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American Bar Association launches ImmigrationJustice.US website

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 1:53pm

The American Bar Association has launched  the ImmigrationJustice.US portal, a rapid emergency response website to coordinate the efforts of volunteer lawyers helping immigrants in response to President Trump’s Executive Orders altering the U.S. immigration system.

“The Law Practice Division Futures Committee and the ABA Center for Innovation accelerated a project to coordinate the volunteer efforts of lawyers responding to the president’s travel ban,” ABA President Linda A. Klein told the ABA’s House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting this week. “Working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, they helped set up a website in one afternoon, with links to relevant law, habeas resources, how-to-help guides and volunteer forms.”

The site also provides information on:

  • Relevant case law and statutes
  • Volunteer coordination forms
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association resources
  • Habeas corpus guides
  • Immigration news
  • Deportation waivers and relief forms and information
  • Detention fact sheets and reports, practice advisories, litigation and advocacy
  • Link to Help the Lawyers GoFundMe to raise funds to feed clients and volunteer attorneys, and purchase necessary supplies for attorneys helping detained individuals at airports.

The website is organized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Immigration Council, and the ABA Center for Innovation. It was built through the efforts of the ABA Law Practice Division Futures Initiative with technical assistance from Aaron Street and Sam Glover of Lawyerist.com; Catherine Sanders Reach of the Chicago Bar Association, Dan Lear of Avvo, and Ed Walters of Fastcase.

Nominations for 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes Now Open

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 1:43pm

National Legal Aid & Defender Association logoThe National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), in partnership with the Robert J. Kutak Foundation, has opened the nominations for the 2017 Kutak-Dodds Prizes. The deadline to submit a nomination is Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Since 1989, the prizes have been awarded to attorneys who have significantly contributed to the human dignity and quality of life of individuals unable to afford legal representation. This annual award honors two longstanding advocates for equal justice, one from the civil legal aid community and another from the public defense community. Each prize carries a cash award of $10,000.

To qualify, the nominee must be an attorney employed by or affiliated with an organization serving persons who cannot afford to pay for legal representation. The nominee also may be an attorney working for a public interest, nonprofit organization. Nominees must have at least ten (10) years of practice in legal services or public interest work and must be currently involved in legal advocacy and /or active representation of clients on a daily basis.

The Kutak-Dodds Prizes are jointly sponsored by the Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA and bestowed in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds. Both men were former partners in the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Kutak Rock LLP and advocates of public service, legal education, and high ethical standards throughout their lives. In addition to legal services for the poor, the Kutak Foundation supports education in professional ethics, minority scholarships, and a variety of other public interest projects. The foundation is maintained by Mr. Kutak’s former friends and associates.

For more information on the Kutak-Dodds Prizes, please contact Helen Katz, Chief Development Officer, at 202-452-0620, ext. 223 or via email at h.katz@nlada.org.

More Information on the Award Criteria and Nominations Process

Elder Justice Resource Center Volunteer Attorney Training Program Offered by First Judicial District

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 3:03pm

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) will be holding an Elder Justice Resource Center Volunteer Attorney Training Program on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The program will be held at the Philadelphia Municipal Court Conference Center, 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th Floor, Widener Building, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The Elder Justice Resource Center (EJRC) first opened in October 2016 and is Pennsylvania’s first senior justice resource center. The EJRC offers free legal information, advice, and limited representation to unrepresented seniors.

The EJRC is overseen by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and court employees provide administrative and coordination services. The EJRC is also supported by numerous key service organizations including the Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), the SeniorLAW Center, Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), and Temple University Beasley School of Law School.

The training program for volunteers will provide training on the following topics:

  • Ethics for Serving Seniors / Aging
  • Elder Justice Resource Center / Elder Justice Initiatives
  • Housing: Landlord-Tenant / Homeowners Mortgage & Tax / Ejectment
  • Orphans Court Issues: Guardianship, Probate, & Protective Services
  • Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Overview
  • Aging and Legal Services Network / Resources

The training is free of charge to volunteer attorneys and offers two (2) hours of substantive PA CLE credit and one (1) hour of ethics PA CLE credit. The fees for non-volunteers are $90.00 for lawyers and $40.00 for non-lawyers,

Pre-Registration for the program is available online at www.courts.phila.gov/cleregistrations or by email to elderresource@courts.phila.gov.

