Archive for February, 2010

Public Interest News Bulletin – February 26, 2010

  • 2.26.10 – Washington Post – Laurence Tribe, prominent Harvard Law School professor and Supreme Court advocate, is joining the Justice Department to focus on bolstering indigent defense programs throughout the nation.  Attorney General Holder and senior DOJ officials recently lamented the poor funding of public defense programs, and the consequent barriers to the justice system confronting indigent defendants.  Link to article.
  • 2.24.10 – Los Angeles Times (Editorial) – opponents of Sharon Browne’s nomination to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, in particular the Alliance for Justice and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, “haven’t made a persuasive case.”  Some of the Alliance’s criticisms of Ms. Browne’s record “smack of guilt by association.”  The process used by ABA SCLAID in reviewing Ms. Browne’s qualifications to serve on the board is confidential.  So the Senate should hold open hearings to discuss criticisms of Ms. Browne and afford her a chance to reply.  Link to editorial.
  • 2.24.10 –National Law Journal – two decisions by the Supreme Court this week have limited lower courts’ interpretations of Miranda.  First, in Florida v. Powell, the Court “said that Florida’s alternative wording of the Miranda warning is acceptable, even though it does not explicitly state that a suspect has a right to have a lawyer present during questioning.”  One day later, in Maryland v. Shatzer, the Court established “more permissive rules for police who want to question a suspect for a second time after the suspect invokes Miranda‘s right to remain silent.”  Link to article.

Keep reading the rest of the news from this week!

Leave a Comment

Post Federal Player of the Week

We missed linking this last week, but the Washington Post‘s Federal Player of the Week for Feb. 16 was another lawyer – Jeffrey Collins (JD from Northwestern) who is currently working as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department. He started his career post-law school more traditionally, doing two judicial clerkships and then working at a firm. But in 2002 he joined the Foreign Service and since then has worked in Cuba, Turkey, Iraq, and now Bolivia where he focuses on anti-narcotics trafficking efforts.

The Federal Player of the Week is a joint production of the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, and we will try to link to all Players who have a law background.

Leave a Comment

Expert Opinion: Public Interest Leadership Development Part Deux

[Ed. Note: last week we posted the first of three parts in our series on leadership-skills development for public-interest minded law students and junior attorneys.  Today’s post, from former Equal Justice Works Fellow Emily Benfer, is the second.  It builds off of the propositions that the most successful public interest leaders are driven by fundamental commitments to the ends they seek to achieve, and draw from more arrows in their quivers than trial advocacy and other traditional lawyering skills which are emphasized in law school.]

Emily A. Benfer is a public interest attorney in Washington, D.C., where she is currently co-teaching a course on  Advocacy Tools for the 21st Century Public Interest Lawyer at Georgetown Law Center.  She first employed advocacy strategies as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and next year she will become the Director of a new Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

The world of public interest law values creativity, collaboration and scrappiness – the courage to take calculated risks and engage in the kind of “out-of-the-box” thinking needed to reshape our communities.  Public interest lawyers learn early on in their legal careers that legal prowess is only one of the many skills necessary to becoming an effective advocate for clients and causes. Our success is equally dependent on whether we access a full range of advocacy strategies that are critical to meeting client needs and creating measurable social change. The only problem is that most of us don’t learn these strategies in law school. It is my hope that these five tips will provide you with the framework to get started. Read Emily’s five tips after the jump…

Leave a Comment

Legal Services Corporation Makes Its Case on the Hill

LSC, like a lot of government funded entities, is both championed and pilloried by elected officials in Washington, depending on who is speaking.  Today, LSC’s interim president and board chair made the case for an appropriation boost – from the current $420 million in FY10 to a requested $516.5 million in FY11 – by emphasizing the greatly expanded 1) pool of eligible (low-income) clients and 2) demand for the services of legal aid attorneys, particularly on matters affecting families’ economic security, such as umemployment and home foreclosures.

Testifying in front of a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Victor M. Fortuno, LSC’s interim president, said

Just as the weak economy has severely impacted the poor, it has placed a great strain on the resources that support legal aid programs. Non-federal funding for legal aid programs is declining, and LSC-funded programs are concerned about their ability to provide increased services in 2010 and 2011 … The justice gap is a harsh reality in our nation and the downturn in our economy has dramatically increased the number of people needing civil legal services. 

Leave a Comment

Civil Gideon Law in Israel

The International Bar Association just blogged about a law passed in Israel back in November that requires the Israel Bar Association to provide legal representation to low-income persons. It’s up to the Bar Association to develop the details of the program (they currently have a volunteer lawyers program that provides legal assistance in a non-mandatory fashion), but this is a huge step forward towards recognizing a right to legal counsel in all proceedings, not just criminal.

Leave a Comment

A Lighter Side to Legal Rivalries

The State’s Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices in Jacksonville, Florida had a friendly competition in January to see which office could donate more blood to a local blood drive, the Jacksonville Daily Record reported. Not content with mere bragging rights, the head of the losing office had to kiss a pig during halftime at a local college basketball game. This time around the public defenders won, but I’d be willing to bet the prosecutors will demand a rematch in the future.

Leave a Comment

NALP’s Apartment Exchange Website Now Live

Law students who are moving out of town for the summer and looking for housing and/or looking to sublet their places should check out NALP’s free, online apartment exchange.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »