Archive for Public Interest Law News Bulletin

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 22, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  I hope you all enjoy a restful Memorial Day weekend!  And take a moment to remember those we lost in service to our country.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • More funding for legal aid tops docket of justice issues for incoming Alberta government;
  • Kiosks could help Floridians get access to the legal system;
  • El Paso County (Texas) chief public defender seeks grant to increase staff;
  • This is the moment for clinics;
  • University of Akron School of Law SEED clinic receives Small Business Administration award;
  • Law firm donation supports Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance with $250,000 donation;
  • Nearly one quarter of 2015 Presidential Management Fellowship Finalists are veterans;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 14, 2015 - “More funding for the province’s legal aid program tops the docket of justice issues facing the incoming NDP government.  Funding for Legal Aid Alberta, the non-profit agency that provides subsidized lawyers for low-income clients, has been a long-standing source of friction between the outgoing Progressive Conservative government and groups representing the legal profession. Officials at Legal Aid Alberta, which operates at an arm’s length from the government, have predicted the organization could face a $15 million deficit in the coming years without stable long-term funding.” (Calgary Herald)

May 15, 2015 - “People needing help with divorces, foreclosures or child support could use public computers at libraries, shopping malls or courthouses as a type of legal ‘triage’ under a proposal approved Friday by the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice. Also, non-lawyers could provide courtroom assistance to poor and middle-income people under another idea considered by the panel, the brainchild of Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.”  ”‘The statewide portal will be a software-based access point that would be in libraries, courthouses, shopping malls that would be the point at which a person with a legal problem could go find someone to solve their problem, or even get forms or education to find out how to do it themselves,’ said commission member William Van Nortwick, a Jacksonville lawyer and former appellate judge. Individuals could access the portal through kiosks, public libraries or public computers in courthouses by the end of the year in certain areas, Van Nortwick said.”  (CBS Miami)

May 18, 2015 - “The county’s chief public defender is seeking a $1.2 million grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to hire additional lawyers who are needed to handle an increasing case load. On Monday the El Paso County Commissioners authorized the county’s chief public defender Jaime Gandara to submit an application for the grant. The state commission will make a decision on June 4.  ’I'm getting more cases and need more lawyers in order to do a good job in representing our clients,’ he said to the commissioners. The grant will help hire eight lawyers, four office staffers, one investigator and one social worker, Gandara said.”  (El Paso Times)

May 18, 2015 - The National Law Journal has a good piece on law school clinics and provides some great examples of innovative approaches.  ”Law school clinics are having a moment. They have become an increasingly important part of the law school curriculum during the past five years, as schools faced pressure to provide students with practical, hands-on experience. In this special report, we highlight six law school clinics taking new approaches to student learning, breaking into new areas of the law or that have impressive track records of success.”  (National Law Journal)

May 19, 2015 - “As many small businesses owners know, it only takes a small seed to grow into a successful enterprise. On May 7, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland District office presented its 2015 Legal Services Champion award to the Small Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Legal Clinic at The University of Akron School of Law. The SEED Legal clinic provides low-cost legal assistance to emerging businesses in Northeastern Ohio. The clinic, in turn, provides law students the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience. ‘This is the first time we are honoring a member of the legal profession during small business week,’ said Gil Goldberg, district director of the Cleveland district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA recognizes small businesses and other organizations that create jobs, lift local economies, and give back charitably to the communities where they live and work.”  (Akron Legal News)

May 21, 2015 - “Gori Julian & Associates believes in supporting local organizations and making a difference in their community. Recently, the Edwardsville-based law firm donated $250,000 to the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that provides free civil legal services to low-income persons and senior citizens in 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation handles civil cases and provides services ranging from telephone advice or brief service, to representation in court or at administrative hearings. The type of services provided depends on the legal issues, case merits and staff availability. Randy Gori, one of the founding attorneys at Gori Julian & Associates, said ‘Our commitment to those in need is one of the pillars of Gori Julian & Associates so we are happy to support an organization such as Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation because their work benefits so many lives.’”  (River Bender)

May 21, 2015 – “The latest crop of Presidential Management Fellow finalists includes 131 candidates who identified themselves as service veterans, slightly more than last year, according to statistics from the Office of Personnel Management. The 2015 class of PMF finalists totals 600, with 508 traditional finalists and 92 candidates focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. OPM announced the group on March 26, and the finalists have until March 26, 2016, to land a two-year appointment. As of May 21, twenty finalists already have received appointments.”  (Government Executive)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Charles W. Bone

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm, has awarded the first ever Gallatin Community Award to Charles W. Bone, founder and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC. The award was announced Tuesday evening during a reception at the Gallatin Public Library. Members of Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin office – which serves Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties – selected Bone as Legal Aid Society’s first community award recipient because he has championed the non-profit law firm in the community and his firm has been a financial and pro bono supporter to Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin office and its Nashville office.  Thank you for your commitment to pro bono and support of legal aid.  Read more about Mr. Bone here.