 

FJD's Elder Justice Resource Center to Work with Temple University Beasley School of Law to Provide Free Legal Assistance to Seniors

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 1:01pm

The First Judicial District’s Elder Justice Resource Center will begin working with Temple University Beasley School of Law on February 1, 2017 to offer free legal assistance to unrepresented seniors, age 60 and above, via the school's Elderly Law In-House Clinical Program.

Located in Room 278, City Hall, the Elder Justice Resource Center will be open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. In-house clinical services will be offered every Wednesday.

“As our elderly population continues to grow, it's more important than ever that we continue our efforts to provide necessary legal resources to help them navigate challenging questions and situations that may arise. As judges we hear horror stories about seniors who've been taken advantage of due to limited access to legal help,” said President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, who led the Philadelphia Courts’ efforts to develop the resource center. “The Elderly Law In-House Clinical Program at the FJD’s Elder Justice Resource Center is another step toward ensuring that seniors receive much-needed quality legal assistance.”

The clinic will be staffed by Temple law students, under the supervision of Professor Debra H. Kroll, who will assist seniors with intake services, interviews, and the limited preparation of legal documents by appointment. No in-court representation will be available.

This coordination between the Philadelphia Courts and Temple Beasley School of Law’s Elderly Law In-House Clinical project provides valuable legal services to seniors who cannot afford, or otherwise obtain, access to legal assistance, while simultaneously offering students practical hands-on legal experience.

“We have such great hope and excitement for how our Elderly Law In-House clinical program can positively affect the lives of so many seniors in Philadelphia,” said Kroll, an associate clinical professor at Temple Law School, who specializes in Elder Law. “This is a valuable resource which we believe can help those who otherwise would not have assistance in accessing and dealing with our judicial system.”

The Elder Justice Resource Center (EJRC) first opened in October 2016 and is Pennsylvania’s first senior justice resource center. The EJRC offers free legal information, advice, and limited representation to unrepresented seniors.

The EJRC is overseen by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania and court employees provide administrative and coordination services. The EJRC is also supported by numerous key service organizations including the Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), the SeniorLAW Center, Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), and Temple University Beasley School of Law School.

Elder Justice Resource Center visitors can walk-in or, if in need of limited document preparation, schedule an appointment in advance. For more information, visit www.courts.phila.gov/ejc, or call 215-686-7027.

Low-Income Women in Abusive Marriages in Beaver, Butler Counties Can Now Get Free Legal Help through ‘New Beginnings’ Program

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 3:26pm
Allegheny County Bar Foundation Expands Program into Neighboring Counties
 

Many women are trapped in abusive marriages because they can’t afford the legal representation needed in to navigate the divorce process. The Allegheny County Bar Foundation aims to help women in these situations through its New Beginnings program.

Through the program, ACBF staff and volunteer attorneys provide free legal representation to women with very low incomes who have experienced abuse in their marriages and wish to be divorced in order to move on with their lives. The program has been in place in Allegheny County for decades and is now expanding into Beaver and Butler Counties.

“It is tragic that so many women in our community feel trapped in abusive marriages simply because they don’t have the financial resources to hire an attorney,” said Barbara Griffin, director of the ACBF Pro Bono Center. “We have successfully helped hundreds of women in Allegheny County escape these situations, but until now, there have been few resources to help low-income women in the surrounding counties.”

The program’s expansion into Beaver and Butler counties is possible thanks to a $20,000 grant from the FISA Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to the FISA Foundation for the providing the funds necessary to allow us to help people in need,” said Griffin. “This generosity is making such a big difference in the lives of women in our community.”

Eligibility

The project will serve vulnerable individuals who currently have little or no access to free legal services for divorce. The basic eligibility requirements are as follows. To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be a female resident of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, or Lawrence County for at least 6 months.
  • Have experienced physical or emotional abuse in her marriage as evidenced by the applicant having sought or been granted a Protection from Abuse order; by criminal charges for domestic violence filed against the applicant’s spouse; or by the client’s self-identification.
  • Have a household income at 125% of the federal poverty level or below.
  • Be willing to proceed as a simple divorce with no claims for equitable distribution or custody. Other legal aid, pro bono, or reduced-fee services may be available for child support and child custody matters.

