Archive for Public Interest Law News Bulletin

PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 9, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  This month we’re talking about service projects.  Do you have a great Law Day program planned?  Let us know!  Today, we feature spring break projects from Denver.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law give back during spring break;
  • Ontario budget allows more people to qualify for legal aid;
  • First Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellow announced;
  • MA adds access to justice question to Bar exam;
  • HUD provides grant to help Brooklyn organizations advocate for affordable housing;
  • BARBRI names first Public Interest Fellow;
  • Grant to John Marshall clinic for foreclosure work;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: San Francisco Public Defender Legal Educational Advocacy Program (LEAP);
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

May 2, 2014 -  From Alexi Freeman, Director, Public Interest & Lecturer/Legal Externships, University of Denver Sturm College of Law -  This year, a number of Denver Law students skipped out on beach and mountain vacations to provide much-needed legal support to a number of different organizations and individuals over spring break.

Alternative Spring Break:  For the fifth year in a row, Sturm College of Law students traveled to El Paso, Texas and Window Rock, Ariz. to take part in the school’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB)program. Six students spent the week volunteering at immigration and civil rights legal clinics in El Paso including the Texas Civil Rights Project and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. Another 4 students ventured to Window Rock, Ariz. where they assisted non-profit organizations providing legal assistance to American Indian tribes, including DNA-People’s Legal Services and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.

The ASB program offers Sturm students a unique opportunity for short-term exposure to a professional legal environment. This is especially helpful for many first-year law students seeking to jump-start their professional development. The trip also is a great way to give back as    students help make legal services more readily available to people of modest means. ASB was developed by students in the Chancellor’s Scholar program.

Tribal Wills Project:  If members of recognized Native American tribes die without a will, the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 requires that all trust property go to the one eldest descendant. For some, this Act has become problematic, as it doesn’t allow for flexibility and personal choice.

Enter the Tribal Wills Project. Initiated by Professor Lucy Marsh and John Roach, the Fiduciary Trust Officer for the Southwest Region of the Department of Interior, the Tribal Wills Project allows Denver Law students to spent their spring break drafting wills, powers of attorneys, and burial instructions for members of two Native American tribes, the Southern Utes and the Ute Mountain Utes. The project is in its second year and the demand for these services has increased. This year, 21 law students traveled either to Durango or Towaoc, Colo., or White Mesa, Utah. Supervised by Prof. Marsh and three attorneys, Molly Barnett, Beth Bryant, and Paul Padilla, all Denver Law grads, the law students served approximately 70 clients. “We ran like a ‘micro firm’ out of these conference rooms,” Ryan Cusick remarked. “We worked together in teams, picked up each’s other slack, and really got along well.”

The legal work that was done could have easily cost $75K, but instead, it allowed students to fulfill their Public Service Requirement and provide a much-needed service. Overall participating students shared that it was one of–if not the best– experiences they had in law school.

May 2, 2014 – “The threshold to qualify for legal aid in Ontario will rise for the first time in 18 years, the government announced in its budget, though to what level it did not say.”  “The Liberal government’s budget, tabled Thursday, revealed that raising the criteria would allow an additional one million low-income Ontarians to qualify for legal aid ‘when fully implemented.’ It did not specify a timeline for full implementation.  Ontario’s legal aid eligibility criteria have not changed since 1996.”  (Global News)

May 2, 2014 – “The California-based Foundation for Advocacy Inclusion and Resources (FAIR) today announced selection of the first Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellow in partnership with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) and Sanford Heisler LLP, a leading national public interest law firm.  Giselle N. Olmedo, a 2013 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, bested a talented pool of applicants to earn the 2014 Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship.” “FAIR will provide Olmedo’s salary and benefits during the year-long Fellowship period, which is comprised of two consecutive six-month terms, based upon a grant received from Sanford Heisler. Olmedo will spend the first half of her Fellowship at the LAS-ELC and the second at a firm affiliated with the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), an organization of more than 1,000 workers’ rights advocates statewide.”  (Digital Journal)

May 3, 2014 – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court approved an amendment to Board of Bar Examiners Rule III, effective July 1, 2016 to include Access to Justice as field in which test takers should be familiar with the law.  “The law to be tested in the field of Access to Justice may include the following topics: Landlord-Tenant, including evictions, affirmative defenses and counterclaims, and fee-shifting statutes; Foreclosures; Divorce, including child custody, support, visitation; Termination of Parental Rights; Domestic Abuse; Guardianship and Conservatorship; Consumer Matters, including debt collection, predatory lending and unfair or deceptive practices; Health Care Proxies, Power of Attorney, Advance Directives; Due Process doctrines related to fair hearings, civil commitment and civil right to counsel; Representation of nonprofit organizations; and Ethical rules including Massachusetts Rules of Professional Responsibility 1.2, 1.5, 1.14, 1.15, 4.3, 6.1, 6.5 and Limited Assistance Representation.” (Massachusetts Law Updates)

May 6, 2014 -The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided a grant to Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation and South Brooklyn Legal Corporation, two organizations that advocate for affordable housing in New York. The two organizations will share the $975,000 and use the money to continue providing legal and other services to working families in Brooklyn.  (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

May 6, 2014 – George Mason University School of Law student Catherine Wauters has been named the first-ever BARBRI Public Interest Fellow competition. She will spend a year as a legal fellow at the global nonprofit Save the Children.  “BARBRI designed the Public Interest Fellow program to promote social responsibility and increase awareness of alternative legal career paths. Contestants submitted resumes, writing samples and short videos expressing why they wanted to work for the nonprofit dedicated to affecting immediate and lasting change for children in need across the country and around the world.

