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VA Prioritizes Improving Veterans’ Access to Pro Bono Legal Services

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:29am

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), together with the American Bar Association, The Veterans Consortium and National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium, have signed a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at improving Veterans’ access to free legal services. 

Veterans often face stressful legal problems — such as eviction, foreclosure, child support, or drivers’ license revocations — that can affect their ability to gain or maintain employment and housing or focus on medical treatment. In VA’s annual Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups survey, legal assistance repeatedly tops the list of homeless Veterans’ unmet needs.

“We are encouraging VA Medical Centers and other VA facilities to engage with their local communities to establish legal clinics and Medical Legal Partnerships to address Veterans’ legal needs that threaten their health and well-being,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “By signing this agreement, we are documenting a shared commitment to better facilitate Veterans’ access to legal services.”

Currently, VA hosts at least 165 free legal clinics in its VA Medical Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers across the country by partnering with external, legal-service providers, such as local bar associations, legal-aid organizations and law school clinics.

More information on VA’s coordination of legal services for Veterans at VA facilities may be found at https://www.va.gov/OGC/LegalServices.asp.

 

Nominations Open for 2018 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Awards

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 3:03pm

PA Bar Association logoNominations are now open for the 2018 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Awards. Nominations for the awards will be accepted until Friday, December 22, 2017.

This year marks the 31st year that the committee has sought individual award nominees. This year also marks the fourteenth 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. This also marks the eighth 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 2018 year, whenever possible by PBA President Sharon Lopez and by PBA President-Elect Charles Eppolito III. This continues the practice President Lopez and former PBA presidents who promoted pro bono service and civil legal aid across the commonwealth by honoring champions of pro bono during their bar travels.

Submitting a nomination for a colleague is your chance to recognize and thank those who have used their talents to expand access to justice and help the needy in your county.  As you select your nominees for the awards, 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.

Nominations can be online on the Pennsylvania Bar Association website at http://www.pabar.org/public/probono/ProBonoAwardNomination.asp. The form can be completed electronically, and you will receive instant confirmation that your nomination was received.

If there are any questions regarding the Pro Bono Awards, please contact Pro Bono Coordinator David Keller Trevaskis at 800-932-0311, Ext. 2236; cell: (717) 571-7414;  and email: david.trevaskis@pabar.org.

 

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Presents Awards at 2017 Access to Justice Benefit

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:48am

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation held its 2017 Access to Justice Benefit on Saturday November 4, 2017 at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney headlined with opening remarks at the event that was dedicated to strengthening the acquisition of free legal services in our justice system.

“The Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides annual grants and other support to 38 legal aid nonprofit partners as a fundamental part of our mission,” says Thomas A. Brophy, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Board President and CEO of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. “This year, it is our pleasure to host representatives of these nonprofits at the Access to Justice Benefit as well as Mayor Kenney. We appreciate his support in demonstrating the need for quality legal aid services in Philadelphia.”

During the Benefit the following Awards were presented:

Award presentations were made by Stephen A. Cozen of Cozen O’Connor, Kenneth C. Frazier, of Merck & Co., City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante, and JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University Provost.

Phladelphia Bar Foundation Presents Awards at 2017 Access to Justice Benefit

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:48am

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation held its 2017 Access to Justice Benefit on Saturday November 4, 2017 at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney headlined with opening remarks at the event that was dedicated to strengthening the acquisition of free legal services in our justice system.

“The Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides annual grants and other support to 38 legal aid nonprofit partners as a fundamental part of our mission,” says Thomas A. Brophy, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Board President and CEO of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. “This year, it is our pleasure to host representatives of these nonprofits at the Access to Justice Benefit as well as Mayor Kenney. We appreciate his support in demonstrating the need for quality legal aid services in Philadelphia.”

During the Benefit the following Awards were presented:

Award presentations were made by Stephen A. Cozen of Cozen O’Connor, Kenneth C. Frazier, of Merck & Co., City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante, and JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University Provost.

