Archive for Events and Announcements

Giving and Receiving: Thanksgiving Community Service Efforts from Law Schools and Law Students

Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow 2014 – 2015
Anna Black, VP, Public Interest Law Society – Nova Southeastern University

From left to right: NSU Law students Geoffrey Langbart, Sophia Mitchell, and Anna Black Photo: NSU Publications & Special EventsNSU Law students Geoffrey Langbart, Sophia Mitchell, and Anna Black (left to right) with more than 10,000 cans collected at this year’s “Canned Immunity” drive.
Photo: NSU Publications & Special Events

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope all our readers are able to take a break tomorrow, relax with family or friends, and get to the heart of whatever this particular holiday might mean for each of you. Before the PSJD staff go off to our own celebrations, we wanted to recognize the efforts of some of our member schools, who have been working hard in recent weeks to serve their communities and help make this holiday possible for low-income families. Last week, we asked our member schools and firms what pro bono and community service work they were doing in relation to Thanksgiving. Many law campuses organize community service efforts around the holiday, but here are the ones you told us about:

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Ann Arbor campus has packed and distributed 100 full Thanksgiving dinners for needy families in the Ann Arbor community as part of its annual Thanksgiving outreach program. Wayne State University Law School, also in Michigan, collected 300 pounds of canned goods and non-perishables to help feed Detroit area families. Their partner in the drive was Gleaners food bank, but Barbri also pitched in, offering $25 off its student content to 1Ls who participated. However, it’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, in Fort Lauderdale Florida, that’s truly suffused donation incentives into the law school experience. Anna Black, an NSU Law 2L and Vice President of their Public Interest Law Society, wrote us to explain how:

Every year in preparation for Thanksgiving, NSU Shepard Broad Law Center’s Public Interest Law Society (“PILS”) in collaboration with the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, organizes a highly successful weeklong event called “Canned Immunity.” Canned Immunity is a collaborative effort that aims to ensure those who are currently fighting hunger in our community are well fed this Thanksgiving holiday. The entire week before Thanksgiving, PILS conducts a school-wide drive for canned and other non-perishable food items.

The annual drive always receives a high volume of donations thanks to both the generosity of the law student body and the method by which the weeklong event operates. PILS convinces professors to offer their students certain incentives for bringing in donations, including “immunity” from being called on in class that day or the option of selecting another student to act as “co-counsel” to help discuss a case or topic. These incentives encourage students to donate more and more often throughout the week. PILS also competitively tracks the donations, keeping students and faculty apprised of which sections and professors have donated the most. Last year, PILS collected over 12,000 cans during Canned Immunity Week. This year, we hope to collect even more. [Editor’s note: This year, the event collected over 10,000 cans. According to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the average can of food weighs almost a pound. That’s over 9,376 pounds of food!] Everything collected during the week is donated to Feeding South Florida, a local food bank.

So thank you, Cooley, Wayne State, and NSU for doing such good work. Thank you Charles Toy, Diane Fears, and Jennifer Gordon & Jennifer Jarema, for taking the time to let us know what each of your respective schools have been up to. (Cooley, Wayne State, and NSU all just made the PSJD Honor Roll for November.) And to all the law students and lawyers who took time this week or this month to make your communities a better place, we at PSJD are most thankful for you.

Enjoy your holiday!


Job’o't’Week (Entry-Level Edition) — Cut Your Teeth on Legislative Policy Issues with FlyersRights [Closes Soon!]

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

If you’re a law student or a recent grad looking for your first policy experience, you may want to act fast. FlyersRights, a consumer advocacy organization, is looking to fill two internships and a one-year staff attorney position specifically for a recent law graduate. The organization has been around since 2006, working on behalf of airline travelers. Among their legislative successes is a federal statute requiring airlines to allow stranded passengers to disembark from planes after 3 hours on the ground.

FlyersRights’ post on PSJD is eye-catching for the care it takes to describe how working with the organization would allow legal newcomers to grow their legislative advocacy skillset:

The person we are looking to hire for one year would be a staff attorney (or as a legal analyst if the person has yet been admitted to the bar) under my primary supervision. The person would receive substantial training in public interest advocacy and law, including research and drafting of administrative rulemaking petitions, legislation, Congressional testimony and legislative memos and policy papers, amicus brief writing, as well as non-legal writing and advocacy.

