Archive for Public Interest Law News Bulletin

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 17, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  Next week we will be in sunny (I hope) Chicago for the 2015 NALP Annual Education Conference.  We’re looking forward to seeing you all there, and sharing information in person.  Accordingly, the Digest will take the week off, and will return on May 1st.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Illinois Governor cuts funds to immigrant services;
  • New nonprofit law center in Rhode Island to help low income residents;
  • New pilot program in British Columbia to help quickly resolve criminal cases;
  • Georgetown University Law Center partners with two DC firms to open modest means law firm;
  • ABA awards head of Maine legal aid group for innovative self-help website for veterans;
  • Atlanta Legal Aid moves to new building;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 9, 2015 - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner froze $26 million in social service and health grants as part of his plan to plug a $1.6 billion hole in the budget.  Immigrant advocates, who stand to lose more than $3 million in aid, worry this will hurt their efforts to provide legal assistance and language training across the state. These immigrant services grants, originally budgeted at $6.7 million, fund initiatives such as language training and legal services, as well as assistance in applying for citizenship. The Coalition explains the money is from the Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI), a recurring part of the state budget since 1997. Rauner’s proposed 2016 budget seeks to eliminate ISLI entirely. (Newsweek)

April 9, 2015 - “The Rhode Island Center for Justice and Roger Williams University Law gathered on Thursday, April 9 to launch the Center for Justice at the Roger Williams campus in Providence. The Center for Justice is a new nonprofit public interest law center that will address the growing volume of unmet legal needs among vulnerable individuals, families and communities in Rhode Island.”  ”The Rhode Island Center for Justice represents a desperately needed source of legal assistance for low-income Rhode Islanders,” said Melissa Husband, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Providence. (Go Local Prov)

April 10, 2015 - “A pilot project announced Friday is expanding legal aid services to help resolve criminal cases more quickly. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton made the announcement Friday for the Expanded Criminal Duty Counsel (ECDC) program. Provided by the Legal Services Society (LSS), this program will serve legal aid clients who are dealing with a criminal case at Port Coquitlam’s courthouse. Before this pilot project, legal aid clients got legal advice from a different lawyer every time they went to court. This new project, however, will focus on continuing with the same lawyer throughout to help achieve early resolution of cases wherever possible.” “The Ministry of Justice is funding the ECDC as the last of five legal aid justice transformation pilot projects to help improve access and outcomes in the criminal and family justice system.”  (Kelowna Now)

April 12, 2015 - “Georgetown University Law Center is working with DLA Piper and Arent Fox to create a small nonprofit law firm in Washington, D.C. The unprecedented collaboration, announced Monday, is aimed at providing legal services at affordable rates to people with modest incomes who don’t qualify for free legal aid because they’re not poor enough. The DC Affordable Law Firm is slated to start taking clients in the fall, and will be staffed by six salaried lawyers from this year’s graduating class of Georgetown students. The law firms will provide a range of services and support.” (The American Lawyer)(free registration required)

April 14, 2015 - “The American Bar Association will present its Grassroots Advocacy Award on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance for her leadership and initiatives addressing the unmet legal needs of active duty military members, veterans, their families, and caregivers. Heald has been an innovator in making legal services more accessible to underserved rural and native communities in her state, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the ABA. One example is the Pine Tree website, PTLA.org, which was the first legal aid website in the country to offer self-help resources.”  (Bangor Daily News)

April 15, 2015 - “The renovations are complete for Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s new headquarters at 54 Ellis St. N.E., and the downtown branch’s lawyers and staff have just moved in. The historic building, constructed in 1910 as an Elks lodge, almost doubles the group’s space to 35,600 square feet on five floors. There is also a parking lot, so clients and volunteers venturing downtown will no longer have to pay for parking in lots several blocks away.”  ”The new building’s layout incorporates features that have become the norm in contemporary law firm design—except on a much lower budget. There is a large event space on the top floor, along with a library and a terrace.” (Daily Report)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  After 20 years as executive director of Community Legal Services (CLS) and 11 years before that as a staff attorney, Catherine Carr will be leaving the legal aid nonprofit on July 1. In a letter to the community, Carr said it was time for her to move on from what is the biggest regional legal services agency in the state, which provides free legal services in civil cases to low-income families in Philadelphia. “My plan is to create the next stage in my professional career, where I can continue to work on access to justice for all, and social and legal change to address poverty,” Carr said. “I am not yet sure exactly what that will look like, but I am excited about figuring it out. I have learned and grown so much at CLS over the last three decades; I look forward to the next stage of learning and growth in a new role.”  Read more about her great work here.

Super Music Bonus!   In honor of the Annual Conference location – Chicago, we bring you music from or about that great city all month.

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 10, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  This week we celebrated the Pro Bono Publico Award winner Alex Dutton from Temple University Beasley School of Law.  What a good time and what a deserving individual.  Thank you to the staff at Temple Law, especially Lisa Hurlbutt, Director of Public Interest Programs, for hosting us.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid Ontario expands family law services in Scarborough;
  • Harvard startup helps users find lawyers/compare fees;
  • California nonprofit expands immigration legal services
  • Georgia Public Defender Standards Council gets new leader;
  • Tennessee Supreme Court adds way for lawyers to donate to access to justice;
  • William & Mary veterans legal clinic gets $245,000 grant;
  • Medical-Legal Partnership clinic announced at Penn State Dickinson Law;
  • Delaware bill would revamp public defender office;
  • University of Nebraska School of Law breaks ground on expanded clinic space;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 3, 2015 - “Scarborough residents now have more access to free family law services as part of a new initiative by Legal Aid Ontario. The new service is provided by family lawyer Ana Rico at three Scarborough locations: West Scarborough Community Legal Services on Mondays, East Scarborough Storefront on Tuesdays and Scarborough Community Legal Services on Wednesdays. ‘We provide legal advice about a variety of family law topics so that would be separation, divorce, custody, access, child support and spousal support,’ Rico said.” (Inside Toronto)