In Wauters’ video, she speaks passionately about how her Peace Corps service solidified her decision to ‘pursue the law as a vehicle for greater social change.’ In Benin, West Africa, she worked to improve nutrition for infants and children by helping mothers incorporate locally available but nutritionally dense foodstuff into their diets.  Wauters, a third-year law student, said the experience proved that even small changes can make a big difference in children’s lives and can have an aggregate positive effect on entire communities. She believes that ‘promoting the general welfare of all children is the best investment we can make in our tomorrow.’”  Congratulations! (Digital Journal)

May 7, 2014 – “Struggling homeowners on Chicago’s north side may now get legal help thanks to a grant from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The grant will enable law students from the John Marshall Law School, partnered with Northside Housing Cooperative (NHC), to provide additional legal assistance to home buyers in the city’s northern communities.  The Pro Bono Clinic at the John Marshall will provide expert legal assistance on homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention and employer-assisted housing, thanks to an agreement with Madigan.  The $800,000 grant to NHC comes from a national settlement involving the nation’s five largest bank servicers that were cited for fraudulent practices while servicing loans of struggling homeowners.”  (Digital Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:   “A unique San Francisco Public Defender program that pairs legal advocacy with social work to keep at-risk teens in school has been selected as 2014 Program of the Year by the California Public Defenders Organization.

The Legal Educational Advocacy Program (LEAP) works directly with San Francisco youth on probation, making regular court and school appearances and training parents and caregivers to advocate effectively for their children. Of the youth who have gone through the program, fewer than 13 percent reoffend six to 12 months after exiting.

The 3-year old program, funded through a federal grant, continues to work toward the greater goal of reducing the disproportionate number of youth of color in the justice system overall. It is comprised of Juvenile Unit Attorney Manager Patricia Lee, Social Worker Marynella Woods, Education Attorney Lauren Brady Blalock and Youth Advocate Marc Babus.”  Congratulations on their outstanding work!  (San Francisco Public Defender)

Super Music Bonus! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZNYDzNGB-Q

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – May 2, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  Welcome to May!  We’re going to spend the month talking about service projects.  Did you participate in an alternate spring break program this year?  We’d love to hear about it!  This week, we have an entry from Memphis.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Wills now available at Walmart in Canada;
  • Appleseed Legal Justice Center joins SC attorneys and VA to provide legal assistance for vets;
  • Nova Scotians who don’t qualify for legal aid have another option;
  • Memphis Law School marks fourth year of ASB program;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Public Service Recognition Week is May 4-10;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 24, 2014 -  One of the many complaints by those seeking legal assistance is that it’s difficult to access.  Here’s an interesting idea – legal services in your local Walmart.  “Near the entrance of a new Walmart in Markham is an innovation in discount retailing: Axess Law. Founded by Toronto lawyers Lena Koke and Mark Morris, Axess Law provides fast and affordable legal services to time-pressed shoppers. Simple wills are $99. Notarized documents are $25, plus $19 for each additional document.”  Two locations are currently open with a third set to open this month. The locations are open until 8 pm each evening and weekends.  The firm currently does real estate law and wills.  Uncontested divorces will be added to the menu in the fall.  The idea is to provide legal services in a non-intimidating way.  (The Toronto Star)

April 24, 2014 – “Dorn VA Medical Center spokesman Kevin McIver announced Thursday that the Appleseed Legal Justice Center is working with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough Law Firm on the pro-bono legal clinic for low-income veterans called Lawyers 4 Vets.  The clinic starts May 15 at the VA Medical Center in Columbia. Veterans may make appointments on the third Thursday of every month from 9 a.m. to noon.  Attorneys will assist veterans with obtaining identification papers, child support and visitation issues, obtaining pardons or clearing legal records, simple wills and powers of attorney, among other matters.”  (The Republic)

April 25, 2014 – “Nova Scotians who make too much to qualify for legal aid but not enough to hire a lawyer will soon have more access to free legal advice.  The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia says it will launch a free summary advice clinic on May 2.  Society executive director Heather de Berdt Romilly says the free clinic has been quietly open for a few months and has been well-received by the public and volunteer lawyers.  She says the society plans to expand the program across the province over the next year.”  (News 95.7)

April 29, 2014 – “Seventy-three students from fourteen different law schools chose to spend their spring break in Memphis providing legal aid to those in need.  Student volunteers had the opportunity to sign up for one of seven different legal tracks offered as part of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law’s Alternative Spring Break Program (ASB).  The ASB program was planned and executed by the Public Action Law Society (PALS), a student organization at the law school whose mission is to facilitate student involvement in pro bono and public interest activities.  This year marks the fourth year that the law school has hosted the ASB program.”  (University of Memphis, Cecil C Humphreys School of Law)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Celebrated the first week of May since 1985, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is time set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees and ensure that our government is the best in the world.

The theme for PSRW 2014 is Proud to Serve.  PSRW is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable (PER) and its member organizations. PER will kick off PSRW 2014 with its second annual Public Service 5K run/walk in Washington, D.C. Other feature events in Washington include a public town hall meeting with Cabinet secretaries, a Washington Nationals baseball game and a congressional breakfast to announce the finalists of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals.

Public servants deserve our thanks throughout the year and we invite you to continue honoring them for the work they do each and every day. Suggestions can be found in the How to Celebrate PSRW Guide.

