Archive for Public Interest Law News Bulletin

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 26, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  As we start planning Pro Bono Week events, we’re thinking about the great student-run public interest events we’ve seen in the past.  If your student group is putting together an event, let us know.  We’ll highlight it on the PSJD site and PSJD Blog.  We love spreading the word!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • MI Supreme Court merges indigent defense services;
  • NYCLU: New data shows holes in legal aid for poor;
  • ID counties want state to run indigent defense system;
  • Federal funds to bolster domestic violence programs in NY;
  • 2014 Sammies awarded;
  • Atlanta Legal Aid Society expanding services by using retirees;
  • Drexel Law School launches new legal clinic;
  • National pro bono group to aid with access to justice;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of University of Connecticut School of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law, and American University Washington College of Law;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 17, 2014 – “The State Appellate Defender Office and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System have been merged by the Michigan Supreme Court.  The merger, effective immediately, was requested by the Appellate Defender Commission to promote efficiency and hold down costs.”  “Under the court’s merger order, SADO will administer the MAACS.”  (Michigan Lawyers Weekly)

September 17, 2014 – “In a new report examining public defenders in five counties, the New York Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday called state efforts to defend the poor in criminal cases an abject failure.  NYCLU is scheduled to go to trial next month in Albany in a lawsuit arguing that New York systemically provides inadequate staff and money for constitutionally required defense lawyers. The suit first filed in 2007 seeks defense attorneys at all arraignments, smaller caseloads and better funding with the state taking over the county-based system.”  (thedailystar.com)

September 18, 2014 – “County officials in Idaho approved a resolution Wednesday that would give the state the responsibility of managing the system that assigns public defenders to defendants who can’t afford an attorney.  Nearly 200 representatives from the state’s 44 counties voted on the proposal at the annual Idaho County Association conference in northern Idaho. The resolution will now go before state lawmakers for approval when they convene in January for the 2015 Legislature.” (MagicValley.com)

September 22, 2014 – “Two Rochester organizations working to end domestic violence are scheduled to receive money from the Department of Justice, according to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport.  The Legal Aid Society of Rochester will receive $266,500 and the Rochester Society for the Protection and Care of Children is expected to receive $450,000, according to a news release.”  (Democrat & Chronicle)

September 22, 2014 – “On Monday, September 22, the Partnership for Public Service presented eight outstanding public servants with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies). Having earned the reputation as the “Oscars” of public service, the achievements of the 2014 medal recipients range from improving the lives of paralyzed veterans to arguing 125 cases before the Supreme Court to recovering nearly a billion dollars in stolen Medicare funds. The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, was presented to Rana Hajjeh and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for leading a global vaccination campaign, the Hib Initiative, which will save the lives of millions of children.”  (Partnership for Public Service)

September 22, 2014 – “The Atlanta Legal Aid Society is stepping up its efforts to tap into the retired lawyer community for volunteers to help clients over the phone, thanks to a grant from the federal Legal Services Corp.  The LSC has awarded the group $213,000 over two years to fund a lawyer and a coordinator to organize the effort.  Atlanta Legal Aid is using its Georgia Senior Legal Hotline as the prototype for legal aid by phone. Last year the hotline fielded 8,400 calls and opened cases for 3,500 people 60 and older.”  “The hotline lawyers offer advice, provide necessary forms and undertake limited intervention, calling and emailing government agencies and lawyers for mortgage companies or landlords.”  (Daily Report)(free subscription required)

September 22, 2014 – “This fall, Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law launched a new Community Lawyering Clinic at Drexel’s Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, located at 35th and Spring Garden Streets. The clinic provides law students with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience working with real clients, while empowering and serving the neighboring Mantua and Powelton Village communities of West Philadelphia.”  “The clinic offers referrals, legal advice and direct representation in matters involving family, consumer protection, property and other legal areas affecting the community as well as training, pro bono programs and workshops on community-wide legal issues.” (DrexelNOW)

September 24, 2014 – “As legal aid budgets are squeezed, more members of the public are looking for pro bono services to help with their legal needs. Into that gap comes the recently formed Pro Bono Canada.  Incorporated last fall, Pro Bono Canada is an initiative born out of the five provincial pro bono organizations in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. It will be having it’s coming-out party at the National Pro Bono Conference in Regina this week, which will be for many lawyers their first exposure to the organization.”  “The idea of Pro Bono Canada is that we will not be direct program deliverers, but we’ll be helping support the expansion of pro bono,” says Dennis O’Connor, former associate chief justice of Ontario and chairman of organization.  (Canadian Lawyer)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

University of Connecticut School of Law’s Dash for a Difference allows participants to get to know Hartford while engaging in service throughout the city. Teams venture into the various neighborhoods of Hartford to take part in service projects benefiting social service and community development agencies. This allows for exposure to a variety of service events including cleaning shelters, feeding the homeless, gardening alongside residents of transitional housing and cleaning up parks and community spaces. In addition, participants learn about the rich cultural aspects of the city.   The service project with Hands on Hartford was a voluntary component of the orientation program and was held on Friday, August 22nd.

On August 15, new Texas Tech University School of Law students participated in the final project of New Student Orientation: Community Service/Pro Bono Action. This was the second year new Tech Law students have partnered with various organizations around the city to serve their new neighborhoods and communities.  More than 175 students participated at 5 different service locations including food and clothing collections, the arboretum, and local children’s groups.  This service comes at the end of a long week of Orientation classes and transition and serves as a hands-on reminder to the new law students that no matter how long or stressful a work week might be, we all have a responsibility to become involved and serve our local communities.

American University Washington College of Law’s IMBY (“In My Back Yard”) Public Service Day is a celebration of everything good in the WCL community and a chance to be part of positive work being done at various organizations all over the District. IMBY sets the tone for the spirit of public service and community involvement that pervades at WCL.  For 1Ls, IMBY is a fun way to kick off orientation week, get out and see the city, and meet new classmates in a relaxed environment. For 2Ls, 3Ls, faculty and staff, IMBY is a chance to reconnect with the community and to welcome incoming 1Ls in the spirit of public service.

Super Music Bonus!  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs069dndIYk

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 19, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  I’m writing to you this week from Happy Valley.  So excited to see a game at my alma mater.  I know the semester is starting (starting?) to get hectic, but remember to take a minute or two to touch base with what recharges you.  You can’t help others if you’ve got nothing in the tank.