April 3, 2015 - Harvard student Michael Gants developed JustiServ, with the intention of allowing anyone—anywhere—to find legal aid in just a few clicks. By entering the legal problem, the user can peruse the lawyers that fit that realm while also comparing their professional backgrounds and price estimates. Clients can even pay for the legal services they find on JustiServ via Paypal.  ”‘The price estimates are what really makes JustiServ revolutionary,’ Gants said.” (BostInno)

April 3, 2015 – “The Catholic Charities of the East Bay, which has offices in Oakland, Richmond and Concord, has expanded its legal immigration services in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in response to an increase in demand for services since President Obama’s executive action on immigration in November. The social services organization has hired an immigration attorney and legal assistant, is looking to fill more positions and has expanded service offerings in order to help meet the demand of about 65,000 East Bay immigrants who are affected by the President’s executive order.”  (Richmond Standard)

April 4, 2015 - “Georgia’s governor has appointed a new leader for the board that oversees the state’s public defender system. Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday named attorney Bryan Tyson executive director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. Tyson is the 2014-2015 section chair of the appellate practice section of the State Bar of Georgia and represented the state as a special assistant attorney general in the 2011 redistricting process. He previously worked as an attorney with Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP.” (Online Athens)

April 6, 2015 - “The Tennessee Supreme Court said that it is adding a way that lawyers can voluntarily donate to access to justice programs to help people who don’t have enough money for an attorney. The state’s highest court also adopted changes this week that would not require lawyers to report all of their pro bono hours.” “The court had considered a change that would require all lawyers to report their pro bono work and be sanctioned if they didn’t, but it declined to mandate the reporting. Nevertheless, the court said it continues to encourage lawyers to report their charity legal work because it raises public awareness of how some Tennessee lawyers are helping those in need.” (WATE)

April 6, 2015 - “A legal clinic at the William & Mary Law School is expanding its efforts with the help of a state grant. The Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefit Clinic is slated to receive $245,000 from the commonwealth of Virginia to increase its services to veterans. The grant will fund the addition of a full-time attorney, a full-time legal administrator and a part-time psychologist to the clinic’s staff.”  (Williamsburg Yorktown Daily)

April 7, 2015 - “Penn State’s Dickinson Law today announced the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, a collaboration between the Law School and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. This is the first partnership of its kind to be offered in the Harrisburg-Carlisle region. The clinic will provide low-income patients and patient-families with critical legal assistance under the supervision of Medha D. Makhlouf, the founding director and clinical professor of law. Students participating in the clinic will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with the faculty and staff of both Dickinson Law and Penn State Hershey, as well as participate in joint class sessions with students of medicine and other health-related disciplines.” (Penn State News)

April 7, 2015 – “Senate lawmakers have passed legislation that would rename and restructure the Delaware Public Defender’s Office to be more inclusive of private attorneys who are called on to represent defendants when the office has a conflict of interest. The legislation also would change the term length for the governor-appointed public defender from six years to eight years. The bill passed the Senate with 20 ‘yes’ votes and 1 ‘no’ vote last week. It is now headed to the House.”  (Delaware Online)

April 10, 2015 – “The University of Nebraska College of Law will break ground this week on a 14,000-square-foot addition to house its legal clinics and potential expansions. The $4.5 million, privately funded addition is scheduled to open in fall 2016. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. April 10. More than 30 third-year law students work in the civil, criminal, immigration and entrepreneurship clinics. The offices, now front and center in the law college, will be more accessible for clients who need legal assistance, and room will be available for the programs to expand their footprints, Susan Poser, dean of the college of law, said in a press release. The clinics ‘teach students how valuable and gratifying it is to provide critical legal assistance to underserved clients,’ Poser said.” (Omaha.com)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The legal system is feeling a void after the death of Jim Fitzsimmons, 62, executive director Legal Services of North Dakota, according to those who worked with him.  ”It’s hard to put in words what we lost,” said Richard LeMay, the program’s interim executive director. ”It will take a while to figure out where we go from here …. He has left us too soon.” A 38-year advocate of civil cases for the elderly, tribal residents and those with disabilities and low incomes, he will be remembered as the voice for the underdog, according to LeMay. Read more about his legacy here.  Mr. Fitzsimmons, thank you for your service and your unending devotion to your community.

Super Music Bonus!   In honor of the Annual Conference location – Chicago, we bring you music from or about that great city all month.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 3, 2015

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

Happy Friday and welcome to April!  We’re a little over two weeks away from the Annual Education Conference.  I’m looking forward to seeing you all there.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • British Columbia opens new legal center for child protection service;
  • Panel proposes cuts to Alaska public defender agency;
  • Philadelphia lawyer creates app to help homeless;
  • Canadian federal government must pay law society fees of its articling students;
  • Free Legal Aid Clinic, Inc. in Detroit celebrates 50 years;
  • New York bill would add oversight of NYC Legal Services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 27, 2015 - “The B.C. government is hoping to reduce the number of child-protection cases going to court by opening a new legal centre for parents.  The Parents Legal Centre is a pilot project that will be located in the Vancouver law courts and will be staffed by a lawyer, an intake worker and an advocate.  Parents or guardians involved with the Ministry of Children and Family Development or an aboriginal agency will be able to access information, advice, referrals and some legal representation at the centre.  The Legal Services Society will operate the $300,000 centre, as one of several pilot projects funded by the Ministry of Justice’s previously announced injection of $6 million over three years.  Attorney General Suzanne Anton said Friday the government hopes early intervention will resolve disputes in child-protection cases before they make it to court.” (Times Colonist)

