PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 8, 2014

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

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

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

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

The summaries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TWO New Government Careers Resources on PSJD!

2 New Resources

in the Government Careers Section of PSJD’s Resource Center!

The 2014-2015 Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide (FLEOG) is now available for download on PSJD!  FLEOG offers a broad-based review of different career opportunities and paths to employment for law students and graduates who are interested in federal legal careers.  A big thank you to our Publications Coordinator, John Bain, for all his hard work on this very valuable resource.

The 2014 Public Defender Handbook is now available. This publication is ideal for students looking for public defender internships and postgraduate jobs.  The Handbook is divided into three main sections, (1) Frequently Asked Questions about public defender careers (2) a listing and brief descriptions of the major public defender offices that regularly hire post-graduate attorneys and (3) a listing of capital defense offices that hire entry-level attorney. The Handbook also includes an appendix with very specific examples of hypothetical interview questions and interviews with leaders at public defender agencies.

Thanks to our friends at NYU, and especially Rachel Peckerman, Esq., Associate Director, Public Interest Law Center, NYU School of Law. for sharing the Defender Handbook.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – August 1, 2014

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

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

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

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

The summaries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super Music Bonus!

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 25, 2014

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

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

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

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

The summaries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 18, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid of Western Ohio honored for innovation;
  • Vinson Elkins providing virtual pro bono assistance;
  • Legal Aid Alberta phasing out drop-in services;
  • Alberta auditor general planning probe of legal aid funding;
  • Nova Scotia Legal Aid adding more services;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Chuck Bennett;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 12, 2014 – “Legal Aid of Western Ohio received the Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Annual Conference.  The Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award was created to recognize innovative court connected or court-related programs.”  “Legal Aid was nominated for this award by all of the juvenile and domestic relations judges and magistrates in the original four of the counties served by the program.”  (Northwest Signal)

July 12, 2014 – “With cheap headsets and free Internet service, Vinson & Elkins LLP has created a “virtual” clinic that allows desk-bound lawyers to provide services to the poor — a model the firm believes could be revolutionary in providing pro bono services.  The idea for the firm’s Houston pro bono project was borne in the post-financial crisis years, said Ellyn Josef, the firm’s pro bono counsel, when the typically long lines at weekend pro bono clinics held at Houston-area community centers became even longer.”  (Law 360) (registration required)

July 14, 2014 – “Legal Aid Alberta is phasing out drop-in legal services centres in smaller cities across Alberta.  The move will cost 35 jobs in seven locations, but 16 new positions will be added answering telephones at the main call centre in Edmonton, said Jan Archbold, spokeswoman for Legal Aid. Staffing for duty counsel at courthouses and at criminal resolution offices will also increase.”  “The closures affect offices in Wetaskiwin, Medicine Hat, Peace River, St. Paul, Whitecourt, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie. By reallocating resources, Legal Aid will now also have a duty counsel in every courthouse while court is in session. Those lawyers help anyone facing charges get through the first court appearance.”  (Edmonton Journal)

June 15, 2014 – “The auditor general of Alberta is planning to review funding for the province’s troubled Legal Aid program.  In a letter to NDP MLA Rachel Notley, Merwan Saher confirmed his office is planning to perform a systems audit ‘in the near future.’  Notley wrote Saher last month requesting his officer look at how underfunding for Legal Aid affects the costs of court services and prosecutions. She received his reply on Tuesday.”  This announcement follows in the wake of the earlier announcement by Legal Aid Alberta that it’s closing offices to save money.  (CBCnews)

