver Sun

January 11, 2017 – “Idaho’s Supreme Court will soon decide whether to revive an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state over its faulty public defense system. Attorneys on both sides told the high court Wednesday that they agree Idaho’s public defense system has serious deficiencies. But the state’s attorneys say the blame should lie on the counties, not Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and the state’s Public Defense Commission. ‘The plaintiffs have identified serious issues,’ Idaho Deputy Attorney General Mike Gilmore said. ‘But they have named defendants who are not responsible for providing the services.’ The ACLU sued the state in 2015 on behalf of Idahoans who rely on court-appointed public defenders when they face criminal charges. They contend that state officials have known for years that Idaho’s public defense system is broken, and that by not fixing the problems the state is violating the 6th Amendment rights of its citizens. Indeed, Idaho Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter, many legislators and legal experts who have studied the issue on behalf of the state have all acknowledged that Idaho’s patchwork public defense system is deficient at best, and likely unconstitutional. But last year a lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit, partly because the judge said he believed a court ruling requiring the state to adequately fund the public defense system would violate the separation of powers. The ACLU promptly appealed.” (The Daily Progress)

January 11, 2017 – “Equal Justice Works has received an $800,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan to launch the New Mexico Immigration Corps, a partnership between Equal Justice Works, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC), and University of New Mexico School of Law (UNMSOL). The program will deploy attorneys and paralegals to provide critically needed civil legal aid to immigrant communities throughout New Mexico from September 2016 through August 2020.” “Beyond filling the immediate void in legal representation, this program will expand the pipeline of pre-law students, current law students, and young attorneys committed to serving New Mexicans. Over the grant period, Equal Justice Works will partner with UNMSOL to share best practices, promote public interest curricula, present internship and postgraduate employment options, and counsel students on debt relief.”(PR Newswire)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:

The Greensboro Four – Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil. Read about these amazing men, and what individual conviction can do for a nation. (History.com)

Music Bonus! Music pick from the PSJD Fellow Delisa Morris.

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A Very Special Job’o’th’Week (Fellowship Edition)

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottesman – CC License

2017 – 2018 PSJD FellowThe Organization

The PSJD Fellow is the principal manager and administrator of the PSJD.org website.  PSJD, which is a NALP initiative, is the nation’s largest public interest law jobs database, and also includes detailed information on thousands of public interest and government employers, as well as a library of resources to aid job seekers.

The Position

The Fellow has responsibilities for: development of online educational content, management of student interns, basic technology and data management, co-editing the PSJD Blog, using social media to promote PSJD, interacting with NALP members, delivering presentations about the public interest job search, and other tasks as they arise.

The PSJD Fellowship provides a wonderful opportunity for a public-interest minded law graduate who also has an interest in nonprofit administration and technology. Further, the fellowship offers a bird’s-eye view of the public interest arena for law graduates on public service career paths.

Ready to become a jolly good fellow? See the full post on PSJD.

 

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Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Calendar Year 2015 Report

Federal Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

The following is an overview of the loan repayment assistance program calendar year report submitted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) annually to Congress.  The information provided can help job candidates and current federal employees research which agencies use the program and for what occupations. If you are considering a career in the federal government, an attractive benefit of federal employment is student loan repayment assistance. Do your research and always ask if this benefit is available to you.

Federal agencies are authorized to provide up to $10,000 in loan repayment assistance per calendar year for certain 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.

In Calendar Year 2015, 32 federal agencies provided 9,610 employees with a total of more than $69.5 million in student loan repayment benefits. Compared to CY 2014, this represents an 18.4 percent increase in agencies’ overall financial investment in this benefit, and more than a 13  percent increase in the number of employees receiving the benefit. The average student loan repayment benefit in CY 2015 was $7,238, which is a 4.3 percent increase over CY 2014.

