Community Spotlight: National Association of Pro Bono Professionals

NAPBPRO

The National Association of Pro Bono Professionals (NAPBPro) is an independent organization of pro bono professionals. NAPBPro, which was created in 1987, “is the only national organization devoted to promoting pro bono services to the poor and the professional development of pro bono managers and professionals and others interested in this field.” (NAPBPRO website, www.napbpro.org, 5/3/2018). Continue reading

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Get the Most Out of the Equal Justice Conference 2018!

EJC2018

The countdown is on! It’s just one week until the Equal Justice Conference (EJC) in San Diego. As the conference approaches, we offer some advice for those who may be attending for the first time:

Build your community

We’ve all heard the exhortation to network and there’s no better place than EJC. The group that will gather in San Diego is a wonderful and welcoming community of leaders who are committed to helping the next generation of advocates navigate the field– take advantage of the offer! View your time at EJC as an opportunity to both learn from your experienced colleagues and to start building a professional network that will help you achieve your programmatic goals.

Also take the time to get to know others new to the field, as these are the folks who you will be working with over the course of your career.

P.S. Don’t forget your business cards!

Plan for the present – and the future

If you’re new to your position, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown your way. Make sure to review the agenda beforehand, and strategize how best to utilize your time at the conference. Attend sessions that will be helpful for your current projects, but also sit in on panels that may provide information to help you prepare for work to come.

Keep the inspiration alive

You’ll likely be hit by inspiration several times during the conference. Don’t let these great ideas get away! Take the time at the end of each day – or the weekend – to reflect and debrief. Jot down your thoughts to share later with your colleagues and help you develop an action plan. You’ll be happy you did when you return to your office and find yourself back in the swing of your daily tasks and responsibilities.

Stay connected via social media

The hashtag for the 2018 Equal Justice Conference is #ejc18. Please use this hashtag on social media to stay connected! 

We Hope to See You in San Diego!

 

 

 

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of our Pro bono Spotlight with Vince Levy and Blair Kaminsky of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP. Continue reading

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, Part 1

Today, we are highlighting the pro bono work by the attorneys of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg (HSG). HSG was founded in 2012 as a boutique commercial litigation firm with a strong commitment to pro bono. The founding partners envisioned a firm that would give back to society through pro bono work. We spoke with HSG Partners Blair Kaminsky and Vince Levy about HSG’s commitment to pro bono and some of the pro bono work being done by attorneys at the firm.  Continue reading

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Alternative Spring Break

One of our favorite topics during the year is learning about the pro bono efforts of law students during spring break. Check out this article to learn more about Georgia State University’s Alternative Spring Break projects from 2018.

https://news.gsu.edu/2018/04/04/alternative-spring-break-students-choose-service-learning-over-downtime/

What pro bono offerings did your law school have for spring break in 2018? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Get Ready for the 2018 Equal Justice Conference!

EJC2018

The countdown is on! Just a little over 4 weeks until the 2018 Equal Justice Conference in sunny San Diego, California! For those of you who are unfamiliar with EJC, it is co-sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and National Legal Aid & Defender Association. EJC provides an opportunity for pro bono and legal services program staff, judges, corporate counsel, court administrators, private lawyers, paralegals, bar association leaders, and many others to come together to receive training and address current issues facing the public interest community. During this four day event EJC will offer:

Educational Enhancement

  • With over 85 workshops on topics ranging from current access to justice trends to innovative uses of technology to reach clients in rural and remote areas, there are sure to be multiple opportunities to improve your practice and strengthen your local efforts at improving the delivery of legal services to poor and low-income individuals in need of legal assistance. Multiple CLE opportunities will be available. (Speak with a representative during registration for more detailed information on CLE credit).
  • In addition to the main conference workshops there are eight pre-conferences including those for law school pro bono professionals, new and experienced pro bono managers, new executive directors, and more.
  • Use many of the ideas and models you will learn about to modify or enhance your own practice once you return from the conference.

Networking Opportunities

  • EJC 2018 will have over 800 attendees from across the country. EJC will surely prove to be an excellent opportunity to make connections and gain insight from colleagues in your field.
  • EJC offers numerous networking opportunities where you can meet and collaborate with colleagues.

An Opportunity to Get Plugged In

  • Learn new techniques on how to optimize social media and technology to assist in reaching constituents, improving services, and working with volunteers.
  • Know the hashtag. The hashtag for the 2018 Equal Justice Conference is #ejc18. Please use this hashtag on social media to stay connected! 

We Hope to See You in San Diego!EJC

Have you attended EJC in the past? Share your favorite EJC experience below in the comments.

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Celebrate Pro Bono in April!