Allegheny County Bar Foundation Honors Five Individuals, Two Organizations with 2017 Pro Bono Achievement Awards

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:50am

The Allegheny County Bar Foundation is dedicated to providing free legal services to individuals facing critical legal issues who cannot afford to hire attorneys to represent them. Each year, through its Pro Bono Achievement Awards, the ACBF recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to this worthy cause.

The 2017 Pro Bono Achievement Awards were handed out at the ACBF Fall Foundation Reception on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.

The following five individuals and two organizations were honored:

  • Lifetime Pro Bono Service Award: GARY M. LANG 
    A medical malpractice attorney with Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, Lang has had a distinguished legal career that began with a dedication to helping others, a dedication that has remained for decades. When Lang left his position as an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Association in 1981, he did not leave behind his commitment to providing free legal services to the poor. He continued to do pro bono work through his career, then, in 1999, Lang agreed to act as coordinator for his law firm’s representation of domestic violence victims at final protection from abuse hearings. He not only took these cases himself — more than 200 hearing dates over the past 18 years — he also encouraged and facilitated pro bono service by other lawyers at his firm. A Whitehall resident, Lang has served on the NLSA Board of Directors, is an active member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and is an ACBF Charter Fellow and Sustaining Fellow. He is a prior recipient of an ACBA Pro Bono Achievement Award (1999). Lang is highly regarded for this professionalism, competence, civility and compassion.
  • Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award: DOROTHY ALKE 
    Alke has been a dedicated volunteer of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership’s Custody Conciliation Project for more than 10 years, during which time she has represented approximately 60 clients. A corporate attorney at CBS Corporation, Alke has continually been willing to step out of her regular area of practice to help families resolve custody disputes so as to avoid subjecting children to difficult court proceedings. A Lower Burrell native and longtime Robinson Twp. resident, Alke has been an administrative board member of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership since 2006. 
  • Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award: KATHERINE L.W. NORTON 
    As the Acting Director of Clinical Education at Duquesne University School of Law, Norton works at Family Court, overseeing students who assist approximately 400 individuals each year in navigating the custody process. Prior to joining Duquesne, Norton – a Hamburg, N.Y. native and current Mt. Lebanon resident – was an active pro bono volunteer while in private practice, representing domestic violence victims at final PFA hearings, staffing the court’s Self Help Center and helping families conciliate custody disputes. She has chaired both the ACBA Public Service Committee and the Family Law Section’s Public Service Committee. Norton’s dedication to legal services for the poor began even before she became licensed to practice law. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, she took on an extra semester at the Family Law Clinic, where she was on-site at the courthouse helping families through the custody process.
  • Kathryn M. Kenyon Leadership Award: JENNIFER FOX RABOLD 
    A corporate real estate attorney with FedEx Ground, Fox Rabold was the principal architect of her company’s pro bono program, which launched under her leadership in 2011 with a Wills Clinic at the Bridgeville Public Library. Her work with the Allegheny County Library Association led her to identify that site as a place adjacent to a senior-citizen high rise, where potential clients could easily access the services of volunteer attorneys. Soon, she helped expand the project to locations in Crafton and McKees Rocks, both economically-distressed communities greatly in need of free legal help. Since the inception of these clinics, more than 700 clients have met with volunteer attorneys and notaries public to obtain wills and other advanced planning documents.