The five agencies that provided the most loan repayment assistance in CY 2015 were:

Agency Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Change in Number of Employees Receiving Benefits Total Amount of Assistance Change in Total Assistance from CY 2014
Department of Defense 2,525 42.3%  $19,133,117 57.6%
Department of Justice 1,733 0.3% $14,575,135 13.0%
Department of State 1,431 1.1% $11,285,688 1.3%
Veterans Affairs 898 33.0% $5,661,112 36.5%
Securities and Exchange Commission 727 1.9% $6,381,160 3.4%
Subtotal 7,314   $57,036,212
27 other agencies 2,296  $12,519,596
Total 9,610 13.5% $69,555,808 18.4%

In CY 2015, the Department of Justice and the Department of State used its student loan repayment benefits increasingly in the areas of intelligence and diplomacy, particularly in JD advantage positions Special Agent (587) and Intelligence Analysts (183) at DOJ and Foreign Affairs (224), Foreign Service serving in Political Affairs (133) and Public Diplomacy (110) at DOS.  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 (372 attorneys received benefits in CY 15) and the JD advantage position Securities Compliance Examiner (41).  The Department of Veterans Affairs also used a large portion of funding on the JD advantage positions of Contract Specialists (95) and Human Resource Specialists (151).

Departments and agencies were invited to provide details on their experiences in administrating their programs.  From the comments, it appears more agencies than in previous years are using the student loan payments as a retention rather than a recruitment tool.  There were some exceptions. For example, the Department of the Treasury reported the program is used mostly for hard-to-fill intelligence, legal and policy-related positions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has made substantial investments in the program since 2001, using it to recruit and retain attorneys, engineers and energy industry analysts. And the Securities and Exchange Commission reported that approximately 72% of student loan repayments were made to employees in mission-critical occupations such as attorneys.

As in previous years, agencies reported 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 and the yearly cap of $10,000 on benefits. Some agencies reported that some job candidates or current employees were uncomfortable committing to three years of service in return for the student loan repayment benefit. However, a chief impediment to using the program may be need. Some agencies do not have hard-to-fill jobs or do not have recruitment or retention problems requiring the use of the student loan repayments. And with a hiring freeze on the horizon, it’s likely more agencies will use the program as a retention rather than recruiting tool.

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, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Federal Trade Commission, Government Accountability Office, Library of Congress, 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: Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Library of Congress, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to the federal LRAP programs, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also reported it is working with the Department of Education to educate the federal workforce on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). This is good news on two fronts.  First, federal employees across agencies have differing levels of understanding of how PSLF can work for them. With OPM collaborating with human resources personnel across agencies to develop effective strategies for communicating the available options, education on the program can only improve.  Second, through OPM’s collaboration, perhaps some of the issues that have arisen as the first class of individuals come to loan forgiveness can be addressed quickly and in favor of borrowers.

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 2015.

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Activism Networking and Organizing Event at UDC

 Activism for All Ages

A Networking and Organizing Event

On January 14, beginning at 10:30 am, in cooperation with local activist attorney Judy Kosovich and Jim Turner, UDC-DCSL will host a networking and, we hope, an organizing extravaganza.  What happens will be the result of the choices of those who attend!  We will hold similar events from time to time to expand the program and to learn from its successes and failures but no training or administrative functions are planned other than what is described below.

If you plan to attend, please register HERE.

The event will have 2 keynote speakers. Jim Turner will give a talk on insights he has gleaned from his years as an activist attorney.  Professor Edgar Cahn, co-founder of the Antioch School of Law (now UDC-DCSL!) and www.TimeBanks.org will also speak about bringing ideas to fuition. Their talks will be about 15 minutes each.

Then we may split into subgroups, depending on the number of participants, and those who have expressed an interest in speaking so will do so for several minutes each for a total of an hour.  We will then have an hour to exchange contact information.  If it is not possible to meet everyone you would like to meet, but we will facilitate additional networking.  People will have an opportunity to summarize their interests and needs and this will be made available.

To speak at this event, please provide a summary of what you would like to say (which will be used in the networking lists we will prepare), as well as contact information and anything relevant to your desires.  Please send this information to Judy Kosovich at judy.kosovich@gmail.com.

Please register HERE.

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