Archive for May, 2012

Job o’ the Day: Paid Asylum Program Internship at Human Rights Initiative of North Texas!

Human Rights Initiative is currently seeking a participant for our Asylum Program Paid Internship for fall 2012. The Asylum Program represents immigrants who have fled their home countries due to persecution and torture based on their religion, political opinion, race, nationality or membership in a particular social group. This program will provide practical, hands-on litigation experience in the area of immigration law and removal proceedings while serving some of the agency’s neediest clients.

As an Asylum Intern you will shadow attorneys who prepare applications for various forms of immigration relief.  You will also assist in conducting client interviews, draft supporting affidavits and outline direct and redirect examinations. You will observe the witness preparation that is crucial in Asylum cases and perform legal research, brief writing, and country conditions research. Finally, at the end of the semester you are expected to provide a final report to the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas summarizing the internship experience with HRI.

To learn how to apply, see the listing at PSLawNet!

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New Report: the Economic Benefits of Civil Legal Aid in Illinois

By: Steve Grumm

The Chicago Bar Foundation and a group of other stakeholders have released a report they commissioned to look at the economic benefits that the work of the Illinois civil legal aid community brings to the larger society.  The study, performed by the Social IMPACT Research Center of the Heartland Alliance, looks like it was a pretty rigorous affair.  And it concludes that, considering work done in preventing homelessness and domestic violence, as well as securing federal benefits and monetary awards to which low-income clients are entitled, the benefits of civil legal aid to larger society are tangible indeed.

Here’s a link to press release, and here’s one to the full report, Legal Aid in Illinois: Selected Social and Economic Benefits.

Here’s are some key points from the report’s executive summary:

The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Polk Bros. Foundation commissioned this study to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the tangible economic benefits of legal aid. This study quantifies some of the benefits to clients and other Illinoisans from cases closed by seven legal aid providers that are part of the larger network of 38 legal aid providers funded by The Chicago Bar Foundation and the Lawyers Trust Fund. It uses data from civil law cases in which clients resided in Illinois. These include cases in which a provider communicated with a third party, prepared legal documents, or helped a client represent himself or herself; negotiated a settlement with a third party; represented a client in an administrative agency process or court proceeding; and provided other services beyond legal advice. Data from 8,134 cases were used in the study. The average client helped by one of these cases belonged to a household of three people and reported annual household income of $14,075, meaning that his or her household was well below the federal poverty level.

The study quantifies four economic benefits from cases closed in 2010 by the seven legal aid providers:

  • Legal aid providers won $49.4 million in monetary awards for clients. Examples of monetary awards are child support and alimony, public benefits like Social Security and unemployment insurance, and relief from illegal charges by a landlord or payment to a predatory lender;
  • Legal aid providers won $11.9 million in benefits wholly or partially paid for by the federal government. It is estimated that these awards were associated with $9.3 million in demand for goods and services, $5.4 million in household income, and 172 non‐legal‐aid jobs across Illinois.
  • By preventing or obtaining more time in foreclosures or evictions, obtaining, protecting, or increasing rental subsidies, and assisting clients with other housing issues, legal aid providers avoided $1.9 million in costs to homeless shelters.
  • By obtaining protective orders, divorces, child custody, and legal recognition for noncitizens experiencing abuse, legal aid providers avoided $9.4 million in costs of domestic violence to individuals.

The economic benefits of legal aid in Illinois are likely to be greater than those estimated in this study. The study uses data from only seven of 38 legal aid providers funded by The Chicago Bar Foundation and the Lawyers Trust Fund. Additionally, civil law cases other than those involving monetary awards and federal benefits, homelessness, and domestic violence may have outcomes with economic benefits for legal aid clients and other Illinoisans: by overcoming expulsion of a student from school, legal aid may enable the student to obtain a high school diploma, increasing his or her lifetime earnings; by restoring a client’s drivers license or recovering a repossessed vehicle, legal aid may enable the client to access employment far from home, meeting an employer’s need for labor and contributing to the local economy. Because this study estimates economic benefits of legal aid in only four easy‐to‐monetize areas, it represents an incomplete estimate of the economic benefits of legal aid in Illinois. While a complete inventory of the economic benefits from legal aid is beyond the scope of this study, the estimates it presents can help inform policymakers and other stakeholders as they make decisions about the future of legal aid. 

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Job o’ the Day: Community Law and Policy Intern at the Center for Collaborative Change in Newark, NJ!

The Center for Collaborative Change is seeking an energetic, dedicated graduate student or recent graduate with inter-disciplinary skills and a passion for collaboration to join our team as a Summer 2012 Community Law and Policy Intern.  Current projects that interns could be involved with include a community wide needs assessment for Newark, community input portions of the Newark Master Plan, and a non-profit community organization incubation summit.

The Center for Collaborative Change is a community-based nonprofit that brokers collaborative solutions to make Newark thrive. Our mission is to engage community and civic leadership in policy and program development in order to accelerate Newark’s revitalization while ensuring that the process includes and responds to the priorities of its community members. The Center is committed to restoring trust between Newark’s decision-makers and residents, realigning them to be on the same team, and using the knowledge and resources of that alliance to establish a critical mass of reforms that will bring Newark to a tipping point where a positive cycle of health, abundance and opportunity can achieve momentum. For more information about the Center, please visit our website: http://www.newarkchange.org.

See the full listing at PSLawNet!

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Double Jeopardy Protection? Maybe.

By: Maria Hibbard

Before I came to law school, I thought the right to be protected from double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime twice, was one of the guaranteed rights of the American judicial system. If I’ve learned anything throughout my first year of law school, however, it’s that the answer to the question of whether anything is guaranteed is “possibly” or “maybe.”