Super Music Bonus! Thank you to all those out there working for us!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N2CANatVYQ

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 25, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  As we start wrapping up another school year, have you done the things you need to do to be successful this summer?  PSJD has a number of resources to help.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • CT legislature considering bill that would increase legal aid funding;
  • John Marshall Law School (Chicago) adds 6 new clinics;
  • FL funding legal hotline to help juveniles;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: DC Bar Pro Bono Program;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 18, 2014 - “The legislature is considering a bill introduced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that would bolster legal aid for low-income residents.  Legal aid services face a $4.5 million reduction in state funding next fiscal year, because a series of fee increases approved in 2012 is set to expire.”    “Malloy’s bill would make the 2012 increases permanent. Civil lawsuits, for example, would continue to carry a $350 fee, instead of a $300 fee.
The bill would also increase the percentage of filing fees that go to legal aid.”  (Hartford Business Journal)

April 22, 2014 – The John Marshall Law School in Chicago has added six new legal clinics to its experiential learning offerings.  “John Marshall’s newest clinics focus on: Business Enterprise Law, Conflict Resolution, Domestic Violence, International Human Rights, Intellectual Property and Pro Bono. They join John Marshall’s 20-year-old Fair Housing Legal Clinic, Patent Clinic and nationally renowned Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic. Work through the Patent Clinic now will fall under the new Intellectual Property Clinic, which will also include a Trademark track.”  (PRWeb)

April 22, 2014 – “South Florida youth advocates are creating a hotline to give legal advice for juveniles in trouble with the law.  The Children’s Services Council of Broward County approved funding for LAW-line, a helpline for families in need of legal information including diversion opportunities, civil citation and expunction processes. LAW-line is slated to start in October.  The organization also awarded a grant to Legal Aid for services for youth involved in both the foster care and delinquency systems.  The organization says the services will prevent more children from entering the foster care and juvenile justice systems and will allow them to advocate for the least restrictive and most appropriate educational, medical and mental health services for the youth already there.”  (SFGate)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program is an independent, nonprofit organization supported entirely by voluntary contributions. The Pro Bono Program recruits, trains, and mobilizes volunteer attorneys to take pro bono cases serving individuals living in poverty who are at risk of losing their homes, their livelihoods, and their families. The program also helps small businesses and community-based nonprofits needing legal help. Last year, the Pro Bono Program touched the lives of 20,000 D.C. residents.  Learn more about this outstanding group.

Super Music Bonus! Missed Coachella this  year?  Here’s a little taste.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv7OyDyXcd8&list=PLFgquLnL59amLUrECpliv96Sc72SwI_6U

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 18, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  We are back!  I hope you learned as much as we did at the Conference.  Now it’s time to put that knowledge and energy to good use.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  •  Idaho’s new Public Defense Act not going to fix the problems?;
  • Endowment funds Touro law students working with veterans;
  • Greenberg Traurig launches nationwide pro bono effort with KIND;
  • GA Government signs Executive Order to establish conflict defender;
  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid receives grant funds to assist seniors;
  • CT examines way to provide low-cost legal aid;
  • Legal Aid Society of Louisville gets grant to help clients in IRS disputes;
  • Legal Aid Alberta faces funding crunch;
  • Group wants TX High Court to review court fee rules for the poor;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Emily Ward;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

April 5, 2014 - “Idaho’s public defender system has been called a deficient, unconstitutional patchwork and a magnet for lawsuits, and a new law addressing the problems won’t accomplish much, critics say.”  “The Public Defense Act, signed into law last week by Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter, is intended to to solve some of these problems. But critics say the law will burden counties with higher costs and doesn’t go far enough to fix the flawed system.  The law bans fixed-fee contracts that pay attorneys a lump sum to tackle all of a county’s cases. That could increase costs in counties that will need to hire more lawyers.”  “The new law will replace the Public Defense Subcommittee with a state Public Defense Commission consisting of one member each from the state House and Senate; four gubernatorial appointments from the Idaho Association of Counties, state Appellate Public Defenders Office, the Idaho Juvenile Justice Commission and an experienced defense attorney; as well as a representative appointed by the Idaho Supreme Court chief justice.  That Public Defense Act sets aside $300,000 to establish the commission, pay members’ travel and provide training for public defenders statewide.”  This is not enough say critics, and many groups are watching closely to see if the Act provides any reforms to the system.  (MagicValley.com)

April 6, 2014 – A $200,000 endowment will fund students at Long Island’s Touro Law Center who are studying legal challenges facing veterans.  The program is sponsored by the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.  The endowment, announced last week, includes $90,000 for an annual scholarship awarded to a Touro student focusing on veterans’ mental health, disabilities and other issues. A separate $90,000 fund will sponsor an annual summer fellowship. And $20,000 will pay for a conference on veterans’ mental health as related to their legal problems.  That includes keeping veterans who commit nonviolent crimes from ending up behind bars, instead providing them with behavioral evaluations and treatment.” (Daily Journal)

April 7, 2014 – “International law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has announced a new pro bono initiative involving 150 of its attorneys in seven offices as well as the creation of a full-time fellowship position. Greenberg Traurig is partnering with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an organization founded by the Microsoft Corporation and Angelina Jolie, to provide pro bono legal services to unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings.”  “In addition to devoting significant pro bono work to this project, Greenberg Traurig is funding a full-time fellowship position at KIND through Equal Justice Works, a non-profit organization that facilitates two-year fellowships for recent law school graduates pursuing careers in public service. This position is part of a broader fellowship program.”  (Digital Journal)

April 8, 2014 -  “Georgia’s governor signed an executive order Tuesday to provide $4 million to cover costs associated with providing lawyers without conflicting interests for poor defendants.  The order signed by Gov. Nathan Deal moves money from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council.  The allocation comes after the state Supreme Court ruled last year that lawyers in the same public defender’s office cannot represent co-defendants in a criminal case if doing so would create a conflict of interest. The ruling effectively meant that many cases must be referred to outside lawyers.”  (Enquirer-Herald)

April 10, 2014 – “The St. Cloud office of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid has received a grant of Older Americans Act funds from the Central Minnesota Council on Aging to provide legal services for seniors residing in Cass County.  The funds will be used to provide legal advice, counseling and representation in court and administrative hearings. There is no cost for these services.”  (Pilot-Independent)

April 10, 2014 -  “A Judicial Branch work group is looking into how the state might provide low-cost legal representation for people who lack the resources to pay standard legal fees but who have too many assets to qualify for legal aid.  The Workgroup on Modest/Moderate Means was created in January at the recommendation of the Judicial Branch’s Access to Justice Program. According to Chief Justice Chase Rogers, the group’s goal is to assess ‘the feasibility of establishing a voluntary statewide modest means program’ with the support of state bar associations and the 26,000 licensed lawyers in the state.”  The group held it’s first meeting in March, and expect to submit a plan for creating a statewide program to the chief justice by this fall.  (Connecticut Law Tribune)

