Winning! Elon and Loyola Law Schools Boast Revamped Clinic Opportunities for Students

by: Ashley Matthews

Times are tough for law students everywhere, who are facing the lowest employment rates in 18 years and the rude awakening of post-graduate loan debt. Many law students are beginning to aggressively question the value of their legal education and are demanding more bang for their buck, including enhanced clinic opportunities.

Fortunately, law schools are listening. Just last month, the National Law Journal reported that 76% of ABA-accredited law schools modified their course offerings to adapt to students’ needs for more practical skills. And now, two law schools – Loyola University College of Law and Elon University School of Law – have added revamped and new public interest clinics to their rosters, respectively.

As reported by Nola.com, Loyola Law School recently received four grants totaling $557,000 to aid low-wage workers in its Workplace Justice Clinic, a unit of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice. The grant will keep the clinic up and running for 3 more years, and will also help transform the initiative into a full-blown resource center.

Photo Courtesy of DigiTriad.com.

Yesterday, the Elon School of Law announced the opening of its Elder Law Clinic, which will start serving clients as early as this fall semester. The new clinic will serve low-income elders, with a focus on the civil legal issues of older adults, such as power of attorney, end of life planning, contract and consumer issues, housing, grandparent rights, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security benefits, and Veterans benefits.

These clinics will allow law students to represent low-income individuals free of charge, all under the guidance and supervision of licensed attorneys. Most clinics come equipped with additional experiential learning experiences, including a classroom component. In addition to allowing students to receive the practical skills they need to compete in a weak job market, poverty-stricken populations will get the much-needed services they desperately need. It’s a win all around!

Kudos to Loyola Law and Elon Law!

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Job o’ the Day: Post-Grad Legal Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center!

Since 1972, the National Women’s Law Center has led the way in expanding the possibilities for women and girls in our country.  The Center uses the law in all its forms: getting new laws on the books; litigating ground-breaking lawsuits all the way to the Supreme Court; and educating the public about how to make the law and public policies work for women and their families.  The Center’s experienced staff take on the issues that cut to the core of women’s and girls’ lives in health and reproductive rights, education, employment, and family economic security, with special priority given to the needs of low-income women and their families.

The Center is now recruiting rising third-year law students, judicial clerks, and other recent law school graduates interested in applying for Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or other law fellowships to begin in September 2013, to discuss their interest in basing a fellowship project at the Center.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with priority given to those received earliest.

The fellow will support the Center’s work in one or more of the following program areas: Health and Reproductive Rights, Family Economic Security, or Education and Employment.  Some specific project ideas are described below, but applicants may draft their own project descriptions for consideration.  Responsibilities may include researching and analyzing policy and legal issues; drafting a variety of materials, such as memos, fact sheets, reports, comments on regulations, and legal briefs; and working with national and state-based coalitions.

You can view the full listing at PSLawNet.org!

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Job o’ the Day: Intern with Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL!

Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice), which helps advocate for immigrants’ rights nationwide, is seeking motivated interns interested in immigration, civil rights, and criminal legal issues. Interns will assist on a project that works with a large immigration detainee population in South Florida. The focus of the project is to help provide legal representation to immigration detainees at underserved facilities. In addition, the project seeks to provide advocacy for and assistance to detainees who have suffered constitutional rights violations.

In Florida, the recent expansion of programs that allow state and local law enforcement to identify deportable immigrants has raised serious civil rights issues. AI Justice is one of the few organizations providing pro bono services at Broward Transitional Center, Florida’s largest immigration detention facility and the only one that houses immigrants with little or no criminal history.  Interns will allow AI Justice to provide legal representation to a large, underserved population and to systematically identify and address civil rights violations in immigration enforcement.

This project is headed by an Equal Justice Works Fellow at AI Justice. Interns will work under the supervision of the Fellow. View the full listing on PSLawNet (login required).