And thank you all for sending in your 1L Orientation Service Projects.  There are some great ideas out there to replicate at your school, and a wonderful pick me up when you see all the hard work being done!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Widener Law Veterans Law Clinic honored;
  • Nova Scotia Legal Aid expands services for Halifax-area youths;
  • Public Council expands litigation and lobbying efforts;
  • TX veterans to receive funds for legal services;
  • New program helps NM vets with legal assistance;
  • Legal Aid of Western Missouri marks 50 years;
  • Boston VLP receives grant for bankruptcy help;
  • San Francisco Supervisors ok $2.1 mil in legal services funding for immigrant children;
  • NYC agencies to provide legal services to migrant children;
  • 3 lawyers win MacArthur Genius Award;
  • 2014 recipients of Skirnick, Kaufman and One Day’s Work Fellowships for public service announced;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of Georgetown University Law Center, Columbia University School of Law, and Rutgers Law School;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 10, 2014 – “The Widener University School of Law and its Veterans Law Clinic are being honored with a 2014 Delaware Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for community service”  “The Veterans Law Clinic, based at Widener Law Delaware, provides free legal aid to disabled veterans and their dependents with claims pending before the Department of Veterans Affairs.”  Congratulations!!!  (delawareonline)

September 10, 2014 – “Young people who are not even in trouble with the law will soon be able to get help with issues involving school, housing and income assistance, police complaints, licence suspensions and Protection of Property Act matters through the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission in Halifax.  ‘We know that when people turn to us for criminal or family law assistance there are often many other stressors contributing to those issues, which are sometimes just symptoms rather than problems that exist in a vacuum,’ Megan Longley, managing lawyer of Nova Scotia Legal Aid’s youth justice office, said in an email.”  “No new money is going into the expanded services. The commission’s staff lawyers, who have already been informally providing these services to existing clients, will handle these cases on top of their regular workloads.”  (Herald News)

September 10, 2014 – “The former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will lead an expansion of Public Counsel’s litigation and lobbying efforts across the country.  Mark Rosenbaum, most recently chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, is now director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law, a new initiative at Los Angeles-based Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono organization.”  “Hernán Vera, president and chief executive officer of Public Counsel, said the initiative expands on a program launched in 2009 to broaden the nonprofit’s reach.” (National Law Journal)(subscription required)

September 12, 2014 – “Legal aid services for indigent defendants in Texas are receiving a boost from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.  The nonprofit has announced grants of $426,000 to 11 organizations, including one in San Antonio, to help fund services specifically for Texas veterans.”  Organizations receiving funds are Baylor University School of Law, Waco; Cathedral Justice Project, Houston; Community Justice Program, San Antonio; Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Richmond; Houston Bar Foundation, Houston and surrounding area; Jefferson County Bar Foundation, Beaumont; Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Fort Worth (also includes Dallas, North Texas, Panhandle, and West Texas); Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston (includes Gulf Coast and East Texas); Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido, Inc. (Texas Civil Rights Project), statewide; Tarrant County Bar Foundation, Fort Worth; Texas Legal Services Center, Austin (statewide).  (San Antonio Business Journal)

September 14, 2014 – “Nonprofit legal services organization New Mexico Legal Aid recently partnered with the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, the New Mexico Veterans Integration Center and the State Bar Young Lawyers Division to create the Veterans Justice Project. This program provides free legal assistance to low-income veterans and helps them navigate the application process to receive benefits.”  “With funding from the [Legal Services Corporation] and other sources, New Mexico Legal Aid is able to provide assistance and create programs that address pressing needs. Programs like the Veterans Justice Project get other leaders in the community to take notice.”  (Albuquerque Journal)

September 14, 2014 – “Working for Kansas City’s eighth-largest law firm is kind of a low-glamour affair.  Its downtown offices are respectable, but not like the palatial digs that some others sport. And most of the firm’s 56 lawyers spend their time doing legal work that seldom comes in the door at the pricier addresses.  Such as helping poor people get health care when they are denied coverage. Keeping indigent clients in their homes while a landlord-tenant dispute plays out. Standing up for a domestic abuse victim as she fights for custody or child support.  That is what Legal Aid of Western Missouri has done for a half-century now: Provide legal services at no cost to the region’s neediest residents.”  Congratulations and here’s to 50 more! (The Kansas City Star)

September 14, 2014 – “The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association has received a $158,000 grant to develop new legal aid clinics and technology to help low-income clients with bankruptcy.  The project will test ‘pop-up’ bankruptcy clinics, a customized virtual law firm platform and videoconferencing to train pro bono attorneys in parts of the state where no volunteer bankruptcy attorneys are available.  The project is one of 11 inaugural recipients of Legal Services Corp.’s $2.5 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant that invests in projects to identify and promote innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients.”  (News Observer)

September 17, 2014 – “San Francisco [California] approved $2.1 million in spending Tuesday on legal services for immigrant youths who fled Central America and face deportation after crossing the border illegally to seek refuge in the United States.  The funding comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection is apprehending a larger number of undocumented youths entering the country and a so-called rocket docket is in effect fast-tracking these cases through the courts in response to a directive from the Obama administration.”  (The Examiner)

September 17, 2014 – “Child migrants who have recently arrived in New York City and are going through deportation hearings will now have access to services from multiple agencies, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal said Tuesday. According to the mayor’s office, some 1,350 unaccompanied children have been placed with their families or sponsors in the city between January and July of this year. The services, which will be provided at New York City Immigration Court, will help the children enroll in school, state-funded health insurance through Child Health Plus and medical and mental health treatment. Legal services will be made available as well, and this is the first time direct services have been made available at the court, according to the mayor’s office.”  (Metro)

September 17, 2014 – In the Class of 2014 MacArthur Fellows, there are three wonderful advocates for change.  Mary L. Bonauto, Director of the Civil Rights Project for the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; Sarah Deer,Professor of Law at the William Mitchell College of Law; and Jonathan Rapping,President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise.  Read more about their wonderful work, and perhaps you too will be inspired along these lines.  (MacArthur Foundation)

September 18, 2014 – “Twenty-three public service visionaries and social entrepreneurs from Harvard Law School have been selected as recipients of grants from the Public Service Venture Fund, a unique program that awards up to $1 million each year to help graduating Harvard Law students and recent graduates obtain their ideal jobs in public service.”  Check these outstanding recipients and their amazing work.  (Harvard Law Today)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

One of the highlights of Georgetown University Law Center’s Orientation Week is the opportunity for students to spend a morning or afternoon giving back to the DC community by participating in a 1L Orientation Service Project. For many 1Ls, this event also serves as a way to meet classmates, staff and faculty, explore Washington DC, and learn about the wealth of service and pro bono opportunities available at Georgetown Law.  This year approximately 300 students went to 7 volunteer sites over two days. The projects took place the first two days of orientation, and current students as well as staff and faculty members serve as “project leads” to help oversee the projects and welcome the students. Projects vary from year to year, but usually include work at food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, national parks, and other social service organizations.

Columbia University School of Law holds a Community Service Day immediately prior to the formal orientation.  A large portion of the entering class participates, and this year hosted ten projects, including volunteering at a clothing pantry for battered women and their families, work at a large food bank, gardening, cleaning and painting at various local parks, projects with the elderly, a project for veterans, cooking in a soup kitchen and stocking a food pantry, and various projects at local public schools.  Each group is led by a staff member or upper year student and we invite faculty to participate as well.

Rutgers Law School incoming students volunteer to paint, clean, organize or do whatever else the local libraries in Camden need on the Saturday before classes start. Likewise, incoming students at Rutgers-Newark have served a variety of sites in the city over the years.

