Archive for November, 2010

PSLawNet Jobs Report: November 29, 2010

Need a job or internship? During the past week PSLawNet has posted:   21 new attorney positions,   12 new internships, and  7 new law related opportunities.  Additionally, there are currently 1,236 active opportunities in our job database.  PSLawNet enjoyed a Thanksgiving Holiday as well so we have a backlog of new attorney and internship postings, so make sure to check the database mid-week for a number of new openings.  To search the database visit PSLawNet

Featured New Positions:

The Harris County Public Defender is currently hiring for both an Assistant Public Defender to serve as Division Chief for their Mental Health Division and an Assistant Public Defender to serve as Division Chief of their Appellate Division.  Harris County, Texas hired its first public defender earlier this month and the office is gearing up to begin operations in 2011 (Read local coverage from Houston and check out our earlier coverage of this issue in the June 11, 2010 issue of the Public Interest News Bulletin).

The Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project (CDP) is currently seeking law student interns interested in working with them in Summer 2011 to protect the rights of low-income people and to provide legal and technical assistance to advance diverse community development projects.  The CDP provides legal, technical, research, and policy support to community-based organizations working to improve conditions in low-income communities in New York City.  Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis, but must be received by January 10, 2011.  Check PSLawNet for additional details about the internships and application instructions.

Featured Public Service Career Resource:

Considering a career as a public defender?  The University of Virginia School of Law has shared their How to Get a Job in a Public Defender’s Office guide with PSLawNet’s Public Service Career Library.  The guide is designed to help students decide if they would like a career as a public defender.  It was also created to assist committed students in successfully landing a job at a defender’s office.  Among other features, this publication includes information on how to choose the right public defender’s office for you, how to develop a public defender resume, and how to prepare for a public an interview for a public defender’s office.   Check it out.

Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .

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Expand Your Skill Set: Spanish Immersion Programs

In the current economic climate, as a public interest lawyer it is more important than ever to expand and strengthen the skill set you bring to employers.  At our annual NALP/PSLawNet Public Service Mini-Conference,   Alejandro T. Reyes, associate counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, highlighted the need that exists for Spanish-speaking attorneys and recommended law students and lawyers consider a two-week immersion program in Latin America.

After a guest post earlier this month from Leeor Neta, that shared this piece of advice about immersion programs the PSLawNet Blog was asked about how to find credible and affordable programs.  We researched the issue as promised and here are a few recommendations we received for reputable programs:

  • Intercultura Language School and Cultural Center (Heredia and Samara Beach, Costa Rica):  This program was recommended to one-half of the PSLawNet Blog by her friend who is a teacher in Seattle and attended a program at the school a couple of years ago.  He really enjoyed the experience and highly recommends the program.

From their website:  The primary goal of Intercultura is to teach you the Spanish language in a warm yet intellectually challenging environment. Classes at our city and beach campuses are conducted entirely in Spanish, providing students from all over the world with a complete and intensive learning experience. Our professors have advanced university degrees and teaching certification, and we are accredited through the US university system, offering undergraduate credit to those interested. In addition, you have the opportunity to come to know Costa Rica, its traditions and its rich cultural heritage by participating in our daily cultural and extracurricular activities.

  • ICA Language School (Xela, Guatemala): This recommendation comes from a D.C. attorney who attended the program.  She characterized the program as “very intensive 1:1 training” and “felt [she] learned a lot.”

From their website:  The Instituto Central America (I.C.A.), founded in 1976, is the first Spanish school in Quetzaltenango to be fully accredited by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and the Guatemalan tourist institute (INGUAT). We offer a personalized learning program with one-on-one instruction to students of all levels. Every teacher at I.C.A. offers years of experience and training, a private classroom for each student-teacher pair and we use our very own textbook, researched and written by our teachers.

Our instructors are professionals with extensive knowledge of grammar and experience in methods, techniques, and activities to apply what you learn in the classroom in the real world. In addition, all of our teachers participated in the Diploma for Teachers Specialized to Teach Spanish as a Second Language given and evaluated by the San Carlos University, the Ministry of Education, and the Tourist Institute of Guatemala, to name a few of the institutions involved.

  • Convinced that Guatemala is the destination for you?  Check out Guatemala365. This site was recommended to us by another D.C. attorney and lists “about 30 selected Spanish schools in different towns of Guatemala. There are photos and descriptions that charactarize these schools.”  Guatemala365 “selected and ranked [schools] based on reports of over 1000 students.”  The site also provides you with information about how to apply for the various programs and advice for planning your travel.