April 12, 2014 -  “The Legal Aid Society of Louisville has received a $50,000 grant from the Internal Revenue Service to expand the free legal services society lawyers provide to low-income taxpayers involved in disputes with the IRS.  The society’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic provides legal help for income-eligible taxpayers with disputes with the IRS that involve such issues as: unpaid tax debt, non-filings, lack of a Social Security number, incorrect claiming of dependents, help in obtaining the Earned Income Tax Credit, and debt relief for some spouses in specific circumstances.”  (The Courier-Journal)

April 12, 2014 – “Groups representing Alberta’s defence lawyers lost a bid this week to restructure Legal Aid Alberta, but the head of the program says it can’t avoid drastic changes if someone doesn’t step in with more money.  ‘There’s no question we’ll have to consider what changes we’ll have to make — and very shortly — to our programming, given the static funding situation,’ said Suzanne Polkosnik, president and CEO of the publicly funded agency, which provides lawyers for low-income Albertans and other legal services.”  “While funding has remained the same, demand for legal aid has gone up: the group provided service 227,600 times last year, a jump of 33,000 cases since 2010.”(Calgary Herald)

April 14, 2014 – “Advocates for the poor are asking the Texas Supreme Court to revise a rule regarding indigency court affidavits following concerns about inconsistencies in how it is being enforced throughout the state.  The Texas Access to Justice Commission issued a report in May calling for an overhaul of what is known as Rule 145 when questions were raised about how court officials were collecting fees from the poor even after their cases had been resolved.”  Access to Justice hopes that modifying the rule it would clarify procedures for court officials while allowing those who are indigent to access the courts.  (Star-Telegram)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  Emily Ward, a 3L at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, dreams of a career in the public interest.  She’s started early by advancing a pro bono program to help the homeless.  “Building on research and draft materials done by former students Heather Hoechst, 2012 graduate, and Maren Miller Bam, 2013 graduate, Ward brought the concept to fruition by completing the volunteer manual, recruiting volunteers, and conducting student training sessions. The 33-page manual includes interviewing techniques, forms and resources available to qualifying mission guests.”  Read more about here amazing work here.  Congratulations!

Super Music Bonus! Is it Spring yet?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tkqdOB5bEw

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – April 4, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  We are off to the NALP Annual Education Conference in Seattle.  The Digest will take a break for this week and return on April 18.  We hope to see many of you at the conference!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  •  ABA Job Corps targets access to justice paradox;
  • New rules allow retired Iowa attorneys and law students to help legal aid;
  • New job site launches in Canada;
  • PA considers bill to establish training center for public defenders;
  • Students form Law Students Society of Ontario;
  • The Washington University School of Law establishes Prosecution Law Clinic;
  • New scholarship from Davis Levin Livingston promotes public interest lawyers;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Phil Morgan;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 27, 2014 - “The American Bar Association will pay between $5,000 and $15,000 to organizations that come up with good ways to match unemployed law school graduates to unmet legal needs for the poor.  The organization this month urged law schools, bar associations, courts and other organizations to submit requests for proposals and will reward the best ideas with financial support, ABA President James Silkenat said, under a new program dubbed the Legal Access Job Corps.”  “To qualify for grants, projects must provide both legal services to the poor or people with moderate incomes, and employment for recent law graduates. Existing projects are not eligible.”  Ideas are due by May 15.
(National Law Journal)

March 30, 2014 -  “The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this month to allow retired Iowa attorneys and attorneys licensed in other states to provide pro bono services to legal aid organizations. The state’s legal aid offices turns thousands of low income people away every year because of the high caseload and lack of attorneys. The rule allows retired attorneys to apply for an emeritus license and volunteer their time for a legal aid office.”  “The court also amended the student practice rule this month which will provide more assistance to the offices by allowing law school students in the state to handle cases under supervision.”  “Guy Cook, attorney and Iowa State Bar Association president, said the rule change also allows law school graduates to provide legal services to clients while they are waiting to pass the bar exam on behalf of the offices of the public defender, attorney general, county attorney or legal aid organizations.”  (The Gazette)

March 31, 2014 – What started last year as a Facebook page for  University of Ottawa civil law graduate, Nikolitsa Katsoulias has just turned into a full-blown job site and blog.  The Law Job Exchange, launched just three weeks ago, promises to ‘link you up with opportunities that you may have otherwise missed.”  “The web site is all about sharing opportunities and I don’t think that’s something law students are necessarily used to with the competitiveness of the profession,” says web site founder Katsoulias. “But [students] seem to be embracing it, so I encourage them to log on and share an opportunity if they find one.” “The main feature of the web site is its job postings, which visitors can only view if they are members.  Members can also opt to have job alerts e-mailed to them.  Jobs are primarily Canadian-based, but international opportunities have been available.” (Canadian Lawyer)

April 1, 2014 – “Advocates Tuesday urged state Senate lawmakers to support better training for lawyers tasked with defending adult criminal defendants and juvenile delinquents who can’t afford to hire a lawyer.  A measure before state lawmakers would create such a program with $1 million in the next fiscal year.  Access to such free counsel is required under the U.S. Constitution and federal case law, but Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t help fund county offices providing indigent defense.”  (witf.org)

April 1, 2014 - All of the student societies at Ontario’s seven law schools have agreed to participate in a newly formed Law Students Society of Ontario.  “The goal of the Law Students’ Society of Ontario (LSSO) is to advance student concerns to governmental, regulatory, and educational stakeholders on issues such as access to legal education, professional accreditation requirements, and other matters affecting law students across the province.”  “Membership in the LSSO has been ratified by student groups at all seven Ontario law schools (the University of Windsor, Western University, the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall Law School (York University), Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa, and Lakehead University).” (LSSO website)