Super Music Bonus!  This week we celebrate Chris Brown’s alma mater.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 12, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  We continue our focus on 1L Orientation Service Projects through this month.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Duke Law clinic helps exonerate man imprisoned for 22 years;
  • Report questions billings to IA state public defender;
  • Iowa Supreme Court declines to adopt diploma privilege;
  • BC lawyers holding advice-a-thons;
  • Bay Area Legal Services receives grant;
  • Legal Aid Ontario launches Durham family law centre;
  • Foundation launches website to connect volunteers & immigrants;
  • Case Western Reserve receives gift to endow Intellectual Property Center;
  • LSC awards 11 Pro Bono Innovation Grants;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of University of Wisconsin Law School, University of Houston Law Center, Baylor University Law School;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

September 5, 2014 – “Michael Parker spent 22 years in jail for crimes he did not commit—and now, thanks to work by Duke’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, he is finally free.”  Parker had sought out the clinic’s help after hearing about their success in a similar case.  “Parker’s case is the fifth since 2010 to be overturned through work by the clinic. Two convictions were overturned both in 2010 and in 2012, and a sixth client’s release is pending for later in 2014.”  (Duke Chronicle)

September 5, 2014 – “Private attorneys working as public defenders overbilled the state by $311,182 during a four-year period, according to a report released Thursday by Iowa’s state auditor.  Auditor Mary Mosiman reviewed data from July 1, 2009, through Aug. 31, 2013. Her report says 13 attorneys filed improper mileage claims, and 11 billed for work days that were longer than 12 hours — in some cases, claiming to work more than 24 hours in a day.”  “The investigation was conducted at the request of the State Public Defender’s Office after concerns with reimbursement claims. A previous internal investigation led to criminal charges for one attorney last year and prompted the office to cancel contracts with some attorneys.”  (Daily Reporter)

September 5, 2014 – The Iowa Supreme Court declined to establish a diploma privilege and “will take no further action on a recommendation from the Iowa State Bar Association in December, which suggested changes in admission procedures, including eliminating the bar exam requirement for graduates of the state’s two law schools who want to practice in Iowa.  The Uniform Bar Exam, a test accepted in 14 states, would have been available for those who wanted to take it.”  However, the Iowa Board of Bar Examiners will look at alternatives to address the Bar’s concerns about the delay in graduates beginning their careers while they await exam results.  One of the proposed options is to allow third year law students to take the February bar exam.  (The Des Moines Register)

September 8, 2014 – “On a Friday afternoon in Vancouver’s Victory Square park, a dozen or so tents, tables and booths are filled with lawyers in suits and ties listening to clients of many backgrounds, binders of documents at the handy.”  “Organizers of the Pro Bono Going Public events say the services are intended for low-income people who face barriers in dealing with their legal troubles. The events started in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside last week and will soon be available in four other B.C. cities: Surrey, Victoria, Kelowna and Kamloops.”  Organizer Jamie Maclaren (who is also Executive Director of the Access Pro Bono Society of B.C.)  said “the ‘advice-a-thon’ is a chance for lawyers to do their part in helping those without means access an often opaque and complex justice system.”  Maclaren is also trying to exert pressure on the provincial government to fund legal aid more properly.  (The Tyee)

September 9, 2014 – “Bay Area Legal Services will receive a nearly $500,000 grant to bolster civil and criminal legal assistance for adult and minor victims of domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault. The money is made available under a grants initiative funded by the federal Violence Against Women Act.  Last year, Bay Area Legal Services, a nonprofit, helped about 1,200 victims receive protective injunctions, child custody and alimony.”  (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

September 9, 2014 – “Legal Aid Ontario has opened a new centre in Durham, offering legal help to Durham residents navigating the family court system.”  “The Family Law Service Centre will be staffed by a lawyer, a legal assistant and there will be another legal assistant and duty counsel available at the courthouse.”  (durhamregion.com)

September 9, 2014 – “In anticipation of an eventual federal overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and a growing immigrant population in Silicon Valley, Mountain View-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) launched last week a new online tool to recruit volunteers for nonprofit organizations that provide legal services to the 200,000 low-income immigrants living in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.  Dubbed CONEC, the tool allows volunteers to search for opportunities via ZIP code, distance or key words and then matches their skills, location and availability with needs of local nonprofit legal-services groups. The website also provides a calendar detailing volunteer opportunities, posts upcoming immigration workshops and offers information about nonprofits who might need volunteer help, from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto to Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and the Asian Law Alliance.”  (Palo Alto online)

September 9, 2014 – “The Spangenberg Family Foundation, a Dallas-based philanthropic organization established by the family of Case Western Reserve University School of Law alum Erich Spangenberg, has committed $3 million to endow the university’s Intellectual Property (IP) Center.The newly endowed Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology & the Arts will allow more opportunities for students to gain interdisciplinary, practical experience in the rapidly growing field of IP law. The pledge also provides faculty members and visiting fellows more resources to participate in important IP research.”  (newswise)

September 10, 2014 – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that eleven organizations will receive a Pro Bono Innovation grant to totally more than $2.2 million.  The 11 organizations are Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Colorado Legal Services, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY), Maryland Legal Aid, Montana Legal Services Association, Northwest Justice Project, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., Utah Legal Services, and Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. Each of their programs are outlines in the LSC press release. (LSC)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

 On August 28, incoming University of Wisconsin Law School students participated in Community Service Day, an annual day of volunteering with local nonprofit agencies.  As part of orientation week, the event is designed to connect new students’ educational experience to public service, while giving them a chance to get to know each other.   Students volunteering in this year’s Community Service Day pulled weeds, made blankets for children in need, painted and cleaned, among other activities.

The University of Houston Law Center Community Service Day 2014 saw over 180 1L students, faculty and staff work at the Houston Food Bank and Neighborhood Centers and Own the Dream.  At the Houston Food Bank, the Law Center volunteers assembled 14,232 lbs. of food, which will provide 11,800 meals to economically challenged families in the greater Harris County community. At the Neighborhood Centers and Own the Dream, the Law Center volunteers worked along with attorneys to do intakes of Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (“DACA”) cases. They processed approximately 60 cases on Saturday.

Baylor University Law School 1L Orientation Community Service Project has seen 100% participation since its inception.   During their first-year orientation, every student participates in a community service event. These events have ranged from helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity Waco, working with Meals on Wheels preparing food, and cleaning up Waco’s historic Cameron Park.