Attorneys’ services will be provided at no charge. The ACBF will seek permission from the courts for our clients to proceed in forma pauperis so that court filing fees will be waived.

Those interested in applying for help through the project should call 412-402-6714. For more information, visit www.PittsburghProBono.org/NewBeginnings.asp.


About the ACBF

Known as “The Heart of Pittsburgh’s Legal Community,” the ACBF provides educational programming, promotes public awareness of the legal and judicial systems, renders legal services to low-income clients and provides financial assistance and grants to legal-related organizations. The foundation’s Pro Bono Center helps attorneys fulfill their professional responsibility to provide public interest legal services by creating, managing, and supporting programs that match volunteer attorneys with low-income individuals facing legal issues that threaten their basic human needs. For more information, visit www.PittsburghProBono.org.


About the FISA Foundation

The mission of FISA Foundation is to build a culture of respect and improve the quality of life for three populations in southwestern Pennsylvania: women, girls and people with disabilities. For over 100 years, FISA has been led by women and focused on responding to unmet community needs. Originally founded in 1911 by an organization that became known as the Federation of Independent School Alumnae to improve the lives of poor and working class women, the organization underwent a metamorphosis over the years. In 1956, to meet the needs of people with disabilities, the Federation converted its convalescent home into Harmarville Rehabilitation Center, which became recognized internationally for excellence and innovation. In 1996, Harmarville was sold and the FISA Foundation was established to continue the charitable work of the Federation in southwestern Pennsylvania region. Learn more about FISA at www.fisafoundation.org


Original News Release

2017 Summer Internship in Environmental and/or Energy Law

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 8:42am

Pennsylvania Bar Association - Your Other PartnerThe Environmental and Energy Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association is awarding one or more law students a $10,000 stipend to allow for a pro bono summer internship in the field of environmental and/or energy law ("EEL").

The selected law student recipient(s) will be awarded $10,000.00 (paid in three installments) starting with commencement of the internship in support of an unpaid, pro bono project of the student's choosing in the field of EEL performed during an 8-week period in the summer of 2017.

First- or second-year law students or third-year night law students, who are residents of Pennsylvania or who indicate their intention to practice law in Pennsylvania, and who demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in the field of EEL, are eligible for consideration.

The pro bono project proposed by an applicant for the internship must be supported by a not-for-profit public interest or charitable organization, educational institution, and/or a local, state or federal government agency that agrees to provide oversight and supervision of the student and an attorney mentor to assist the student in completion of a project in the field of EEL.

Students applying must demonstrate that the organization or agency for which they are applying meets these criteria, that the organization or agency has an internship opportunity available, that the organization or agency will appropriately supervise the intern's work, and that the organization or agency would not otherwise provide a salary for the internship position.

In making its selection, the Section's Internship Committee may consider the following factors: academic achievement; the student's demonstration of interest in the field of EEL, as evidenced by his or her academic studies, work or volunteer experience and interests; commitment to working as an EEL lawyer in Pennsylvania; benefits of the proposed pro bono project to the candidate, organization, general public and field of EEL; and financial need.

The Internship Committee may also consider the following factors related to the proposed project: relationship of the organization's mission to the field of EEL;

  • relationship of the proposed work to the mission of the organization;
  • potential impact and longevity of the proposed work on the organization and/or its constituency.

The Internship Committee may also consider any other factors it determines are appropriate in making its selection. An interview may be required of finalists.

Following completion of the internship, the student must prepare a 4-6 page report and evaluation of his or her internship experience. The report may be circulated to EELS section members and others. In addition, the student will be awarded scholarships to attend the Annual Environmental Law Forums presented by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in April 2017 and 2018 and, at the discretion of the Section Chair, will give a brief (less than 5 minute) presentation of his or her internship experience to the Section at the Annual Meeting and Dinner during the 2018 Forum.