March 27, 2015 - “Alaska’s top public defender says there will be delays in criminal trials and appeals if a proposed $1.2 million cut to his agency goes forward.  A Senate subcommittee on Thursday proposed the cut to the public defender’s agency.  The cut to the public defender’s agency was cast by lawmakers as being commensurate to a cut for prosecutors. But Public Defender Quinlan Steiner says his agency has costs that prosecutors don’t and a caseload that traditionally has outpaced staffing.”  (News Miner)

March 30, 2015 - “A Philadelphia lawyer who experienced homelessness as a child has created an app that makes it easy to donate to groups that help local poor people.  Nikki Johnson-Huston says she created and funded the app, Donafy, with her husband, Shawn Huston.  Donafy is intended for those who wonder how they can help the needy in their area, and for those who need assistance themselves.  None of the donated funds will go to Donafy itself; the app functions only as a conduit. Those who need help can find food, housing, legal aid and other resources through a map showing nearby services. Users who want to reach an outreach hotline for help for themselves or others can connect with a ‘notify’ option.” (ABA Journal)

March 30, 2015 - “The federal government must cover the law society membership fees for its articling students, a labor relations adjudicator has ruled.  Since 2013, the Association of Justice Counsel has been battling to have the government cover the fees for all of its articling students after finding a patchwork of practices across the country.  In a decision this month, adjudicator George Filliter found in part in the union’s favor.  In 2013, the government denied the union’s grievance on the issue, arguing articling students don’t have to maintain a professional qualification as they’re in fact candidates rather than members of a law society.  While Filliter ruled in favor of the union on the issue of law society membership fees, he rejected the proposition that the government should also cover the costs of bar courses and examinations.”  (Canadian Lawyer)

April 1, 2015 – “The Free Legal Aid Clinic Inc. celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing free legal services to metro Detroit residents.  More than 150 Wayne State University Law School students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as local lawyers, judges and other clinic supporters, attended the anniversary celebration.  The clinic is the only student run, 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal aid organization in the nation.”  (Wayne State University News)

April 2, 2015 – “A bill was introduced to New York’s City Council on Tuesday to create an office to coordinate civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers who need housing, consumer protection and immigration assistance.  City Councilman Mark Levine, of Manhattan, said the office would serve an important role in coordinating increased city spending on civil legal services. Spending is set to grow from about $35 million to about $50 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year, he said, to increase access to legal services for low-income and underserved populations.  The new Office of Civil Justice would issue progress reports identifying the civil legal needs of low-income residents and the availability of free and low-cost legal services in the city to meet those needs. The office would also identify obstacles to the delivery of legal services and serve as a liaison between the city and providers of civil legal services.”  The bill is expected to receive a hearing this month before the council’s Committee on Courts and Legal Services and could go before the full council in May.  (New York Law Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: “Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motelin Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.”  (History.com)  I take this as a reminder that we have made great strides toward equality in this country.  We have had great men and women show us the way.  In a time when it seems like we are taking some steps backward, ask what can we do to take up the mantle and move us toward a state of equality?

Super Music Bonus!   In honor of the Annual Conference location – Chicago, we bring you music from or about that great city all month.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 27, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Below is our last featured spring break pro bono trip.  There are so many programs, we couldn’t feature them all.  We’re so excited that so many of  you spent your time off helping your community. You are truly outstanding public servants!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal aid gives Tennessee economy a $188 mil boost;
  • Oregon and California consider limited license practioners;
  • Settlement reached in New York requiring court facilities to provide space for confidential defendant/attorney meetings;
  • Ohio counties seek reimbursement increase for indigent defense;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 22, 2015 - “When we hear about economy boosts in Tennessee, we generally think of revenue generated by local businesses, by tourism, or farming. What we don’t always know is the amount of revenue generated in the legal industry. A newly released report show that civil legal services providers generated $188.6 million in economic impact from cases handled across Tennessee in 2013.  The study also showed that every dollar invested in legal aid produced more than $11 in financial benefits to businesses, local governments and individuals across all social classes.  ’This report demonstrates that access to free civil legal representation has a profound impact not only on individual clients served, but also on the state, which receives an economic benefit worth millions of dollars,’ TBA President Jonathan Steen said.”  (Knoxville Daily Sun)

March 23, 2015 – “Washington is currently the only state with a program allowing limited license legal technicians to help civil litigants prepare legal documents and provide advice on legal procedures. But bar groups in two other states are taking steps that could lead to legal technician programs in their own jurisdictions.  A task force of the Oregon State Bar issued a report last month recommending that the bar’s board of governors consider the concept of legal technicians to help increase access to justice, according to Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites. Now a California bar task force has published for comment a draft report that calls for a legal technician pilot program in one subject matter area, LawSites says.  The report by the State Bar of California’s Civil Justice Strategies Task Force says the state bar should first study design of the pilot program, addressing how oversight and licensing would be handled.  The California report also calls for a pilot program of volunteer navigators to attend hearings with self-represented litigants. The navigators could sit at the counsel table with litigants, but would not address the court.  The navigator idea is based on a New York pilot program that uses nonlawyer navigators to help unrepresented litigants in housing and consumer-debt cases.”  (ABA Journal)

March 24, 2015 - “East End towns and villages have settled a lawsuit brought last month by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society over the towns’ justice court facilities.”  The Legal Aid Society filed suit, alleging the court facilities in the towns of Riverhead, Southold and Southampton and the villages of Southampton and Sag Harbor did not “provide confidential meeting space for attorneys to confer with defendants in custody, compelling defendants to converse with their lawyers in the presence of law enforcement personnel. That arrangement violates the criminal defendant’s constitutional rights, the suit alleges.  Under a settlement that’s already been signed and was filed yesterday in state court, the towns of Riverhead and Southold have agreed to undertake some construction work.”  They are the only two jurisdictions that need to undertake construction, with the work in all facilities to be completed by April 30.  (Southold Local)

