LSC Updates | November 2014

LSC COMMEMORATES 40TH ANNIVERSARY WITH THREE-DAY LEGAL AID CONFERENCE CHAMPIONING ACCESS TO JUSTICE

LSC40 logo image
LSC marked its 40th anniversary with a conference in September that brought together a wide range of legal, government, business, academic, and philanthropic leaders to shine a light on the challenges and opportunities facing civil legal aid in America. LSC hosted the conference September 14-16 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.
 
Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State and former LSC Board Chair Hillary Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and Senators Ben Cardin and Tim Kaine joined more than 100 speakers at the conference. 
 
In addition to speeches, the conference featured a dozen panel discussions on a wide variety of topics, including "Expanding and Diversifying Sources of Funding," "Stimulating Innovation to Increase Access to Justice," "The Impact of Pro Bono Lawyers on the Justice Gap," and "The Importance of Access to Justice and the Rule of Law to American Business." 

The participation of CEOs such as David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, Ken Frazier of Merck, and Arne Sorenson of Marriott International provided new perspectives on the importance of access to justice. 
Top Row (left to right): Vice President Joe Biden; former Secretary of State and former LSC Board Chair Hillary Clinton.
Bottom Row (left to right): United States Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.; United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan; and former United States Associate Attorney General Tony West.
Top Row (left to right): Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD); United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
Bottom row (left to right): United States Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh; Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA); former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
 LSC Grantee Executive Directors
The conference ended with closing remarks from LSC Board Chair John G. Levi, followed by LSC President Jim Sandman presenting the first Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants to 11 LSC grantee executive directors. These competitive grants support projects that develop replicable innovations in pro bono services for low-income clients.

Some of the pro bono projects will use emerging technology to reach rural populations. Others will provide training, materials, and support for pro bono lawyers. All the projects seek to engage and recruit pro bono lawyers and other volunteers to leverage LSC’s federal funding and increase the resources available to low-income clients.

"We are grateful to Congress for funding this new competitive grant program to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid," Sandman said. "As a former antitrust lawyer, I believe that competition promotes innovation. The number and quality of the applications for our new Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants proves the point."

The creation of the fund was recommended by LSC's Pro Bono Task Force, and Congress allocated $2.5 million in the FY2014 budget to fund the program.

The recipients of the 2014 Pro Bono Innovation Fund are:

Atlanta Legal Aid Society - $212,837, 24 months
Atlanta Legal Aid Society will integrate pro bono attorneys throughout their offices in five counties to make follow-up contact with clients and provide additional brief services, which has been proven to improve client outcomes significantly.

Colorado Legal Services - $173,808, 24 months
Colorado Legal Services will collaborate with the Colorado Bar Association to develop different technologies and clinic structures to identify the most effective ways to replicate metropolitan-area pro bono clinics in rural parts of the state.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles - $309,451, 24 months
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles will partner with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and OneJustice to develop the California Pro Bono Training Institute, a statewide online forum of substantive trainings that will provide legal services organizations and pro bono attorneys with high-quality, engaging, and on-demand Continuing Legal Education courses relevant to pro bono work for low-income clients.

Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY) - $314,068, 18 months
In response to New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's two major pro bono initiatives, LawNY is partnering with five other LSC grantees to create a new pro bono practice group across organizations and coordinate pro bono opportunities among their 33 offices and nine New York law schools, including the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University School of Law, which staffs the Attorney Emeritus Program for the Office of Court Administration.

Maryland Legal Aid - $265,464, 24 months
Maryland Legal Aid will establish a single statewide Veterans Hotline staffed by qualified pro bono attorneys who will be recruited and trained to meet the legal needs of Maryland’s low-income veteran population.

Montana Legal Services Association - $141,087, 24 months
Montana Legal Services Association’s project will develop a statewide technology platform targeting barriers to legal service delivery for solo practitioners, small firms, government attorneys, law students, and paralegals.

Northwest Justice Project - $211,120, 24 months
Northwest Justice Project will develop a comprehensive set of resources to support pro bono attorneys providing significant assistance beyond brief advice or limited action in unfamiliar areas of law, systematically increasing the level of extended services provided to low-income clients.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance - $240,305, 24 months
The Philadelphia Legal Assistance project will use the network of existing neighborhood public health centers to create a pro bono, law-student-driven medical-legal community partnership that will improve access to comprehensive, coordinated health and legal care.

Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. - $158,815, 18 months
Prairie State Legal Services will partner with Illinois Legal Aid Online to recruit and train pro bono attorneys in suburban areas and other "collar counties" surrounding Chicago in an effort to provide legal services for single parents in need of family law assistance.

Utah Legal Services - $190,000, 24 months
Utah Legal Services is partnering with the Self-Help Center of the Utah State Courts, local Utah State Bar Pro Bono committees, Timpanogos Legal Center, and volunteer law students and attorneys to provide a continuum of service for clients representing themselves in family law matters in rural areas. They will expand their collaboration by creating an online meeting and document-sharing platform that connects clients with on-call volunteer attorneys.

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association - $158,045, 24 months
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association will test and prototype "pop-up" clinics, a customized virtual law firm platform, and cost-effective video-conferencing to allow expert bankruptcy volunteers to train and mentor pro bono attorneys in parts of the state where no pro bono bankruptcy attorneys are available.
CLICK TO VIEW LSC 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO: WATCH LSC’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE PANEL DISCUSSIONS

REP. JERRY NADLER, CBS VICE CHAIR SHARI REDSTONE, VERIZON GENERAL COUNSEL RANDAL MILCH, LAW SCHOOL DEANS JOIN LEGAL AND BUSINESS LEADERS IN NEW YORK CITY TO MARK LSC’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY

LSC also marked its 40th anniversary with an event in New York City on Oct. 7. Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY-10th), CBS Vice Chair Shari Redstone, Verizon General Counsel and Executive Vice President Randal Milch, New York University School of Law Dean Trevor Morrison, Cardozo Law School Dean Matthew Diller, and CUNY School of Law Dean Michelle Anderson joined leaders from legal aid organizations and law firms to discuss ways to increase pro bono services and access to justice in their communities. The event was hosted by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

LSC Board Chair John G. Levi provided welcoming remarks. American Bar Association immediate Past President James Silkenat and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Judge Fern Fisher also spoke. 

LSC President Jim Sandman moderated a panel on pro bono partnerships in New York City, including:
  • Lillian Moy of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and Dan Hurteau of Nixon Peabody LLP, on partnering with lawyers at General Electric Research Center to provide full representation to low-income clients.
  • Raun Rasmussen of Legal Services NYC and Rossalyn Quaye of Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison), on working together to pair low-income veterans unable to repay their student loans with pro bono attorneys at Con Edison who help secure debt relief.
  • Jeff Seigel of Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee and John McEntee of Farrell Fritz, on collaboratively staffing the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Attorney of the Day bi-weekly programs, which provide representation to approximately 1,000 clients per year.
Following the discussion, Rep. Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, spoke.

LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow moderated a panel on "The Importance of Access to Justice to American Businesses," featuring Redstone and Milch.

NEW YORK CHIEF JUDGE JONATHAN LIPPMAN JOINS LEADING JURISTS AND LEGAL AID COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN ALBANY FOR LSC BOARD MEETING

graphic albany
The LSC Board of Directors met on October 5-7 in Albany, NY.

During the meeting, LSC hosted a panel discussion on judicial initiatives to improve access to justice for low-income legal aid clients. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman also presided over a public hearing to discuss the importance of legal aid providers and to hear accounts of how their work affects the lives of low-income clients.

LSC Board Chair John G. Levi delivered introductory remarks for the judicial initiatives panel, which featured  Judge Lippman, Vermont Supreme Court Justice Paul Reiber, and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts Judge Fern Fisher.

Helaine Barnett, Chair of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York and former LSC President (2004-2009), moderated the discussion.

Paulette Brown, the American Bar Association President-elect, delivered the keynote speech at a luncheon after the judicial panel.

Chief Judge Lippman's hearing before the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York featured a number of witnesses, including Harvard Law School Dean and LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow.

Both the judicial panel and the public hearing were held in the courtroom of the New York Court of Appeals.

LSC also held a Pro Bono Service Award Reception at the New York State Bar Association on October 6 in recognition of the recipients' extraordinary commitment to equal justice. Speakers at the event included LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi, Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20th), and New York State Bar Association President Glenn Lau-Kee.

