Access to Justice Headlines – February 17, 2015

Courtesy: Library of Congress/Edward Penfield

Courtesy: Library of Congress/Edward Penfield

Greetings, Access to Justice Enthusiasts! Do forgive our tardiness as we spent yesterday observing the most solemn of all holidays: Presidents (or Presidents’ or even President’s) Day.  At least, it was a solemn event until it was corrupted in the late 20th Century by Big Mattress.   

The ATJ news in very, very short:

  • new corporate funding supports CT legal aid fellowships
  • championing tech solutions in legal aid service delivery
  • Biglaw firm institutes required community service for all employees
  • L.A. school district will provide some pro bono to students facing deportation
  • clearing up how cy pres awards work
  • the increasing professionalization of pro bono
  • new ABA resolution supports counsel for unaccompanied immigrant kids
  • mobile legal clinic rolling out in CT
  • proposed bar dues increase to fund IA legal aid fails
  • language access a problem in PA’s lower courts
  • Legal Aid of NE has a new director
  • NYT: “The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps”
  • LSC 2016 budget request: $486.9m
  • NJ gov. takes heat for legal aid funding declines
  • WI ATJ Commission newsletter
  • materials from LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants conference
  • a shout-out to OR banks w/ favorable IOLTA policies
  • NC legislature’s new requirements of Legal Aid of NC
  • in LA, preparing for immigration legal services scams
  • NY State Bar pushing for legal self-help center in Albany
  • HELP Legal Assistance merges with Iowa Legal Aid
  • NY State Court ATJ Program 2014 report
  • Arkansas ATJ Commission newsletter
  • Music!

The summaries: Continue reading

Check-in on Immigration Pro Bono Work


As we’ve noted, there have been many private and public sector responses to the crisis stemming from Central American and Mexican immigrants, particularly children who are unaccompanied by any adults, facing immigration/deportation proceedings without counsel.

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine feature, “The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps” looked at the efforts of pro bono advocates who work in, we might say “austere” conditions at a New Mexico camp for people seeking asylum.

Yesterday the L.A. Times reported that the L.A. Unified School District approved a plan to allow its in-house lawyers do pro bono work on behalf of some immigrant students:

“Staff attorneys with the Los Angeles Unified School District will be allowed to voluntarily provide free legal services to unaccompanied minors who live within the district and are facing the threat of deportation…”

LSC Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) Conference Materials Posted Online

The report’s I’ve heard from last month’s LSC Technology Innovation Grants conference have beenLSC Logo uniformly positive.  Which is to say that legal aid providers and their allies are increasingly applying technology solutions to improve service quality and capacity.  They are also developing new tech solutions.  And most importantly, the folks who are doing this work are sharing their knowledge and supporting the replication of their models.  This type of sharing is typical of our community, but is in my view of paramount importance in the area of technology.  Innovations and new models build upon one another as they spread from place to place.  They continue evolving, and from them spring new ideas and yet newer models.

The TIG Conference materials are being uploaded onto LSC’s website.

And while we’re talking technology, Illinois Legal Aid Online’s (ILAO) Lisa Colpoys looks to the future after returning from last week’s ABA Midyear Conference.

New England Fellowship Program Highlights Corporate Commitment to Legal Aid…and Applications Now Being Accepted

LawyerCorps Connecticut launched last year as a unique partnership between the Nutmeg

"Flag-map of Connecticut" by Darwinek - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Flag-map of Connecticut” by Darwinek – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

State’s  courts, the state’s Access to Justice Commission, corporate sponsors, and the civil legal aid community. The corporate partners are funding postgraduate legal aid fellowship positions to help the legal aid providers serve more clients.  While the postgraduate fellowship model is tried and true, the important development here is this particular band of partners – especially from Corporate America – uniting around goal of strengthening the legal aid infrastructure.