July 17, 2014 – “Karen Hudson, QC, executive director of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission, said in the 1970s, legal aid would offer assistance in social justice issues, but later narrowed its focus to criminal and family law.  It is now returning to its roots by offering full service in areas of Canadian Pension Plan applications, social assistance claims, Employment Insurance appeals as well as landlord and tenant disputes and housing grants.” “She said giving people proper representation in social justice is important because these issues affect their income and livelihood.  ‘When people have insecurity in their income or housing, it only worsens their intersections with family justice system and criminal justice system,’ Hudson added.”  These services are available now.  (The News)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  “Chuck Bennett figured the Kenosha [WI] Office of the Public Defender would be a short stop when he took the job in 1982, fresh out of law school — but he stayed for decades.  Bennett’s last day at the office was Friday, retiring after 32 years.  The opening here was the only one for which he applied. Bennett wanted to be close to Milwaukee, and though he hadn’t ever been to Kenosha, the location looked pretty good, and the job was exactly what he wanted.”  He has gained the respect of the judges and prosecutors and says “some of the most rewarding moments, he said, are when he runs into former clients.  ‘There are the ones you helped and they never got in trouble again,’ he said. ‘I’ve never had a bad experience meeting someone I represented before.’”  Congratulations on a career well-spent on helping the voiceless.  (Kenosha News)

Super Music Bonus!

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EJW Student Loan Debt Webinar – July 31

Will Public Service Loan Forgiveness be Capped?

In March, President Obama’s 2015 budget was released. To the dismay of many, it proposed capping Public Service Loan Forgiveness at $57,500. Now it is Congress’ turn to act.

Our July 31 webinar, Drowning in Debt! What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know About Managing Student Debt & Earning Loan Forgiveness, will cover the good and the bad in President Obama’s budget proposal, what’s happening in Congress and the implications for both students and graduates. As always, we’ll also cover in detail what you need to know now about making your monthly student loan payments affordable and earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter (@EJW_org, #studentdebthelp) and on Facebook.

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Friday, July 18 – “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

“Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River”: 4th Annual Summer Panel Discussion with the East of the River Casehandlers

Friday, July 18, 2014 | 12:30 pm – 2 pm | Deanwood Neighborhood Library | 1350 49th St NE, Washington DC 20019

Metro: Deanwood (Orange Line)

THE PROGRAM

The East of the River Casehandlers group invites all legal interns, summer associates, law students and pro bono attorneys to come find out more about practicing public interest law east of the Anacostia River. This informal panel discussion will feature attorneys from DC legal services providers that serve the low-income residents of these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Imoni Washington of the DC Bar Foundation will join us after the provider panel to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers east of the river. We will also have information available on student internship and pro bono opportunities with EOTR legal services providers.

PANELISTS

Bread for the City: Taylor Healy (Equal Justice Works Fellow) | Employment Justice Center: Melody Webb (Legal Director) |Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia: Nina Wu (Staff Attorney) Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia: Kristin Hucek (Loaned Associate from Covington & Burling LLP) | Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities: Morgan K. Whitlatch (Senior Attorney)

MODERATOR

Keeshea Turner Roberts (Managing Attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services Program)

REGISTRATION

To register, contact Heather Hodges at 202.269.5100 or hhodges@nlsp.<orgmailto:hhodges@nlsp.org>. This program is intended to be highly interactive and driven by your questions. We encourage you to submit any questions you have with your registration request.

ABOUT US

The East of the River Casehandlers meet every three months at the Anacostia Library to share program information and discuss strategies for dealing with issues of common concern to our low-income clients in Wards 7 and 8. We also conduct legal information programs for community members and legal services attorneys. Our next meeting will be on August 22, 2014. Please send an e-mail to EastoftheRiverLawyers-subscribe@mail.lawhelp.<orgmailto:EastoftheRiverLawyers-subscribe@mail.lawhelp.org> if you would like to join our listserv.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 11, 2014

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

Happy Friday everyone!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • Legal Aid Ontario to fund more Gladue services in Thunder Bay;
  • LA court opens self-help website;
  • Denver (CO) County Court judges seek new defender office;
  • BC lawyers back to job action;
  • ND pilot program exposes law students to rural careers;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Scopes Trial litigants;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