Although the right to be protected from double jeopardy is preserved in the Fifth Amendment, as Andrew Cohen noted this weekend in The Atlantic, this right has frequently been eroded by precedent and the very nature of our judicial system. When the Supreme Court decided Blueford v. Arkansas last week, the right against double jeopardy became even more subject to parsing. In the original trial, Blueford was charged with capital murder, first-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide for the death of a one-year old child. When the jury returned from deliberation, the foreperson stated that although they had voted unanimously to acquit the murder charges, they were deadlocked on manslaughter and did not vote on negligent homicide.  Although the judge sent the jury back to deliberate more on the lesser charges, a mistrial was declared.

The Supreme Court had to decide whether the foreperson’s announcement of the jury’s votes to acquit were sufficient to invoke double jeopardy protection on the murder charges. The Court agreed with the state, however, saying that protection was not valid because the jury could have re-evaluated their acquittal when they were sent back to deliberate further on the lesser charges. Chief Justice Roberts writes, “It was therefore possible for Blueford’s jury to revisit the offenses of capital and first-degree murder, notwithstand­ing its earlier votes. And because of that possibility, the foreperson’s report prior to the end of deliberations lacked the finality necessary to amount to an acquittal on those offenses…” In his analysis, Cohen criticizes the majority’s use of a hypothetical (not unlike the “what if” Socratic questions of my law school professors), noting the irony in the fact that although Blueford had heard the jury acquit him of the murder charges in open court, in his new trial (still yet to come) another jury could possibly still find him guilty.

What does this case mean for public defenders and appellate advocates? There’s no double jeopardy protection in a mistrial, even if the jury’s vote to acquit is stated in court. Although the Fifth Amendment seems to guarantee double jeopardy protection for every defendant, the only thing that seems to be sure is that it “depends on the circumstances.”

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Mandatory Pro Bono? Be Part of the Conversation!

From the New York Times’ Opinion Pages:

In “Rethinking Pro Bono” (Op-Ed, May 14), Ben Trachtenberg casts Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s new legal public service requirement as bad policy, saying students and graduates can’t afford it, can’t do it and shouldn’t be asked to do it since better ideas abound. Starting in 2013, candidates for admission to the New York State Bar must complete 50 hours of public service.

Contrary to Mr. Trachtenberg’s argument, 50 hours of pro bono work will not mire law students and graduates in poverty. Moreover, volunteers can make a difference while gaining skills, confidence and links to jobs. . . .

The pro bono requirement may have hidden virtues. Over time, schools, firms and the courts may guide more resources toward public service, helping to improve its quality. The first opportunity to do pro bono can also make the second easier, instilling in many a commitment for life.

Alternative approaches may also have merit, but credit the chief judge for acting in urgent times to make this good idea a reality.

Read the rest here and respond to this letter for NYT’s Sunday Dialogue.

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Job o’ the Day: Director of Justice Programs at Alliance for Justice in DC!

Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process.

AFJ is seeking a Director of Justice Programs.  The Director of Justice Programs is a senior staff member who will be responsible for managing research and developing and implementing strategy around AFJ’s justice policy initiatives.   The Director of Justice Programs reports to the executive vice president.

The Director of Justice Programs is expected to be a national authority on the broad range of legal policy issues handled by AFJ.

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The Yellow Brick Pathway to Federal Employment

By: Maria Hibbard

Since it’s intern season here in Washington, D.C., many bright-eyed and bushy tailed students with hopes of potentially working for the federal government are streaming into the city.  I may or may not be one of them!  My name is Maria Hibbard, and I’m the resident PSLawNet Intern and Publications Coordinator for the summer. I’m a rising second year law student at Case Western Reserve University. Since I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and am now in Cleveland for law school, D.C.’s vast system of public transportation and plethora of free summer activities (see the Having Fun on the Cheap page!) definitely has a big-city allure for me as well. I’ll be blogging throughout the summer here while avoiding the D.C. heat in the air conditioned office, of course.

Until recently, the path to employment at a federal agency or department has been a mystical jumble of various opportunities only found through a great degree of research: volunteer internships, compensated internships, fellowships, short-term and long-term programs. Hopefully, this jumble will soon become clearer–when President Obama’s Executive Order 13562 takes effect on July 10, 2012, current students and recent graduates will have three clear paths to federal employment via The Pathways Program. To break it down, everyone loves a list:

  • Some aspiring federal employees may have heard of the Student Career Experience program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP); both of these programs are being replaced by the all-encompassing Internship Program. While the program is still administered primarily by the hiring agency, students can possibly earn conversion into a permanent position after the completion of 640 hours of work experience.
  • The Recent Grads program is a new opportunity for recent graduates within two years of obtaining any degree. Like the internship program, it is administered individually by the federal agencies, but the one year program provides structured mentorship opportunities, 40 hours of formal training, and the creation of an individual development plan. After 1 year, the graduates of the program can be eligible for conversion to permanent employment at the selected agency.

Starting in July, agencies will have to provide information about both of these programs, their specific opportunities, and application procedures on www.usajobs.gov/studentsandgrads/.

  • Finally, the Presidential Management Program, while obviously not new, has been reworked to provide for a more seamless application process and administration (especially after last year’s acceptance snafu). This prestigious program, for professionals of all disciplines, places fellows at the center of federal policy making, provides at least 80 hours of formal training, and encourages the development of a performance plan.

We’ll remind you in July to start looking for opportunities on the reworked federal website; hopefully, the Pathways Program will lead more aspiring students and recent grads down the yellow-brick-“pathway” to federal employment.

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