Super Music Bonus!  This week the Fellows battle it out.  All in good fun, of course.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – September 5, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Welcome to September!  I don’t know about your area, but the late summer heat here is awful!  But, despite the high temps, we have some dedicated students out there helping their communities.  We continue our focus on 1L Orientation Service Projects through this month.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Alberta legal aid lawyers taking action over funding;
  • Federal grants to aid victims of violence in ND Bakken region;
  • Victoria legal aid restored for family violence victims;
  • ME Volunteer Lawyers Project launches new legal aid program;
  • Court fee hike supports PA legal services;
  • CO Public Defenders want juveniles out of restraints in court;
  • Legal Aid Ontario funding law school clinics;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Brooklyn Law School;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 28, 2014 – “Alberta’s legal-aid lawyers are threatening to clog the courts with applications from people denied coverage to draw attention to what the lawyers say is a severely underfunded system.  Ian Savage, president of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary, says the government has raised the bar so high that people living on income support or with major disabilities can’t get a legal-aid lawyer.”  “Justice Minister Jonathan Denis has rejected calls for increased funding and has instead asked the federal government to provide more money to Alberta. He has said he is willing to look at what can be done in next year’s budget for legal aid.”  (Global News)

August 28, 2014 – “The North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services has a three-part plan for its share of a $3 million grant from the Department of Justice. It includes counselors, legal services and advocacy.  CAWS North Dakota is one of five recipients sharing the award from the Office on Violence Against Women special initiative.  The grants are to provide services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, and to help local and tribal governments prosecute violence against women in the Bakken Region of North Dakota and Montana.”  (Bismark Tribune)

August 31, 2014 – “Victoria Legal Aid will restore free legal help for family violence victims in child custody battles, reversing cuts that left some to face their attackers in court alone.  The organisation stopped funding legal assistance for people in the Family Court if they were against a person who was also without a lawyer last year, amid drastic cuts to its services to save money.”  “From Monday, Legal Aid will make an exception for family violence victims whose perpetrators had been convicted of breaching an intervention order or other family-violence related offences, or if the police or government department had helped them move due to safety concerns.”  (The Age)

August 31, 2014 – “The Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, with the cooperation of lawyers in Washington County, is getting ready to launch a new legal aid program to serve needy people.  The Courthouse Assistance Program will provide legal aid to people on a walk-in, first-come, first-served basis. They will receive a free initial consultation with a volunteer lawyer.  People will be screened according to income level using the same guidelines as Pine Tree Legal Assistance and social service agencies.”  (Bangor Daily News)

September 1, 2014 – “A $1 increase in court surcharges that took effect Aug. 8 is generating more revenue to fund legal services for low-income Pennsylvanians, a step in a broader effort to expand access to justice.  The additional surcharge on court costs and filing fees is authorized under legislation sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, Butler Twp., that was signed into law in July.  The money will support the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, which assists the poor in civil cases that often involve domestic violence, eviction and emergency custody issues.  The extra money will help address a problem facing thousands of citizens who qualify for that assistance based on poverty income guidelines but are being turned away because legal aid has insufficient funding, said Ms. Toohil.”  (thetimes-tribune.com)

September 1, 2014 – In all but three [Colorado] courthouses, juveniles as young as 10 are led into courtrooms wearing restraints that can weigh as much as 25 pounds. Defense attorneys and advocates say the long-term effects of shackling juveniles can be devastating for children still developing their self-worth.  Sheriff’s departments — which are in charge of the custody of all offenders and courthouse security — cannot readily recall a recent assault or escape attempt by a juvenile inside a courtroom, but most still say the risks of removing restraints are too great. Judges, who have the ultimate say of whether juveniles wear restraints in their courtroom, have repeatedly deferred to the sheriff’s judgment.”  “Public defenders and child advocates have been working with judges and law enforcement for several years to change the practice. Since the beginning of the year, three districts — Boulder, Jefferson and La Plata counties — have started unshackling juveniles while they are in the courtrooms.”  “Law enforcement and public defenders in each of those counties said there have been no problems inside the courtrooms since they started removing the restraints. Some even reported improved behavior.”  Advocates are fighting to create a state-wide policy.  (The Denver Post)

September 2, 2014 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is providing over $2 million over three years to six university-operated legal clinics to provide family law services for low-income Ontarians.  Starting in September (January for the University of Windsor), four student legal aid services societies will begin offering family law services. The University of Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services will be using the funds to expand its existing family law division. All of these societies will use a combination of summer students, in-term students and staff lawyers to broaden access to justice by addressing the unmet legal needs of family litigants.”  (CNW)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Community Service Day took place on August 15, 2014.  Students participated in a variety of projects including visiting a prison, conducting a phone bank to update the re-entry guide for formerly incarcerated citizens, did police ride-alongs, volunteering at a food bank, and helping to collect and ship books for students in Africa.

University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Orientation Service Day connected students, staff and faculty with five sites.  More than half of the incoming class signs up and the sites are set up throughout Philadelphia so that students can get to know the community they’ll be part of for the next three years.  It starts with breakfast and ends with a late lunch.  Students clean neighborhoods, spruce up schools, work in urban farms/gardens, sort food/clothes, etc. Current students, staff and faculty are invited to participate.

On August 17, Brooklyn Law School held its Inaugural Orientation Community Service Day, co-sponsored by Brooklyn Law Students for the Public Interest (BLSPI) and the Environmental Law Society. New and continuing students came together to beautify the area around Gowanus Canal by painting, gardening, and sifting compost. The event was held in partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to maintain and develop the canal for the public.  Each group was led by a team of upper classman as well as one staff member. All faculty and staff were also invited to participate.

Super Music Bonus!  This week we honor Mary’s home state.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 29, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  See below for more great Orientation Service Projects!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • New commission to make recommendations on access to justice in AZ;
  • Young immigrants could benefit from proposed bill in CA;
  • Legal Aid Alberta welcomes new funds;
  • Jacksonville (FL) to cut legal aid for thousands;
  • Legal Aid groups to get $30 million from bank settlement;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of Boston University School of Law, Wayne State University, The University of Iowa College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, and George Washington University Law School;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 22, 2014 – “A new commission will make recommendations on ways to improve access to justice, including use of Arizona’s legal system and obtaining legal representation.  Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales ordered the formation of the Commission on Access to Justice, naming Court of Appeals Judge Lawrence Winthrop as its chairman.  Other members include lower court judges, court officials and legal aid providers.  Bales set initial priorities that include helping people representing themselves in legal matters to get access and fair processing of family court and eviction cases. Another is encouraging law firms to provide free legal services or financial support for legal aid.  Winthrop says he also hopes to encourage more business involvement. He says a business can suffer when an employee is burdened by dealing with a legal matter.”  (azdailysun.com)

August 22, 2014 – “Young immigrants poised to flood California’s courts could get extra legal help under a bill offering $3 million to bolster legal services.”  “The newly announced bill would set aside $3 million that would be distributed to nonprofit organizations that offer legal services. Many of the immigrants pressing their cases could be seeking refugee status.”  (The Sacramento Bee)

August 22, 2014 – “Legal Aid Alberta welcomed the news Friday that the province will cover some unexpected costs that have taxed the already overburdened agency.  Alberta Justice and the Solicitor General confirmed it will provide funding over and above Legal Aid’s 2014/15 budget to cover costs when a judge orders the province to pay for a client’s defence lawyer.  Legal Aid used to get one or two such orders a year, but they have had more than 40 so far in 2014 and expect more.”  Deputy Minister Tim Grant said “his department would cover all orders for state-funded counsel until March 2015 and revisit the issue during next year’s budget discussions.” (Global News)