Super Music Bonus!  https://youtu.be/d1VZNtlyEII

Comments

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 15, 2015

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

Happy Friday!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • St. Louis law firm gives $250,000 to legal aid;
  • New York State Bar Association honors pro bono service;
  • San Francisco unveils $10 million funding for services to immigrants;
  • Lawyers with lower pay report more happiness;
  • New Mexico public defender shortfall results in cutting contract attorneys;
  • Colorado pro bono patent program expands;
  • UMass Law Justice Bridge Incubator expands;
  • Legal Aid Ontario signs funding agreement with Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC);
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 7, 2015 - “In keeping with the true spirit of #giveSTLday, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) celebrated an individual who represents the best of St. Louis philanthropy, John Simon and the Simon Law Firm, P.C., who made an unrestricted gift of $250,000 gift to the organization earlier this year.”  ”Held on May 5, #giveSTLday is an online fundraising initiative from the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation which encourages everyone in the community to come together for one special day to support St. Louis non-profits. LSEM was one of 790 non-profit organizations that participated in  #giveSTLday across 14 counties in the St. Louis region. More than $2 million was raised in just a 24-hour period. LSEM raised more than $5,000 through this effort and those funds will help the non-profit agency provide civil legal assistance to more than 16,000 low-income clients and their families this year.”  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

May 7, 2015 – “President Glenn Lau-Kee (Kee & Lau-Kee) and President-elect David P. Miranda (Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti), co-chair of the President’s Committee on Access to Justice, recognized twenty honorees during a luncheon at the State Bar Center. ‘Attorneys in New York have a long and distinguished tradition of helping the disadvantaged,’ said Lau-Kee. ‘Their selfless commitment to increasing access to justice for New Yorkers provides us with inspiring examples of what is possible and helps raise public awareness about the importance of access to justice for all — not just for those who can afford it.’ In addition to honoring attorneys representing 12 of New York’s 13 judicial districts, the awards were given to a lawyer under age 36 or practicing less than 10 years, a senior lawyer, law school group, law student, in-house counsel, small firm, mid-size firm and large firm.”  Read the full list here.  (Read Media)

May 7, 2015 – “San Francisco City Hall announced the allocation of $10 million over two years for assistance to the city’s immigrant community, including additional legal services, financial education, a new labor center for immigrants and other support services. The funding is aimed at strengthening citywide efforts including San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative, the DreamSF Initiative and the implementation of President Barack Obama’s Administrative Relief to help undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows.”  (Inquirer.net)

May 12, 2015 - Let me say that again.  Lawyers with the lowest pay report more happiness.  This New York Times article discusses something we already know – when you like what you do, you’re happier.  And public interest lawyers tend to love what they do.  ”Researchers who surveyed 6,200 lawyers about their jobs and health found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost zero correlation with happiness and well-being. However, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money, like public defenders or Legal Aid attorneys, were most likely to report being happy. Lawyers in public-service jobs also drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers. And, despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups reported about equal overall satisfaction with their lives.”  Read the full story for more analysis and ways to help students find what they love.  (The New York Times)

May 12, 2015 - “Chief Public Defender Jorge Alvarado sent a letter to chief judges statewide saying the predicted budget crisis had materialized for his office, resulting in a decision to stop providing contract defenders for indigent defendants who aren’t jailed because there’s no money to pay them. Contract defenders typically are hired when there is more than one defendant in a case, or in rural areas such as Lincoln or Cibola counties, where the Law Office of the Public Defender doesn’t have staff. The move could lead to a lawsuit – something that could be decided as soon as Wednesday, when the New Mexico Public Defender Commission has a special meeting in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico School of Law. ‘The commission is considering all options, including litigation, but no decisions have been made about how to proceed,’ said commission Chairman Michael Stout. ‘We do know we have inadequate funding, and we have to address it in some forum or another.’”  (Albuquerque Journal)