March 27, 2015 - “Ashland County is joining with other counties across the state to support an effort of County Commissioners Association of Ohio to seek additional state funding for indigent defense reimbursement. Counties now are reimbursed for 40 percent of the cost of representing indigent people, and CCAO is lobbying the state to increase reimbursements to 50 percent– providing an additional $12 million in reimbursements to counties for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.”  (Ashland Times-Gazette)(subscription required)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  UC Irvine School of Law. Each year since 2011, the UC Irvine School of Law subsidizes an alternative spring break trip for 30 students to volunteer with the Mississippi Center for Justice.  The past 2 years, the students have visited all three MCJ offices with a group in Biloxi, another in Jackson, and the final group in Indianola (“the Delta”).  Student work has involved legal assistance on behalf of victims of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill as well intensive research in areas of education and consumer law.  Each year the students have had a fabulous experience.  Simply researching and applying the law in an area very different than California has been an eye opening experience.  The students always comment on the surprising cultural differences, but most often they are humbled by the kindness of the Mississippians that they encounter.  Read student Aaron Adams’ (2L) account of his work in both Jackson and the Delta in The Notice.

Super Music Bonus!   https://youtu.be/nyFvDbwyhF8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 20, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  We continue featuring spring break pro bono trips. If you’d like to be featured, send us the information.  We are very excited about all the great work being done!!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Ontario’s ethnocultural legal clinics to get increased funding;
  • Louisiana to implement new rule allowing CLE credit for pro bono work;
  • New York public defender settlement final;
  • DOJ files Statement of Interest in Georgia juvenile justice suit;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 13, 2015 - “Legal clinics that focus on serving the GTA’s growing immigrant communities will get a slice of the province’s $4.2 million new funding, but the bulk of the money will go to mainstream neighbourhood clinics.  After years of stagnant funding to assist vulnerable groups with unique language and cultural needs, the so-called ethnocultural legal clinics are expected to receive a $86,000 raise in annual operational funding. Legal Aid Ontario is to announce the funding on Friday.  ’This is a provincial investment that will significantly improve the legal aid services in Ontario,’ said Nye Thomas, the LAO’s director general in policy and strategic research. ‘The funding will effectively address the concerns raised previously by the ethnolinguistic clinics.’”  (The Star)

March 13, 2015 - “The Louisiana Supreme Court announced this week it is implementing a rule some say provides lawyers with an incentive to do legal work for needy clients for free.   The state’s high court this week issued an order about the rule, which goes into effect May 1, that says every lawyer who performs pro bono work can earn up to three hours of Continuing Legal Education credit a year.”  ”Five hours of pro bono work, the rule says, can count as one hour of CLE credit. Emily Ziober, the chairwoman of the Baton Rouge Bar Association’s pro bono committee, said the new rule encourages those who already perform pro bono work by offering them a reward. And it incentivizes lawyers who don’t do pro bono work to start.”  (The Times-Picayune)

March 18, 2015 - “A settlement between five New York counties and the state over the handling of public defender services was finalized Monday in state Supreme Court, and state officials are now on the clock to enact major changes.  Under the agreement, the state will adopt major reforms in Ontario, Onondaga, Schuyler, Suffolk and Washington counties, which were chosen because their public defense systems are run differently and have diverse communities of different sizes.”  ”The settlement of the case, Hurrell-Harring vs. New York, requires the counties to hire a sufficient number of lawyers, investigators and support staff to ensure that criminal defendants who cannot afford attorneys receive legal representation and mandate that every qualifying criminal defendant will be guaranteed a lawyer at the first court appearance. The state must also spend $4 million over the next two years to increase attorney communications with lower-income criminal defendants and to advertise its services, as well as increase training.”  (Register-Star)

March 18, 2015 - “The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a Statement of Interest in a suit against the state and the Cordele Judicial Circuit, which claims some children in the circuit’s four south Georgia counties aren’t receiving adequate representations in juvenile court.  The 20-page statement doesn’t weigh in on the merits of the suit’s claims. Rather, it outlines the kind of defense juveniles are entitled to under the law. The letter concludes that if the allegations of inadequate representation are true, then the court should hold that ‘juveniles’ constitutional rights are being violated.’”  (WABE)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Boston University School of Law.  Fifty-two BU Law students are spending their spring breaks providing assistance to low-income clients involving legal issues ranging from asylum to housing. Groups of one to six students are traveling to 12 different cities across the US, while a dozen students are staying local to serve in the Boston community, as part of BU Law’s Pro Bono Spring Break Service Trips.  Under the supervision of BU Law faculty, staff, or alumni, the students will work at 20 different nonprofit organizations to advocate for the legal rights of economically disadvantaged individuals. They will gain valuable experience working with real clients, learning about their host organizations, and conducting legal research. And by the end of the week, they will have had the chance to make a tangible impact on the communities they are serving.  What a great opportunity to give back!  (BU School of Law)

Super Music Bonus!   

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 13, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  We continue featuring spring break pro bono trips.  If you’d like to be featured, send us the information.  We are very excited about all the great work being done!!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Texas Indigent Defense Commission honors law school/counties;
  • Public Service Venture fund awards two seed grants;
  • Pro Bono legal program awarded Toledo (Ohio) SOUP funds;
  • Government plans overhaul of USAJobs;
  • Louisiana hackathon promotes access to lawyers;
  • New British Columbia online tribunal could resolve some legal matters;
  • DC Bar Foundation awards $3.8 mil to fund civil legal services for the poor;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 6, 2015 - “The Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC) honored the Texas Tech University School of Law, along with Lubbock and Dickens counties, for their work in improving indigent defense throughout the state.  Specifically, the School of Law and Dickens County were presented the Gideon Award for their work in creating the Caprock Regional Public Defender Office (CRPDO). That office provides indigent defense representation to more than 16 rural counties on the South Plains that is more cost effective for communities that have a lack of access to local attorneys who will accept court appointments.”  (Everything Lubbock)