    Under Fox Rabold’s leadership, FedEx Ground’s pro bono participation has expanded to community legal clinics, protection from abuse cases and assistance to veterans and small nonprofit organizations, among other efforts. As a result, FedEx Ground was the recipient of a 2011 ACBA Pro Bono Achievement Award and a 2016 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Award. Apart from her pro bono work, the Collier Twp. resident has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations including the Carnegie Library, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Pressley Ridge, and others.
  • Young Lawyer Award: JOSEPH R. WILLIAMS 
    While still early in his legal career, Williams is already an experienced and compassionate attorney who uses his professional skills to advance equal access to justice in one of the highest areas of demand for pro bono legal services: family law. A Lore City, Ohio native and current downtown Pittsburgh resident, Williams started his career with a commitment to giving back. He is a former chair of the ACBA Young Lawyers Division and is an active volunteer in PFA and custody matters. Williams serves as a mentor to newer attorneys and encourages them to participate in pro bono programs.
  • New Pro Bono Initiative Award: GUARDIAN PROJECT at Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick & Raspanti, LLP
    This year, the law firm Pietragallo, Gordon, Alfano, Bosick & Raspanti stepped up to fill a gap in legal services for families who seek to establish guardianships for family members with severe disabilities. Without such services, these families struggle to manage important financial and everyday living matters for relatives who are unable to do these tasks on their own. This process is neither brief nor simple and requires the taking of depositions of medical professionals and several court appearances. Undeterred, the firm agreed to help get this new project up and running, take cases and manage it as a “Signature Project” of the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership.
  • Law Firm Award: K&L GATES 
    Over the past year, K&L Gates attorneys in the firm’s Pittsburgh office have spent more than 7,000 hours providing pro bono legal services in a wide variety of programs and practice areas. Particularly impactful has been the firm’s representation of domestic violence victims. K&L Gates has been involved in this effort since 1992, when, as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, the firm formed NLSA’s first Protection from Abuse Referral team. NLSA currently has several teams to which it refers cases, but none has been more consistent in its response to this need than K&L Gates.

    In addition to the representation of clients, K&L Gates has hosted trainings for PFA volunteers on a regular basis, encouraging its own staff to attend and welcome outside attorneys willing to do this pro bono work. This emphasis on training and mentoring has created a well-trained and supervised PFA team. K&L Gates also has been involved with new and cutting-edge pro bono programs, including representing former juvenile criminal defendants in re-sentencing cases following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana. The firm’s attorneys volunteer for a variety of other programs including Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, immigration law cases and prisoners’ civil rights cases, among many others.
     
Additional Award Information:

The Jane F. Hepting Individual Attorney Award is given to an attorney who has shown exemplary commitment to or made substantial achievements in pro bono legal services. The ACBF Board of Trustees adopted a resolution in 2002 to name this award in recognition of Jane Hepting’s dedication to the delivery of pro bono legal services through her 26 years as a Neighborhood Legal Services Association attorney, the many and varied pro bono programs that she helped create and implement, her recruitment initiatives and exceptional training programs to attract and prepare volunteer attorneys, her exceptional expenditures of time and energy on behalf of pro bono legal services, and her outstanding commitment and dedication to public service, the legal profession and the community.

The Lorraine M. Bittner Public Interest Attorney Award is given to an outstanding and dedicated attorney who is employed by an entity or program whose primary function is the delivery of civil legal services to low-income individuals or organizations that serve the poor or disadvantaged. The award is named in honor of the first attorney to receive it when it was established in 2005, in honor of her exceptional and career-long commitment to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged through her work at Neighborhood Legal Services Association and the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

The Kathryn M. Kenyon Leadership Award is given to an attorney who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to pro bono efforts benefitting the most vulnerable in our communities.
 

About the ACBF

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.

Philadelphia Bar Association Unveils October 2017 Pro Bono Task Force Report

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 9:10am

Philadelphia Bar Association Pro Bono Task Force Report coverThe Philadelphia Bar Association's Pro Bono Task Force has  unveiled its 15-year update to a report on the state of pro bono, that was issued in 2002 under Chancellor Allan H. Gordon's leadership.

Fifteen years later, in December 2016, Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross convened the present Task Force. Their charge was to examine the state of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia, to report on how far they had come in the intervening fifteen years, and to provide recommendations to encourage and expand pro bono work.

As in 2002, the Task Force was composed by the Chancellor to reflect the diversity of perspectives in the Philadelphia legal community. The 18 members of the Task Force included representatives from private practice (ranging from large firms to solo practitioners), public interest organizations, corporate legal departments, law schools and the judiciary.

The current report found while much progress has been made over the past fifteen years, there is still much to be done. The legal needs of those members of our community who cannot afford to pay for legal representation have only grown, and will continue to grow.