If you know you want to do policy work, you should consider letting FlyersRights show you how it’s done. Check out the full post on PJSD.

If you’re interested, it’ll cost you a weekend: the Application Deadline is Sunday, November 23rd.


Job’o't’Week (Experienced Edition) – Winston & Strawn Seeks Attorney to Manage its Pro Bono Practice

Help Wanted

Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

Those of you with a few years of experience under your belts and an interest in community economic development may want to consider going private. Winston & Strawn–one of US News’ Law Firms of the Year for Bankruptcy, Creditor/Debtor Rights, and Insolvency and Reorganization Law–recently advertised on PJSD. The firm is looking for an attorney to work out of New York City, managing its pro bono practice. The majority of your time would be pro bono; the firm expects its Pro Bono Practice Attorney to log a minimum of 1750 pro bono hours. You would be working with employees at all levels (from paralegals to partners) throughout the firm, supporting and facilitating attorney involvement in nonprofit corporate and community development efforts.

So, if you have several years of experience in nonprofit corporate law and an interest in moving to large law firm pro bono, check out the full posting at PSJD. (Application Deadline: Jan 1, 2015)


Progressive Lawyer talks with PSJD.

Progressive Lawyer is a new digital hub connecting lawyers and law students with socially progressive organizations and law firms active in social justice and public interest advocacy.  This week, I had a chance to speak with Mark Boudreau about PSJD and how it connects the public sector community.  They had a great conversation with Appleseed last week, and look to be doing some wonderful work in bringing information to the public sector.  Check out the PSJD article and this new resource for bringing the community together.


2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner Announced!

We are very pleased to announce the 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Winner: Alex Dutton from Temple University Beasley School of Law.  This year we selected 6 finalists and then had to choose a winner from a VERY competitive pool.  It was so tough, we’ve also selected two Merit Distinction recipients as well.  All three will be guest bloggers for the PSJD Blog.

In addition, we will be presenting Alex with his award (and his $1,000) at Temple.  I look forward to meeting him, his family, and all those who helped him create the Youth Court Program at Strawberry Mansion High School.

Here is the full announcement, with all the great finalists.  We are so grateful to them for their incredible work!!!

20th 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.


Alex Dutton

Temple University Beasley School of Law

In 2012, as a 1L, Alex volunteered to assist with Philadelphia’s first Youth Court, located at Strawberry Mansion High Schoolthe only high school on the Philadelphia School District’s list of “persistently dangerous schools. Youth Court initiatives are exercises in restorative justice, using positive peer pressure to reshape student behavior and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by providing an alternative to suspension for students who commit minor offenses. Philadelphia’s new program had significant expertise behind it: it was backed by the US Attorney’s Office and run by Mr. Greg Volz, a seasoned practitioner who had already implemented Youth Courts successfully elsewhere. Even among such company, Alex distinguished himself by teaching as much as he learned. In order to reach students overtly distrustful of anyone associated with the criminal justice system, he convinced his supervisor to set aside the Court manual temporarily and meet with students in small groups so the students could take the lead and educate the program staff and volunteers about their lives and their values. (Alex later added to the manual and helped create new curricula.) Alex’s involvement with the program has continued throughout his law school career, as he has successfully attracted other law students from all six Philadelphia region law schools to support the city’s burgeoning Youth Court programs.

In his letter of recommendation, Mr. Volz summarized best the impact of Alex’s contribution to the Youth Court program and to the Philadelphia community: “Alex['s] efforts have sparked a potential paradigm shift in law school pro bono activity and shown how youth courts help disadvantaged youth help themselves.” 