March 6, 2015 – “Two recent Harvard Law School graduates, Shannon Erwin ’10 and Alana Greer ’11, 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.  The Public Service Venture Fund, a first-of-its kind program at a law school, was launched in 2012 to invite law students and recent alumni to identify unmet legal needs and develop new initiatives to meet them.”  (Harvard Law Today)

March 9, 2015 - A group of female attorneys who volunteer their time with Sisters in Law (a new initiative at Mom’s House) providing legal advocacy and mentorship to young moms walked away March 8 with the most money raised yet at a Toledo SOUP event.  ”Founded 21 years ago, Mom’s House is a Toledo nonprofit that assists mothers aged 13-24 while they raise their children. There are currently 13 mothers enrolled in the program — full capacity — with more on the waiting list, said Executive Director Christina Rodriquez.  Sisters in Law was established a few months ago by Toledo attorney Gretchen DeBacker after her friend Rodriquez called on her several times to help mothers in the program with legal issues.”    (Toledo Free Press)

March 9, 2015 - “Federal officials on Monday announced plans to reshape government hiring and employee engagement efforts — including an overhaul of the troubled job announcement site USAJOBS — saying the changes were ‘a long time coming.’”  ”OPM is referring to the initiative as “REDI” (recruitment, engagement, diversity and inclusion), and it includes new programs as well as ongoing efforts.”   The first changes are expected in May, after which “OPM will roll out new developments to the website every 12 weeks. A final overhaul of the website, which could include an entirely new design or changes to the current one, will become public in early 2016.”   (Government Executive)

March 10, 2015 - “The Louisiana State Bar Association is partnering with the American Bar Association to host a hackathon to promote access to justice during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.  The event will attract entrepreneurs, coders and developers who will compete to create the best hacks to improve access to the civil justice system for Louisiana residents who cannot afford lawyers.  The hackathon will be held at Loyola University College of Law on March 21 and 22.”  (New Orleans City Business)

March 10, 2015 - “Bitter fights between condo owners and their strata corporations over fees, parking stalls, pets and other matters could soon be forced into arbitration rather than through the courts.  Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said new legislation Tuesday would make it mandatory for strata property disputes, as well as small claims lawsuits worth less than $10,000, to go through a new government civil resolution tribunal website.”  ”The new civil tribunal’s website should go online later this year, said Anton. People can access it, file complaints and update their case material from a computer at any time of day.  Currently, a strata dispute that can’t be resolved through arbitration ends up either in small claims court or B.C. Supreme Court — depending on the matter — where legal fees can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars.  The new tribunal’s goal is for people to proceed through the Internet resolution process within 60 days, at a cost of around $200, said Shannon Salter, chairwoman of the Civil Resolution Tribunal.” (The Vancouver Sun)

March 11, 2015 - “The DC Bar Foundation today announced the FY15 recipients of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grant Program, which awards grants to nonprofit legal services organizations that provide direct civil legal services to low-income DC residents. A total of $3,865,000 was awarded to 24 projects, of which five are new projects.  Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services (OVS), the ATJ Grant Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal services interpreter bank. The Foundation awarded 19 grants in the underserved areas category, totaling $2,555,000; four grants in the housing-related matters category, totaling $1,040,000; and one grant to the shared legal services interpreter bank, totaling $270,000.”  (DC Bar Foundation)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law tackles 5 specialized areas of pro bono representation this week during their Alternative Spring Break 2015.  Students will work on pro se divorce, advanced directives, civil rights restoration, DACA, and LGBT Equality legislation.  Read more about their great work!!

Super Music Bonus!   I’m trying to encourage Spring with a little Vivaldi.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 6, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  Welcome to March and spring break season.  This month we’re going to feature spring break pro bono trips.  If you’d like to be featured, send us the information.  We are looking forward to all the great work that will be done this month!!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • MacArthur Foundation awards $400,00 to legal incubator;
  • Legal Aid Ontario extending services to Tilbury;
  • Montana counties receive DOJ domestic abuse grant;
  • Georgia lawmakers back away from indigent defense changes;
  • Louisiana Public Defender cuts set to take effect April 1;
  • Virginia General Assembly includes law clinic in budget;
  • Oregon governor signs legal aid class action bill;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 26, 2015 - “The MacArthur Foundation is awarding a two-year, $400,000 grant to a Chicago pilot program that connects lawyers hanging out their shingles to clients who need low-cost legal services.  The grant to the Chicago Bar Foundation will support the group’s Justice Entrepreneurs Project, which launched in 2013. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation program officer Jeff Ubois said in a press statement that the project shows ‘great potential to develop replicable, market-based models’ to address the needs of low- and moderate-income people who don’t qualify for free legal aid but are priced out of the open market.  ’This gives us a really big endorsement from someone who’s in the business of looking for promising models,’ said Bob Glaves, executive director for the Chicago Bar Foundation, the charity arm of the city’s bar association.”  (Chicago Business)

February 26, 2015 - “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has recognized transportation is a challenge for some residents of this Chatham-Kent community.  That’s about to change.  ’LAO’s mandate is to provide assistance to low-income people and what we found through our experience is a lot of these individuals in our outlying communities, such as Tilbury, have a lot of problems accessing services in Chatham due to lack of transportation,’ Rocio Alvarez, staff lawyer at LAO’s Chatham Family Law Service Centre told The Daily News Thursday.  So Alvarez will make the drive from Chatham to Tilbury to reach those individuals in need through a new family law advice clinic held locally once a month.  ’The intention is that it’s a walk-in clinic, but we also will be taking appointments through our family law service office in Chatham,’ Alvarez said.  People can receive legal advice on issues such as separation, divorce, child custody, access, child and spousal support and Children’s Aid Society matters.”  (Chatham Daily News)