Applications are due on or before 5:00 pm on February 24, 2017,

More Information on the Summer Internship opportunity is available at http://www.pabar.org/public/sections/env10/lsinternship.asp

ABA Military Pro Bono Project - Fall 2016 Newsletter for Volunteer Attorneys

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 3:37pm

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PRO BONO ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER Fall 2016 Support The ABA Military Pro Bono Project

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s impact is clear: Each year, the Project secures pro bono assistance for about 200 military members facing civil legal issues throughout the United States. Based on case-closing data provided by the Project’s volunteer attorneys, the yearly estimated value of these cases represents over $1 million in donated billable hours, which is a return of many times the actual modest cost of the Project’s operations.

To help ensure that military families receive high-quality, high-value legal services and resources, the Project depends on financial support each year from Project partners, law firms, corporations, and individuals. We invite you to partner with us in providing essential legal aid to our servicemembers, recognizing the sacrifices that military families make on behalf of us all.

Along with our Star Ranking Supporters, special thanks to the following:

ABA Section of Antitrust Law

ABA Section of Litigation

Holland & Knight LLP

Lockheed Martin


Case Spotlight: Marine Adopts Step-Daughter with Volunteer Legal Help

Read here about a pro bono attorney who assisted a Marine in the adoption of his step-daughter after she was abandoned by her biological father.

Find additional case stories on our blog to see how you, our volunteers, are successfully helping military families.


Get Involved

ABA Military Pro Bono Project: Pro Bono Representation

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project accepts case referrals from military legal assistance offices anywhere in the world on behalf of junior enlisted servicemembers facing civil legal issues, and it places these cases with pro bono attorneys where the legal assistance is needed in the U.S.

Explore pro bono case opportunities on our website, which is updated daily. 
  

Operation Stand-By: Providing Legal Guidance to Military Attorneys

Through the Military Pro Bono Project’s Operation Stand-By, you may offer to provide attorney-to-attorney guidance to military attorneys so they can further assist their servicemember clients. Join by logging onto the Project website to update your profile by clicking on “I am registering to join the Project's Operation Stand-By."

Already signed up with Operation Stand-By? Please log onto the Project website to ensure that your profile information is up-to-date.

Upcoming Webinars

12/14 FREE Webinar: Establishing and Enhancing Legal Clinics to Serve Veterans

12/16 CLE Webinar: Assisting Veterans with Legal Matters, V.A. Certification, Part 2

View the latest news on military and veterans issues and pro bono legal aid, events and CLEs, and the LAMP CLE webpage.
 

Education

Useful Books in the ABA Web Store:

The American Bar Association Legal Guide for Military Families: Legal resource for servicemembers, veterans, and their families.

A Judge’s Benchbook for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: Information for judges of the provisions that protect servicemembers while on active duty.

The Military Divorce Handbook: Resource for representing servicemembers and spouses.

Ripped Off!: Guide for military personnel about certain types of sales, scams and abusive commercial practices.

Veterans Appeals Guidebook:
Guide to representing veterans in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 
 

ABA Military Pro Bono Project’s Online Library:

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project has an online library filled with resources that focus on legal issues faced by servicemembers, veterans, and military family members. Log onto the website and visit the Library.

 

 

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. Announces 2017 Excellence Award Winners

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 9:52am

PLAN Excellence Award - photoThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) has announced the recipients of its 2017 Excellence Award, as well as the recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services. The exceptional individuals, groups and corporation listed below have demonstrated excellence in their efforts to expand access to justice for those who have nowhere else to turn for help when facing a critical legal problem.

Each winner has been carefully selected by criteria assessing increased access to civil legal aid, excellence in advocacy, leadership, and/or innovation in service delivery.  The 2017 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award Honorees are: 

  • Pamela Lynn Dalton-Arlotti, Esq.
    Director of Program Performance and Compliance
    Neighborhood Legal Services Association
    Pittsburgh, PA
     
  • Barbara Griffin, Esq.
    Director of the Pro Bono Center
    Allegheny County Bar Foundation
    Pittsburgh, PA
     
