Archive for Attorney Pro Bono

What Exactly Is a Split Summer?

By: Brittany Swett, J.D.

A new trend known as the “split summer” is gaining popularity among large law firms across the country. Despite the growing popularity of the split summer, a lot of law students and legal professionals have never heard of it. Today at PSJD, we are taking a quick look at what a split summer is and what some of the benefits and drawbacks are.

What a Split Summer Is:

Split summers come in a variety of forms. Most commonly, a split summer allows a law student who has secured a summer associate position for their 2L summer to spend the first half of the summer working at a law firm and the second half of the summer working for a nonprofit organization. Under this basic model, the law firm will then continue to pay the salary of the summer associate during the second half of the summer while they are at a non-profit. Some firms have taken this basic idea and added their own twist. Firms may require that the summer associate remain at the law firm for more than half of the summer and spend less time at the non-profit. Others have specific requirements about the non-profit chosen by the summer associate, while still others will only pay the summer associate for the time spent working at the firm. Each program is unique, but overall there are benefits and drawbacks to consider regarding a summer split.

Benefits to Splitting Your Summer:

Splitting a summer allows for a law student who is torn between the private sector and non-profit world to explore careers in both. The law student still gets to complete a summer associateship and enjoy all the benefits that come along with doing so, such as writing experience, the salary, professional contacts, and a potential offer at the end of the summer. In addition, the student gets to explore the non-profit sector, potentially working more closely with the public and for a cause they feel passionately about. In addition, if the student is someone who likes new experiences, two jobs in a short time span will keep them on their toes. Split summers also allow for a student to make a larger number of professional contacts in both fields. In addition, some split summer programs allow for their summer associates to work in two different cities over the course of the summer.

Drawbacks to Splitting Your Summer:

While eight or ten weeks can sound like a long time, it will fly by. One potential drawback of a split summer could be that the student is spreading themselves too thin. It may be more difficult to gain all the benefits of the experience at a law firm or at a non-profit organization if the student only spends a short time at each. In addition, forming meaningful professional connections with employees at each place may be more difficult due to the shortened length of time. Additionally, some law firms will give summer associates the time off to work at a non-profit, but will not compensate the summer associate for this time. Finally, the non-profit law world is also becoming more competitive in terms of job placement after graduation. If a law student knows that this is the field that they ultimately want to go into, spending a full summer at an organization ultimately may be more beneficial.

The split summer is an interesting new trend definitely worth exploring. To further research specific split summer programs, visit PSJD’s resource guide.

Sources:

https://law.yale.edu/student-life/career-development/students/career-guides-advice/what-are-firm-sponsored-split-public-interest-summers

http://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/2008/06/pi-summers.pdf

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Volunteer Opportunity!

Seeking Volunteer Attorney/Law Student for Fridays

National Veterans Legal Services Program

Lawyers Serving Warriors® Pro Bono Program

 

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) has worked since 1980 to ensure that our nation’s 25 million veterans and active duty personnel receive the government benefits to which they are entitled. NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) Pro Bono Program assists veterans with disability claims including challenges to VA denials of service-connection for PTSD due to military sexual trauma, applications for combat related special compensation, requests for medical retirement, discharge upgrades, and claims before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

 

NVLSP seeks an attorney or law student volunteer to assist the LSW program in our DC office on Fridays. The volunteer will work closely with LSW attorneys to monitor case developments and ensure client readiness for representation. The position will involve extensive contact with Veteran clients and pro bono lawyers and will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of military disability law.  The position is available immediately and can continue into the fall.

 

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and 2 references to Rochelle Bobroff, Director of Pro Bono Program at NVLSP, Rochelle@nvlsp.org.

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Students Taking Action: UCLA Law

 University of California Los Angeles students have launched a group “UCLA Law Students Against Deportation” to help detained foreign nationals at Los Angeles International Airport.  With over 175 law students, the group has translated documents about refugee and detainee rights into Arabic or Farsi, gathered food and water for onsite attorneys, and compiled a list of potential translators.
Students are also working closely with the ACLU and students from other Southern California law schools.  The students have prepared flyers and supported the work of attorneys from the ACLU and Public Counsel.  Some UCLA Law students, with knowledge of immigration law, have been working full-time at the ACLU in Los Angeles.
Read the full-story about these great students here on the University of California website.

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*Guest Blog Post* Colleen Gibbons Tells a Heartwarming Story About Defending Animal Rights

The holidays are quickly approaching and Colleen Gibbons wanted to share a wonderful story about a case that she worked on with an animal advocacy program. Read her post below.
“In the summer of my 1L year, I attended a special CLE on a new planned Legal Animal Advocacy Program organized through my local bar association.  The program assigned attorneys to animals removed from owners charged with animal cruelty.  The assigned attorney visits the animal and provides affidavits as to its health and well-being throughout the ongoing investigation and court process.  I was the only student in attendance, but I wanted to participate, so I approached one of the presenters after the meeting.  He hadn’t considered student involvement, but he thought it made sense.  With that, we organized the Animal Advocacy group of student volunteers.
Photo courtesy of Colleen Gibbons

Photo courtesy of Colleen Gibbons

The program officially began the following spring, and I was the first student assigned to work with an attorney.  Our dog was an emaciated pitbull named Bully, who had lived the first two years of his life confined in a crate.  He was starved by his owner, and kept in his own filth, which initially left him unsocialized and very sad.  The attorney and I did the initial evaluation, which involved talking to the technicians and spending some time with the dog.  As Bully’s case continued, he stayed at the local shelter, and he began to heal.  The attorney and I knew he needed us, so we went to visit him almost daily.