August 25, 2014 – “Thousands of working poor in Jacksonville could soon be out of luck when looking for a lawyer in a civil case.  The Executive Director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid says he’ll need to make big cuts if more than $400,000 in funding taken out of the budget isn’t restored.”  “In Mayor Brown’s budget for next year, the agency was set to receive $433,000 to help them continue to provide those services. The Finance Committee looked at the budget, and slashed those funds completely.  JALA also didn’t get any funding last year.”  (First Coast News)

August 27, 2014 – “The $17 billion settlement that Bank of America reached with the Justice Department last week will result in at least $30 million for a program that raises funds for the nation’s providers of civil legal services to the poor.  The settlement — which resolved claims that the bank and its subsidiaries sold billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities without fully disclosing to investors the quality of the loans — requires Bank of America to allocate $7 billion to consumer relief efforts. Of that portion, at least $30 million will go to the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program, known as IOLTA.  The program, which is run independently in all 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, pools interest generated from client funds being held by lawyers in each state, and distributes the proceeds to civil legal services providers in that state.”  (Washington Post)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

The Boston University School of Law Pre-Orientation Service Day saw more than 80 1Ls serve six locations.  Participating in service day is great way to get to know Boston, while volunteering for local non-profit organizations and making friends with your new classmates at the same time.

Incoming students at Wayne State University Law School, as well as returning students, faculty and staff, volunteered at the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative site near campus in Detroit, MI on Thursday, August 21, 2014.  Tasks ranged from planting and harvesting produce to demolition and construction of structures located on the farm.

Over 160 new JD, LLM, and exchange students at The University of Iowa College of Law participated in Tuesday’s orientation service event coordinated by the Citizen Lawyer Program.  These newest members of the Iowa Law community were joined by a dozen upper-class leaders and worked with six organizations at locations around Johnson County.

Iowa Law’s orientation service event is an annual tradition and introduces students to the importance of service in the legal profession and the work of the Citizen Lawyer Program.

DePaul University College of Law hosted its third annual 1L Service Day the day after 1L orientation.  The College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative coordinates the service day with the assistance of University Ministry and the Center for Public Interest Law. Law staff and faculty, as well as 2Ls and 3Ls, serve as site leaders.  This year, volunteers headed out to six different sites throughout Chicago and packed food boxes, read to children, served meals and made beds at a homeless shelter, organized classroom libraries, visited with seniors, and sorted clothing donations.   DePaul’s service day includes time for reflection about the University’s Vincentian mission and the impact and meaning of service and social justice.

George Washington University Law School’s Public Interest & Pro Bono Pre-Orientation was held on Wednesday, August 13 (the day before the general orientation for all 1Ls).  Approximately 90 new 1L students took part in the Community Service Program. This year’s project involved painting benches, lamps, and fences near the Smithsonian with the National Park Service.

Super Music Bonus!  This week is the battle of the Big 10 with myself and Meghan.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 22, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  This week the 2014-2015 PSJD Fellow Sam Halpert and the 2014-2016 Street Law Fellow Emily Peeler joined our team.  We are thrilled to have them!  We have also gotten a great response from our request to schools to share their Orientation Service Projects.  So, for the next few weeks, we will be featuring information about those projects.  There is some amazing work going on out there, and we’re thrilled to see the dedication these students and law school professionals have to their communities.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid Alberta ordered to take on more clients;
  • Mississippi Center for Legal Services celebrates 40 years;
  • Columbia Law given $3.5 mil for climate change center;
  • Suffolk University closes Rappoport Center;
  • University of Ottawa Law School launches Business Law Clinic;
  • Duke Law launches Civil Justice Clinic;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, Fordham Law School, USC School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Penn Law;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 14, 2014 – “Legal Aid Alberta’s already-dire finances worsened this week when a provincial court judge decided the group should fund three more clients previously rejected based on eligibility requirements.  Assistant Chief Judge Larry Anderson called Legal Aid’s budget ‘clearly’ inadequate and concluded that the right to a fair trial for three separate accused was in jeopardy without a government-funded defence. All three receive Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped that puts their monthly income roughly $40 too high to qualify for a discounted lawyer.  Anderson ordered all three should be provided with Legal Aid counsel within a week. Failing that, he wrote, their charges should be stayed.  ‘Providing access to justice is the obligation of the government,’ he wrote.  Such court-ordered funding is an unbudgeted expense for Legal Aid. Since February, when Legal Aid began to strictly enforce financial eligibility because of stagnant government funding, it has been ordered to provide counsel 40 times. In all of 2013, that only happened twice.  ‘The explosion of these orders will bring Legal Aid Alberta to the precipice of our impending financial difficulties much sooner,’ said Suzanne Polkosnik, Legal Aid’s president and CEO. ‘It could cause us very quickly to be in a negative-cash position this year.’”  (Edmonton Journal)

August 14, 2014 – “The Mississippi Center for Legal Services will celebrate its 40th anniversary.”  “On July 24, 1974, Congress passed the Legal Services Act. The Mississippi Center for Legal Services (MCLS) believes it is essential that the 40th anniversary of the passage of this important legislation be celebrated.”  “The Mississippi Center for Legal Services represents low-income people in 43 central and south Mississippi counties in civil legal matters including family law, housing and foreclosure, consumer issues and income maintenance. Legal Services also assists military families and provides civil legal assistance to victims of disasters.”  (Mississippi Business Journal)

August 18, 2014 – “Columbia Law School has received a $3.5 million gift from the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation to bolster its Center for Climate Change Law.  That center, which develops legal avenues to fight climate change and trains lawyers in those techniques, has been renamed the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. The money will allow the center to hire a full-time executive director and help pay for an annual Sabin Colloquium on Environmental Law Scholarship.”  (National Law Journal) (subscription required)

August 18, 2014 – Suffolk University Law School has closed the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service, and this summer graduated the center’s last class of Rappaport public service fellows.  “With the closure of the Rappaport Center, Suffolk will transfer the remaining money from the original endowment to the law school that continues on with the Rappport programs, said [Phyllis] Rappaport. The foundation now is talking with other law schools in the area to find a new home for the program, she said, and the plan is to have a new Rapport center program up-and-running at another law school by the end of September.”(Boston Business Journal)

August 19, 2014 – “The University of Ottawa has announced it will launch its Business Law Clinic in September, a program it says will benefit both the university and the business community.  The clinic will offer pro bono legal services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit organizations in both official languages.”  (Ottawa Business Journal)

August 19, 2014 – “Low-income Durham residents who need a lawyer but can’t afford one will get a boost from Duke Law School as it launches a Civil Justice Clinic.  The clinic will partner with Legal Aid of North Carolina, a nonprofit law firm with an office in Durham, that provides free legal services to those in poverty in civil matters such as housing and employment.  The clinic will welcome its first class of students next week. It will provide them real-world experience as they work directly with clients and enhance their litigation skills, according to Duke law professor Charles Holton, who directs the new clinic.”  “Housing matters involving tenant-landlord disputes will be a top priority at the clinic, Holton said.”  (The Herald-Sun)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Public Service Day.  Incoming first year students have the option to volunteer at three locations, mainly helping out some schools with set-up for the start of the year. Students can also volunteer with the Center for Disability and Elder Law, with one of the school’s alumni. There students prepare Illinois Statutory Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property, as well as Illinois Living Will Declarations for residents at several facilities.