  • Legal Aid of Southeastern PA Centralized Telephone Hotline Staff
    Nanci Hoover, Managing Attorney; Robin Babillis, Paralegal; Dee Bailey, Paralegal; Kristen Burgess, Esq, Helpline Attorney; Eleanor Glasco, Paralegal; Carolyn Hettell, Paralegal; Randal Hove, Esq. Helpline Attorney:  Pamela Manning, Support Staff; Venzela Moses, Paralegal & Pandora Murphy, Paralegal
    Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Norristown, PA
     
  • Michael D. LiPuma, Esq.
    Law Office of Michael LiPuma
    Chair, Board of Directors
    Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance 
    Philadelphia, PA
     
  • Jill Kelly McComsey, Esq.
    Associate Attorney
    Seidel Cohen Hof & Reid, LLC
    Bethlehem, PA
     
  • Linda Renick
    Paralegal         
    North Penn Legal Services
    Bethlehem, PA
     
  • Thomas B. Schmidt, Esq.
    Of Counsel
    Pepper Hamilton LLP
    Harrisburg, PA
     
  • Patricia Shilling
    Paralegal         
    MidPenn Legal Services
    Lancaster, PA
     
  • Judith E. Wilson, Esq.
    Managing Attorney
    Northwestern, Legal Service
    Erie, PA

In addition, Fulton Financial Corporation has been selected to receive the Outstanding Leadership in Support of Legal Services in recognition of the bank’s long-standing support and investment in Pennsylvania IOLTA and civil legal aid as an IOLTA Platinum Leader Bank since March 2009.  Platinum Leader Banks exceed the PA IOLTA program requirements by paying a 1%, premium yield, on IOLTA accounts. Since 2009, Fulton Financial Corporation has contributed more than $2.4 million to the IOLTA program.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award winners will be formally honored at the PLAN Excellence Award Banquet on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the Hilton Harrisburg in Harrisburg, PA.  The ceremony will feature a video tribute of each honoree highlighting their accomplishments. For ticket and sponsorship information, please visit, www.palegalaid.net and click on the Excellence Award link.

"The mission of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network is to ensure  equal access to justice so that Pennsylvanians can have representation, when facing important civil legal concerns, affecting their safety, health, shelter and survival," said Samuel W. Milkes Esq., Executive Director of PLAN.  “Our Excellence Award recipients epitomize the tireless efforts of legal aid advocates and friends in the private bar who work to deliver on the promise of justice for all.” 

 

American College of Bankruptcy Announces 2016 Pro Bono Grantees

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 9:53am

American College of Bankruptcy - MCMXCThe American College of Bankruptcy (“the College”) and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation (“the Foundation”) have announced that they have awarded 51 pro bono grants totaling nearly $468,000 to legal services organizations located in 20 different states, including the District of Columbia.

The unrestricted grants are funded jointly by the College and its Foundation to grantees whose activities are consistent with the objectives of the College’s mission of funding organizations that provide assistance to groups and individuals in need of bankruptcy-related legal representation, training and/or education.

Organizations in Pennsylvania receiving grants include Military Assistance Project, Philadelphia, PA and North Penn Legal Services, Bethlehem, PA.

Other grants issued in 2016 include the following:

