Request for Proposals: 2015 Equal Justice Conference

EJC

2015 ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference

Presented by

ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service &

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association

  May 7-9, 2015 (Preconference May 6)

Hilton Austin | Austin, TX

Request for Session Proposals

The 2015 Equal Justice Conference planning team invites you to submit session proposals for this year’s conference.  Please refer to the proposal guidelines and complete the session proposal submission form online.  If you have questions about completing the online form, please contact Erin Wellin at erin.wellin@americanbar.org.

Session proposals are due no later than
Friday, October 10, 2014.

www.equaljusticeconference.org

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Online Tennessee Justice:  Growing Popularity for a Legal Advice Tool

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Online TN Justice  is a website that allows qualified users to post legal questions to their passworded account on the website and receive free legal advice from an anonymous, volunteer attorney.  This is usually not a real-time exchange but, rather, an asynchronous one. The client logs back in to view their answer and to post any follow–up questions.

Online TN Justice is a joint project of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and the Tennessee Bar Association. It was developed by IT staff in the Baker Donelson Memphis office and has been described as a “virtual walk-in clinic” where the client can receive brief advice.

Erik Cole, the Executive Director of TALS at the launch, made a 4–minute YouTube video “Welcome to Online TN Justice” that describes how the site is used. Prospective clients must fill in an online form to establish eligibility in terms of their income and liquid assets, and must not be imprisoned or enquiring about criminal law issues. (Those who are not eligible are provided with alternate paths to possible assistance.) The authorized user will provide their name and their county after which they use their assigned username and password to send in their question. The volunteer attorney, who remains anonymous, is able to browse among the questions posted and choose those they will answer.  The attorney-client relationship is limited, based upon agreements made when parties signed onto the site. [Tennessee law (RPC 1.2(c) and 6.5)]

If the volunteer attorney wishes to take on the entire case pro bono they can do so as long as they communicate with the site sponsors through an email address. Attorneys who use the site are covered by insurance maintained by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services.  The website will track pro bono hours worked—the site administrator will file for 1 hour of ethics & professionalism credit for every five hours of logged work.  (http://www.onlinetnjustice.org/Account/AttorneyFAQ ) Other states that have adopted the software don’t necessarily have to follow the Tennessee policies:  some states may not allow anonymity or provide CLE for pro bono hours.

Online Tennessee Justice has been in service for three years and three months during which 6,700 questions have been asked.   There are now over 420 attorneys registered who are now fielding an average of 211 new questions per month.

Online Tennessee Justice supports the delivery of pro bono legal services by removing many common difficulties and barriers.  There is no need for clients or attorneys to physically meet in a specific location, neither party needs to be “present” simultaneously, the attorney can select a time that is most convenient for themselves to open and answer a question, and conflict checks are very simplified because of Tennessee’s guidelines for pro bono and brief service.  In addition, the web-based resource allows rural areas to receive more service from city-based lawyers.  The site also helps advance the culture of pro bono:  South Carolina has used their version, South Carolina Law Answers, to pair law students with volunteer attorneys in the “First Friday Blitz“—law students research and write up the answers which are then reviewed and commented upon by attorneys before the answer is posted to the client.  Tennessee sees the value in this and is also adopting the concept.  Law students, through these mentored, brief service pro bono opportunities, get a good hands-on experience that should encourage them to do pro bono throughout their careers.

Five other states have availed themselves of the opportunity to launch customized versions of the Tennessee software for their own pro bono work:

Minnesota Legal Services State Support http://www.mnlegaladvice.org/

Alabama Law Federation http://www.alabamalegalanswers.org/

South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program http://www.sclawanswers.org/

Indiana Pro Bono Commission http://www.indianalegalanswers.org/

West Virginia http://www.wvonlinelegalhelp.org/ (currently they are only taking on volunteer attorneys before opening to the public).

Mississippi and Montana are close to adopting the software.  Other states have expressed an interest—Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

This Online TN Justice site runs on two servers, one for the database and one for the website, contributed by Dell. The software to run the resource, estimated as a $60,000 value, can be licensed for free by Access to Justice organizations wishing to set up their own sites by emailing Buck Lewis, Chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission (or call 901/577–2256).  Baker Donelson was recently recognized by the Tennessee Bar for the contributions their IT department made in creating this site.  Baker Donelson also received the NLADA’s 2014 Beacon of Justice Award for the resource.

