Access to Justice Headlines – December 30, 2013

Chicago from the ice

Chicago from the ice (Nam Y. Huh – AP)

Happy Monday, ATJ Enthusiasts, from a bitter cold Chicago.  I hope your holiday season is just gangbusters.  Before the ATJ news, three items for your consideration:

The ATJ news, in very, very short:

  • possible legislative boost for under-funded Legal Services of NJ?
  • new legal aid project aims to serve Florida veterans
  • IOLTA distribution announcements in RI, KS, TN
  • the outlook for legal aid funding in Connecticut
  • in California, the Justice Bus logs miles and clients served
  • coverage of Southeastern Ohio Legal Services’ closure of 1/3 of its offices
  • fund legal aid because it provides an economic and social benefit(!)
  • pushing for unbundling in Arkansas
  • Iowa’s new emeritus pro bono rule is taking root
  • new S. Carolina court rule entitles legal aid clients to filing fee waivers
  • a telephone-based project to support Colorado self-represented litigants
  • more phones: a Minnesota project taps into the 2-1-1 info line to connect people w/ legal services
  • LSC’s December newsletter
  • an updated and revised history of civil legal aid in the U.S.
  • from Canada: comprehensive report on “abysmal” state of ATJ, and solutions
  • new data from Maryland’s required pro-bono reporting program
  • Music!

The summaries:

  • 12.29.13 – a new Legal Services of New Jersey report will show the organization’s funding cut in half in recent years, even as Garden State poverty rises.  A Press of Atlantic City editorial looks at a possible state funding lifeline: “A bill approved by the Assembly in June would raise various court fees – none more than $50 – and dedicate the first $10.1 million a year to Legal Services.  The bill, which is awaiting action in the Senate, is a sound idea that will at least plug some of the financial hole Legal Services finds itself in.”
  • 12.29.13 – in Florida, an attorney formerly with Legal Aid Services of Collier County has co-founded “Legal Aid Service for U.S. Veterans Inc. This is a fully pro-bono (free) legal service for any honorably discharged U.S. veterans who are low income and do not qualify for any other free legal services.” (Story from the News-Press.)
  • 12.23.13 – three state IOLTA administrators announce grant disbursements (consisting of IOLTA and other funds):
    • “The Rhode Island Bar Foundation recently awarded $395,401 in grants to nine nonprofit organizations.”  (Providence Journal)
    • “In 2014, the [Kansas Bar Foundation] will award more than $100,000 to support six IOLTA grants, five [class-action] residual fund grants and seven scholarships.”  (Hays Post website)
    • “[The] Tennessee Bar Association has awarded a 2014 IOLTA Program Grant to the Legal Aid of East Tennessee.”  (KnoxNews website.  No announcement on the TN Bar Foundation page yet.)
  • 12.20.13 – this Connecticut Law Tribune piece reviews the funding outlook for legal aid community: “The state’s three major legal aid agencies find themselves in better shape than they were five years ago, when…funding dried up as the result of the declining resources available Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts.  But they’re not going to get too comfortable. Right on the horizon, in 2015, the lifeboat that has saved legal aid programs that serve low-income clients from sinking in red ink is set to disappear. A statute providing for increased state court fees, with the proceeds funneled to the legal aid agencies, is scheduled to ‘sunset’ in 2015.”
  • 12.20.13 – legal aid in motion.  The Recorder looks in on OneJustice’s “Justice Bus,” which “provides legal services to California rural communities…where residents don’t always have access to lawyers. The project partners with pro bono attorneys and legal services nonprofits to provide specific expertise where it’s needed….  Launched in 2007, the bus made just three trips that year. Today the bus makes 30 to 35 trips annually….  More than 3,000 clients have been served and more than 40 organizations have partnered with the project.”
  • 12.20.13 – coverage of Southeastern Ohio Legal Services’ move to close three of its nine offices, from the Athens Messenger (“Legal Services’ Workload Grows Significantly with Closure”) and the Marietta Times (“Legal Aid Cut”).
  • 12.19.13 – here’s a good piece from Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) exec. director Lonnie Powers, exploring/lamenting the decline in legal aid funding despite the fact that legal aid brings economic and social benefits to the Bay State.  (Huffington Post.)
  • 12.19.13 – in the Arkansas Times “Big Ideas” feature, ATJ Commission executive director Amy Johnson makes the case for limited-scope representation: “Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) authorizes…attorneys to provide this form of representation. Often referred to as ‘limited scope representation,’ ‘unbundling’ or ‘a la carte legal services,’ this model…has been implemented in other states…but few Arkansas attorneys have actively utilized [it]. Unbundling allows clients (who would not otherwise go to a lawyer at all) to seek out and pay for the legal advice they want and need for aspects of the case that require legal expertise, and otherwise handle the more simple…aspects themselves.” (The piece is about 2/3 of the way down the page, entitled “Provide a la Carte Legal Services”.)

Music!   One from the 90s.  This is Badly Drawn Boy’s genre-meshing “Once Around the Block.”  Enjoy, and Happy New Year.

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