Fordham Law School’s Public Service Day is in its 9th year.  The event is coordinated by our Public Interest Resource Center, the home of student initiated public service.  Each project is organized by student groups, in partnership with community partners—some of which are legal services providers.   Faculty, administrators and staff are invited to attend (via school wide email) and each year between 2 and 5 members of that community join us.

During USC School of Law’s 6th Annual Incoming Law Student Community Service Project, the Class of 2017 will be joined by members of the faculty and staff and lead by their peer mentors as they strive to make a difference in 14 locations around the Midlands.  During the afternoon the teams will paint apartments, sort food and clothes, landscape, move furniture, reshelf books and a variety of other tasks. Law students volunteer throughout the year with a number of these organizations to help address legal issues, but for this one afternoon they will not be relying on their professional skills. Instead they will be making a difference with a totally different set of skills- strong backs and a willingness to get dirty!  The Incoming Law Student Community Service Project is a joint effort sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs, the Pro Bono Program and the SBA.

Georgetown University Law Center’s Orientation Community Service Project will visit six sites this year.  One of the highlights of Orientation Week is the opportunity for students to spend a morning or afternoon giving back to the DC community by participating in a 1L Orientation Service Project. For many 1Ls, this event also serves as a way to meet classmates, staff and faculty, explore Washington DC, and learn about the wealth of service and pro bono opportunities available at Georgetown Law.

Each year the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Toll Public Interest Center sponsors a half day of hands-on service in Philadelphia for Penn Law students, faculty, and staff.  This year, five sites will benefit from their work.  More than half of the incoming class signs up a to get to know the community they’ll be part of for the next three years.  Students will clean neighborhoods, spruce up schools, work in urban farms/gardens, and sort food/clothes among other projects. Current students, staff and faculty are also invited.

Super Music Bonus!  We start our tribute to staff alma maters this week with one of Fred’s picks – the USC Fight Song.

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 15, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law receives gift for clinical endowed chair;
  • Winning apps at Hackcess to Justice help in variety of ways;
  • Iowa Legal Aid receives grant;
  • Groups concerned about Toronto mega-clinics;
  • ABA House of Delegates urges law schools to establish veterans clinics;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development staff at the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and the University of Miami School of Law;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 8, 2014 – “The Indiana University Maurer School of Law has received $3.25 million to establish an endowed clinical professorship and provide scholarship funds for Indiana high school graduates attending the law school.  Glenn Scolnik, JD’78, and his wife, Donna, have made a $2 million gift to establish the Glenn and Donna Scolnik Clinical Chair, to be held by the director of the Conservation Law Center. The Scolnik Chair is the first endowed chair for a clinical law professor in the history of Indiana University. Led by professor W. William Weeks, JD’79, the Conservation Law Center provides legal counsel without charge to conservation organizations, works to improve conservation law and policy, and offers law students clinical experience in the practice of conservation law.”  (IU Bloomington Newsroom)

August 8, 2014 – “A disaster-relief mobile app that provides individuals with legal information, resources, and forms for assistance. An interactive tool that calculates whether a user is eligible for indigent legal services, as well as how much prison time criminal defendants face. A game that determines whether a user is in need of legal representation. A website that guides Massachusetts residents through the state’s divorce process. An iOS app that creates legally binding health care proxies and non-binding living wills.  All these tools were created on Thursday and Friday by lawyers and developers participating in the inaugural “Hackcess to Justice” legal hackathon. Held at Suffolk University School of Law in Boston in conjunction with the ABA Annual Meeting, the hackathon’s main purpose was to use technology to create tools that would expand access to justice for individuals who might not otherwise know whether they needed help and how they could obtain legal representation.”  (ABA Journal)

August 11, 2014 – “A $15,000 grant from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation will help Iowa Legal Aid assist low-income people in Greater Des Moines by providing free civil legal assistance to low-income people facing health problems. People struggling with health problems and financially often need legal help to deal with issues such as substandard housing, domestic violence, lack of utility service or inappropriately denied public benefits. Iowa Legal Aid is a statewide, not-for-profit organization that has been serving the legal needs of low-income Iowans for more than 37 years. The program’s Health and Law Project has been in operation in Greater Des Moines since 2006.”  (Business Record)

August 11, 2014 – “As Toronto’s legal clinics prepare to consider a merger, some groups are raising concerns about the pending proposal to have only three mega clinics in the city.  ‘In particular, we are concerned that this amalgamation does not reflect a model of community lawyering that responds to the needs of low-income people,’ said the Law Union of Ontario in a recent letter to Legal Aid Ontario chief executive officer Bob Ward and the Ministry of the Attorney General.”  “In response to the criticism, LAO noted it’s the Toronto-area clinics themselves that are leading what it calls the transformation project.”  “The merger proposal follows several years of discussions about changing the way legal clinics work. The efforts culminated with a 2013 report by six east Toronto clinics aimed at finding more efficient ways to deliver services.” (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

August 11, 2014 – “The ABA House of Delegates has adopted a policy urging all law schools to create veterans law clinics to ensure veterans’ legal needs are met. Resolution 104A (PDF) further states that ‘where a particular law school lacks the necessary resources to create a stand-alone veterans law clinic, the school is urged to meet those legal needs of qualifying veterans through an existing legal clinic.’  The proposal was sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division.”  (ABA Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Orientation Community Service Day!  Each year, Louisville’s law school community plans and participates in a day of collective public service. The initiative, which was launched on April 5, 2008, arose from the student body’s input into the university’s strategic planning process. The purpose of this event is to highlight the law school’s commitment to community service, provide significant services, have fun, and make new acquaintances.

The annual HOPE Day of Service is  University of Miami School of Law’s commitment to starting off each year in the community, marking the school’s pro bono ethic and emphasis on service.  Before students even enter the classroom, Miami Law’s HOPE Public Interest Resource Center will send hundreds of law students to sites across Miami-Dade County through the Annual HOPE Day of Service on Thursday, August 14th. HOPE will kick-off the day on the Bricks at the law school (1311 Miller Drive) at 8 a.m. New and returning law students will travel to over a dozen sites across Miami-Dade County. Students will engage in a day of service, repairs, clean-ups and renovations and coordinate activities with children, elderly, and homeless families.