May 12, 2015 - “The Pro Bono Patent Program is an initiative led by Mi Casa Resource Center and the Colorado Bar Association Intellectual Property Section.  It pairs low-income inventors with patent professionals. Since its launch, 67 inventors have begun the application process and two were able to get their ideas patented. On Tuesday, the reach of the program grew. Mi Casa, the Colorado Bar Association and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the extension of the program — or ProBoPat — to the states of New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. ‘By providing the opportunity for under-resourced inventors to obtain patent counsel to assist in the filing and prosecution of their patent application, that is a way to promote both fairness for all and solid economic growth right here in the local community,’ said Robin Evans, interim director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Denver Satellite Office, which opened in June. With the regional expansion announced Tuesday, the ProBoPat program now is in 49 states, Evans said.”  (The Denver Post)

May 13, 2014 – “An innovative program at UMass Law is expanding thanks to a three-year $225,000 grant from Bristol County Savings Bank, according to a UMass Dartmouth news release. The Justice Bridge law practice incubator started in Boston nine months ago is going to be expanded to Taunton and New Bedford.”  The Boston office of Justice Bridge, that opened last August hired nine lawyers, mostly graduates of UMass Law, and processed more than 500 client matters. The New Bedford office has hired eight attorneys, mostly UMass Law graduates, and will host an open house later this spring. Some of those attorneys will spend eight hours a week at a Taunton office as well, according to the release.  (South Coast Today)

May 14, 2015 - “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will provide the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) with $100,000 over two years to provide post-conviction legal services and education. Over the years, LAO has both directly and indirectly supported the goals and aims of AIDWYC and the legal needs of its clients.  This pilot project will continue LAO’s relationship with AIDWYC by funding some of AIDWYC’s expenses related to reviewing claims of innocence, such as forensic expert opinions and private investigations. AIDWYC will continue to conduct case reviews on a pro bono basis, with the help of volunteer lawyers. Seventy per cent of the LAO funds will go towards the case review process and 30 per cent towards legal education about wrongful conviction. This agreement aims to recognize and correct wrongful convictions, by providing greater access to legal services after conviction.” (CNW)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Benjamin Evans, Fall River supervising attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services. The Massachusetts Bar Association honored Benjamin Evans, a Fall River public defender, with its Access to Justice Defender Award.  In a press release, the Massachusetts Bar Association said Evans’ priority, when assigned to represent an indigent defendant, is to let the client know that someone is in their corner. For some defendants whom Evans represents, that is a first for them, the MBA said.  Read more about Mr. Evans’ great work for his clients here.

Super Music Bonus!   https://youtu.be/hLQl3WQQoQ0

Comments

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 8, 2015

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

Happy Friday and hello from sunny Austin, TX!  Here at the ABA/NLADA 2015 Equal Justice Conference, we’ve come together to discuss issues such as delivery of legal services to the poor and low income individuals in need of legal assistance.  How can you help?  Check out the pro bono opportunities in your area!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Stetson law students honored for pro bono service;
  • 2015 Gary Bellow Public Service Award recipients honored;
  • Denver law firm donates to both Colorado law schools to create more experiential learning opportunities;
  • New York Office of Court Administration adopts changes to pro bono reporting;
  • Louisiana State Bar honors law student for pro bono service;
  • Wisconsin panel approves hiring 35 more public defenders;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 29, 2015 - “Stetson University College of Law student Rebecca Watts won the Law Student Pro Bono Award and students Tamara Major and Kelly Green received honorable mention from Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit for their commitment to creating pro bono service opportunities for students at Stetson.  Watts was nominated by the Community Law Program for her extraordinary pro bono service.” (PR Web)

April 30, 2015 - “On April 20, Harvard Law School honored two members of its community—Donna Harati ’15 and Laura Maslow-Armand ’92—with the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, established in 2001 to recognize commitment to public interest work.  The annual award, which is entirely student-run, honors one student and one graduate whose commitment to social justice ‘makes us proud to be members of the law school community,’ said Colin Ross ’16, one of the students announcing the winners at the event. The award was established in memory of the late Gary Bellow ’60, a pioneering attorney specializing in public interest and poverty law, who founded and directed the HLS Clinical Programs.” (Harvard Law Today)