  • Alameda County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services Corporation
    Oakland, CA
  • Bankruptcy Bar Foundation
    Tamarac, FL
  • Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program
    Birmingham, AL
  • Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
    Brooklyn, NY
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
    Chicago, IL
  • Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
    Chicago, IL
  • Community Law Project
    San Diego, CA
  • Connecticut Bar Association
    New Britain, CT
  • Consumer Education and Training Services ("CENTS")
  • Seattle, WA
  • Dade Legal Aid-Put Something Back
    Miami, FL
  • DC Bar Pro Bono Center
  • Washington, DC
  • Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project
    Dayton, OH
  • Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Inc.
    Houston, TX
  • Illinois Legal Aid Online
    Chicago, IL
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
    Santa Barbara, CA
  • Legal Aid of Northwest Texas
    Ft. Worth, TX
  • Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
    Covington, KY
  • Legal Aid of Western Missouri
    Kansas City, MO
  • Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
    Oklahoma City, OK
  • Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
    Cincinnati, OH
  • Legal Aid Society of San Diego
    San Diego, CA
  • Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.
    Geneva, NY
  • Legal Services NYC
    New York, NY
  • Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
    White Plains, NY
  • Lone Star Legal Aid
    Houston, TX
  • Louisiana Civil Justice Center
    New Orleans, LA
  • Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
    Baltimore, MD
  • Metroplex Military Charitable Trust
    Dallas, TX
  • MFY Legal Services
    New York, NY
  • Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Inc.
    Easton, MD
  • Montana Legal Services Association
    Helena, MT
  • Neighborhood Legal Services of L.A. County
    Glendale, CA
  • Ohio State Legal Services Association
    Columbus, OH
  • Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.
    Rockford, IL
  • Public Counsel
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Public Law Center
    Santa Ana, CA
  • Public Service Law Corporation
    Riverside, CA
  • Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project
    Jamaica, NY
  • Rutgers University School of Law – Camden & Newark
    Camden, NJ and Newark, NJ
  • Southern University Law Center
    Baton Rouge, LA
  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
    Weslaco, TX
  • Utah State Bar
    Salt Lake City, UT
  • Veterans Legal Services
    Boston, MA
  • Voluntary Legal Services Program of N. California, Inc.
    Sacramento, CA
  • Volunteer Attorney Program
    Duluth, MN
  • Volunteer Lawyer Project of Boston Bar Association
    Boston, MA
  • Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Inc.
    Newark, NJ
  • Volunteer Lawyers Network
    Minneapolis, MN

In addition, the College has selected its inaugural Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant recipient. The Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant was created in Mr. Cook’s honor in 2016 and is awarded to a legal services organization that offers an innovative and exemplary approach to a previously under-served area of need. A Fellow since 1997, Michael Cook served as Chair and President of the College and Chair of its Board of Regents during the period from 2010-2016, and as Chair of the Pro Bono Committee from 2008-2010.

“During both his many years of exemplary service to the College and his long and distinguished career, Mike has been a tireless advocate, visionary leader and relentless fund-raiser on behalf of programs that provide pro bono legal services throughout the United States,” said G. Christopher Meyer, current College Chair.

The College proudly announced Veterans Legal Services as the 2016 Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant recipient.

Veterans Legal Services (VLS) promotes self-sufficiency, stability, and financial security for veterans through comprehensive and accessible legal services. VLS’s unique model of delivering services on-site at homeless shelters and service centers allows it to reach veterans who would otherwise go without the legal help they need. VLS services over 500 veterans’ cases per year.
 

The American College of Bankruptcy is an honorary association of bankruptcy and insolvency professionals. The Fellows of the College are selected for membership based on a proven record of the highest standards of professionalism and service to the profession, and include commercial and consumer bankruptcy attorneys, bankruptcy and other federal judges, bankruptcy trustees, United States Trustees and other federal officials, law school professors, and others involved in the bankruptcy and insolvency profession. 

The College offers unique and challenging educational programs and publications, maintains the National Bankruptcy Archives at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and is believed to be the single largest financial supporter of pro bono bankruptcy services in the United States. There are approximately 900 Fellows of the College.

The American College of Bankruptcy Foundation is a Section 501(c)(3) charitable organization, supported by the College and by tax-deductible contributions from Fellows of the College and others. Additional information about the College and the Foundation is available at http://www.amercol.org.

Nominations Sought for 2017 PA Bar Association Pro Bono Awards

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:41pm

Pennsylvania Bar Association - Your Other PartnerPennsylvania Bar Association President Sara A. Austin has announced the opening of the nomination period for the Annual Pro Bono Awards of the PBA’s Legal Service to the Public Committee. This year marks the 30th year that the committee has sought individual award nominees.

This year also marks the thirteenth year for both the Judges Award and the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award, given, respectively, to a judge and a legal services attorney selected by the committee in recognition of exceptional contributions to improving civil legal aid in the commonwealth. The Judges Award is now named the Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille Award in honor of the retired former Chief Justice.

2017 also marks the seventh year for the Pro Bono Partner Award to a non-attorney who supports legal services to the needy.

The award winners will be acknowledged at various pro bono events throughout the 2017 year, whenever possible by President Austin and by PBA President-Elect Sharon Lopez, who plans to promote pro bono service and civil legal aid across the commonwealth by honoring these champions of pro bono during her bar travels.