Bill Jones is the Technology, Information and Content Coordinator for the ABA’s Center for Pro Bono.

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2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Norton Rose Fulbright

Each year, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged. 2014 recipients were honored at a luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This is the last of a five-part series recognizing this year’s award winners. 

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Norton Rose Fulbright is one of the largest global legal practices with more than 3,800 lawyers in over 50 locations spanning six continents. The law firm believes in contributing to the communities where they live and work, and it organizes pro bono services through a 15-member committee of partners representing each of its 11 U.S. offices. Attorneys at the law firm annually provide tens of thousands of hours to pro bono matters across the globe, amounting to millions of dollars in legal fees donated each year to help those unable to pay for legal fees. In 2013 alone, Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers logged almost 105,000 hours of pro bono worldwide. In the firm’s U.S. offices alone, 85 percent of attorneys logged volunteer hours, for an average of 111 hours per lawyer.

Click here to watch and listen as attorneys with Norton Rose Fulbright share their insights about receiving the award and their service.

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Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Pro Bono!

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This year marks the 6th annual National Celebration of Pro Bono, an initiative of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service through which lawyers from across the country honor their responsibility to the profession and their communities by volunteering their services to the underserved. This week-long Celebration, held October 19-25, 2014, provides an opportunity for legal organizations to commemorate the important contributions of America’s lawyers and to recruit and train the many additional volunteers required to meet the growing demand.

Here are five ways you can join in the National Celebration of Pro Bono:

1. Organize an Event for Celebration Week

Bring the celebration to your hometown. Visit the Resources section of the Celebration website for great organizing ideas and tools. Free consultation services are also available to facilitate your planning. Contact the ABA’s Center for Pro Bono staff: celebrateprobono@americanbar.org.

2. Find and Participate in a Celebration Event

With over 950 events across the country posted to the Celebration website last year, there is something for everyone. Visit the events page of the Celebration website to find a pro bono event near you.

3. Share Your Pro Bono Story

Your own pro bono story has the potential to inspire others to the essential work of providing legal assistance to the underserved. Tell us why you do pro bono by sending us your pro bono statement via e-mail (both video and written stories welcome!)

My name is _________ and I do pro bono because _________.

4. Shop for a Good Cause

Time to start your Celebration shopping! Order gifts for your volunteers or promotional items to help spread the word about your event directly from the Celebration store.

5. Spread the Word

Tell us how you celebrated! Did you have a successful event? Has the Celebration helped you expand and enhance your program? We’d love to share your story – and any pictures you may have of your event – on our website.

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2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Kermit Lowery

Each year, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged. 2014 recipients were honored at a luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This is the fourth of a five-part series recognizing this year’s award winners. 

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Kermit Lowery is a vice president and assistant general counsel for the LexisNexis U.S. Legal Department. Before joining LexisNexis, he was an assistant judge advocate in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Lowery is the immediate past president and a member of the board of trustees for the Dayton Volunteer’s Lawyer Project, where he handles up to 20 pro bono cases per year, while also balancing his work demands at Lexis Nexis. In addition, Lowery mentors law students at the Leadership Counsel for Legal and Diversity and is currently serving as second vice president on the board of trustees for the Dayton Bar Association.

Click here to watch and listen as Mr. Lowery shares his insights about receiving the award and his years of service.

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Pro Bono — One Judges’ Journey

Hon. Lora J. Livingston

Hon. Lora J. Livingston

I have been a judge for almost twenty years and I love my work.  I do not miss the private practice of law, with one exception.  I do miss advocating on behalf of the low-income clients I represented as pro bono counsel.  As a lawyer in a small law firm, I routinely accepted pro bono cases referred by the local pro bono program.  I was frequently called upon to take challenging family law matters simply because the need was so great.  I even served as a consultant to larger law firms whose partners and associates were not as well versed in the area of family law.  To say that this work was rewarding is a significant understatement.  I became a lawyer because I wanted to speak for those who could not speak for themselves.  Each pro bono case I took reminded me of why I went to law school and each time I closed a pro bono case file I was proud to be a lawyer.

