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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NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PARALEGAL ASSOCIATIONS (NFPA) CELEBRATES PRO BONO AT 2017 ANNUAL CONVENTION

By: Christine Flynn

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Annual Convention & Policy Meeting was hosted by the New Orleans Paralegal Organization (NOPO) from October 12, 2017 through October 15, 2017 at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel in New Orleans.  This year’s annual convention was attended by delegates of Regions I, II, III, IV and V.

The NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Guidelines provide that each paralegal should aspire to contribute 24 hours of community service, in addition to 24 hours to pro bono service annually.  During the year, paralegals voluntarily report hours via the NFPA Pro Bono/Community Service Hours Reporting Forms to record and report the number of hours contributed to local groups, pro bono agencies, events, associations and organizations.  Local associations may then report these hours to the state and local bar associations, highlighting the valuable contributions paralegals make to the delivery of pro bono legal services and to making access to justice a reality.  NFPA honored many paralegals from local associations throughout the United States for meeting and/or exceeding the recommended aspirations for completion of pro bono/community service hours. These paralegals received certificates from NFPA.

Following recognition and the presentation of certificates, NFPA also announced the 2017 pro bono award winners as follows:

  • Individual Pro Bono Award, Dardie Robinson, Oregon Paralegal Association
  • Association Pro Bono Award, Paralegal Association of Central Ohio

The award winners received commemorative plaques.

NFPA Awards

Pictured: Members of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO) with Lisa Lynch, CRP, NPFA Vice President & Director of Marketing

 

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Federal Bar Association’s New Pro Bono Event: Wills for Veterans

 

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Thank You For Celebrating!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Ninth Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono. With your help, this year’s National Celebration was a huge success! Over 1,350 events were held in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, London, and Hong Kong. Events ranged from clinics and CLE’s to pro bono awards ceremonies, fundraisers, and events serving the homeless. Over 700 organizations, including legal aid and pro bono organizations, bar associations, law firms, law schools, and courts, hosted events during this year’s Celebration. Thank you to all who participated and for all that you do every day to increase access to justice.

ABAHYLN

On behalf of ABA President Hilarie Bass, we would like to thank those of you who participated in this year’s signature initiative, the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network. During the National Celebration of Pro Bono, organizations hosted over 60 events related to legal needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. This year’s initiative was a great success and demonstrated the commitment of America’s lawyers to pro bono service and individuals experiencing homelessness.

We encourage you to continue the celebration by planning or participating in services to homeless youth on or around the International Day for Street Children, April 12, 2018.

Visit the Celebration site for planning tips and ideas for ways that you can sponsor events serving homeless youth! And don’t forget to check out the Celebration store for items to show your appreciation for your volunteers.

Check back next week as we highlight some of the great programming and events that happened during the Celebration in our Celebration Spotlight series!

Save the Date for the Tenth Anniversary of the National Celebration of Pro Bono, October 21-27, 2018!

Do Good. Do Justice. Do Pro Bono.

 The National Celebration of Pro Bono is sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. For guidance and resources to improve your pro bono program year-round, contact the Committee’s Center for Pro Bono.
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“I Don’t Have Time For Pro Bono!”

“[p]roviding pro bono services is like the sauce on a hot wing. You can enjoy the wings, but it’s the sauce that completes it.”

Read more about one attorney who discovered that providing pro bono legal services enriches one’s practice and one’s life: http://pili.org/pro-bono/i-dont-have-time-for-pro-bono.

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Philadelphia Releases Pro Bono Task Force Report

The Philadelphia Bar Association and Philadelphia Bar Foundation have released their 2017 Pro Bono Task Force Report, just in time for the National Celebration of Pro Bono. Check out this article from Generocity to learn about the task force’s findings and to access the report. The direct report can also be accessed here.

Thanks to the Philadelphia Bar Association and Philadelphia Bar Foundation for sharing such great information!

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