The awards provide a chance to recognize and thank those who have used their talents to help the needy in each county in Pennsylvania. While the obstacles to equal access to justice continue to mount, the willingness of attorneys to help meet the legal needs of the indigent in their communities is important to those in need of service and bestows honor upon the legal profession. Those nominated provide services that allow the doors of justice to remain open to all citizens.

In considering a nomination, please keep in mind the following criteria:

  • The nominee works in Pennsylvania
  • The nominee, other than the Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year nominees, is not employed by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor. The Pro Bono Partner nominee may work for such an organization.
  • The nominee has provided direct delivery of legal services or assisted in facilitating the delivery of such service in civil matters, with no expectation of receiving a fee, to a client or client group that does not have the resources to employ compensated counsel or has worked to facilitate such effort by other attorneys.
  • The nominee has made an outstanding contribution to the provision of legal services to the indigent without charge.
  • The nominee has made such contributions primarily through organized pro bono programs, lawyer referral service no-fee panels and legal services programs or has worked with such organizations to improve the delivery of legal services to the poor.
  • The nominee’s efforts have resulted in the increased access to legal services for low-income people.

This year’s nomination form is located on the Pro Bono page of the PBA website at http://www.pabar.org/public/probono/probonohome.asp. Just click on 2017 Pro Bono Awards Nomination Form link.

The form can be completed electronically, and you will receive instant confirmation that your nomination was submitted. If there are any questions regarding the Pro Bono Awards, please contact Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis (800-932-0311, Ext. 2236; cell: 717-571-7414; email: david.trevaskis@pabar.org).

The 2017 Pro Bono Awards nominations are due on Friday, December 23, 2016.

Award winners will be honored as a group during the PBA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, May 10-12, 2017. Individual awards will be presented throughout the coming year.

Award Nomination Form

Volunteers Needed for Lawyers Make a Difference Day in Allegheny County

Thu, 11/17/2016 - 9:37am

The Public Service Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association is looking for volunteers for its inaugural "Lawyers Make A Difference Day" on November 19, 2016,

Volunteers will participate from approximately 9:00 am to noon (times may vary slightly from site to site). Volunteers will be sent to three different sites for a few hours of community service. Space is limited for each site. Non-attorneys are welcome, but unfortunately adults only. If interested in volunteering, email Julie Brennan.

ACBF Accepting Applications for 2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program and the 2017 Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

Wed, 11/16/2016 - 12:13pm

The Allegheny County Bar Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program at legal services organizations and for the 2017 Gismondi Certified Law Student Fellowship Program at Neighborhood Legal Services Association.

The application deadline for both programs is January. 13, 2017.

2017 Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

The Certified Summer Fellowship positions will be awarded through the Lawyers Fund at the Allegheny County Bar Foundation and The John P. Gismondi Fund. Applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and have completed his or her second year of law school and must be eligible to be certified to appear in court pursuant to Pa. Bar Admission Rule 321. The Law Student Summer Fellowship Program will run from May 30, 2017 through August 8, 2017.

All applications must be submitted via Symplicity portal for Pitt Law students and via DuqLawConnect for Duquesne Law students.

To view the program overview, click here.

To view the application, click here.

More Information

Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program

The John P. Gismondi Fund was established in January 2014 to provide summer employment opportunities to University of Pittsburgh law students at Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) or other similar public interest non-profit organizations providing legal services to those in need.

The program, entitled the Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program, is financed by a $225,000 donation to the Foundation by Pittsburgh attorney John P. Gismondi. Gismondi, a well-known, local trial attorney and Past President of the Allegheny County Bar Association, has been an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law for more than 25 years and is a graduate of the university and its law school.

According to Gismondi, the fund fulfills two purposes. “Law students crave real-world experience, and NLSA has a critical need for more manpower. This program should address both areas. It will allow second-year students to handle actual cases in front of magistrates or government agencies, and it will give more low-income families access to legal representation.”

The Gismondi Fund will sponsor two (2) Summer Fellowship positions at NLSA to students who have completed their second year of law school at the University of Pittsburgh and are certified to represent clients in accordance with the court rules of Allegheny County. The Gismondi Certified Law Student Summer Fellowship Program will run from May 30, 2017 through Aug. 8, 2017.