Moreover, an unforeseen widespread gap in legal assistance can develop rapidly from economic forces, shifts in governmental priorities or a natural disaster. Pro bono legal services are an essential part of addressing these needs.

It is hoped that this report will help identify measures that can be taken to encourage and expand pro bono work in the unending effort to better serve the needy, disadvantaged and disenfranchised in Philadelphia, and will help to foster conversations about how to improve access to justice.

The Full Report is available from the Philadelphia Bar Association at www.philadelphiabar.org/WebObjects/PBA.woa/Contents/WebServerResources/CMSResources/ProBonoTaskForceReport.pdf

Pro Bono Volunteers and Aid Sought to Assist Hurricane and Earthquake Victims

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:08am

Efforts are underway to provide legal assistance to the victims of recent hurricanes which struck Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as persons affected by the major earthquake that struck Mexico.

The American Bar Association, among its other efforts, has been working closely with the Louisiana Civil Justice Center (LCJC) to create a hotline that can provide needed information and services through pro bono volunteers. LCJC has long experience in providing disaster legal services to callers. Because there is such severe devastation on those islands, local lawyers will probably not be able to provide sufficient pro bono service to meet the growing need for legal help. Therefore:

  1. Lawyers who are active members of the USVI or Puerto Rico bars are urged to sign up to accept referrals of pro bono cases from the LCJC.
         
  2. Lawyers who are not licensed in USVI or Puerto Rico can also assist, by providing legal research or assistance with federal/administrative law questions.

Pennsylvania lawyers who are willing to provide legal research or assistance with federal/administrative law questions to Hurricane Maria victims are encouraged to complete the ABA Disaster Legal Service Volunteer Attorney Intake Form, which is online, in English and Spanish, at https://goo.gl/forms/yDYzE3h3NoFAQcfm1.

Pennsylvania Bar Association President Sharon R. López is also urging support for the Puerto Rican Bar Association’s Hurricane Maria relief effort, as well as earthquake relief efforts in Mexico and she has issued this letter urging Pennsylvania attorneys to support the efforts. The Hurricane Maria Emergency Legal Aid Fund of the Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia of Puerto Rico is also requesting donations.

López is also encouraging contributions to legal aid organizations in Texas and Louisiana for Hurricane Harvey relief. Read the letter.

PLI Launches New Pro Bono Practice Area Site

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 12:04pm

Practising Law Institute (PLI) announces the launch of a new Pro Bono practice area website dedicated to the important public service work of legal professionals. The comprehensive, easy-to-navigate site will offer access to PLI programs that provide the training critical to effective legal representation.

The new Pro Bono site is also accessible from the PLI homepage (www.pli.edu) and contains hundreds of hours of content encompassing many subject areas at all levels of experience. Areas of interest include timely access-to-justice issues such as housing, immigration, consumer bankruptcy, children's rights, civil rights, consumer protection, as well as disaster assistance, education law, elder law, and family law. The programs are presented in convenient Live, Webcast, and On-Demand formats.

"We are pleased to bring our Pro Bono content to a wider audience, now more accessible than ever through the new practice area site," said Janet L. Siegel, Director of Pro Bono Services. "As a nonprofit organization, PLI is committed to providing attorneys with the necessary training to assist individuals in need of legal representation."

Nominations Sought for 2018 PA Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 2:31pm

Photo of PLAN Excellence AwardsPennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. is currently soliciting nominations for its 2018 Excellence Awards. This year, the awards dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at the Hilton Harrisburg Hotel. A social hour will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., immediately followed by a buffet dinner.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards honor members and friends of the legal aid community who exemplify excellence in their commitment and accomplishments as advocates for low-income people. A media presentation highlighting the accomplishments of each award recipient will be incorporated into the program. You are encouraged to submit worthy nominations for the following categories:

  • Legal Services Staff. We are seeking nominations for employees for all staff positions who exhibit excellence and commitment in the performance of the duties of their jobs;
     
  • Private Bar. We are seeking nominations for members of the private bar who display an outstanding commitment to legal aid and the legal needs of low-income Pennsylvanians;
     
  • Community Services. We are seeking nominations for volunteers and friends who demonstrate exceptional dedication to legal aid and the needs of low-income people. It may include legislators or government officials, community leaders, or others who help promote the mission of legal aid; and
     
  • Lay and Client Advocacy. We are seeking nominations for client leaders, organizational partners, or others who have donated significant time and energy to the mission of legal aid and the needs of low-income people.