March 2, 2015 - “A three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow two western Montana counties to expand their domestic abuse and sexual violence programs, and help prosecute the offenders.  Missoula County signed a memorandum of understanding last week with nearly a dozen partners and hopes to receive the $750,000 grant this fall from the Office on Violence Against Women.”  ”As proposed, the new grant would fund a crime-victim advocate in Mineral County to work with local prosecutors. It would also fund a part-time investigator, marking the first time the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department would have an investigator on staff who specializes in sexual and domestic abuse.”  (Missoulian)

March 3, 2015 - “Georgia lawmakers have backed away from a proposal that would have removed requirements governing public defense, a move that had sparked backlash from attorneys groups in the state.”  ”Under an amended bill introduced in a House committee late last week, though, that language would have been stripped out. It also would have changed the name of the state agency that oversees the system from the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council to the Georgia Public Defenders Council. The changes to the public defender provisions, tied to a criminal justice reform bill, prompted strong opposition from the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  But just before a the committee was set to vote on the bill Monday afternoon, sponsor Republican Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, restored the public defense requirements currently in place.”  ”With the changes, the bill passed out of committee with a unanimous vote.  It now moves on to the House floor. “ (WABE)

March 3, 2015 - “Cuts to Louisiana’s Public Defender Offices are set to take place on April 1.”  ”Back in October, Alan Golden the head of that department in Caddo Parish, announced the program was going broke and would soon require cuts.  ’We have to make personnel cuts,’ said Golden. Tuesday, those cuts were announced as an initiative to help offset a projected $700,000 shortfall for next year.”  (KLSA News)

March 3, 2015 - “The Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at William & Mary Law School is slated to receive $245,000 in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia in FY2015/16 through the state budget passed by the Virginia General Assembly last week. This legislation is now before Governor McAuliffe for his approval.  William & Mary Law School’s Puller Clinic provides free legal representation to injured veterans seeking disability benefits from the Veterans Administration.  Since its founding in 2008, the Puller Clinic has represented more than 100 veterans with their disability claims – all of whom suffered an injury or illness as a result of their military service.  Almost all of them are Virginia residents.  ‘We are enormously grateful that the General Assembly has made this important investment in the Commonwealth’s wounded warriors who served our nation,’ said Davison M. Douglas, dean of William & Mary Law School.”  (William and Mary Law School)

March 4, 2015 – “Kate Brown on Wednesday signed the first bill of her young tenure as Oregon’s governor, waiting a little more than a day to approve controversial legislation redirecting unclaimed class-action damage awards to the state’s legal aid fund.  Under House Bill 2700, that money will now be used by the Oregon State Bar to help low-income Oregonians obtain free counsel in housing, family law, public benefits and other noncriminal cases. State law had otherwise allowed companies that were sued to keep whatever money was unclaimed.”  (Oregon Live)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law Alternative Spring Break.  UT Pro Bono is proud to support an Alternative Spring Break program. Each year, during Spring Break, students choose to serve at various locations across the country.  We’re looking forward to hearing about the great work they will do this year.  (UT Law Pro Bono)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/iKuxM1Lt4y0

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 27, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • York County, Pennsylvania gives $50k to civil law fund for low-income residents;
  • Tennessee funding law could mean changes for prosecutors/defenders;
  • Funded Justice allows people to crowdsource funds for an attorney;
  • University of Michigan Law School working with University of Brazil to create human trafficking clinic;
  • Grant helps more veterans get assistance in Florida;
  • Settlement reached in MFY Legal Services strike;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 20, 2015 – “A new initiative by the York County Bar Association received a funding boost Wednesday when the county commissioners agreed to contribute $50,000 toward its program to help low-income residents involved in civil litigation.  There are more than 50,000 county residents who qualify for civil legal services, but there are only four full-time attorneys employed by Mid-Penn Legal Services who provide such assistance in the county, said Victoria Connor, CEO of the bar association.  The bar association is providing a 2-to-1 match — or $100,000 — to the county’s contribution because it’s such a ‘critical area of need,’ said Steve Feldman, president of the bar foundation’s board of directors. The foundation is the charitable arm of the bar association.”  (York Dispatch)

February 22, 2015 – “A law meant to ensure Tennessee counties fund their prosecutors and public defenders offices at roughly the same rates is on the legislature’s chopping block, a move touted as long overdue by prosecutors behind the movement but lamented by public defenders as a potentially dangerous blow to justice. Shelby County would see by far the greatest impact from any changes to the 23-year-old law, nicknamed the ’75 Percent Rule,’ which requires Tennessee counties to give public defenders at least 75 percent of whatever funding they give to prosecutors. The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office released a statement Friday strongly condemning House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 1324, saying they ‘would dismantle fiscally sound legislation’ that ‘helps ensure fairness’ in an adversarial justice system.”  (The Daily Herald)

February 23, 2015 – “Chicago attorney Michael Helfand noticed a fundamental problem in American courtrooms: the average American can’t afford proper legal representation.  Determined to address this disparity, Helfand founded Funded Justice, a crowdfunding platform for people struggling to pay attorney fees. Targeting people who don’t qualify for government-subsidized legal support but can’t afford to pay out of pocket for a private attorney, Funded Justice allows users to call on friends, acquaintances, and strangers for financial contributions.”  While in the very early stages, this is a trend to watch.  (Built In Chicago)

February 24, 2015 – “The University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic is working with a university in Brazil to create a similar legal clinic there in which law students will represent people who have been forced into slave labor in South America’s largest country.  U-M and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais-UFMG School of Law have developed a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for the creation of the new clinic, which will begin operating on March 2, 2015.  ‘Unfortunately, Brazil is a source, a destination, and a transit point for men, women, and children subjected to human trafficking and slave labor,’ said Carlos Henrique Haddad, a federal judge in Brazil and a member of the law faculty at UFMG. ‘I think the new clinic will help victims of slave labor in Brazil, and also that this is our opportunity to collaborate on international and cross-border cases.’”  (Michigan Law press release)