April 2, 2014 -  “The Washington University School of Law will establish a Prosecution Law Clinic in partnership with the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. The new clinic joins 17 other clinical opportunities within the law school’s long-standing Clinical Education Program.  The clinic will be funded by a generous gift from former prosecutor and Washington University School of Law alumna Alicia McDonnell (JD ’95), who hopes to strengthen the ranks of criminal prosecutors by creating opportunities for talented law students to gain hands-on experience essential to a career in criminal justice.”  (Washington University of St. Louis)

April 2, 2014 – “With a new scholarship, the Honolulu-based law firm of Davis Levin Livingston intends to support law students intending to pursue public interest law and add to the ranks of motivated young attorneys willing to consider a career as a public interest lawyer.”  “The $3000 scholarship will be awarded to a student entering law school this fall. A letter of acceptance is required, and candidates are asked to write a short essay demonstrating their intention to pursue a career as a public interest lawyer.  The scholarship will be payable by The Davis Levin Livingston Charitable Foundation to the law school of attendance by the awardee to assist with tuition or other expenses.”  (Digital Journal)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Legal aid attorney Phillip Morgan, who likely has represented more public housing tenants in San Francisco than anyone, is retiring. As an attorney for Bay Area Legal Aid, Morgan fought for housing rights with countless clients over the course of his long career. He had an institutional knowledge of the SF Housing Authority that will surely be missed.  Read more about his amazing work.  Thank you for your service!

Super Music Bonus! A glimpse of Seattle.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcN1j11sfJA

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 28, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  We are getting ready for the NALP Annual Conference, and there are some great public interest programs.  New this year – the Social Justice Walking Tour.  We’re really looking forward to celebrating public service in Seattle.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  •  Google Public Policy (summer) Fellowship application now available;
  • Rutgers-Newark law school starts unique fellowship offering low cost legal help;
  • Goodwin Procter receives ABA’s 2014 National Public Service Award;
  • NY State officials taking indigent defense funds for other purposes;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Maria Keller;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 23, 2014 - The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests.  Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and creativity, consumer privacy, open government, government surveillance, data security, data innovation, free expression and more. More information about the program is outlined hereThe deadline for applications is April 14, 2014.

March 23, 2014 -  “Rutgers School of Law-Newark has launched a program to ease graduates into the legal profession. The program, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is paying new law school graduates $30,000 to spend a year working in an on-campus law firm serving low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans.  Under [Associate Dean Andy] Rothman’s guidance, the newly minted lawyers take on criminal, divorce, custody, special education, estate, landlord-tenant and other cases for clients who make too much money to qualify for free legal help. The Rutgers Law Associates Fellowship Program charges clients $50 an hour, a fraction of the $250 to $300 hourly rate many private attorneys charge.”  The program began with six fellows.  “The fellows agree to stay for a year, with the option of remaining with the firm for a second year with a $40,000 salary.”  (nj.com)

March 24, 2014 – “Goodwin Procter, a national Am Law 50 firm, has been selected by the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association as the law firm recipient of its 2014 National Public Service Award. Initiated in 1994, the annual honor recognizes delivery of significant pro bono legal services that demonstrate a commitment to providing assistance to the poor in a business context.”  “In selecting Goodwin Procter, ABA Business Law Section’s Pro Bono Committee Chair William Woodward said the Section ‘carefully considered the firm’s dedication to the development and delivery of innovative pro bono services that have provided legal counsel to nonprofit organizations and microbusinesses in aid of community development on an ongoing basis.’”  (Business Wire)

March 25, 2014 – “Over the past six years, the [New York State's] elected officials have yanked close to $50 million from a fund designated for indigent legal services.  While the ‘sweeps,’ as they are called, have not had immediate impact on a fund designated for indigent defense, those lost millions may be needed in future years as counties across New York try to provide constitutionally sound legal services for the poor. And the practice speaks to a larger issue, advocates for indigent defense services say: A continued unwillingness by state officials to confront a patchwork system of indigent legal aid.”  The state’s Indigent Legal Services Fund pays for the Office of Indigent Legal Services and provides grants across the state to counties to improve public defense services.  (Democrat and Chronicle)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: No matter your age, you can make a difference.  Just ask 13-year old Maria Keller.  She was one of recipients of this year’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service.  Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards is America’s highest honor for public service.  Ms. Keller won her award for her nonprofit Read Indeed.  Ms. Keller has always loved reading and at age 8 was shocked to find out some kids don’t have access to books.  So, she started by organizing a book drive and made a donation of a thousand books to a children’s shelter.  “From there she told her parents she wanted to collect and donate a million books to kids in need by the time she was 18.  This past fall the Orono Middle School student reached her goal, five years early.”  Her “new goal is to distribute books in every state in the country and in every country in the world.  For more information on her organization or how to donate books go to Read Indeed online or check out their Facebook page.”  Congratulations Maria!!  (CBS Minnesota)

Super Music Bonus! How could you not love a song called “Happy?”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMmbEF017Zc

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 21, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  And Happy Spring to you!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Quinnipiac University School of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic receives $5,000 AT&T grant;
  • WY organizations partner to increase legal aid;
  • DC legal services groups awarded $3.4 million;
  • MO AG sues fake legal aid;
  • Legal Aid Ontario tackles access to justice in family law;
  • Wake Forest Law helps cancer patients;
  • ABA stipend available for law students working with the homeless this summer;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: ABA’s ProBAR celebrates 25 years;
  • Super Music Bonus! This week – a video bonus.