Nominations are open to everyone, and there is no limit on the number of nominations you may submit. However, all nomination forms must follow the format on the attached form and should include supporting documents and information in order to be considered by the Awards Committee.

The Awards Committee will look for specific examples of excellence and will take into consideration commendation letters, relevant news clippings or other documents that strengthen the nomination.

Online nominations are encouraged but nominations can also be submitted by mail, fax, or e-mail to:

PLAN Awards Committee
118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA  17101
Fax:  717-233-4088
E-mail:  nbogerman@palegalaid.net

 

Nominations must be received no later than Friday, November 3, 2017.

If you have other questions, please contact Natalei Bogerman at (800) 322-7572 or (717) 236-9486, ext. 207 or by e-mail to nbogerman@palegalaid.net.

Online Nomination Form

Download Nomination Form (MS Word)

 

Jim DeAngelo Honored With PBA’s Jeffrey A. Ernico Award

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 8:46am

James DeAngelo, EsquireThe Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services to the Public Committee is pleased to honor Harrisburg lawyer James P. DeAngelo with its Jeffrey A. Ernico Award at the September 27, 2017 annual fall membership meeting of the Dauphin County Bar Association.

Attorney DeAngelo is Chair of the Litigation Group at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC in Harrisburg. He joined the firm as a business litigator in 1992 after his clerkship with the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

A longtime champion of pro bono service  and the delivery of legal services to the poor, Attorney DeAngelo has served as Chair of the Dauphin County Bar Association’s Public Service Committee since 1997. He also is a veteran member and past leader of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services to the Public Committee. 

He has served on the Boards and in leadership of significant legal aid programs, including: the regional MidPenn Legal Services program, a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to providing equal access to justice and high quality civil legal services to low-income residents and survivors of domestic violence in 18 counties in Central Pennsylvania; the Community Justice Project, a statewide non-profit, legal aid law firm that fights for improvements to public benefits, increased access to affordable housing, better pay for workers, and many other issues; and the statewide Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, the umbrella organization for many of the legal aid programs in the Commonwealth.  He has dedicated numerous hours of pro bono legal advice to individuals and families in the central Pennsylvania community and beyond.

"Jim is a truly deserving recipient of this award as he not only ‘talks the talk but walks the walk’ because no matter how busy he is in his private practice he always has time to support legal aid and handle cases pro bono,”  MidPenn Legal Services Executive Director Rhodia Thomas said upon hearing of DeAngelo being honored.

Dauphin County Bar Association Public Services Coordinator Sandy Ballard added, “With Jim’s bold and creative leadership, the Dauphin County Bar Association continues to expand and improve its service to the community through our Pro Bono Program.”

The Ernico Award celebrates the pro bono accomplishments of Harrisburg attorney Jeffrey A. Ernico and his long-standing commitment to equal justice and serving those who have nowhere else to turn. The Ernico Award is an occasional award of the PBA Legal Services to the Public Committee that is to be given to such individuals and groups as the committee, from time to time, determines have provided unique service that has resulted in significant improvement in the provision of legal services to the neediest among us. 

DeAngelo is the eleventh recipient of the Ernico Award since it was created in 2006.  His award reads:

“A champion of justice for those in need, James P. DeAngelo has been dedicated to public service throughout his legal career. His outstanding community service through pro bono contributions works to balance the inequality for those without adequate access to justice.”

Jim Carroll, Elizabeth Price, Kathleen Smith, Cary Flitter, Michael Paul Malakoff , Kenneth Jewell, Jon McKenna, Deborah Freeman, Larry Young, and Carol Mills McCarthy are past recipients of the Ernico Award.  Please see http://www.pabar.org/site/Probono/Ernico-Award.