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Moving to a Large Metro Area This Fall? Check Out Our Guide to Living on a Budget in a Big City!

by: Ashley Matthews

It’s that time of year again!

It’s already August, and the hustle and bustle of fall activity is starting. The last days of summer are drifting by, and many of us are packing up and moving on to new (and hopefully exciting!) places for law school, internships, or post-graduate work. We all know that some of the best places to do public interest work are in major cities like Los Angeles or Miami, but these urban areas can be alarmingly expensive, to say the least.

Los Angeles is one of the featured cities!
Photo Courtesy of CoolChaser.com

So what’s a starving student to do for fun on a tight budget while living in a thriving urban area? Check out PSLawNet’s handy guide, Having Fun on the Cheap in Big Cities, to get tips on living like a boss, but on an intern’s salary (or lack thereof).

Featured cities include:

1. Atlanta

2. Boston

3. Chicago

4. Los Angeles

5. Miami

6. New Orleans

7. New York

8. Philadelphia

9. San Francisco

10. Washington, D.C.

With information on all kinds of social and cultural attractions, this guide is full of fun things to do, places to go, and sights to see in some of the most popular cities in America. Keep it close while you explore your new city, and feel free to drop us a line at pslawnet@nalp.org if you have any suggestions to add to the list!

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New PSLawNet Blog Sheriff in Town: Welcome Ashley Matthews!

By: Steve Grumm

We at NALP and PSLawNet are thrilled that Ashley Matthews, a 2012 grad of the University of Miami School of Law, has joined us this morning as the 2012-13 PSLawNet Fellow.  Ashley’s background is in both public interest law and journalism.  She also knows the online media awfully well, so she’ll be at the helm of our blog and Twitter messaging.  (Read: you’re no longer stuck with me all the time.)

You may reach Ashley at amatthews@nalp.org.  Welcome, Ashley!

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Job o’ the Day: Staff Attorney with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation!

The Central Regional Office of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation seeks a staff attorney for its  Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation is a non-profit organization providing free legal services to low-income individuals and to senior citizens in civil cases through five (5) offices in central and southern Illinois.  The program has a long history of high quality and innovative advocacy for our clients.  The Central Regional Office is located in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The staff attorney will :

  • Represent residents in long term care facilities and assisted/supportive facilities in a 7 county area.
  • Provide a full range of legal services to residents to prevent and remedy elder abuse and exploitation.
  • Provide a regular presence in all facilities, and investigate all resident complaints when received.
  • Assist the Regional Ombudsman in providing information, assistance and education to the community regarding long term care issues.

View the full job posting here (login required).

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Public Interest News Bulletin – August 10, 2012

courtesy of jigzone.com

By: Steve Grumm

Happy Friday, dear readers, from Washington, DC, where the sun is emerging after several hours of drenching summer rain.  Did you know that this day in history is a hugely significant one for the museum-goers among us?  On August 10, 1793, the Louvre opened its doors with its twofold mission of celebrating beautiful art and making non-French people feel uncultured.   But here in the US of A, on August 10, 1846 Congress chartered the Smithsonian Institution, which has since connected millions upon millions of people with art, science, and history.  

Speaking of history, unfortunately some of the history being written today concerns persistent economic hardships confronting families throughout the U.S.  Here’s an NPR story on the growth of poverty in the U.S. “According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since…1964. Close to 16 percent of Americans now live at or below the poverty line. For a family of four, that’s $23,000 a year. On top of that, 100 million of us — 1 out of 3 Americans — manage to survive on a household income barely twice that amount. How is this poverty crisis happening?…”  (Full story.)

  • On a related note here is a slideshow – The Faces of Food Stamps – that looks at the stories of several food stamp recipients, including the economic circumstances that forced them to seek help for themselves and their families.  Just for some broad-brush context: over one in seven Americans benefits from food stamps (a/k/a the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) these days.