Through searching “the internets” we also came across the following sites that may be of assistance to you if you are looking for immersion programs.

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Law Students: Immigration Article Contest

Legal Language Services is sponsoring an immigration writing contest for law school students.  From their website:

Law school students: Are you studying immigration law? Have you noticed any trends in US or international immigration? Legal Language wants to hear what you think!

Submit an unpublished article on legal issues that affect immigration in the United States and/or abroad. Articles should reflect recent developments in immigration, bring forth new ideas about the subject or introduce a discussion.

Articles should be between 500 and 1,000 words and written for an audience of legal professionals. The articles will be judged on subject matter treatment, scholarship and analysis.

The winner will be awarded a $500.00 cash award and two runners-up will receive $100.00 cash awards. The winning articles as well as a number of additional articles receiving honorable mention will be posted on the Legal Language Services website.

The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2011.  Visit their website for full details and rules of eligibility.

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: November 22, 2010

Need a job or internship? During the past week PSLawNet has posted:   75 new attorney positions,   49 internships, and  19 law related opportunities.  Additionally, there are currently 1,267 active opportunities in our job database. To search the database visit PSLawNet

Featured New Positions:

Legal Services NYC-Bronx (LSNYC-Bronx) seeks a Project Director to lead its borough-wide program as it seeks to build on existing strengths and expand its capacity and impact for clients and communities.  Its areas of practice include housing, family law, public benefits, education, employment, consumer, homeowner protection and tax. Specialized program projects serve particularly vulnerable low-income populations such as seniors, survivors of domestic abuse and people with disabilities.  LSNYC-Bronx is a separately incorporated constituent corporation of Legal Services NYC, the largest provider of free civil legal services to low-income people in the nation.   Check PSLawNet for application details.

East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is seeking full-time law student interns for its 2011 Summer Program.  EBCLC is a nationally-recognized poverty law clinic founded by Boalt students in 1988 with the dual mission of providing high quality legal services to low-income clients and first-rate clinical education to law students. EBCLC provides free civil legal services to low-income clients of Alameda County, California.

EBCLC is the community-based clinic for Berkeley Law School (University of California, Boalt Hall) during the academic year. During our summer session, EBCLC welcomes students from all law schools. Check PSLawNet for application details.

Featured Public Service Career Resource:

Believe it or not, it is possible to work as a full-time public interest attorney with a . . . gasp . . . for-profit law firm.  While still considered a niche practice, many “public interest law firms” represent individuals, groups (such as labor unions and member associations), and government bodies on myriad legal matters, including employment and housing discrimination, labor issues, land use and property rights, and much more.  The  Center for Public Interest Law at
Columbia Law School (CPIL)
and Harvard Law School Office of Public Interest Advising shared their Private Public Interest and Plaintiff’s Firm Guide with the PSLawNet’s Public Service Career Library.  Check it out.

Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .

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LSC Launches Projects to Assist Veterans and Servicemembers

From the Legal Services Corporation late last week:

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today announced the launch of, the first national website focused on common legal problems of veterans and military families, and the start of an awareness campaign involving community-based Vet Centers and local legal aid offices.“Our veterans have defended and protected our most basic freedoms and now it is imperative that we stand up for them. That is why this special effort is so important,” LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi said. “We are delighted to be working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help make local Vet Centers aware of our services and to train those centers about the legal services that are available through our programs.”

Fortunately, many similar initiatives to help those who wore (or are wearing) the uniform have materialized in recent months.  The PSLawNet Blog has written extensively about law-school based projects, including one at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, one run by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and one at the William & Mary School of Law.

Veterans assistance programs are popular among funders, so law students who are interested in pursuing legal services careers should think about getting some experience working with vets and servicemembers in need.

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Public Interest News Bulletin: November 19, 2010

This week: Professor Tribe leaving DOJ Access-to-Justice initiative to return to Harvard; looking for more pro bono volunteers in Maryland; a report on poverty from Legal Services of New Jersey; public benefits backlog in a California county; federal security clearance process speeding up; pro bono lawyers needed in Maryland, part deux; a tax on Ohio lawyers to pay for public defenders?; DOJ domestic violence prevention funding in Los Angeles; the terrible IOLTA situation in Florida; a need for pro bono attorneys in Eastern Washington State; a beneficiary of cy pres funds in Dallas; and a post-election call to defund the Legal Services Corporation.

