Equal Justice Journal – August 10, 2015

Teton-Pass-Clouds
High Up in the Tetons

Greetings and Happy Monday, ATJ Enthusiasts!  I’d been posting these digests every other Monday, but I’m returning to a weekly schedule to keep their length more manageable. They were turning into tomes, and I feel strongly about keeping your Mondays tome-free.  I care about you.

This is something of a Gulf States Edition, with a handful of offerings from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.  Two items for your consideration, then the ATJ news:

  • 8.8.15 – “FOR decades, policy makers have treated poverty as a sign of helplessness and ineptitude. The worse off the neighborhood — the higher the rate of poverty, crime, and juvenile delinquency — the less influence it would have over its future. Social service agencies conducted ‘needs assessments’ rather than asking residents what would strengthen their community….  To improve poor neighborhoods, the people who live there must have a hand in deciding their own fate. That approach works well in Houston…”  Continue reading this New York Times op-ed to learn about Neighborhood Centers.
  • 8.4.15 – “About 50,000 vets are homeless in America. In 2009, then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki declared that all of them would have housing by this year. At the time, even inside the VA that goal was considered aspirational at best. But last year, cities across the country said it was looking achievable. New Orleans was the first to declare, in January, that the city had done it. (Jump to the bottom to see how your state stacks up.)”  (NPR Morning Edition)

Okay, the ATJ news in very, very short:

  • Specialty license plates as a legal aid fundraiser(?)
  • Loyola Law (NOLA) incubator to make big expansion
  • Pro Bono Institute highlights reports on legal aid’s economic benefits
  • In DE, new legal aid director prefers “health law” firm branding over “poverty law”
  • ABA rejects proposal to allow pay for law student externships
  • LSC president Jim Sandman interview with Bloomberg
  • U.S. Congressman Kennedy visits MA legal aid, offers thoughts on justice gap
  • ABA’s Dialogue magazine looks at legal-aid leadership transition, funding in AR, etc.
  • Woody Guthrie music!

The summaries:

  • 8.7.15 – as Florida’s legal community debates whether bar dues should be upped in order to fund civil legal aid, here’s a…novel…proposal from Florida Bar member who opposes a dues hike: “My proposal is that the Bar apply for a specialty license plate with annual proceeds of $25 per tag going to a legal-access fund…. There are more than 18 million registered vehicles in the state of Florida….  Lawyers could buy the tag if they wished, and no doubt many would. But so could millions of nonlawyers.” (Orlando Sentinel op-ed)
  • 8.7.15 – in NOLA, Loyola Law’s practice-incubator program got a ~$120,000 cash infusion: “With the generous support of the Womacs’ gift, the Incubator Program will now run as a two-year experience for program attorneys. The Womacs’ gift extends the length of the program, provides the stipends to program attorneys for their pro bono work, and supports the two year Incubator Program for the next three years.” (Loyola media release)
  • 8.6.15 – a Pro Bono Institute blog post highlights several state-level reports – many of recent vintage – which measure legal aid’s positive economic impact. “[M]ost analyses have focused on common measures, such as the value of federal benefits obtained for legal aid clients. The studies also examined secondary and less tangible gains, such as the economic multiplier effect, which measures the increased economic activity resulting from economic inflows into a state. Increased federal benefits and wages give recipients greater spending and purchasing power, thus stimulating general economic activity and promoting growth.  Finally, studies documented the state savings associated with funding legal services for low-income citizens.”
  • 8.3.15 – in Delaware, Community Legal Aid Society’s new exec. director, Daniel Atkins, is hoping that some re-branding will pay funding dividends:  “[H]e plans to look for more funding options, such as civil filing fee add-ons or leftover money in class action suits….  Atkins hopes to find alternative partnerships and funding sources by reframing the work CLASI does. Instead of considering itself a poverty law firm, it will start to consider itself a health law firm.  This is because many of the issues the firm addresses, such as domestic violence and homelessness, impact people’s health.” [Emphasis mine]  (Delaware Online/The News Journal)
  • 8.3.15 – “Law students won’t be allowed to receive both pay and academic credit for externships this year after all.  The [ABA’s] Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday declined to eliminate its ban on such arrangements, citing vociferous opposition from clinical law professors.” A lot of voices were heard during the debate.  Equal Justice Works, for instance, supported lifting the ban, as did the ABA’s Law Student Division.  The Clinical Legal Education Association, however, strongly opposed making the change.  (National Law Journal)
  • 7.31.15 – LSC President Jim Sandman was interviewed by Bloomberg last month.  Sandman cited inadequate legal aid funding as the main problem in trying to narrow the justice gap.  Also: ” We need more and better [DIY] resources, particularly online. We need to relax regulatory barriers that impede competent paraprofessionals in assisting people who can’t afford counsel. We need to simplify the legal system to make it more user-friendly for people who don’t have counsel. The system is far more complicated than it needs to be, especially in areas of law affecting the necessities of life for people who can’t afford a lawyer.” (Bloomberg BNA)
  • 7.28.15 – forgot to put this one in last week’s edition: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, whose been a strong voice in support of civil ATJ, visited a Massachusetts civil legal aid office.  He identified two causes of the civil justice gap: “drastically cut” LSC funding and laws that seem great on the legislative drafting block not working well for vulnerable people in those laws’ actual implementation.”  (Taunton Gazette)
  • The most recent edition of the ABA’s Dialogue e-magazine, which focuses on civil legal aid, pro bono, and related issues, is out.  Two articles I flagged are:

Music!  A few years ago Woody Guthrie’s daughter reopened his archives in Okemah, Oklahoma, allowing in a handful of songwriters to dig up old, unpublished Guthrie material and bring it to life.  Four fellows – Jay Farrar of the band Son Volt, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Will Johnson of Centro-matic, and Anders Parker of Varnaline – formed a sort of ad hoc band called New Multitudes.  They released an album, the songs of which contain Guthrie lyrics that the New Multitudes folks put to music.  Here’s a Farrar offering, “Careless Reckless Love.”

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