February 24, 2015 – “Thanks to a hefty new grant, a few more Broward County veterans may soon get some needed help.  Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project, which provides free legal assistance to local veterans, recently received a $50,000 grant from the NBCUniversal Foundation.”  “Recently word came that NBCUniversal Foundation’s 21st Century Solutions awarded Legal Aid Service the $50,000 grant in recognition of the service’s ‘new and innovative programs.’”  Legal Aid Service will use the money to hire an additional attorney.  (Sun Sentinel)

February 25, 2015 – “A settlement was reached Tuesday in the 22-day-long strike by attorneys and support staff at MFY Legal Services in New York.  The Legal Services Staff Association, a unit of the United Auto Workers, overwhelmingly ratified the three-year contract.  Union spokesman Brian Sullivan said the contract provides for 40 paid childbirth leave days, along with salary increases of 2.75 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.25 percent in each year.  Staff attorney Nahid Soroofhyari, 31, who joined MFY two years ago, said the new contract would bring ‘family friendly’ policies to the organization that will ‘encourage people like me to stay and become better lawyers for our clients.’  MFY Executive Director Jeanette Zelhof said the contract ‘expands on an already generous compensation package, and gives MFY administrative changes that we need to run our nonprofit more efficiently’ and will ‘allow MFY to continue to expand much needed legal services to underserved communities.’”  (New York Law Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Deborah Templer, a commercial litigation partner in the Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP Toronto office, has been named the winner of the Canadian Bar Association’s 2015 Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award. “Deborah is an outstanding lawyer with a steadfast commitment to access to justice,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chair and CEO. “Pro bono legal service forms an essential part of both her practice and her contributions to our firm and profession. We’re tremendously proud of Deborah, and are delighted to see her efforts recognized through this prestigious award.”

A long-time supporter of Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO), Templer was behind the formation of a unique partnership between Gowlings and PBLO to launch a medical-legal clinic at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Under her leadership, Gowlings has delivered free legal advice and information sessions to over 100 low- and moderate-income families on tax, employment, insurance, and estate matters.  Congratulations and well-deserved!  (Gowlings press release)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/KnIozPJWTPM

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 20, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Corporations help pay legal aid costs in Connecticut;
  • No new money for legal aid in British Columbia;
  • Oklahoma Senate panel passes measure to fund civil legal services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 15, 2015 – “Some of the world’s largest companies have chipped in to help provide free legal help to poor people across Connecticut in what’s billed as the first program of its kind in the country.   Connecticut-based mega corporations General Electric, United Technologies and Xerox, along with several other companies, have teamed up with the state’s three legal aid organizations to start LawyerCorps Connecticut. The program will pay the salaries and benefits of young attorneys dubbed ‘fellows’ who will work with the legal aid groups to represent several hundred clients a year in civil and family courts.”  “LawyerCorps was conceived about two years ago by Connecticut Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and is based on [Teach for America], which recruits and trains teachers to educate students in low-income areas.”  “LawyerCorps is now reviewing applications from dozens of young or future lawyers and plans to hire three — one for each legal aid organization in the state — who will begin working by September.”  (New Haven Register)

February 18, 2015 – “The budget announced this week by the British Columbia government has more money for police, for courthouse renovations, and a new correctional facility. Despite a projected budget surplus of nearly $900 million, there is no new funding for legal aid services in the province.  Legal organizations in B.C. that have been outspoken about what they say is the chronic underfunding of legal aid, expressed disappointment over the budget, which also included a tax cut for people earning over $150,000 annually. ‘This is 25 years with no new funding,’ says Birgit Eder, a defence lawyer and co-chairperson of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee.  The Canadian Bar Association-British Columbia chapter also expressed its concerns about the budget.  ‘This is a big part of the access-to-justice problem,’ says Alex Shorten, a Vancouver lawyer and president of the CBA-BC. ‘There needs to be more money for legal services for the most vulnerable in the province.’”  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

February 19, 2015 – “A Senate panel passed a measure Wednesday to fund legal services in civil cases for low-income people.  Senate Bill 459, now moves to the full Senate for consideration after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure diverts 65 cents of a $2 filing fee on civil cases to the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission from the Council on Judicial Complaints. The remainder would stay with the Council on Judicial Complaints. The diversion is expected to generate $178,000.The Oklahoma Supreme Court created the seven-member Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission last March, said Vice Chief Justice Douglas L. Combs, who appeared before the panel to answer questions. The commission was created to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Oklahomans, Combs said. It coordinates with groups that currently offer legal civil services to low-income individuals, Combs said.”  (Tulsa World)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

Jan R. Jurden became the first female president of the Delaware Superior Court when she was sworn in on Monday afternoon.  The oath was administered to Jurden by Susan Del Pesco, the state’s first female Superior Court judge, in front of a packed courtroom in the New Castle County Courthouse.  Jurden, who has been on the bench since May 2001, will fill the vacancy left by Justice James Vaughn Jr.  Congratulations President Judge Jurden!  (Delaware Online)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/f_rt9bZhrF8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 13, 2015

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

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day weekend. There’s a lot of public interest love this week in the news.  Enjoy!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • EEOC joins federal partners to produce resource guide on disability hiring for employers;
  • Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid raise more than $1 mil;
  • Mobile legal aid office to help homeless youth;
  • NYLAG head resigns amid allegations of financial wrongdoing;
  • New Jersey State Bar begins efforts to lower legal services costs for middle class;
  • Madison, Wisconsin non-profits uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented;
  • Idaho panel tries to ease load of public defenders;
  • Chicago legal aid names new Executive Director;
  • Idaho Appellate Defender seeks to close wage disparity;
  • Hogan Lovells introduces mandatory community service requirements for all employees;
  • LA School Board oks attorneys to offer free legal aid to students at risk of deportation;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 6, 2015 – “On Tuesday, Feb. 3, at a Summit on Disability and Employment, the White House announced a new guide for employers that compiles key federal and federally funded resources related to the employment of people with disabilities. The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format.  The guide was produced by the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative — a federal interagency effort working to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for people with disabilities. “  The guide is a central repository of information and resources to increase employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities.  (JD Supra Business Advisor)