LSC Awards Fourth Round of Pro Bono Innovation Grants to Assist Low-Income Americans

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:14am

Legal Service Corporation logoThe Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has announced that 15 legal aid organizations will receive grants to expand pro bono legal services for low-income clients.

Many of the projects the grants will fund focus on building new partnerships between legal aid programs and law schools, law firms, and other local service providers. The projects will engage more pro bono lawyers and other volunteers, to leverage LSC’s federal funding and  increase the legal resources available to meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans. The projects offer effective, replicable solutions to persistent challenges in current pro bono delivery systems.

For example, Legal Services NYC will use its grant to support its Military Monday project, which brings together corporations, law firms, and legal services to assist low-income veterans. Through a combination of monthly legal clinics and ongoing representation, pro bono attorneys and Legal Services NYC staff will help veterans with pressing legal issues including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Jim Sandman, President of LSC.   “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

The creation of the fund was recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force in 2012. Congress allocated $2.5 million for it in LSC’s FY 2014 appropriation and increased that allocation to $4 million in subsequent years, beginning with LSC’s FY 2015 appropriation.

The recipients of 2017 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants are:

California
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles - $176,379
    Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles will expand data collection and evaluation tools for California’s Pro Bono Training Institute, a statewide resource for pro bono lawyers assisting low-income people.
     
  • California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. - $232,525
    California Rural Legal Assistance will enhance its pro bono program by streamlining internal processes expanding external connections to create a detailed inventory of pro bono resources and implementing a training campaign for pro bono lawyers.
Colorado
  • Colorado Legal Services - $132,416
    Colorado Legal Services will expand and improve existing pro bono clinics that focus on connecting urban attorneys with rural communities in need.
Florida
  • Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. - $307,573
    Bay Area Legal Services will collaborate with the Florida Bar on disaster preparedness, including training pro bono volunteers to assist disaster victims with FEMA assistance, insurance claims, ID and document replacement, and other disaster-related issues.
Louisiana
  • Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation - $250,515
    Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation will enhance its pro bono program by centralizing its volunteer lawyers program and undertaking an in-depth assessment of how it engages in and can improve pro bono activities.
Massachusetts
  • Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association - $295,822
    Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association will engage pro bono lawyers to address two significant legal problems —wage theft and unfair debt collection. Partnering with the state Attorney General’s Office, the goal is to provide more assistance to clients, train volunteers to provide effective representation, and create replicable materials to better educate low-income clients about their legal rights.
     
  • Community Legal Aid, Inc. - $194,298
    Community Legal Aid will develop new resources and expand pro bono assistance in education and employment cases in its medical legal partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center, one of the largest medical providers in the state. The project will include a study of the extent to which improved client health and cost savings can be attributed to legal aid and pro bono efforts.
Missouri
  • Legal Aid of Western Missouri - $190,420
    Legal Aid of Western Missouri will expand its Adopt a Neighborhood program to two more neighborhoods to engage new law firms in pro bono cases. It also plans to improve data collection and continuing legal education for pro bono volunteers.
New Jersey
  • Legal Services of Northwest Jersey - $299,501
    Legal Services of Northwest Jersey will hire a Director of Pro Bono Innovation to perform a comprehensive analysis to improve its pro bono program, seeking input from the client community, courts, attorneys, and service providers in New Jersey and nationally.
     
  • Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation - $342,034
    Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation will expand its pro bono program to include volunteers with unique language and cultural skills to assist LEP (Limited English Proficient) clients. The project will strengthen the program’s ability to provide client-centered legal services across all practice areas in a diverse service area.
New York
  • Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. - $272,758
    Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York will expand its current pro bono eviction defense program to town and village courts. It will staff the City Court Program with a rental housing counselor to meet with tenants after court appearances to provide counseling, referrals, and follow-up services.
     