The week in access-to-justice news, in short:

  • report both criticizes and praises NOLA’s public defender in relation to a funding crisis the office is working through;
  • stricter standards for determining eligibility for indigent defense in the Bay State?;
  • a new initiative to make technology work for Washington State civil legal aid programs and clients;
  • a pro bono attorney is appealing sanctions in hopes of getting an en banc hearing from the 9th Circuit;
  • will the ABA roll out a legal job corps?;
  • legal aid funding woes in the Sunflower State;
  • ditto in Old Dominion;
  • staff reductions coming at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid;
  • on a brighter note, the Florida Bar Foundation is expecting a windfall;
  • public defenders must defend themselves from professional indignities;
  • Ohio legal aid providers face harsh fiscal realities;
  • same thing for a Northern California provider;
  • the St. Louis Post Dispatch calls for $ for the state’s indigent defense system;
  • Memphis gets help from the Public Defender Corps program;
  • DC law-firm associates raise almost a million bucks for the Legal Aid Society;
  • the vital role of pro bono lawyers in helping Chicagoans who face foreclosure;
  • Music!

The summaries:

  • 8.9.12 – “A new report on the Orleans Parish public defender’s office places most of the blame on the office’s leadership for a major budget crisis earlier this year that forced heavy bloodletting. But the review also praised Derwyn Bunton, the chief public defender, for helping to build a professional office from what was a bare bones operation comprised of part-time lawyers before Hurricane Katrina.  The 66-page report, commissioned by the Louisiana Public Defender Board, comes six months after a major fiscal crisis for an office that represents more than 80 percent of criminal defendants in Orleans Parish and handled 30,000 cases in 2011.”  (Full story from the Times-Picayune.)
  • 8.9.12 – a Boston Globe editorial argues for stricter standards in determining whether a criminal defendant should be financially eligible for a public defender’s services. The piece highlights the fact that the state’s high court has recently taken notice of what it sees as overly lax standards for assessing indigence.
  • 8.7.12 – some folks with the Northwest Justice Project (which is where I fell in love with the idea of being a public interest lawyer) talk about their work “creating a series of instructive videos for WashingtonLawHelp.org through the federal Communities Connect Network Project (part of the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program) which aims to increase access to technology and improve legal literacy for unrepresented Washingtonians.”  The interview was conducted by the good people at ProBono.net.
  • 8.7.12 – “A coalition of public interest groups and two law professors are supporting a call for en banc review of sanctions imposed on an Arizona pro bono attorney in a blistering opinion by a federal appeals court panel.  In a June 21 opinion (PDF), the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a personal award of costs against attorney Howard M. Shanker, finding that he ‘grossly abused the judicial process’ by pursuing a harassing, duplicative lawsuit on behalf of his clients.”  I don’t know anything about the merits of the case.  I include this in the Bulletin b/c some parties supporting the en banc review are worried about a chilling effect with respect to the willingness of pro bono counsel to bring cases if they fear the possibility of sanctions.  Granted, this is affirmative litigation, which is not the normal posture for a lot of pro bono cases.  Nevertheless the ABA Journal article is worth a read.   
  • 8.7.12 – speaking of the ABA, they may really get into the postgraduate employment business, and this could impact the public interest community: “ABA President-elect James R. Silkenat told of a plan to create a legal job corps to match unemployed lawyers with underserved communities during a speech to the ABA House of Delegates….  Silkenat, who becomes ABA president in 2013, said there is a need to find meaningful jobs for lawyers and to make sure all parts of society have access to legal assistance. ‘Access to justice is more than just a catchphrase,’ he said.  Silkenat told the ABA Journal that the job corps would operate in both cities and rural areas. A few law schools have tried to implement the idea, he said, but ‘the ABA is the only party that can put it together nationally’.”  Hmmm.  (Full article in the ABA Journal.)
  • 8.7.12 – this article is ostensibly about $4000 of county funding for Kansas Legal Services, but goes on to highlight how KLS’s funding has been hit in the recession’s wake and the challenges it faces at present.  (Story in the Hillsboro Free Press.)