And importantly for law students…LawyerCorps is searching for its first class of fellows.  Applications due 1/31/15

We at the ABA’s Resource Center for ATJ Initiatives are proud to have supported LawyerCorps’s launch with an ATJ Innovation Grant.  Our grant advisory board recognized the potential of this project to unite diverse partner organizations around an important goal, and to show that Access to Justice is the kind of civic goal around which so many can rally.

We believe that LawyerCorps can be replicated elsewhere.  To that end we’ve collected LawyerCorps materials, including this project summary.

Virtual ATJ: Video Games as Teaching Tools for Self-represented Litigants

The term “video game” carries any number of connotations, not all of them good.  But when thought of as a platform to provide interactive, sophisticated hands-on learning to pro se litigants, suddenly the video game looks real good.

Credit: J.Javier AA via Wikimedia Commons

Credit: J.Javier AA via Wikimedia Commons

From the Hartford Courant:

“In the online world, would-be pilots pretend to land airplanes, medical residents replicate surgeries, and future investors manage fantasy portfolios in a virtual stock exchange in video games designed to simulate actual situations.

Now, legal aid lawyers in Connecticut and NuLawLab of Boston’s Northeastern University School of Law hope creating a video law game that puts litigants before a virtual judge will help the increasing numbers of people representing themselves in civil legal proceedings throughout the state and nation.

The concept, with funding from the Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiative Grants program, is vying for an Innovating Justice Award from the Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law in the Netherlands.

More and more video games are being created to do more than just entertain. Educators and gaming experts say games help users develop critical-thinking skills and enhance their understanding of whatever topic is at the heart of the game, whether it is to fine-tune a physics grade or further knowledge of economic and social issues.”

Access to Justice Headlines – January 19, 2015

MLK Memorial (Tom LeGro/PBS NewsHour)

MLK Memorial (Tom LeGro/PBS NewsHour)

Greetings ATJ Enthusiasts, and Happy MLK Day! Please take time today to buy a mattress consider Dr. King’s legacy. I dislike the tendency toward deifying historical figures. Even the most influential, right-minded people are…all people after all.  Be that as it may, influential Dr. King was – in law, social policy, our view of American history, and most importantly in how we relate to one another.  He pointed us toward equality with a simple – yet eloquently constructed – message.

Dr. King connected us with our commonality as human beings – with our inherent dignity.  He inspired us to recognize and to rise above our cruder, fear-driven instincts.  Because he recognized that with all of our flaws and fears, we are capable of transcending divisiveness and exercising instead higher-minded virtue – of respecting and caring for one another.  We are, with our wondrous minds and hearts and souls, all people after all.

As you consider Dr. King’s legacy, consider that you are an extension of it.  What words are more central to the concept of “access to justice” than equality and dignity?  Thanks for your ATJ contributions large and small.

On to the news…

Continue reading

The 2014-15 Pro Bono Year in (P)Review

Looking Back at 2014 Innovations and Forward to What’s Coming in 2015…Logo - St. Comm. on PB & Center for PB

2014 has come and gone. As usual, myriad year-end retrospectives focus on myriad things: legalized pot, same-sex marriage, a thaw in Cuban relations, a chill in Russian relations, racial (in)justice, immigration reform, torture, an Ebola epidemic, mobile phones the size of flat-screen TVs, and a preposterous if well-intentioned phenomenon called the Ice Bucket Challenge.

But the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service will narrow the focus – to pro bono – and explore the many signs of increasing evolution and sophistication in how lawyers answer the call to serve those on society’s margins. We focus in particular on those developments which are likely to carry through into 2015. So let’s go:

  1. Technology’s ever-increasing importance
  2. Policy changes in lawyer practice rules, bar admission rules, and law school standards
  3. A rush of volunteers to ensure justice in the U.S. immigration system
  4. The Legal Services Corporation’s pro bono emphasis
  5. Selected odds & ends

Read the Standing Committee’s 2014-15 Pro Bono Year in (P)Review.

Agree? Disagree?  Anything to add?  Please add a comment…