by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships
Happy Friday everyone! As we start planning Pro Bono Week events, we’re thinking about the great student-run public interest events we’ve seen in the past. If your student group is putting together an event, let us know. We’ll highlight it on the PSJD site and PSJD Blog. We love spreading the word!
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: If you know someone we should honor, drop me a line.
Here are the week’s headlines:
- MI Supreme Court merges indigent defense services;
- NYCLU: New data shows holes in legal aid for poor;
- ID counties want state to run indigent defense system;
- Federal funds to bolster domestic violence programs in NY;
- 2014 Sammies awarded;
- Atlanta Legal Aid Society expanding services by using retirees;
- Drexel Law School launches new legal clinic;
- National pro bono group to aid with access to justice;
- Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Professional Development and Pro Bono staff of University of Connecticut School of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law, and American University Washington College of Law;
- Super Music Bonus!
September 17, 2014 – “The State Appellate Defender Office and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System have been merged by the Michigan Supreme Court. The merger, effective immediately, was requested by the Appellate Defender Commission to promote efficiency and hold down costs.” “Under the court’s merger order, SADO will administer the MAACS.” (Michigan Lawyers Weekly)
September 17, 2014 – “In a new report examining public defenders in five counties, the New York Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday called state efforts to defend the poor in criminal cases an abject failure. NYCLU is scheduled to go to trial next month in Albany in a lawsuit arguing that New York systemically provides inadequate staff and money for constitutionally required defense lawyers. The suit first filed in 2007 seeks defense attorneys at all arraignments, smaller caseloads and better funding with the state taking over the county-based system.” (thedailystar.com)
September 18, 2014 – “County officials in Idaho approved a resolution Wednesday that would give the state the responsibility of managing the system that assigns public defenders to defendants who can’t afford an attorney. Nearly 200 representatives from the state’s 44 counties voted on the proposal at the annual Idaho County Association conference in northern Idaho. The resolution will now go before state lawmakers for approval when they convene in January for the 2015 Legislature.” (MagicValley.com)
September 22, 2014 – “Two Rochester organizations working to end domestic violence are scheduled to receive money from the Department of Justice, according to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport. The Legal Aid Society of Rochester will receive $266,500 and the Rochester Society for the Protection and Care of Children is expected to receive $450,000, according to a news release.” (Democrat & Chronicle)
September 22, 2014 – “On Monday, September 22, the Partnership for Public Service presented eight outstanding public servants with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies). Having earned the reputation as the “Oscars” of public service, the achievements of the 2014 medal recipients range from improving the lives of paralyzed veterans to arguing 125 cases before the Supreme Court to recovering nearly a billion dollars in stolen Medicare funds. The top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, was presented to Rana Hajjeh and a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for leading a global vaccination campaign, the Hib Initiative, which will save the lives of millions of children.” (Partnership for Public Service)
September 22, 2014 – “The Atlanta Legal Aid Society is stepping up its efforts to tap into the retired lawyer community for volunteers to help clients over the phone, thanks to a grant from the federal Legal Services Corp. The LSC has awarded the group $213,000 over two years to fund a lawyer and a coordinator to organize the effort. Atlanta Legal Aid is using its Georgia Senior Legal Hotline as the prototype for legal aid by phone. Last year the hotline fielded 8,400 calls and opened cases for 3,500 people 60 and older.” “The hotline lawyers offer advice, provide necessary forms and undertake limited intervention, calling and emailing government agencies and lawyers for mortgage companies or landlords.” (Daily Report)(free subscription required)
September 22, 2014 – “This fall, Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law launched a new Community Lawyering Clinic at Drexel’s Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, located at 35th and Spring Garden Streets. The clinic provides law students with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience working with real clients, while empowering and serving the neighboring Mantua and Powelton Village communities of West Philadelphia.” “The clinic offers referrals, legal advice and direct representation in matters involving family, consumer protection, property and other legal areas affecting the community as well as training, pro bono programs and workshops on community-wide legal issues.” (DrexelNOW)
September 24, 2014 – “As legal aid budgets are squeezed, more members of the public are looking for pro bono services to help with their legal needs. Into that gap comes the recently formed Pro Bono Canada. Incorporated last fall, Pro Bono Canada is an initiative born out of the five provincial pro bono organizations in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. It will be having it’s coming-out party at the National Pro Bono Conference in Regina this week, which will be for many lawyers their first exposure to the organization.” “The idea of Pro Bono Canada is that we will not be direct program deliverers, but we’ll be helping support the expansion of pro bono,” says Dennis O’Connor, former associate chief justice of Ontario and chairman of organization. (Canadian Lawyer)
Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:
University of Connecticut School of Law’s Dash for a Difference allows participants to get to know Hartford while engaging in service throughout the city. Teams venture into the various neighborhoods of Hartford to take part in service projects benefiting social service and community development agencies. This allows for exposure to a variety of service events including cleaning shelters, feeding the homeless, gardening alongside residents of transitional housing and cleaning up parks and community spaces. In addition, participants learn about the rich cultural aspects of the city. The service project with Hands on Hartford was a voluntary component of the orientation program and was held on Friday, August 22nd.
On August 15, new Texas Tech University School of Law students participated in the final project of New Student Orientation: Community Service/Pro Bono Action. This was the second year new Tech Law students have partnered with various organizations around the city to serve their new neighborhoods and communities. More than 175 students participated at 5 different service locations including food and clothing collections, the arboretum, and local children’s groups. This service comes at the end of a long week of Orientation classes and transition and serves as a hands-on reminder to the new law students that no matter how long or stressful a work week might be, we all have a responsibility to become involved and serve our local communities.
American University Washington College of Law’s IMBY (“In My Back Yard”) Public Service Day is a celebration of everything good in the WCL community and a chance to be part of positive work being done at various organizations all over the District. IMBY sets the tone for the spirit of public service and community involvement that pervades at WCL. For 1Ls, IMBY is a fun way to kick off orientation week, get out and see the city, and meet new classmates in a relaxed environment. For 2Ls, 3Ls, faculty and staff, IMBY is a chance to reconnect with the community and to welcome incoming 1Ls in the spirit of public service.
Super Music Bonus!