To view the program overview, click here.

To view the application, click here.

More Information


 

Justice Department Announces Pilot Program to Provide Military Communities Across the Country with Dedicated Legal Support

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 1:55pm

The Department of Justice has announced a new program, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Enforcement Support Pilot Program, to support enforcement efforts related to protecting the rights of current and former military personnel as part of the department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative.  The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that provides wide-ranging financial and housing protections and benefits for military members as they enter active duty.

With the support of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the Civil Rights Division, the new pilot program funds Assistant U.S. Attorney and trial attorney positions to assist the department’s litigating components with SCRA enforcement, and also designates military judge advocates currently serving as legal assistance attorneys to serve as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys to support the department’s enforcement efforts related to the SCRA.  U.S. Attorneys throughout the country will also be appointing Initiative Liaisons to work with local military and veteran communities.

“The men and women who bravely defend our country deserve more than just our respect – they deserve our unyielding support,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “The pilot program we are announcing today will enhance our ability to safeguard the economic and legal rights of our servicemembers, our veterans and their families.  In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to ensure that our laws protect those who protect us.”

“Servicemembers sacrifice a lot to protect our freedom and our security, and in turn our laws protect them and their families from unscrupulous financial predators,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer.  “The SCRA Enforcement Support Pilot adds significant legal resources designed to stop these predators.  Whether a servicemember has a financial or housing related issue, the Department of Justice will investigate complaints promptly and vigorously take enforcement action against wrongdoers.”

The pilot provides full-time support for SCRA enforcement efforts through the end of Fiscal Year 2018 and funds Assistant U.S. Attorneys in districts with major military installations and additional trial attorneys in the Civil Rights Division, for a terminal period.  The Assistant U.S. Attorneys will principally be responsible for coordinating with Staff Judge Advocate’s Offices on military installations and bringing claims in coordination with the Civil Rights Division against those who target servicemembers.

The pilot also allows military judge advocates (JAG) who are serving as legal assistance attorneys to be designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the purpose of assisting with SCRA litigation.  The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative will coordinate the assignment of these JAG officers with U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.  U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Western District of Washington and the Eastern District of North Carolina are the first districts adding these valuable military legal resources.

In addition to the funding, it was announced that the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative has become a permanent component within the Office of the Associate Attorney General and will be led by Director Silas V. Darden.  The department created the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative in December 2014 with a mission to support the department in its efforts to protect those who protect us all.  Please visit www.servicemembers.gov for more information about the initiative.

PA Supreme Court Clarifies Rule Related to Lawyers Advising Clients Engaged in Medical Marijuana Industry

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 9:50am

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted a change to its Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys to address questions of whether it is ethically permissible to provide legal advice and assistance to clients engaged in the medical marijuana industry.

The change adds a new paragraph (e) to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 specifically permitting a lawyer to counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted by Pennsylvania law. At the same time, however, the rule also states that the lawyer has an obligation to counsel the client about the legal consequences of the client’s proposed course of conduct under other applicable laws.

The rule change arose out of numerous inquiries received by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee. With the changing marijuana laws in the United States precipitating a growing need for legal assistance in this area, Pennsylvania lawyers were asking whether it was ethically permissible to provide legal advice and assistance to clients engaged in the marijuana industry. To date, more than 20 states, including Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws relating to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania enacted the Medical Marijuana Act on April 17, 2016.

Notwithstanding the trend of many states toward some form of legalization of marijuana, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Controlled Substances Act provides that marijuana is a “Schedule 1” drug, thereby making it unlawful to “manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess a controlled substance.”

The conflict between federal and state laws created an ethical dilemma for Pennsylvania lawyers because Pennsylvania RPC 1.2(d) states that “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent...”

Under the former rule, arguably, a Pennsylvania lawyer was prohibited from assisting a client in various activities such as drafting or negotiating contracts that may have related, directly or indirectly, to the purchase, distribution or sale of medical marijuana, even though such activities are now legal under state law.

The new rule will permit counsel to provide legal services to clients without being subject to discipline under court rules.

Original Release