July 4, 2014 – “Legal Aid Ontario plans to address the ‘acute need’ for Gladue services in Northwestern Ontario in the coming months.  ‘When all this is finished we’ll have the best Gladue program across the country,’ director general Nye Thomas said. ‘There’ll still be more work to do after that, but it’s addressing a long standing need.’  Gladue reports allow the court to consider the life circumstances of Aboriginal people accused of crimes. It’s a method of addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the criminal justice system.”  “Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services submitted a proposal for Legal Aid Ontario to fund three Gladue report writers. One based in Thunder Bay, one in Sioux Lookout and one in Timmins.”  “The Lakehead Law school has also asked for funding for Gladue services from Legal Aid Ontario.”  The details haven’t been finalized, but Thomas is optimistic that they will be able to provide funding to both those programs within a year.  (cbcnews)

July 5, 2014 – “A state district judge has introduced a new self-help website designed to provide easier and wider access to legal services.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Wendell Manning says the website — www.4thjdcselfhelp.com — is the result of a collaboration between the court, its bar association, the Louisiana Bar Association, the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court’s Office and Access to Justice.”  “Manning says he hopes the site’s services will help to close the gap between those who qualify for legal aid and those who have an income source but can’t afford an attorney.”  (GoErie.com)

July 5, 2014 – “Denver County Court is seeking creation of a public defender’s office for municipal offenses, replacing contracted attorneys with in-house lawyers to represent needy defendants.  Similar to an office in Aurora, the new public defender would represent those accused of violating municipal ordinances — not state criminal offenses — if they face jail time.  Presiding Judge John Marcucci made the case for the change to a City Council committee, which signed off 4-0.”  If approved, the office will begin operation January 1, 2015. (The Denver Post)

July 5, 2014 – “The Trial Lawyers Association of BC is starting a new wave of job action today. Kamloops lawyer Michelle Stanford, who sits on the Legal Aid Action Committee, says a blackout period starts today and runs until August 8th. That means participating lawyers will refuse to perform duty counsel services, attend trials or bail or sentencing hearings. The next stage will involve one week of blackouts per month. That begins in October and will go on indefinitely.  Stanford says the lawyers have long been pressing the government for desperately needed Legal Aid funding, money to help those who can’t afford their own legal representation. She says the unfortunate part of this job action, is it will hurt those they want to serve. That includes people needing help with family matters or dealing with mental health issues.  The lawyers’ job action was halted after the last provincial election to allow talks to continue with the new Attorney General, but now they’re putting the heat back on.”  (CFJC TV)

July 5, 2014 – “Opportunities abound to practice law in rural North Dakota. The challenge has been persuading young law students to seize those opportunities.  The State Bar Association of North Dakota, University of North Dakota School of Law and North Dakota court system have responded with a pilot project that this summer has two law students working for pay as clerks for rural district judges. The program is designed to expose students to the law and lifestyle in communities of fewer than 15,000 people.” Currently, two students are participating, but there are hopes to expand the program to allow students to clerk with rural attorneys.  (The Bismark Tribune)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On July 10, 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.  The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.  Reviewing the details now provides a fascinating look at where we’ve been and perhaps a preview of where we’re going as a society. Read more here.

Super Music Bonus!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYCNiI_yQeY

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2015 Equal Justice Works Fellowship application now open.

The application for 2015 Equal Justice Works Fellowships is now open! Applications will be accepted through September 17, 2014. Please visit their website to learn more.

EJW is also hosting a free webinar next Wednesday, July 16, to learn more about the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program and get application tips from the experts on our Fellowships Team. Immediately following the July 16 session, there will be a bonus webinar discussing medical-legal partnership projects, featuring Ellen Lawton of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

Wednesday, July 16, 2 p.m. EDT:

  • Bonus Webinar: Building a Successful Medical Legal Partnership Project
    Ellen Lawton of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at GWU’s Department of Health Policy will offer suggestions and resources for engaging healthcare partners, understanding the legal and healthcare landscape, and building sustainable strategies into your project.

Register for both webinars on our website.

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PSJD Public Interest News Digest – July 4, 2014

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

Happy July 4th!  Have a safe and happy holiday!