Super Music Bonus! 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 8, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  With abundant gratitude, we say good-bye this week to our summer interns and our PSJD Publications Coordinator.  What outstanding work they provided, and they greatly enriched the site.  The 2014 Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide is now available on PSJD and the 2014 Comprehensive Fellowship Guide will be available for purchase in the NALP Bookstore very soon.  Thank you to our wonderful summer assistants!

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • NALP seeks nominations for the 2014 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award;
  • Missouri public defenders have excessive caseloads;
  • Duke Law opens 10th legal clinic;
  • Hackcess to Justice 2014 begins Aug.7 in Boston;
  • Humanist charities raising funds for unaccompanied migrant childrens’ legal aid;
  • SF public defender hires first immigrant-only attorney;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Law School Pro Bono coordinators;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

August 1, 2014 – The 2014 PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award is open to all 2Ls and 3Ls at PSJD subscriber law schools.  The Award recognized the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education by performing pro bono work.  To find out more information on how to nominate a deserving student, check out the PSJD siteThe deadline for nominations is Friday, August 29, 2014.

August 1, 2014 – “The American Bar Association yesterday unveiled the findings of a report that uses a data-driven approach to quantify the time Missouri public defenders are able to dedicate to cases compared with the time they need. The association says the research shows defenders here have excessive caseloads. The excessive caseloads identified in “The Missouri Project” report deny indigent defendants the constitutional right to effective counsel, the bar said in a statement. The association also said the research done here can be used as a national blueprint for public defender workload studies.”  (Columbia Daily Tribune)

August 2, 2014 – “Duke Law School’s 10th legal clinic promises to build students’ civil litigation skills while serving the – legal needs of low-income North Carolinians. The Civil Justice Clinic, which will welcome its 1st class of students in August, represents a unique partnership between Duke Law & Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). Under the – supervision of clinic Director Charles R. Holton ’73, a litigator & partner at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, as well as lawyers in LANC’s Durham office, students will handle civil matters, working directly with clients.”  (southcarolinasc)

August 2, 2014 – “Technology has taken a firm hold in the legal industry. Every day legal professionals use technology-enabled tools for discovery, litigation support, document assembly and information needs. But the promise of technology has been fleeting when it comes to the access to justice arena. Last year the Legal Services Corporation produced a seminal report outlining five key ways that technology can expand access to justice, especially through computers and mobile devices. The ABA is challenging lawyers,  law students developers, coders and others interested in improving access to justice through technology to devise a technology-enabled solution to one of the five areas outlined in the LSC report at two-day, judged hackathon.”  Prize money will be rewarded to the top 3 hacks.  (hackcess to Justice)

August 2, 2014 – “The nation’s largest humanist charity is raising funds to offer legal assistance to the unaccompanied immigrant children flooding over the border.  The Humanist Crisis Response program will donate the funds to two organizations that provide attorneys for minors in immigration hearings — the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, and Kids in Need of Defense, which operates in California and Texas.  The Humanist Crisis Response Program is a joint effort of two humanist organizations, Foundation Beyond Belief, and the American Humanist Association.”  (Phoenix NewTimes)

August 6, 2014 – “For the first time in his office’s history, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has hired an attorney to work full-time representing noncitizens facing deportation or other legal issues.  Francisco Ugarte, who previously worked at Dolores Street Community Services, joined Adachi’s team this week and will advise other attorneys in the office on the mind-bogglingly complicated terrain of immigration law and represent some undocumented clients in federal immigration court.”  “Adachi said his office would handle only cases in which the undocumented children are entangled in the local criminal justice system for some other reason. But Adachi is consulting with Supervisor David Campos, who in early September will ask his fellow supervisors to approve an undetermined amount of money to fund legal representation for these kids – including paying nonprofit and private attorneys.”(SFGate)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Can you believe it’s already time for some law schools to go back to school?  This week we’re honoring those law school professionals who put together service projects as part of 1L Orientation Week.  This week we celebrate one example – Jen Tschirch and The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.  Their Orientation Week is coming up next week, and I’m told they’re expanding to 5 sites.  It is a lot of work for one person to coordinate, but we all know how dedicated you all are and how you gladly do this for your students.  Check out news and pics from last year.  Good luck to you and your students.

Are you doing a great project or have you expanded your reach to new members of your community?  I’d love to recognize your efforts this month.  Please forward your stories to cjackson@nalp.org.  We’d love to include pictures as well.  Thank you all for the amazing scope of work that gets accomplished both this month and the inspiration to keep it going that you inspire in all law students.

Super Music Bonus! This week brings us an interesting interpretation/cover.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 1, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Can you believe it’s August already?  Soon it will be time to return to school.  Check out PSJD for all your back-to-school job search needs.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Services Corp. celebrates 40  years;
  • MD cut back on spending for criminal defense for poor;
  • Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship established at Tahirih Justice Center;
  • Texas Civil Rights Project returns to Austin offices;
  • Denver City Council approves municipal defender office;
  • Travis Co. (TX) accepts state funding to create private defender’s office;
  • USPTO adds more schools to Clinic Certification Pilot Program
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: U.S. Servicemembers;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 24, 2014 – “The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the single largest funder of civil legal aid in the country, marks its 40th anniversary on July 25.  LSC will commemorate this milestone beginning with a three-day event bringing together a wide range of legal, government, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to shine a light on the challenges and opportunities facing civil legal aid in America. The 40th Anniversary Kick-Off will be held Sept. 14-16 at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, DC.”  Congratulations on 40 years very well done and to many, many more.  (LSC)

July 24, 2014 – “Spending on criminal defense for the poor fell 7.9 percent in Maryland from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2012, compared to a national decrease of 4.3 percent, according to a recent Justice Department study.  The Maryland Office of the Public Defender has felt the impact of budget cuts, as the size of the support staff shrank and attorneys dealt with heavy caseloads in recent years, said Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe.”  Spending may increase in future years after the Maryland Court of Appeals found a constitutional right to representation in the early stages of a criminal case, but how much remains to be seen. (LegalTimes)

July 28, 2014 – “Tahirih has received significant support of its Bahá’í Service Fellowship Program to honor the memory of a young lawyer who was passionate about the legal profession and the Bahá’í Faith.  The Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship honors the memory of Naiyareh Karimimanesh, a 27-year-old lawyer who passed away in 2007 after a car accident. Naiyareh had a profound impact on those she left behind.”  “The Naiyareh Karimimanesh Bahá’í Service Fellowship will fund three fellowships in 2014 and provide overall support to the program. The Fellowship is designed to engage fellows in service to humanity, promote the equality of women and men, and provide an opportunity for fellows to learn from the work of a well-established, Bahá’í-inspired, nonprofit organization. Fellows are Bahá’ís, and work in a variety of staff roles assisting Tahirih’s clients to achieve justice while also being of service in the local Bahá’í community. They commit to serving Tahirih for a one-year period, and receive a stipend and health insurance for their service.”  (Tahirih Justice Center)