Bully’s owner had signed surrender papers, but because of his history of starvation, Bully wasn’t  ready to be adopted.  He had to get healthy, and be trained to learn that he didn’t have to be possessive of his food and treats.  Bully needed someone willing to care for a scared and sad (but very smart) pitbull.

We found a trainer who specializes in dogs that need this kind of help, and then started a GoFundMe.  We raised over $1500 in under 24 hours!  And just over two months after he arrived in the shelter, Bully left with the trainer.  Bully was renamed Teddy, and spent the next 60 days learning appropriate dog behaviors.

But Teddy still didn’t know how to live in a house.  We found a local dog rescue organization willing to sponsor him as a foster dog, so long as we could provide the foster home, so Teddy came to live with me, my two dogs, and my cat.  When Teddy first arrived, pretty much everything was new and an adventure.  Eventually he became accustomed to a routine that included daily long walks, romps in the backyard, and nightly snores on the couch while I did my school work.

After two months in my home, the perfect family applied for Teddy: a mom and a dad, with another young dog to play with. The family  knew Teddy’s history, and was willing to work with him to allow him to get settled and become a member of the family.  Teddy finally got his forever home.

Teddy with his forever parents. Image courtesy of Colleen Gibbons.

Teddy with his forever parents. Image courtesy of Colleen Gibbons.

Teddy’s legal case was ongoing through all of this; at each court appointment the attorney and I would prepare a report on Teddy’s progress, which we submitted to the judge and attorneys.  The judge would read each report as he considered the facts presented to him.  To date, Teddy’s case has not been closed.

The attorney animal advocate program is ongoing, and students continue to be paired with attorneys.  Each case is different, but each dog entering the program has attorney advocates to follow up and make sure the pet’s story is told.  Teddy is alive and well thanks to the attorney advocate program, and thanks to this program, I get to tell his story.”

Colleen Gibbons is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law and is the College’s Pro Bono Fellow.  She is a self-proclaimed Dog Lady.  You can reach her at cmgibbon@syr.edu

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Celebrate Pro Bono Week! (Oct. 25-31)

Pro Bono Logo
It’s Pro Bono Week, and here at PSJD, we would like to highlight some regional Pro Bono opportunities and resources! Click below to learn more about each of the opportunities!

Northeast:
Volunteer Assistant Attorney General – Statewide (Multiple locations in New York);
Fall 2015 Volunteer Attorney (New York, New York and International)
State Legal Director (Remote)

Mid-Atlantic:
Volunteer Opportunity, Judicial Selection Project (Washington, DC)
Pro Bono Attorney for Sex Trafficking Survivors (Virginia)

Midwest:
Volunteer Attorney – Capital Habeas Unit (Columbus, OH)
Volunteer Attorney – Hotline (Chicago, IL)

West/Pacific Mountain:
Volunteer Legal Advocate – Asylum Access Ecuador (Multiple locations)

For more information on how to get involved with Student or Attorney Pro Bono work, visit the PSJD Resource Center on Pro Bono.

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Pro Bono Trend: Lawyers at the Library (Now in DC!)

Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow 2014 – 2015

“Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions. As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society.”

— Self-Represented Litigation Network, National Center for State Courts

"Everyday Justice" (retitled), photo by umjanedoan, licensed under Creative Commons
(Photo: umjanedoan-CC License)

If you’re looking for pro bono opportunities, you might want to try your local library. For example, just this fall the D.C. Public Library partnered with D.C.’s Neighborhood Legal Services Program, joining a growing number of public libraries where low-income patrons can obtain legal information or advice. (Update: Check out the Washington County [Oregon] Law Library’s list of library-legal aid collaborations to get a sense of scale.) Working with the library, NLSP lawyers will focus on employment law, adding a legal component to job programming, which the DC Public Library (like many similar institutions) has offered its patrons for some time. In addition, the partnership includes seminars on tenant rights and paternal rights.

With this new partnership, the D.C. Public Library joins a number of its sister institutions working to address the United States’ access to justice gap. The concept has been picking up steam since at least 2010, when the Self-Represented Litigation Network of the National Center for State Courts held a conference titled “Public Libraries and Access to Justice” at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2012, Probono.net followed up on the conference with a Webinar Series titled “Libraries and Access to Justice.”