May 1, 2015 - “Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, a Denver law firm with offices in 13 states, donated $500,000 to be split between the University of Colorado Law School and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, officials announced Friday. The $250,000 gifts — the largest gift to CU from a law firm — will be used to create endowed fellowship programs. The experiential learning programs will be designed to provide students with hands-on experiences, officials said. The Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Fellowship private-sector-focused law program at DU is expected to start as early as this fall. CU’s program, which will focus on government, is scheduled to start this summer. ‘We are just delighted that the firm is ‘paying it forward’ in this very impactful fashion, supporting our students gaining valuable experience over the summer and serving the public,’ Phil Weiser, dean of the CU Law School, said in a statement.”  (The Denver Post)

May 4, 2015 - “The Unified Court System has revised its requirements that lawyers report the amounts of time and money they donate to pro bono causes, rules that prompted an at-times bitter fight between Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the New York State Bar Association.  The revisions to the Rules of the Chief Administrator, 22 NYCRR Part 118, mandate that lawyers submit an anonymous statement, made separately from the registration forms filed every two years, in which they report their voluntary pro bono services and contributions. Mandatory reports will concern pro bono as described in Rule 6.1 of the attorney Rules of Professional Conduct.”  Lawyers also may report services and contributions not covered in Rule 6.1, including “unpaid public, community or charitable services such as not-for-profit boards, bar associations or soup kitchens, religious organizations or arts groups, as well as financial contributions to any charitable cause or enterprise.”  (New York Law Journal)

May 4, 2015 - “Loyola University New Orleans College of Law student Sophia Mire has been chosen to receive the 2015 Louisiana State Bar Association’s Law Student Pro Bono Award. The award is given annually in Louisiana to a student from an American Bar Association-accredited law school who has demonstrated dedication to providing legal services to the poor. Mire was nominated by Davida Finger, associate clinical professor in the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice.” (University Newsroom)

May 5, 2015 - “The Wisconsin Legislature’s budget-writing committee has voted to pay for hiring 35 additional assistant public defenders.  The Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to go along with Gov. Scott Walker’s recommendation to pay for the additional attorneys.  The move would actually save the state about $41,000 over two years because fewer private attorneys would have to be hired to represent defendants.”  (NBC 15)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund.  She was recently honored by the Education Law Center in New Jersey for her tireless work on behalf of  children. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Ms. Edelman began her career as an advocate for the disenfranchised in the 1960s. As the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson. In 1968, she moved toWashington, D.C., to work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as counsel to the Poor People’s Campaign. She later founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm, and served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University. In 1973, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund. As president of the CDF, Marian Wright Edelman has proved to be one of the most effective advocates for disadvantaged children and families not only of our time, but in American history. The CDF’s “Leave No Child Behind” mission is to ensure that every child gets a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life, and a successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.  Read more about her amazing work here.

Super Music Bonus!   https://youtu.be/nELvER8QzaI?list=PLXs_3rGeYdIlgb9F7aq63P_XK3PLRvAD5

Comments

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 1, 2015

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

Happy Friday!  We’re back from a great week of learning and connecting in Chicago.  I hope everyone enjoyed their time at the Annual Education Conference – we certainly did!

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Settlement reached in Georgia indigent defense system case;
  • Albany Law School opens immigration clinic;
  • Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center receives grant to expand immigration clinic;
  • University of Chicago Law School receives gift for environmental clinic;
  • New York AG partnering with law schools to help technology start-ups;
  • Legal Aid Ontario tightens rules for refugee cases;
  • Wisconsin State Bar supports CLE credit for pro bono work;
  • New student legal aid clinic opening in Thunder Bay;
  • Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County adopts new online arbitration system;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 21, 2015 - “A settlement reached this week will improve legal representation for poor children and adults in a south Georgia judicial circuit, lawyers who filed a lawsuit on their behalf said. Lawyers with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in January 2014 against the four-county Cordele Judicial Circuit and other defendants. Among the problems they cited were juvenile defendants often appearing without a lawyer or represented by lawyers who met with them only briefly, public defenders unable to spend more than a few minutes per adult case, and chronic underfunding and understaffing. The Southern Center says the agreement with the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, its director, the Cordele Circuit public defender and the circuit’s four county governments was filed Monday. If it is approved by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, it will go into effect July 1 and will run for three years.” (Thomasville Times Enterprise)