July 28, 2014 – The Texas Civil Rights Project “celebrated the grand reopening of its Austin location Friday night. Last October, an electrical fire destroyed one office in the building and caused heavy smoke damage.  Another legal aid organization let the Texas Civil Rights Project work out of its offices. Now nine months later, the group is glad to have their own space back.”  (Austin News)

June 28, 2014 – “The Denver City Council Monday night approved the creation of a new public defender’s office for municipal offenses.  The new Municipal Public Defender’s Office will open Jan. 1 and will be overseen by a new commission.” (Denver Post)

July 29, 2014 – “Travis County commissioners have unanimously voted to accept more than $717,500 in state money for the creation of a private defender’s office.  Judges, court officials and defense lawyers must now work on an official contract for approval next month. But the decision Tuesday signals the county’s commitment to fund the initiative, which proponents aim to fully implement by January.”  “Defense lawyers say they have started the process to establish the new nonprofit that will oversee the appointment of attorneys to cases in the $8.5 million indigent defense system.”  (statesman.com)

July 30, 2014 – “The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the selection of 19 law schools that will join the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program this fall. Five law schools will join both the Patent and Trademark portions of the Program, four law schools will join the Patent portion of the Program, and ten law schools will join the Trademark portion of the Program.  These law schools join the 28 law schools currently participating in the Program.  The selection committees chose these schools based on their solid IP curricula, pro bono services to the public, and community networking and outreach.  The Program enables law students to practice patent and/or trademark law before the USPTO under the guidance of an approved faculty clinic supervisor. “  (uspto.gov)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  I had the honor this week of attending a friend’s promotion ceremony.  It reminded me once again of the commitment service requires of both the military person and their family.  There are absolutely days you are saying goodbye to your family before going to work where you may never return.  On this day in history, World War I was erupting, Hilter becomes fuhrer in 1934, and many events since have contrived to send nations to war.  Regardless of how you feel about those events, it is universally true that men and women every day willingly put themselves in harms way.  Please join me in saying thank you and working towards making their return easier.

Super Music Bonus!

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 25, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope everyone is staying cool out there.  We have some good news in the public sector this week.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • William & Mary names new clinic director;
  • Goodwin Proctor announces 2014 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color;
  • DC expands pro bono practice rule to in-house lawyers;
  • ABA launches new program to help vets with disability claims;
  • $1.1 mil gift to University of South Carolina’s School of Law will support public interest students;
  • $2.5 mil more going to PA poor;
  • Mississauga legal clinic fights for fair share of funding;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Veterans Village of San Diego;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 17, 2014 – “William & Mary Law School yesterday announced the appointment of Roy A. Hoagland as a visiting professor of practice and director of the Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic.  Hoagland is the former vice president of environmental protection and restoration for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He previously served as both the deputy director and the executive director for the Virginia office of the foundation. He is currently a principal in HOPE Impacts, LLC, an environmental consulting firm working exclusively with nonprofits and government agencies.”  (William & Mary News)

July 17, 2014 – “Goodwin Procter, a national Am Law 50 firm, today announced the recipients of its 2014 Public Interest Fellowships for Law Students of Color. The fellowships support first-year students from law schools across the country who spend the summer working in community service legal positions. This year’s fellows are: Della Fok, Harvard Law School; Brian Jones, Cornell Law School; Nikki Leon, Stanford Law School; and Marsha Louis, Vanderbilt University Law School.”  (Digital Journal)

July 17, 2014 – “Legal services lawyers in the District of Columbia are hoping a recent change in the local practice rules will bump up pro bono involvement by corporate in-house lawyers.  On Wednesday, the D.C. Court of Appeals adopted a rule allowing in-house lawyers in Washington who aren’t members of the D.C. Bar to perform pro bono work. Those in-house lawyers must be a member in ‘good standing’ with the highest court of another state or territory; have no history of suspension or being disbarred; work under the supervision of an active D.C. Bar member; and be assigned or referred by a local legal-services group.”  (LegalTimes)

June 17, 2014 – “The American Bar Association is launching a pro bono initiative aimed at helping veterans with disability claims caught up in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ backlog.  The ABA’s new Veteran’s Claims Assistance Program represents a partnership with the V.A., but will require volunteer help from hundreds of lawyers.”  “The pilot program will start this summer by helping veterans with backlogged claims in the V.A.’s Chicago and St. Petersburg, Fla., offices. Eligible veterans—those without legal representation—will be identified by the V.A. and given the opportunity to seek help though the ABA program.  Pro bono lawyers will review claims for missing information or a lack of supporting documents. Then the V.A. will expedite its review of the claims, providing quicker access to disability benefits.  Administrators estimate that 3,500 veterans are eligible for the program.” (National Law Journal)

July 21, 2014 - Jim Konduros, a 1954 law alumnus, “has made a $1.1 million gift to the University of South Carolina’s School of Law to provide students with scholarships, fellowships and leadership development.”  “[T]the School of Law scholarships will provide financial support to incoming law students who have worked as a government employee or served in the U.S. armed services. Similarly, the summer fellowships will provide support to students working in public service through governmental or non-profit agencies.”  “In addition to the scholarships and fellowships, law students will benefit from a leadership development program. Students will learn and read about effective management and governance, engage in discussion with respected leaders and complete a project that demonstrates the leadership principles they learn.”(SCNow.com)

July 21, 2014 – “Legal aid for Pennsylvania’s poor and disadvantaged will get more funding under a measure recently signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.  Court fees are slated to increase in order to set aside more money to help eligible low-income Pennsylvanians pay their legal bills.”  “This year, an expert panel recommended the legislature boost civil legal services funding by $50 million.  The latest move to increase court filing fees is expected to yield just under $2.5 million more for legal aid.”  (newsworks)

July 23, 2014 – “Desperate to get its fair-share of provincial funding in order to help vulnerable residents, Mississauga’s legal aid clinic has taken a petition to Queen’s Park.  ‘This government was elected on a platform of being progressive, inclusive and fair,’ said Douglas Kwan, after dropping off a petition with more than 600 signatures.”  “According to data he provided, Mississauga, with a population that’s tripled in 40-years, gets about half the per-capita legal aid funding that Toronto receives. In a city of 750,000, Canada’s sixth largest, the clinic operates with 10 staff. Toronto, which is just under four-times the size, has more than 10-times the number of legal aid staff, 109 across the city.  The result is a staggering case load, and too often vulnerable Mississauga residents just can’t get assistance when it’s needed, Kwan says.”  (The Star)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:    On Friday Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) held its 27th Annual National Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event. Volunteers gathered at San Diego High School to provide services to hundreds of former military service members who live on the streets.  The outreach event began with breakfast and coffee. With more than 100 agencies present and providing help, vets were then offered showers, barbers, medical care, dental care and clothing. Other services included picture IDs for those who needed them, counseling services, chaplain services, shelter information and access to 12-step meetings.”  Stand Down events take place across the country, and are just one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless Veterans.  To learn more, go to the VA’s Events for Homeless Veterans page. (NBC San Diego)

Super Music Bonus! Here’s to all you public service heroes out there. 

 

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