As judge, I continue to use my advocacy skills to advance pro bono in my legal community.  Most notably, I write and speak about the importance of pro bono in our profession. And I encourage (some might say cajole) lawyers to participate in pro bono programs and projects. I always say please and thank you and in between, I let lawyers know that I consider pro bono service a hallmark of professionalism.

My colleagues on the bench also feel strongly that our system of justice is enhanced by the work performed by pro bono lawyers.  The Civil Judges in my area sent out a written “Judicial Call to Action: Take One” which outlined the need and ways in which lawyers could help meet that ever increasing need in our community.  This letter to local lawyers made one simple request, “please take at least one Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) case this year.”  (Note the “please”).

Because it is so important to recognize the pro bono contributions of lawyers, the judges call every lawyer who closes a pro bono file through VLS to personally thank them for providing free legal services to the low-income citizens in our community.  Lawyers who take VLS cases are also recognized at an annual event and the lawyer who has made the most significant contribution each year is awarded a coveted prize named in honor of a judge who championed pro bono both on and off the bench.    (Note the “thank you”).

Judges, like lawyers, have a responsibility to engage in activities that promote justice and the rule of law. Typically, judges may participate in activities that impact the administration of the justice system. The work judges engage in which promotes access to justice helps improve the justice system overall and has the benefit of enhancing the perception of the public concerning our system of justice.  Judicial leadership is vitally important to the success of achieving the goal of access to justice for all.

Participation in pro bono is a matter of professionalism and a matter of pride. I am proud to support pro bono activities locally, statewide and nationally.

Hon. Lora J. Livingston is the judge of the 261st District Court in Travis County, Texas (Austin).  She has served on the ABA Commission on IOLTA, the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID).  She currently serves on the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

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2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Alan Howard

Each year, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged. 2014 recipients were honored at a luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This is the third of a five-part series recognizing this year’s award winners.

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Alan Howard is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s New York office. He also does extensive pro bono work. He represented one of the defendants in the nationally prominent “Jena 6″ proceedings in Louisiana, a case of national prominence for its civil rights implications. Howard currently leads an effort on behalf of nearly 200 skilled workers from India who are alleged to be victims of one of the largest human trafficking schemes in the country’s history. He also serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Click here to watch and listen as Mr. Howard shares his insights about receiving the award and his years of service.

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Call for Proposals: 2015 EJC Law School Preconference

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Request for Proposals

2015 ABA/NLADA
Equal Justice Conference
Law School Preconference

Presented by
ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service &
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association

May 6, 2015

 Main conference sessions May 7-9, 2015

Hilton Austin | Austin, Texas
www.equaljusticeconference.org

The 2015 EJC Law School Preconference planning team invites you to submit program recommendations for this year’s preconference.
Please refer to the proposal guidelines and complete the proposal
online submission form.

If you have questions, please contact Nura Maznavi at nura.maznavi@americanbar.org

 Proposals are due no later than Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Judge Edward Ginsburg

Each year, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged. 2014 recipients were honored at a luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This is the second of a five-part series recognizing this year’s award winners.

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Edward M. Ginsburg was an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court for nearly 25 years. Upon his retirement from the bench in 2002, Ginsburg founded the pro bono program, Senior Partners for Justice, in cooperation with the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association. Senior Partners has grown to more than 1,000 members including lawyers, retired judges and law students. Among the members are many experienced family law practitioners who represent low-income clients and mentor newer attorneys.

Click here to watch and listen as Judge Ginsburg shares his insights about receiving the award and his years of service.

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2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Recipient: Dechert LLP

Each year, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Pro Bono Publico Awards honor individuals or organizations in the legal community that enhance the human dignity of others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to the poor or disadvantaged. 2014 recipients were honored at a luncheon during the ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This is the first of a five-part series recognizing this year’s award winners.

Dechert

Dechert LLP is an international law firm headquartered in Philadelphia, where 99 percent of its 900 lawyers provide pro bono service, at an average of about 103 annual hours per attorney. Worldwide, Dechert provided more than 82,000 hours of pro bono service in 2013. At any given time, the firm handles upwards of 1,500 individual pro bono matters. Areas in which Dechert lawyers have provided service include: public benefits, voting rights, landlord-tenant, prisoner civil rights, veterans, education, immigration, habeas, nonprofits/small businesses, social impact investment, criminal, civil rights and human rights matters.

Click here to watch and listen as attorneys with Dechert share their insights about receiving the award and their service.

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