The summaries:

March 15, 2014 - “The Quinnipiac University School of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic has received a $5,000 grant from AT&T Connecticut in support of its pro bono legal services work in the community.  This is the third year that the clinic has received funding through the AT&T Excellence in Pro Bono Legal Service Award and Fellowship. The funding provides a stipend to a student fellow who spends 10 hours a week working in the clinic, supervising other law students and researching ways to expand the scope of the clinic’s work.  In the Civil Justice Clinic, law students work under the supervision of full-time faculty members Sarah Russell and Kevin Barry, representing low-income individuals who cannot afford counsel, and work on public policy projects to benefit disadvantaged communities.”  (The Courant)

March 15, 2014 -  “The Wyoming State Bar announced that it will partner with the Wyoming Center for Legal Aid on an initiative called ‘I’ll Do One.’ The goal of the initiative is to encourage lawyers licensed in Wyoming to commit to at least one pro bono case.”  Attorneys who want to volunteer should go to www.wyomingbar.org.  (Casper Journal)

March 17, 2014 – “Twenty legal services projects across the District of Columbia will receive more than $3.4 million this year in publicly funded grants.  The annual Access to Justice Grants are funded by the D.C. Council and distributed by the D.C. Bar Foundation.”  “The foundation awarded approximately $250,000 more in grants this year than in 2013. The single largest grant, $589,500, went to a joint project by Bread for the City and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia that provides in-court legal services to clients in landlord and tenant matters.”  “This is the eighth year the D.C. Council has funded grants for local legal service organizations. The D.C. Bar Foundation also makes a set of separate grants each year based on money it raises from attorneys and the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts program.”  (Legal Times)

March 18, 2014 – “Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit on Friday against a Florida-based legal services company that allegedly misled Missourians by claiming it was affiliated with state Legal Aid offices.  Yoram Rozenberg, doing business as Legal Aid and The Legal Aid Society, allegedly advertised to Missouri consumers that the businesses were associated with Legal Services of Southern Missouri when that was not the case. Legal Services of Southern Missouri serves low-income and elderly citizens, typically with no charge.  Rozenberg allegedly took payments from at least one Missouri consumer for legal work that was not performed by a licensed Missouri attorney. Rozenberg’s businesses allegedly advertised in the Springfield phone books using a local phone number and falsely indicated affiliation with Legal Services of Southern Missouri.”  The suit seeks restitution and a bar against Rozenberg doing business in Missouri.  (Legal NewsLine)

March 19, 2014 – “Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is developing a slate of programs and services to address the unmet legal needs of unrepresented family litigants as part of a larger, long-term strategy to improve access to justice for low-income Ontarians.  ‘Research shows that as many as 50 per cent of people in the family justice system try to solve their problems on their own because of limited available resources,’ says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. ‘Thanks to $30 million in additional provincial funding, LAO is in a position to expand on our current family services, while dedicating new resources to clients with family law needs.’” Currently, LAO has 15 family law projects in development which make use of the additional provincial funding.  LAO will continue consulting with stakeholders on avenues for resolving family law disputes.  (Digital Journal)

March 19, 2014 – “A new partnership between Wake Forest University School of Law and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will connect cancer patients in need of legal assistance with more than 40 law students participating in the school’s pro bono program.   Patients at the Comprehensive Cancer Center will be able to receive free legal assistance in areas such as advanced directives and other medical legal services, with the students supervised by attorneys from Wake Forest Baptist and Wall, Esleeck and Babcock in Winston-Salem.”  (The Business Journal)

March 20, 2014 – Law students interning with an organization that works with homeless clients can apply for a stipend.  The Curtin Justice Fund Legal Internship Program is seeking motivated law student interns to apply for stipends available for the Summer 2014 Program. The Program will pay a $2,500 stipend to three law school students who spend the summer months working for a bar association or legal services program designed to prevent homelessness or assist homeless or indigent clients or their advocates. The application deadline is Monday, March 31, 2014.

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) is a project of the American Bar Association that provides legal information, pro se assistance and pro bono representation to thousands of immigrants and asylum-seekers detained in remote South Texas each year by the United States government.  Congratulations on 25 years of great work, and here is to many more!!!  Their celebration video is our Super Video Bonus for this week.

Super Video Bonus!

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 14, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.  We’re now in spring break season, and if you’re looking for a service project to undertake, we’ve got you covered.  If you’re in the US, check out probono.net.  In Canada?  Go to Pro Bono Students Canada.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Growing number of TX lawyers are “Banking on Justice”;
  • Federal defenders could fill jobs lost under sequestration;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Today in History – the FBI debuts the 10 Most Wanted List;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

March 10, 2014 - Lawyers and bankers in Texas are teaming up to increase funding for legal aid.  “The Prime Partner program, which provides funds for vulnerable Texans seeking justice, is gaining momentum. Prime Partner banks agree to pay higher interest on lawyers’ trust accounts to support legal-aid assistance for the poor, explained Betty Balli Torres, executive director, Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Prime Partner banks agree to pay 1 percent on IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) accounts so they can increase funding for civil legal aid in this state. The ‘I Bank on Justice’ component is really lawyers and law firms that move their accounts into Prime Partner banks in order to support legal aid,” Torres explained.”  (Public News Service)

March 11, 2014 -  “Federal defender offices, which lost approximately 400 employees because of last year’s mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, have enough money in this year’s budget to begin backfilling most of those positions, court officials said Tuesday.  Following the biannual meeting of the Judicial Conference of the United States, Chief Judge William Traxler Jr., chairman of the judicial conference’s executive committee, said Congress’ fiscal year 2014 appropriation to the judiciary would allow officials to backfill about 350 jobs in federal defender offices.”  (Legal Times)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: On this day in 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation institutes the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the “Ten Most Wanted” list was given the okay by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. As of 2011, 465 of the criminals included on the list have been apprehended or located, 153 as a result of tips from the public.  (History.com)  The List recently made the news when number 10 was captured.  Only 8 women have appeared on the List.  The current List is all male with the least recent addition on the List since 1987.