Both of these events explored the logic behind library-legal aid partnerships and the variety of forms they have taken. Like DC, some of these institutions bring pro bono lawyers into the library to provide community education. Other libraries ask lawyers to train library staff to work with online legal resources; a third group hosts full-blown legal aid clinicsUpdate: Liz Keith of Probono.net recently clued me in to Colorado’s Virtual Pro Se Clinic initiative, which connects pro se litigants to volunteer attorneys via webcam–a model that relies heavily on public libraries’ computer services.

For my fellow Washingtonians, if you’re interested in being involved contact the NSLP’s project attorney, Dan Choi (dchoi@nlsp.org), with questions or requests for information.  For those located elsewhere, ask your local library whether they have any similar partnerships going. If your area isn’t yet lucky enough to host one of these partnerships, remember that both the Self-Represented Litigation Network and Probono.net have left all of their event materials online. Between the two, you have access to a wealth of information and contacts to help you think about how your community might begin leveraging libraries for legal aid.

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Pro Bono Action Items: Regional Opportunities to Donate Attorney Hours for Early October

National Pro Bono Week is only three weeks away! For the past five years, the event has provided an annual, national spotlight on lawyers’ professional responsibility to those unable to pay for legal services. Hopefully, October is a month when all of us ask ourselves what else we might do to contribute in our communities, despite our busy schedules.

Some pro bono work can involve long-term commitments, but we tend to forget how much even a few moments of legal advice mean to someone unable to afford more. Isolated free evenings can make a difference.

The tricky part can be figuring out what to do with them. The legal needs of individuals unable to afford our professional rates are great, and a plethora of organizations in cities across the country need volunteer assistance as they attempt to meet them. Tools like ProBono.net’s National Pro Bono Opportunities Guide and Pro Bono Students Canada’s Community Placement Program and the Court and Tribunal Program do excellent work cataloging these programs. Unfortunately, it is sometimes unclear what these organizations need. Lawyers fill out a form or send an email without knowing where and when they might be asked to contribute.

Starting this year, PSJD would like to make it a little easier to find a use for your free moments. Once or twice a month (depending on demand) we will highlight specific opportunities in each NALP region for attorneys to turn up and get involved in pro bono work on the spot. Some of these opportunities will require activity beyond the initial starting time and date; please read each event page carefully. Also be sure to read event pages to determine whether you must pre-register for the event. Our goal is to let you know when and where your services are needed in your community.

In order for this initiative to work, we will need your help. Public interest organizations that rely on legal volunteers: please reach out to us at psjd@nalp.org if you know of orientation events, trainings, or walk-in opportunities for volunteer lawyering in your community in the coming month and we will consider including your event in the next edition of this feature.

Enjoy giving back!

— PSJD

Pro Bono Action Items By Region

Northeast

Organization: The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association

Practice: Civil representation for the indigent Boston-area community.

Action Item: Attend their New Volunteer Attorney Orientation

When: Monday, October 6, 4pm – 5pm

Where: 99 Chauncy Street, Boston MA 02111

Questions: Tiara D. Mahoney Paulino

Notes: Volunteer opportunities include both case handling and short-term (one-day) projects.

Mid-Atlantic

Organization: District of Columbia Bar Association Probate Resource Center

Practice: Walk-in legal information to unrepresented parties probating large estates for people who lived in the District of Columbia.

Action Item: Attend their Training Session.

When: Wednesday, October 8, 12pm – 2:30pm

Where: D.C. Superior Court; 1101 K Street NW, Washington DC 20005

Questions: kdebruhl@dcbar.org | 202-626-3489

NOTES: Malpractice insurance provided. Resource center open Tuesday afternoons. Volunteers must commit to at least four afternoons within a year of the training.

Midwest

Organization: Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota Pro Bono Naturalization Project

Practice: Legal representation in citizenship cases for low-income immigrants and refugees.

Action Item: Attend their Training Session.

When: Thursday, October 9, 9am – 12:30pm

Where: Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi | 800 LaSalle Ave. Ste. 2800, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Questions: Ann Applebaum

NOTES: Cases are pre-screened and should only require 15-20 hours of attorney work. No immigration experience or second language skills needed. Training is free for attorneys who accept a pro bono case from ILCM, otherwise $100.

Southeast

Organization: Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association Domestic Violence Project

Practice: Legal assistance and representation for victims of intimate partner violence/stalking seeking civil protective orders in Fulton County Superior Court.

Action Item: Attend their Training Session.

When: Tuesday, October 7, 11:30am – 3:30pm

Where: Alston & Bird LLP | 1201 West Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta GA 30309

Questions: Julia Black

NOTES: 3.5 CLE credits available ($17.50). Training is free to those who do not want CLE credit. Lunch will be provided.

West/Rocky Mountain

Organization: South Asian Bar Association of Northern California Legal Clinic

Practice: Informal counsel on immigration and various generalist issues (family law, small claims, employment, etc.). No direct representation provided and no guaranteed referrals.Action Item: Volunteer at their Columbia Neighborhood Center Clinic.

When: Saturday, October 4, 10am – 12pm

Where: Columbia Neighborhood Center | 785 Morse Avenue, Sunnyvale CA 94087

Questions: probono@southasianbar.org

NOTES: Please review this orientation presentation before volunteering.

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