  • 8.6.12 – Jacksonville Area Legal Aid is looking at a sizeable staff cut: “Funding declines for [JALA] will cause the organization to lay off about 20 percent of its staff in the coming weeks.  Including satellite offices, JALA employs about 85 people. A 20 percent cut would indicate a loss of 17 positions.”  IOLTA funding falloffs are the main culprit: “JALA received $1.2 million in 2011, and is projected to receive $550,000 in 2013 and $350,000 in 2014.”  (Story from the Jacksonville Daily Record.)
  • 8.6.12 – on a brighter note, almost half a million dollars is flowing to the Florida Bar Foundation: “Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced that ProVest, LLC, one of Florida’s largest service processing firms, has agreed to pay $462,500 to the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the legal aid program that assists low-income individuals facing foreclosure. The settlement with ProVest resolves allegations regarding improper service of process in foreclosure cases filed in courts throughout Florida.”  Here’s the press release.
  • 8.6.12 – former public defender and current law professor Jay Silver recounts the professional indignities suffered by those who choose careers in public defense.  Criticism can come from all quarters – family members, clients, etc. – so a thick skin and strong sense of commitment are necessary for defenders to succeed.  (Full story from the National Law Journal.)   
  • 8.5.12 – a look at the harsh funding climate in which Ohio’s legal services providers are operating.  Frightening quote: “The Legal Aid Society of Columbus employed 74 people in 2008. Now, it employs 42.”  (Full story from the Columbus Dispatch.)
  • 8.5.12 – from Northern California: “A local nonprofit that has helped represent nearly 10,000 clients in legal matters in Placer and surrounding counties over the past four years alone has lost $165,847 in grant funding over the past two years, along with vital state and federal funding.  In the wake of massive federal and state funding cuts, Northern California Legal Services Motherlode Region, based in Downtown Auburn, and its other offices throughout Northern California, have had to start turning away many low-income residents desperate for legal help. Now, the legal nonprofit can only help people covered under very specific grants.  As of July 26, there was no new intake of clients except for seniors over 60 and those with health-related legal matters. As of Aug. 6, intake for some emergency cases will continue through September and will be reevaluated after that. The free legal clinics offered by the organization will also continue, but the staff and attorneys have been cut nearly in half over the past few years.”  (Full story from Auburn Journal.)
  • 8.5.12 – following a state supreme court ruling about public-defender caseloads, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial laments the under-funding of the state’s indigent defense system and argues that funding the system adequately now will save the state money in the long term: “Judges, prosecutors and public defenders have met privately time and time again without results. Prosecutors have scoffed, saying they’re as overworked as the public defenders — although, of course, they choose which cases to prosecute. Judges say they’re caught in the middle.  The Legislature and governor deal with this problem the way they deal with so many others: They punt.  Not every problem can be fixed with more funding. This one can. Do the math.”  (Here’s the full editorial.)
  • 8.5.12 – Public Defender Corps attorneys are starting work in The River City.  “Memphis is joining a movement to reform how indigent defendants are treated — in and out of the courthouse.  The idea is that public defenders may be able to help curb recidivism by helping their clients address many underlying problems, such as mental illness, unemployment and drug or alcohol addictions. Memphis’ forward-thinking helped the city earn a part in the lauded national Public Defenders Corp. program, said Jonathan Rapping, founder and president of Atlanta-based Southern Public Defender Training Center. The center and the D.C.-based Equal Justice Works lead the program, which also receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice.”  (Full story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.)  Unfortunately DOJ is no longer going to fund the Public Defender Corps program.  My understanding is that Southern Public Defender Training Center and Equal Justice Works are hunting for other funding options now.
  • 8.3.12 – finally, some good funding news: “In a year fraught with financial uncertainty, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia recently got some good news: the civil legal services group’s annual Generous Associates Campaign blew past its goal and previous fundraising highs, taking in a record $901,000…. Money earned from the campaign, which is run by associates at law firms across the city, makes up between 20 to 25 percent of the organization’s operating budget….” (Full story from the Blog of the Legal Times.)
  • 8.1.12 – the Chicago Lawyer reports on the vital role of pro bono attorneys in running a courthouse based foreclosure prevention program administered by Chicago Volunteer Legal Services.