  • Legal Services NYC - $351,387
    Legal Services NYC will partner with global law firms and several Fortune 500 companies to provide legal assistance to low-income veterans on matters including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.
Ohio
  • The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland - $165,525
    The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will increase pro bono efforts by recruiting late-career and retired attorneys to take on a variety of pro bono roles, including as in-house volunteers working alongside staff and as mentors to staff.
Virginia
  • Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. - $290,283
    Legal Services of Northern Virginia will assist veterans in need of discharge upgrades and Veterans Administration disability compensation. The program will begin with “legal check-ups” performed by law students to assess veterans’ legal needs, followed by referrals to volunteer attorneys for further assistance.
Washington
  • Northwest Justice Project - $298,564
    Northwest Justice Project, replicating Atlanta’s highly successful Pro Bono Innovation Fund project, will follow up with clients who received advice and use the results to make improvements in practice and address external barriers to self-represented clients.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
 

Original Press Release

 

On-Demand Program: Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Disaster Assistance

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 1:26pm

The Practising Law institute is offering a free on-demand one-hour briefing entitled Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Disaster Assistance recorded from the original briefing offered on September 2017 in New York.

Historic rainfall and devastating destruction has left many in dire need of assistance. Register now for PLI’s On-Demand One-Hour Briefing and learn what resources are available and how you can help. Information provided in this program will in large part also be applicable to victims of Hurricane Irma as well. 

Lecture Topics  [01:06:50]

Expert faculty from FEMA and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services will address:

  • An overview of federal disaster assistance
  • Eligibility criteria for the Individual and Household’s Program
  • Broad overview of the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Sale of flood insurance
  • Mapping flood hazards
  • Floodplain management
  • Flood mitigation assistance
  • Understanding the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) and claims
  • Terms and conditions in the SFIP
  • Proof of Loss and timelines for filing claims –building and contents
  • When experts are needed
  • Appeal and judicial review regarding a denial of a flood insurance claim
  • How to appeal a claim
  • Filing suit
  • Most common reasons for FEMA denials
  • Practice tips to help survivors overcome FEMA denials

Faculty:

  • Mary Ellen Martinet ~ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Barbara Montoya ~ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Benjamin Rajotte ~ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Laura Tuggle ~ Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Presentation Materials, Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Disaster Assistance and Appealing EMA IHP Decisions, will be available to those attending the briefing on-demand.

One hour of substantive Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education distance learning credit is available for this program.

More Information and View the Briefing

Critical Legal Assistance on the Approaching End of DACA

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 9:57am

On September 5, 2017, President Trump directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to phase out and eventually end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) over a period of two and a half years.

On Friday, September 15, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. ET, Practising Law Institute (PLI) will host a free online live One-Hour Briefing, The End of DACA: What You Need to Know Now, for anyone interested in providing pro bono legal assistance to individuals affected by the planned expiration of DACA. The On-Demand version of this program will be available on Monday, September 18, 2017.

During this One-Hour Briefing, expert faculty will address how the approaching expiration will impact individuals who currently have DACA status, those who have filed for DACA status as well as those considering filing a DACA application. Faculty will also provide an overview of what steps can be taken now, as well as guidance on how advocates and pro bono attorneys can get involved in supporting these individuals.

"PLI's mission as a nonprofit institution is to provide attorneys with the necessary training to represent individuals in need of legal representation. We are committed to ensuring that attorneys, advocates, pro bono volunteers and the legal community as a whole has the most current training opportunities in order to assist individuals concerned with the approaching expiration of DACA," said Anita C. Shapiro, President of PLI. "We remain committed to creating timely programming around late-breaking topics to ensure our community has the needed education and guidance to best serve their clients."

About PLI – www.pli.edu

Practising Law Institute is a nonprofit learning organization dedicated to keeping attorneys and other professionals at the forefront of knowledge and expertise. PLI is chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and was founded in 1933 by Harold P. Seligson. PLI provides the highest quality, accredited continuing legal and professional education programs in a variety of formats. This content is delivered by more than 4,000 volunteer faculty, including prominent lawyers, judges, investment bankers, accountants, corporate counsel, and U.S. and international government regulators. PLI publishes a comprehensive library of Treatises, Course Handbooks and Answer Books, also available through the PLI PLUS online platform. The essence of PLI's mission is its commitment to the pro bono community, with over 78,000 program scholarships awarded last year.