April 22, 2015 - “Albany Law School has announced that it will launch a new immigration law clinic to provide free legal help for immigrants in cases of domestic violence, protection of minors, deportation, detention and U-Visa applications. ‘Although we are a nation of immigrants, today’s immigration system is in an unprecedented state of disarray,’ Sarah Rogerson, an Albany law professor who will direct the clinic, said in a news release. ‘This new clinic will give our students the opportunity to provide compassionate legal service to people who really need it.’ The clinic will begin taking cases in the fall.” (New York Law Journal)

April 22, 2015 - “Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center announced that its immigration law clinic has received a grant to take on additional cases involving unaccompanied minors. Touro, which has operated its immigration law clinic since last fall, announced on April 1 that it received $100,000 from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, a church congregation that provides funding to outside agencies that address the ‘root of social problems.’ William Brooks, a Touro law professor who directs the school’s program, said the grant would allow the clinic to hire a staff attorney to assist with its growing caseload.”(New York Law Journal)

April 23, 2015 – “A gift made by Jonathan Mills, ’77, as trustee of a charitable trust, will benefit the University of Chicago Law School’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic. To be expended at the discretion of the clinic’s director, the gift provides funds for activities that support the clinic’s mission, which might include obtaining expert consultation, underwriting student travel for site visits and client interactions, and covering other litigation costs.” (University of Chicago Law School News)

April 24, 2015 - “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of  a partnership with local law schools to help start-ups navigate state laws and regulations. By partnering with Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP), the Fordham University School of Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy and the Tech Startup Clinic (CLIP), operated out of Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, Schneiderman hopes to promote regular interaction between government and technology start-ups.” (Capitol Playbook)(ABC News)

April 24, 2015 - “Legal Aid Ontario is tightening its rules for lawyers who take on refugee cases following a scathing report that showed thousands of Hungarian Roma were left high and dry by lawyers who made hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. Andrew Brouwer, senior legal counsel with Immigration and Refugee Law at Legal Aid Ontario, said starting this summer, lawyers who want to handle legal aid refugee cases will have to apply to be authorized to handle those kinds of cases, pass a competency test and meet certain standards and best practices.”  (CBC News)

April 24, 2015 - “The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors supports a petition that would allow Wisconsin attorneys to obtain continuing legal education (CLE) credit for doing pro bono work to foster practical learning and increase pro bono service. The 52-member board unanimously approved a petition developed by the State Bar’s Legal Assistance Committee – in consultation with the CLE Committee – allowing attorneys to claim one CLE credit for every five hours of qualifying pro bono service, up to a maximum of six credits per reporting period.” (State Bar of Wisconsin)

April 27, 2015 – “Lakehead Legal Services is the first legal aid clinic to open its doors at the law school in Thunder Bay, Ont.  Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is just two years old and adding a clinic seems like a natural progression, says Kimberley Gagan, the director of Lakehead Legal Services. This small law school only has 58 students in the 2L stream who have been waiting for the clinic to open since day one. ‘They are very excited and enthusiastic and they are looking forward, I think to the opportunity, for the chance to get their hands on real life files and come to court and represent real people,’ says Gagan.”  (Canadian Lawyer Magazine)

April 28, 2015 – “The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. announces that innovative online arbitration service will soon be made available to its clients. ‘Online arbitration will allow us to streamline our process while at the same time offering a much more cost-effective way to resolve legal issues for the disadvantaged citizens of Palm Beach County,’ said Bob Bertisch, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Florida.”  (PR Web)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Lam Nguyen Ho, founder and Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) in Chicago.  We were pleased to host Lam as the keynote speaker for the NALP Conference Public Interest Luncheon.  He shared his experiences and unique way of lawyering within the community, leaving us uplifted and inspired. As he described to us, he has experienced firsthand the challenges of community lawyering and civil legal services, and was inspired to innovatively confront these challenges through the creation of CALA.

We at NALP were privileged to make a modest donation in recognition of Lam’s contribution to our conference and in support of CALA’s work.  If you’d like to do the same, visit CALA’s website.

Super Music Bonus!   https://youtu.be/CS9OO0S5w2k

 

Comments

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.

 

Comments

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.

Comments

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.

Comments

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

Comments

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!   

Comments

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.

Comments