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

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic conduct needs assessment for trans people;
  • NYC legal aid groups get grant to help low-income tenants fighting eviction;
  • Justice Department of Canada aims to cut $52 mil in legal services;
  • NYC funds public defender system for immigrants;
  • St. Mary’s University School of Law to offer Presidential Scholarships to service-oriented students;
  • Baylor Law receives pro bono award;
  • MO legislature grants public defense money – Governor takes it away;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Our Founding Fathers;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

June 24, 2014 – “The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) is leading an innovative Trans Legal Needs Assessment project that will help trans people meet their legal needs and determine the barriers they face in accessing justice. Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is funding this project as part of its support for the addition of gender identity and gender expression to the Ontario Human Rights Code.”  Ryan Peck, executive director of HALCO, adds, “Our goal for this project is to help a wide range of legal service providers make their vital services more available and accessible to all trans people.”  (Legal Aid Ontario)

June 26, 2014 – “New Yorkers facing eviction will get more help in Housing Court this year.  The City Council’s final budget, approved early Thursday, earmarked $5 million for free legal assistance for low-income tenants who are fighting their landlords in Housing Court, more than double the $2 million that was allocated last year.  The money will go to The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and other public attorney groups, in an effort to prevent the nearly 30,000 evictions that occurred in New York City last year, advocates said.”  (DNAinfo New York)

June 26, 2014 – “The federal Justice department is taking steps to cut $52.2 million worth of legal services it provides government over the next three years with “two waves” of reforms that will eliminate jobs, change the working relationship with client departments and, it hopes, improve efficiency.”  “In the first wave, the changes will eliminate the positions of 65 lawyers and 15 management jobs by 2017, which the department believes can be done by attrition rather than layoffs.  According to a memo circulated to staff, a key area for reform is ‘re-defining’ Justice’s relationship with client departments ‘to strike the right balance between supply and demand of legal services.’”  (Ottawa Citizen)

June 26, 2014 – “Poor New York City residents who have been detained in the immigration system and are facing deportation will now have legal representation to help them through the complicated proceedings after city lawmakers voted to fund a program advocates say is the first of its kind in the country. Lawmakers approved $4.9 million for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project as part of the $75 billion budget passed early Thursday covering the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The funding allows the initiative, which started as a $500,000 pilot program last year, to cover all eligible immigrant city residents appearing in immigration courts in New York City or the New Jersey cities of Elizabeth and Newark.”  (Wall Street Journal)

June 26, 2014 – “The St. Mary’s University School of Law will present as many as five, full-tuition Presidential Scholarships each year to service-oriented law students, starting as early as Fall 2014. The Presidential Scholarship is open to any law school applicant of outstanding academic achievement, commitment to the service to others, and potential for a life of community leadership.  The scholarship will cover 100 percent of the tuition and fees required to complete the Juris Doctor degree at St. Mary’s University, as well as a $5,000 annual stipend. Recipients will be expected to be active in the law school community while a student and to complete all three years of legal study at St. Mary’s.” (St. Mary’s University)

June 26, 2014 – “Baylor Law School was honored today by the State Bar of Texas with an award for exceptional service to the poor during the awards presentation at the organization’s Annual Meeting at the Hilton Austin and Austin Convention Center.  The State Bar presented Baylor Law School with the 2014 W. Frank Newton Award for Pro Bono Excellence. The award, presented by the bar’s Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, recognizes the pro bono contribution of attorney groups whose members have made an outstanding contribution to the provision of, or access to, legal services to the poor.”  (The Gilmore Mirror)

June 29, 2014 – “The Missouri State Public Defender System has once again failed in its quest for more funding.  Backed by new evidence that supports its claims of understaffing, the public defender system received about $4 million in funding increases from the legislature in the budget for fiscal year 2015. But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed about 80 percent of the increase Tuesday.”  The system will receive “about $36 million in next year’s budget, with some additional money included to help the system contract out cases.”  (Missourian)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants:  On July 4, 1776, “[i]n Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king.”  From there, a system of government and laws developed that is the bedrock of our society.  Read more about the events leading up to the Declaration here.  Enjoy this uniquely American holiday! 

Super Music Bonus! A track to add to your July 4th playlist.

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