  • 11.18.10 – an announcement on the Harvard Law School website states that Prof. Laurence Tribe, who has been serving as Senior Counselor for Access to Justice at the DOJ, will leave that post and return to Boston on account of health problems.   He has stayed on at DOJ this fall because he is playing “a key role in a public White House event to be held Nov. 19 with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. The event will announce new initiatives to help middle class and low-income families secure their legal rights, Tribe said.”  Of course his health must come first, but the PSLawNet Blog is saddened to learn that the Access-to-Justice community will lose Prof. Tribe – at least in this prominent and unique DOJ position.  There was no word in the announcement about who will fill his DOJ position (or whether it will be filled, although we assume the AtJ initiative will not be abandoned outright because Tribe had slowly been adding staff and building an office in DC).  Here’s the announcement:
  • 11.16.10 – in a clear sign of how the recession has impacted local governments’ abilities to administer social services programs, “San Mateo County is  racing to process a backlog of applications for food stamps, financial aid, Medi-Cal and other forms of public assistance.”  As reported by the Mercury News, records show that the “Human Services Agency failed to process more than 1,000 applications by state-required deadlines each month between May and September.”  The primary culprits are a huge increase in public benefit applications and the fact that the Human Services Agency, laboring under budget constraints, hasn’t been able to fill open positions.  The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County “will consider legal options” if there is still an application backlog by 2011.
  • 11.16.10 – here’s some good news for those who are interested in federal careers: security clearance processes, which have at times moved with all the speed of a sleepy, apathetic glacier, are quickening.  The Government Executive website reports that a “…Government Accountability Office audit … found [that the Department of] Defense required 325 days on average to complete initial personnel security clearances in 2007, but reduced processing time to 60 days in the first three quarters of fiscal 2010. The Office of Personnel Management, which conducts 90 percent of the government’s background investigations, reduced its average completion time for initial security clearances from 153 days in fiscal 2007 to 47 days in fiscal 2010, according to agency data.”

Keep reading . . .

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2011 Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest

Were you glued to coverage of the Gulf Oil Spill this past spring/summer? . . .  Are you burning to combine your love for 24/7 media coverage and legal research and writing?  It might just be your lucky day . . . The topic for Public Justice’s 2011 Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice Essay Contest is “The Gulf Oil Spill:  Who Are the Victims and How Do They Get Compensated?”

Any student currently enrolled in an accredited American law school may submit a legal essay for the competition.

The author of the winning essay will receive a $5,000 cash prize; recognition  in the Public Justice newsletter and on the website;  publication of the essay in the Vermont Law School’s online Journal of Environmental Law; and a free Public Justice Foundation membership for the Contest Year.

Each entry must be submitted through a faculty adviser.  All entrants must submit an INTENT TO ENTER FORM by January 31, 2011.   The deadline for the essay is March 31, 2011. A panel of nationally renowned trial lawyers and law professors will judge the entries.

Visit Public Justice’s website for complete contest rules and criteria.

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On National Career Development Day…

According to the National Career Development Association, today is National Career Development Day.  It happens to fall in the middle of National Career Development Week (Nov. 15-19),  which itself is situated right smack in the heart of National Career Development Month (yes, November).  It’s quite ambitious, we think, to declare a celebratory month, week, and day.  Nonetheless, career development is extraordinarily important for law students.  And since public interest hiring season is approaching, we wanted to mark the occasion with a couple of points:

  • 1Ls, in case the date (understandably) passed you by amidst your efforts to master such concepts as nonmutual collateral estoppel and proximate causation, Nov. 1 marked the point at which you were able to begin meeting with your schools’ career development professionals.  (See NALP’s Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, Part V(D) – bottom of page.)  On December 1, you will be able to initiate contact with employers.  We at the PSLawNet Blog have mixed feelings about 1Ls focusing much, if at all, on the job search during 1st semester.  In a perfect world, you would spend the entire semester learning how to be law students.  We recognize, though, that the poor job market has many of you feeling ill at ease.  So for those who wish to take the plunge, we wish to convey how strongly we feel that setting up a meeting with career services is the best starting point.  Your author was very stubborn in school and fashioned himself a sort of rogue public-interest student.  Even though my school had a stand-alone public interest career office, I didn’t set foot in it.  This was really, really dumb.  I was able to find a summer job only because of some public interest work experience I’d gotten before school.  But I was operating with tunnel vision and had no idea about the broad array of practice settings that were open to me as a job applicant.  Had I met with career services, I’d have cast a much wider net in choosing where to apply.  And, on account of my stubbornness later in law school, I was hopelessly out of touch with the timeline to apply for postgraduate fellowships – something I still regret, and something my public interest career advisor could easily have clued me in on.  Finally, I don’t even want to think about what my cover letter and resume looked like without a trained set of eyes having reviewed them.  In retrospect, I got my 1L summer job in spite of my job search skills, not because of them.
  • Many 2Ls and 3Ls may already be hard at work on summer and postgraduate job applications, respectively.  I strongly encourage you to check in with your career services office (even, no, especially, if it’s for the first time).  And take advantage of PSLawNet’s career search resources on cover letters, resumes, and interviews, as well as our public interest career fairs calendar.