Shannon Johnson

Boston College Law School

Shannon is a multi-talented advocate single-mindedly dedicated to immigrant youtha group whose concerns she has been addressing in one way or another since she first encountered them at age 18. As the inaugural student in Boston College Law School’s hybrid crimmigration clinic, she assisted her clinical supervisors as they developed the program into an official course at Boston College. Shannon’s recommenders focused on her ability to adapt her strategy and tactics to the idiosyncrasies of a wide range of legal fora and to the changing wishes and circumstances of her clients. They speak of her “enormous respect” for her clients, and her “incredible ability” to understand their complicated lives and serve them in a holistic fashion. In addition to her work helping develop Boston College Law’s new clinical program, Shannon partnered with the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project to create a pro bono project in which law students of all levels represent detained non-citizens requesting releases on bond.

Alexander Gamez

Southwestern Law School

Alexander leads by example. As a 2L, he recruited 50 other students (an unprecedented number) to consistently volunteer as part of the Children’s Deportation Defense Project (CDDP), a pro bono program he founded in collaboration with the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project. Esperanza attorneys have been able to screen five times as many children in sessions in which they have the CDDP’s help. Alexander is himself the CDDP’s most prolific volunteer. Without Alexander’s personal and structural contributions to their work, Ms. Carolina Garza De Luna, Esperanza’s Pro Bono Coordinator believes her organization “would not have been able to respond to the surge of demand for legal screenings for unaccompanied alien children.” Alexander also heads Southwestern Law School’s chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, through which he trained and recruited many students to participate in the NLG’s new Immigration Court Watch Program. The NLG’s Mr. James Lafferty believes that Southwestern owes its status as one of the Guild’s most active chapters in the L.A. area to Alexander’s “inspirational leadership.”

Alexander best expressed the source of his own inspiration: “My parents went through all of the hurdles of obtaining legal status and eventually obtained US citizenship. Now, although people can still question their immigration status, they cannot, however, take it away from them…Each of my clients has had a profound effect on my legal capacity to assist others and my attitude towards life by giving me a newfound appreciation on what it means to live without the constant fear of being taken away at [any] second.”


Matt Brooks, Boston College Law School.

Revived Boston College’s chapter of the Foreclosure Taskforce. Created a housing search workshop for Greater Boston Legal Services.

Katherine Collins, California Western School of Law

Worked over 500 hours of uncredited, unpaid pro bono service for Human Rights Watch.

Kristine CruzSMU Dedman School of Law [Nominated by Mosaic Family Services]

Went beyond the terms of her internship to design training materials for legal interns and pro bono attorneys, resulting in large-scale, systemic impact on Mosaic’s work.



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Equal Justice Works News: Monthly Webinar WEDNESDAY (Topic–Fixing Public Service Loan Forgiveness)

Equal Justice Works offers free monthly webinars to educate attorneys on how federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness can make public interest legal careers financially feasible. Our next webinar is on Wednesday, October 8 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT.

There has been a spate of proposals recently purporting to “fix” Public Service Loan Forgiveness, including one proposed in a recent task force report from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Unfortunately, it would gut the program by making it ineffective for many graduate and professional students.

NASFAA recommends forgiveness up to 100% of the independent undergraduate loan limit (currently $57.5K) and 50% of any remaining loan balance up to the graduate aggregate Stafford Loan limit (currently $138.5K). Let’s see how that would work for an average public interest lawyer.

Assume our lawyer has $125,000 in loans (about the average amount borrowed for a private law school) and starts a public interest job at a starting salary of $45,000 (about the mean for a public interest legal job).  If she repays her loans in Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and earns Public Service Loan Forgiveness under NASFAA’s formula, she will still have about $52,000 remaining on her loans. If she remains in IBR to ensure her payments remain affordable, she will be repaying her loans for almost 13 more years.

With tens of millions of low- and moderate-income Americans unable to afford legal services, we need dedicated public interest attorneys more than ever. NASFAA’s proposal to limit the forgiveness graduate and professional students can earn in return for 10 years of dedicated work would erode the law’s core purpose of encouraging a wide range of public interest careers. The result will be far fewer public interest attorneys, as well as teachers, social workers, nurses, and others.

To learn how Public Service currently works – and should continue working – and get information on what’s happening in Congress, register for our free October webinar.

You can also register for free webinars in November and December.

If you register but cannot attend, you will receive a recording of the webinar you can view anytime. 


New volunteer training for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless October 9th

Interested in increasing access to justice while learning more about shelter, housing, and public benefits law? Consider volunteering with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless! Our next New Volunteer Training will take place in October.

Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014
Time: 11:45 am – 4:00 pm (lunch will be provided)
Location: Arent Fox (1717 K Street, NW)
RSVP: or 202.328.1263

The core of the Legal Clinic’s work is the representation of individual low- and no-income clients through a network of over 250 volunteer attorneys and legal assistants. After attending a New Volunteer Training, volunteers obtain clients at one of seven intake sites run by the Legal Clinic at meal programs, health clinics, and day programs throughout the District. Our intake sessions last for one hour and, on average, about 3-5 clients attend each intake. If clients present legal issues that meet our case selection guidelines, then the intake volunteer acts as the primary legal representative for those clients. Legal Clinic staff attorneys provide advice and guidance on all volunteer cases.

Attendance is required for all new volunteers. Attorneys must be authorized to practice law in the District of Columbia: attorneys must be a current member of the D.C. Bar or have begun the process for waiving in admission; attorneys employed by the Federal Government must be a member in good standing in the highest court of any state. Paralegals may volunteer only in partnership with and under the direct supervision of an attorney authorized to practice in D.C.

Questions? Please contact the Legal Clinic’s volunteer coordinator at or 202-328-1263.


Building Networks and Expertise: PSJD helps keep you up-to-date on legal conferences in your area.

by Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow (2014 – 2015)

PSJD is about legal careers. And legal careers are about networking. (I know you know, but if you’re at all like me you need frequent reminders.) For that reason, we changed one of our key resources last May.

PSJD’s “Public Interest Career Fair Calendar” is now PSJD’s Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar. Traditionally, this resource was for helping students find traditional career fairs in their area, such as (for example) the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair happening next month in Bethesda, Maryland (register by October 10th!). Now, the calendar also includes events covering substantive issues in public interest and government law that are open to the general public, such as the Emory Public Interest Committee’s 11th Annual Public Interest Conference happening in Atlanta, Georgia this Saturday, September 27th (the topic is “Legal Issues in Fostering & Adopting”). In the future, we hope to migrate the calendar to a more expected calendar layout. For the time being, at least, we’ll also promote these events through the PSJD Facebook page shortly before they occur.

Unlike our previous system, this means that not every event in the calendar may be meaningful to you. While career fairs often appeal to a wide slice of the public interest pie, these substantive events are narrower. However, we hope you’ll find this shift helpful. Remember: You can’t just look for work by answering job postings and attending career fairs. You need to meet the people in your field and familiarize yourself with their attitudes and issues. Become knowledgeable. Become known. Substantive conferences—especially ones that happen off your campus or outside your city—can help with that. And PSJD, with the help of its law school subscribers, can help you hear about them.


Equal Justice Works Career Fair & Conference – last week to register

The Equal Justice Works annual Conference and Career Fair is the largest public interest legal career fair in the country. It is the only event where you’ll find more than 1,200 public interest-minded students representing 200 law schools from across the country coming together to explore career options with more than 130 leading nonprofit organizations and government agencies.  The Conference and Career Fair provides access to job opportunities for law students; connects employers with talented attorneys and law students; and offers a multitude of skill-building and career advising sessions with experts from around the country. Our conference continues to be an unparalleled networking opportunity for students, law school professionals and legal professionals. Students and recent graduates can apply for interviews through September 16 and may register to attend informal table talk networking and workshop sessions through October 10. For more information, visit the Equal Justice Works website.


D.C. Bar Launches Web Resource Helping Federal Attorneys Pursue Pro Bono

by Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow (2014 – 2015)

This week, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program announced the launch of a new national practice area within designed specifically for federal government attorneys. is Pro Bono Net’s national online resource promoting collaboration between attorneys in order to foster pro bono work. The new practice area, located at, helps government attorneys understand how to avoid conflicts of interest, connect with pro bono programs in different geographical areas, and locate the pro bono policies of various federal agencies.

Lise B. Adams, Assistant Director of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, took time when announcing the resource to thank the multitude of federal government lawyers who take time to handle pro bono cases in their individual capacity through the D.C. Bar’s various clinical programs.