Music!  Reading news stories from Memphis and St. Louis has got me thinking about the Mississippi.  So here’s some riverboat gambling music from Wilco, which, before becoming an art-rock darling, was a scrappy Illinois  rock band.

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Job o’ the Day: Education Law Staff Attorney – Legal Assistance Foundation of Metro. Chicago

The Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAF) is seeking a staff attorney in the area of Education Law, who will work in the Children and Families Practice Group at LAF. The attorney will handle cases for clients who have issues involving access to education, special education, expulsions, and suspensions. Many of these clients will be children and adolescents in foster care, whom LAF represents through a contact with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Responsibilities include representing clients at school special education meetings, administrative due process hearings pursuant to the Individuals with Education Disabilities Act, administrative expulsion hearings and state or federal court proceedings. The attorney will work with and train DCFS caseworkers, private agency caseworkers, foster parents, and court personnel to help them learn to identify and refer foster children who need LAF’s services.

The attorney should be able to drive and be willing to travel frequently throughout Cook County, often on short notice, to meet with clients, school personnel and others. Travel expenses will be reimbursed and other responsibilities adjusted to accommodate travel demands. The attorney will collaborate and advocate for LAF’s clients with other service providers in Illinois and with community-based organizations that serve children and families living in poverty. The attorney will share the work of screening, advising, representing and referring individuals seeking assistance with other attorneys, a paralegal, and a supervisory attorney.

The application deadline is August 28th.  View the full listing on PSLawNet (login required)

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Nominate a Law Student for the 2012 PSLawNet Pro Bono Publico Award! Deadline Approaching

Do you know a law student who’s a public interest/pro bono rock star?  NALP and PSLawNet are seeking nominations for the 2012 PSLawNet Pro Bono Publico Award. 

Download the Nomination Form Here!

Purpose: To recognize the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education by performing pro bono or public service work.

Eligibility: The Pro Bono Publico Award is available to any second- or third-year law student at a PSLawNet Subscriber School. The recipient will be honored during an Award Luncheon at NALP’s Public Service Mini-Conference on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at the Washington, DC office of Crowell & Moring, LLP. The award recipient will receive transportation to Washington, a one-night stay in an area hotel, a commemorative plaque, and a small monetary award.

Award Criteria: Law studentsare judged by the extracurricular commitment they have made to law-related public service projects or organizations; the quality of work they performed; and the impact of their work on the community, their fellow students, and the school. Though a student’s involvement in law school-based public interest organizing and fundraising is relevant; actual pro bono and public interest legal work will be the primary consideration. 

Nomination Deadline & Packet Contents: Nominations must be received by Friday, September 7, 2012 at 5pm Eastern Time, by fax, mail, or email (see contact information at bottom). Along with the nomination form and a résumé, nomination packets may include any materials which support a nominee’s candidacy; such as letters of recommendation, statements detailing a nominee’s work, and media articles. 

Thanks!

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Job(s) o’ the Day: Staff Attorney Positions with Greater Hartford Legal Aid

Civil legal aid openings in the Nutmeg State:

Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc. (GHLA) provides free legal representation to low-income residents of Hartford County in housing, family/domestic violence, employment, senior, AIDS, government benefits, health, education, and disability matters. 

GHLA will accept applications from attorneys with experience in one or more of GHLA’s practice areas and from law school graduates from the class of 2012. Admission to the Connecticut bar or ability to waive in is preferred for experienced attorneys.

 View the full job posting on PSLawNet (login required).

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