Good luck, and if there is anything we can provide to make things easier – short of a more rapid economic turnaround – please let us know.

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: November 15, 2010

Need a job or internship? During the past week PSLawNet has posted:   45 new attorney positions,   48 internships, and  20 law related opportunities.  Additionally, there are currently 1,222 active opportunities in our job database. To search the database visit PSLawNet.

Featured New Positions:

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) has just begun their search for a new Executive Director following the announcement from their Executive Director of 41 years that he will retire at the end of t his year.  MLRI is a statewide legal advocacy and support center whose mission is to promote economic, racial and social justice for low-income people through legal action, education and advocacy.  The organization is seeking a talented new leader to partner with its Board, staff, valued constituents and supporters in championing the rights and opportunities of low-income people at a time of significant economic and social challenge.  Check PSLawNet for application details.

The Polaris Project is current seeking law students to serve as Senior Legal and Policy Fellows  in their Policy and Legal Department.  Fellows will assist with advocacy and policy development for stronger comprehensive state and federal laws on human trafficking. Responsibilities include: conducting legal and statutory research, monitoring pending legislation, preparing legislative outreach materials, including action alerts, advocate and legislator briefs, communicating and providing assistance to legislators and other policy makers, providing technical assistance during the bill drafting process, and helping to build and assist coalitions in support of legislation.  Responsibilities may also include direct lobbying, outreach and the preparation of training materials for law enforcement and others.  Deadline:  December 24, 2010.  Check PSLawNet for application details.

Featured Public Service Career Resource:

Do you have an interest in working for State or Local Government? Just like the federal government, state and local government attorneys handle a broad range of legal issues and are housed in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.  State/local government attorneys craft policy, draft laws and rules, advise elected and appointed officials, and represent the interests of citizens in court.

Each state and local government organization has unique hiring practices, thus it is best to research each locale to see what types of positions exist and learn about hiring policies, etc.  On our State and Local Government Resources page we have links to state/local government resources by state and additional resources  to guide your job search.  Check it out.

 Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .
Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .

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Expert Opinion: 5 Steps to Launching a Law School Pro Bono Program

Today’s expert opinion is contributed by Susan J. Feathers, an Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Albany Law School where she is also an Academic Support Professor, the Director of Pro Bono Programs and the Faculty Advisor to Moot Court.  She is the former Executive Director of Stanford Law School’s Levin Center for Public Service and served as an Assistant Dean for Public Service at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Public Service Program (ABA Pro Bono Publico Award 2000) for nine years.  She began her career in academia as a Senior Supervising Attorney for Hofstra Law School’s Constitutional Litigation and Criminal Defense Clinics.   She has also served as Senior Appellate Counsel for the Legal Aid Society of New York City, Criminal Appeals Bureau.

The following five steps are excerpted from Feather’s article, 5 STEPS TO LAUNCHING A PRO BONO PROGRAM:   Albany Law School Launches Service-Learning Program with statewide partners.

(1) Host a Pro Bono Fair for Community Partners Seeking Pro Bono Assistance:   One of the most effective and easiest ways to educate students about pro bono opportunities in your community is to invite attorneys seeking pro bono interns to your law school for an informal informational fair.  This provides a way for both your students and prospective partners to meet ‘face-to-face’ and get a sense of the broad range of opportunities.    Your fair can feature local as well as statewide programs.   Albany Law School’s Pro Bono Program collaborates with a vast array of local and national  partners including:  the ACLU of Mississippi;  Freedom Now;;  the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York;   the New York State Bar Association,  Prisoners Legal Services,   and the Rural law Center.

(2) Develop a Student Handbook:  In the student handbook you can detail the various components of your program; including your definition of pro bono, the time expectations and the procedure for signing up and giving feedback.   In the handbook it is critical to address the many professional responsibility issues that may arise in the context of pro bono placements including confidentiality, conflicts of interest and the potential for unauthorized practice of law.  Finally, it is important to have opportunities for students to provide feedback about their experience and how it may have contributed to their understanding of substantive law;  informed their career choices;   and impacted their overall experience at the law school.

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