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Over the past nine years, with your help, the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has succeeded in focusing an annual national spotlight on pro bono.  In connection with ABA President Elect Hilarie Bass and the ABA’s Homeless Youth Legal Network, we encourage you to build on the success of the 2017 National Celebration of Pro Bono by planning and participating in events assisting homeless youth on or around International Day for Street Children, April 12, 2018.

National estimates have found that 1.3 to 1.7 million youth experience homelessness every year.  These children need assistance from attorneys to guarantee them access to justice, no matter where they are. Homeless youth have a variety of legal needs, such as access to ID, family law, juvenile or criminal justice involvement, trafficking, immigration, education, benefits, and a variety of other civil legal matters. With your help, we hope to remove legal barriers in an effort to improve outcomes for this highly vulnerable population.

We will make special efforts to recognize the valuable pro bono contributions of lawyers across the country through a little friendly competition and a social media blitz using the hashtag #ABAHYLN. Additionally, organizations hosting events serving homeless youth will receive recognition from ABA President Hilarie Bass.

Visit our National Celebration website here for planning ideas and examples of some of the homelessness events held during the 2017 National Celebration of Pro Bono, and to enter your April events.  Examples of popular events serving homeless individuals include clinics, CLE’s, and know your rights seminars.

Save the Date for the Tenth Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono

October 21-27, 2018.

 Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.

Sponsored by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service

 

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Crisis in Kentucky, Part 2

It has been almost two years since our post Crisis in Kentucky: A Call for Help about 1500 recipients of Social Security Disability benefits – 900 in the SSD program (based on work quarters) and 600 who receive SSI  – who were all threatened with the loss of their benefits at upcoming hearings. As a result of a national effort to recruit attorneys to represent these recipients on a pro bono basis in retaining their benefits, 135 attorneys from all over the US volunteered. Many of the attorneys had their own Social Security practice but many did not. Some attended local trainings and some watched the on-line videos of the trainings on the Appalred website. The attorneys each represented from one to 50 or 60 clients. Additionally, Appalred staff handled about 200 of these cases.

Of the original group of 1787 folks who received notices, we were told that 53% were able to keep their benefits after their hearing before an ALJ. Some of these persons did not have a lawyer and the percentage for those who were represented was substantially higher. Many of the persons who lost appealed and their cases are primarily in federal court. Virtually all of the federal district court cases have been stayed pending the outcome of  an appeal in the Sixth Circuit, scheduled for a March 7 oral argument. This appeal should decide the evidentiary issues which restricted the evidence that claimants could produce of their disability when Conn represented them.  The pro bono appeal is largely handled by Wilmer Hale’s Washington office (with thanks to Arpit Garg and Dan Volchok).

In the meantime, Eric Conn and two ALJ’s pleaded guilty to various fraudulent acts which facilitated the “fraud.” There is no evidence that the clients knew of or participated in the fraud. Nevertheless , as a result of these pleas, SSA has identified 1965 additional cases which are being scheduled for review. The notices to the affected persons are now going out and give the claimants thirty days to produce additional evidence of their disability when Conn represented them. We are told that this time the notices will be parceled out over a period of time, and this time the benefits will continue during the pendency of the case. The hearings are scheduled to begin May 1, 2018. We are told that the hearings, as before will be done through video bridging, with the client at the local SSA office, the lawyer at the nearest SSA office with a video terminal, and the Judge on video probably from St. Louis. Twelve ALJ’s are scheduled to hear these cases. So, we need HELP! So far, a number of the lawyers who handled hearings in the first round have indicated they will take cases from this group, as well; but  know that not all these attorneys will be able to do so.

At this point, I ask you to pass the word to your colleagues, to pro bono volunteers and to assist us in any way you can in helping us to recruit more volunteers for these upcoming cases.  The pro bono referrals are being handled by Mary Going, Appalred’s pro bono coordinator. Mary’s email address is maryg@ardfky.org, and she can be reached at 606-886-3876 Ext 1315.  As a reminder of the process:  After a referral has been made to an attorney, many of the volunteer lawyers scheduled an interview via Skype with the client in the Appalred Prestonsburg office (where Mary and her assistant Dana Branham are located). Local volunteers and several of the out-of-state attorneys have driven to Prestonsburg to conduct the interviews, generally in the Appalred office. Some volunteers scheduled a number of interviews on a given day, with the help of the Appalred staff.

Please feel free to contact John Rosenberg at 606-886-8851; or Mary Going (contact information above); or Appalred Director Robert (Rob) Johns at 606-886-3876 Ext. 1247.

Best wishes and many thanks!

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John Rosenberg is Director Emeritus of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Ky, Inc. (“Appalred”), in Prestonsburg, KY and a former member of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.

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Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network Launches

By: Catherine Sanders Reach

A new hotline and network of legal support services will provide critical help to nearly one million Illinois veterans and service members. Continue reading

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Paralegals Partner In Philadelphia Criminal Records Expungement Project

By: Christine Flynn

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