February 8, 2015 – “The Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas set a record this year, raising $1,100,415 in their Equal Access to Justice Campaign. The fundraiser supports the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, which offers free legal assistance to more than 4,000 low-income families each year. The campaign raises money from Dallas lawyers to fund pro bono legal services for the poor.”  (The Dallas Morning News)

February 8, 2015 – “A new legal aid office on wheels will hit the road this month and begin reaching scores of youngsters who are homeless or in danger of landing in the streets, advocates said.  ‘Most of the youths who are moving around and experiencing some level of homelessness don’t know they have legal rights,’ said Stacey Violante Cote, a lawyer who directs the Teen Legal Advocacy Project for the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford.  This new endeavor of ours is to literally use a vehicle to reach out to this population.’”  “The project is believed to be the second of its kind in the country, said Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, which secured about $50,000 worth of grants and donations to buy the van and get it retrofitted. The first such mobile legal clinic focused on youth homelessness is in Chicago, she said.  ‘It’s bringing legal services to where the kids are,’ Stone said, ‘because the kids aren’t going to come to us.’”  (Hartford Courant)

February 8, 2015 - The head of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) stepped down amid a federal investigation into his alleged “accounting irregularities.”  “We are confident the matter involving our former CEO will not interfere with the important legal services our dedicated team provides New Yorkers on a daily basis,” NYLAG spokeswoman Camilla Jenkins said in a statement.  Yisroel Schulman will be replaced by Beth Goldman, who was appointed as New York City’s commissioner of finance in 2013 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Goldman will start her new position at NYLAG on Feb. 17.  (Jewish News)

February 8, 2015 – “The New Jersey State Bar Association is working on a way to make legal services affordable for the middle class.  The group has begun studying methods to hook up those who can’t afford the traditional retainer for a lawyer with attorneys in their price range.”  The group hopes to replicate the program involving Rutgers Law School.  “A blue ribbon panel that includes a pair of retired state Supreme Court Justices will look to create a commercially-viable model of that program, with elder lawyers supervising younger ones.”  The Bar hopes to present suggestions within 6 months.  (CBS Philly)

February 9, 2015 - Several Madison, Wisconsin nonprofit organizations are uniting to develop free legal clinics for undocumented immigrants who qualify for new immigration programs announced last November.  “The Madison City Council also approved $30,000 in assistance from the city’s contingent reserve last week to go toward the effort.  Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said that funding will go to a half-time staff member at Centro Hispano to coordinate information about the clinic’s hours, train volunteers and get responses from people wanting to go to the clinic.”  (The Cap Times)

February 9, 2015 – “In an effort to cut down on the use of public defenders in Idaho, a legislative panel introduced several bills that would change some misdemeanor charges to lesser infractions.  Republican Rep. Lynn Luker says the bills also try to match an appropriate penalty for the crimes.”  (Times-News)

February 9, 2015 – “The Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS), the second oldest legal aid organization in the nation, has announced that Karina Ayala-Bermejo, Executive Vice President of Human Resources & General Counsel at Metropolitan Family Services, will become Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society (LAS), effective April 1, 2015. Ayala-Bermejo also will continue to serve as Metropolitan’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President.”  LAS is part of Metropolitan Family Services, which has been empowering Chicago-area families to reach their greatest potential and positively impact their communities since 1857.  (Chicago Tribune)

February 10, 2015 – “Idaho’s appellate public defenders make nearly $16,000 less than the state’s Attorney General’s deputies, who often represent the other side while arguing the same case in court.  State Appellate Public Defender Sara Thomas asked legislative budget writers Tuesday for an additional $91,900 in fiscal year 2016 to raise salaries for her appellate public defenders.  Thomas says the amount still falls short compared to how much private attorneys charge. However, the income boost would close the disparity gap between her office and the lowest-paid counterpart in the Attorney General’s office.  State appellate public defenders currently make an average of roughly $56,000 a year. The average Attorney General deputy in the appellate unit makes more than $71,000.”  (KHQ)

February 11, 2015 – “Hogan Lovells has put in place a new broad-reaching policy that will require each of the firm’s more than 5,000 employees in about 25 countries to devote 25 hours per year to community service.  Employees will be able to count the 25 hours as part of their workday, according to Hogan Lovells CEO Stephen Immelt, with the expectation that the approximately 2,500 lawyers who work at the firm will spend their time on pro bono legal services.  While mandatory or highly encouraged pro bono work at Am Law 100 firms is hardly unique, Hogan Lovells’ requirement that nonlawyers participate appears to be the first of its kind. Another ambitious component of the policy is that it applies equally to employees in the firm’s offices outside the United States.”  (American Lawyer)

February 11, 2015 – “Staff attorneys with the Los Angeles Unified School District will be allowed to voluntarily provide free legal services to unaccompanied minors who live within the district and are facing the threat of deportation.”  “Under the program announced last month, 10 LAUSD attorneys will be expected to take on individual cases for an average of one to three hours a week. They will make up their work hours by working late or on weekends, according to the district.”  (CBS Los Angeles)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: 

A Hall County public defender will receive an award Tuesday for work in community service.  Public defender Nicki Vaughan is the recipient of the 16th Annual Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.  The award, which is presented by the State Bar of Georgia, honors members of the bar who “have made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrate the positive contributions of members of the Bar beyond their legal or official work,” according to a news release.  Vaughan is one of the co-founders of Georgia CASA, a group of court-appointed special advocates who assist children in foster care.  She is one of 10 recipients.  Congratulations!  (GainesvilleTimes.com)

Super Music Bonus!  http://youtu.be/pB-5XG-DbAA

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