Recipients of the Pro Bono Service Award include:
  • Leah Belfort, a retired accountant and attorney;
  • Frank Beretta, an East Rochester attorney in private practice;
  • Hugh C. Humphreys, a retired Madison County Judge;
  • Evelyn Kalenscher, a former partner in Genoa, Kalenscher & Noto, P.C.;
  • Kevin Kearney, of Hodgson Russ LLP; and
  • Philip Smith, litigation partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP.
Pro Bono Service Awards were also presented to the law firms of Hodgson Russ LLP, Morrison & Foerster LLP, and O’Connell and Aronowitz.
CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT THE PRO BONO SERVICE AWARD RECIPIENTS

LSC AWARDS NEARLY $3.5 MILLION IN TECHNOLOGY GRANTS TO LEGAL AID ORGANIZATIONS

LSC TIG 2014 chart
On October 17th, LSC released the list of 38 projects nationwide that will receive Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) funding. The grants will support a variety of initiatives, including user-friendly online tools for women veterans, mobile delivery of legal services for clients using text messaging, and videoconferencing technology that reaches low-income clients in rural areas.

Since its start in 2000, LSC's TIG program has funded 570 technology projects totaling more than $46 million.

With this funding, legal aid organizations have built a network of websites serving both attorneys and clients nationwide, developed easy-to-use online forms, incorporated video technology into service delivery, and enhanced support for pro bono lawyers.

"This latest round of grants continues LSC's history of leadership in expanding access to justice through innovations in technology," said LSC President James J. Sandman. "The grants reflect the creativity and resourcefulness of legal aid programs in using technology to get assistance to people when and where they need it."
CLICK TO READ AN ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY OF THE TIG PROGRAM AND LSC’S LEADERSHIP IN TECHNOLOGY BY TIG PROGRAM COUNSEL GLENN RAWDON
SEE FULL LIST OF 2014 TIG AWARD RECIPIENTS & PROJECTS

LSC AWARDED $1.2 MILLION GRANT FOR MIDWEST LEGAL DISASTER COORDINATION PROJECT

In September, LSC announced plans to use a $1.2 million two-year grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation to foster strong and sustainable relationships between disaster-preparedness organizations and legal service providers in the Midwest.

LSC plans to award two subgrants to LSC-funded legal aid programs in the Midwest to create disaster-response plans. The subgrantees are being selected through a competitive grants process.

The subgrants will allow each of the successful applicants to hire a disaster coordinator, who will engage with local community service providers to create a disaster response plan. LSC will also coordinate nationally with FEMA, the American Red Cross, National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, the American Bar Association, and others to launch a national response network integrating legal services with traditional disaster relief.

"This project will allow LSC and its grantees to continue our important work in disaster response in the Midwest," said LSC Board Chair John G. Levi. "The funds will also help LSC collaborate with other national stakeholders to make sure that legal services are routinely included in disaster relief efforts."

The grant will assist LSC grantees in creating sustainable solutions that address the growing need for civil legal aid in the aftermath of a disaster.

"Legal aid is critical for disaster victims who need to replace identification and other legal documents, resist unlawful evictions, obtain home repairs, avoid consumer scams, and access insurance and other benefits," said LSC President Jim Sandman. "Integrating these services into disaster relief is a smart and strategic way to get communities and individuals on the road to recovery quickly."

LSC PRESIDENT JIM SANDMAN NAMED 2014 MCGLOTHLIN LEADERSHIP FELLOW AT THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY

LSC President Jim Sandman was a 2014 McGlothlin Leadership Fellow at the College of William & Mary in October. The McGlothlin Leadership Forum brings three prominent leaders in business or law to William & Mary each year for three days of activities at the law and business schools.

Jim spoke to law students and to the first-year M.B.A. class and was the keynote speaker at a formal dinner in the Great Hall of the Sir Christopher Wren Building, the oldest existing college building in the United States.

His dinner speech was entitled "An American Paradox: How the Legal System Really Functions Today in a Nation That Espouses 'Justice for All.'"

BANK OF AMERICA SETTLEMENT INCLUDES $30 MILLION FOR STATE IOLTA PROGRAMS

The $16.65 billion Bank of America settlement announced in August by United States Attorney General Eric Holder and former Unites States Associate Attorney General Tony West includes funding for "foreclosure prevention legal assistance and community redevelopment legal assistance."

Thirty-million dollars will be disbursed to Interest on Lawyers Trusts Accounts (IOLTA) programs nationally – $200,000 to each U.S. jurisdiction, with the remainder divided among the states based on each state's share of the national poverty population. 
READ PRESS RELEASE BY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCING THE SETTLEMENT

EDITORIAL CARTOON: FACING THE LAW WITHOUT LAWYERS

(Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe)
Reprinted with permission of the artist

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