Super Music Bonus!  Some Celtic music.  Enjoy!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoktesLkHy8

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – March 7, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  I hope the weather isn’t getting  you down.  Whether it’s drought or blizzard, it’s got to end soon, right?

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Government of Canada adopts new pro bono policy for Justice lawyers;
  • DOJ launches language access tool;
  • MA SJC Justice leading push to expand housing court statewide;
  • NYC Mayor fills poverty post with critic;
  • Suffolk Law launches new public interest scholarship;
  • SCC tackles challenge to court fees;
  • John Marshall Law School receives grant to research/help with predatory lending;
  • Orleans Bar Association urges assigned counsel for indigent defense;
  • White House honors LegalCorps for patent pro bono work;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Tom Hillier;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 28, 2014 - “Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced that the Department of Justice has adopted a new Policy on Pro Bono Legal Services by Justice Lawyers. The policy was developed in response to a widespread desire among Justice lawyers to participate in pro bono legal services as a way to directly give back to their communities.”  “Justice lawyers can now volunteer their personal time at specified pro bono clinics that offer free legal services to Canadians living with limited means. The Department is proud to support its lawyers in their personal goals and professional obligation to increase access to justice for Canadians who might otherwise not be able to afford legal advice.”  (Digital Journal)

February 28, 2014 – “[T]he Justice Department released a new tool to help state and local courts assess and improve their language assistance services for limited English proficient (LEP) litigants, victims and witnesses who need access to court services.”  The Language Access Planning and Technical Assistance Tool   (Planning Tool) will be able to assist courthouses and administrative tribunals across the country to self-assess their court systems to determine how effectively they are providing language assistance services and how these services can be improved.  The Planning Tool prompts courts to examine their court rules, the quality and competency of interpretation and translation, the level of their engagement with LEP communities and the implementation of language access plans.  The tool was created by the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) of the Civil Rights Division and provides courts with a tailored checklist of recommended steps towards achieving equal access to justice for all.”  (Imperial Valley News)

“Lisa Wood, Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants made clear that ABA’s commitment to stay involved with the issue, as part of the follow up to the issuance of the comprehensive Standards that are the bedrock on which the DOJ tool is built.” (Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog)

February 28, 2014 – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ralph Gants is pushing a plan that would expand the housing court system to cover the entire state by July 1, 2015.  “The expansion proposal is based on the recommendation of the Access to Justice Commission, which Gants co-chairs. The specialized court was created in 1978 to handle residential housing matters, including landlord-tenant issues, and to enforce the state’s building, fire and sanitary codes.”  Legislators will now consider the plan.  (Waltham News Tribune)

February 28, 2014 – “The top attorney at the nonprofit Legal Aid Society who for three decades has been a hard-charging advocate for poor New Yorkers will take the reins of New York City’s welfare agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.  Over the years, the society’s attorney-in-chief, Steve Banks, has spent many an hour on the steps of City Hall assailing mayors and policies that he contended unfairly treated the homeless and other low-income New Yorkers. And the Legal Aid Society—which represents people who can’t pay for attorneys in criminal and civil court—has challenged a number of city policies in the courts, from homelessness to food stamp eligibility.  Now, for the first time, Mr. Banks has been invited inside City Hall to play a role in developing city policy on poverty.”  (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times)

February 28, 2014 – “Suffolk University Law School will launch a scholarship and lecture series named for Harry H. Dow, a 1929 Law School graduate who, although he was the first Chinese-American admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, faced racism that eventually drove him out of practice.”  “The Harry H. Dow scholarship award will supplement tuition costs for a current Suffolk Law student who has demonstrated interest in public interest and/or immigration law.”  (Sampan)

March 3, 2015 – In April, the Supreme Court of Canada “is expected to tackle a challenge over court hearing fees, which the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and the Canadian Bar Association B.C. branch say are unconstitutional because they impede access to justice for the middle class.”  The suit stems from a custody case involving a self-represented common law couple in which one party asked to be relieved of the $3,600 bill for the court hearing fees. The B.C. Supreme Court Civil Rules allow an “impoverished” person to apply for exemption.  There is a split in the lower courts regarding the constitutionality of the fees.  “Now the SCC must decide if the fees are valid. Interestingly, only B.C., Saskatchewan, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories have fees yet attorneys general from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and the federal government are intervening.”  (Canadian Lawyer)

March 3, 2014 – “The John Marshall Law School is expanding its work in the area of predatory lending and fair housing education using nearly $454,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Chicago.  A $324,966 HUD grant allows the law school to continue educating students on predatory lending issues, as well as undertake research on the ongoing predatory lending trends in the Chicago area.  The HUD-financed Fair Lending Home Preservation Program includes a Predatory Lending course giving students a review of the mortgage lending crisis through information from private attorneys, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and Circuit Court of Cook County judges dealing with mortgage foreclosures.  Students also intern four hours each week at a number of government offices and nonprofits researching or working on-hands to help agencies fix various problems.”  (Digital Journal)

March 6, 2014 -  “The Orleans County Bar Association is recommending significant reforms to how indigent defense is managed through an assigned counsel plan that will streamline and organize assignment procedures.  The plan, outlined to legislators Wednesday by Bar Association Vice President and Public Defender Sandy Church and Shirley Gorman, who chairs the legal group’s assigned council committee, is part of a statewide push to improve the systems used to find attorneys for criminal defendants and family court participants who are unable to afford legal services.”

“The Orleans County Public Defender’s Office would continue to be the primary resource for impoverished residents to receive legal counsel under the plan. However, a new conflict coordinator recommended by the Orleans County Bar Association and appointed annually by the Orleans County Legislature would step in for cases where a previous conflict, or multiple defendants prevent the Public Defender from acting as a resident’s representative.  The new administrator would continue to rotate cases between lawyers, but the proposed plan would also seek to match the workload and difficulty of a case to attorneys’ qualifications and experience.”  (The Daily News)

March 6, 2014 – Minneapolis firms Patterson Thuente and Lindquist & Vennum were honored at the White House in February by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for establishing the three-year-old Inventor Assistance Program at Minnesota LegalCorps as the first “patent pro bono program in the country.”  “The inventor program is part of 10-year old LegalCorps, the Minneapolis-based organization that connects volunteer lawyers with low-income entrepreneurs, innovators and small nonprofits.” (StarTribune)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “Tom Hillier, Seattle’s hell-raising, hippie federal public defender who built an office considered a model for indigent defense nationwide, is retiring after 38 years in the office, an unprecedented 28 of them as its chief.”  Now if that isn’t a ringing endorsement of a professional life well-spent, I don’t know what is.  Read more about his invaluable contributions at the Daily Reporter.  Congratulations to Mr. Hillier and good luck with the next chapter of your life.

Super Music Bonus!  Sometimes you just have to let it go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – February 28, 2014

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

Happy Friday!  Can you believe it’s the end of February already?  Let’s hope spring is just around the corner.

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Grim outlook for PMF Class of 2013;
  • SMU’s Dedman School of Law announces new law center;
  • The Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre (Ontario, Canada) now providing legal services;
  • Chicago’s Center for Disability & Elder Law celebrates 30 years;
  • Project measures access to civil legal services;
  • Women’s advocacy groups urge pilot projects to improve access to family services in British Columbia;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Dan Glazier;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

February 21, 2014 – “More than two-thirds of the 2013 finalists in the Presidential Management Fellows Program have not received jobs yet in the federal government, according to Office of Personnel Management data.”  Just 213 of 668 finalists in 2013 have received jobs so far.  A group of current finalists and alumni of the program are organizing a campaign directed at OPM to get more finalists hired. Finalists have one year to receive an appointment; the deadline for the 2013 class is April 8, but the group is seeking an extension.  Fellows must be completely on-boarded, not just hired, before the deadline.  With the government shutdown, furloughs, and deep budget cuts, this has been a particularly rough year for PMF.  Here’s hoping the deadline can be extended.  (Government Executive)

UPDATE:  OPM declines to extend the deadline.  Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta informed the PMF finalists in a recent letter she would not extend the eligibility deadline.  OPM will provide two additional job fairs before the April 8 deadline.  “In addition to the job fairs, OPM will host a workshop to help finalists market their skills and work with PMF coordinators at each agency to help get potential fellows hired.”  (Government Executive)

February 21, 2014 -   “Southern Methodist University has announced it will open a new legal center that will provide services for the victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking and other crimes against women.  Ray L. and Nancy Ann Hunter Hunt have committed $5 million for the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women.”  “Dedman students working in the new center will provide legal services such as protective orders; divorce, custody and child support agreements; and assistance with credit and housing issues.”  (KERA News)

February 26, 2014 – “The Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre can now add legal services to its cornucopia of programs already provided by the area hub.  Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is partnering with Davenport-Perth, on Davenport Road, just west of Symington Avenue, to offer family and immigration services, working in collaboration with its community legal clinics, West Toronto Community Legal Services included, so clients can have greater access to justice.  It is part of LAO’s quest to expand its current mix of services, according to Vicki Moretti, LAO regional vice-president for the Greater Toronto Area.” (The Register-Guard)

February 26, 2014 – The Center for Disability & Elder Law, which has provided free legal services for more than 30,000 senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Chicago, will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this week.  The Center for Disability & Elder Law (CDEL) was founded to provide legal services to low-income residents of Cook County, Illinois who are either elderly or who have permanent disabilities. Dedicated volunteers from some of the largest law firms in Chicago, and from firms and corporations located throughout Cook County, as well as paralegals, provide more than ninety percent of all legal services CDEL delivers, pro bono, to its clients. In its 30-year history, CDEL has provided services to more than 30,000 clients.  (World News Report)

February 26, 2014 -  “When trying to measure access to civil legal assistance, empirical data can be hard to find. But an ambitious online database released Tuesday by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law’s National Center for Access to Justice aims to solve that problem by showing state-by-state comparisons of available services such as affordable counsel and foreign language interpreters in state courts.”  “The ‘Justice Index’ attempts to quantify access-to-justice problems through interactive data visualizations and graphics that show which states are doing the most and least to meet people’s needs, said David Udell, director of the center.”  (New York Law Journal)

February 26, 2014 – “A women’s advocacy group is proposing two ways to address a critical lack of family law services in British Columbia, saying cuts to legal-aid funding have made access to justice nearly impossible for vulnerable citizens.  The group released a report Wednesday recommending two pilot projects — one with lawyers working in community agencies so legal services can be integrated with those of other professionals such as counsellors, social workers and interpreters.  The other proposal is for a women’s clinic led by student lawyers who would provide free and low-cost family law services in the Metro Vancouver area, with a travel and technology budget to serve remote regions.”  “West Coast LEAF’s recommendations were based on a year of consultations in 16 urban, rural and remote communities across B.C.”  (The Province)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: Thank you to Carol A. Vizzier, Director, Public Interest Programs at Washington University School of Law for a wonderful spotlight candidate.

“When he was growing up, Dan Glazier couldn’t decide whether to be a lawyer or a social worker.  So he became both.  He is director of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, which provides free lawyers for poor people facing eviction, consumer rip-offs, health care cut-offs and other legal messes they can’t afford. The group employs both lawyers and social workers.”  “There’s a Jewish expression, tikkun olam — ‘to repair the world.’ That sort of was how I was raised,” Mr. Glazier said.  He landed at Legal Services in 1981 and never left.  What an amazing lawyer and person.  Thank you for your many years of service to the poor.  Read more about his amazing work here.

Super Music Bonus!   In my counseling days, this was the time of year when I started to feel exhausted.  Time to take a humor break and check out the History of Hip Hop.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTpn30Pms8I

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