Report of the Task Force on State Courts and the Elderly Released

Today the Supreme Court of South Carolina released the Report of the Task Force on State Courts and the Elderly.

It is well worth reading, if only to note how South Carolina demographics have changed over the years and to see predictions for our future.

Well done!

-RFW

Who is this man?

Meet Bradley Ridlehoover.

Why is he important?

Because as of this summer, he has been working as a deferred associate at South Carolina Legal Services in Greenville in their Low Income Taxpayer Clinics area.

So how did he end up there?

Well, he started out in the Piedmont area, with an interest in law. Enter tax law. He went on to get his LLM (Master of Laws) in tax and was set to start work at Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. About that time, he was deferred and held some adjunct teaching positions, but then met up with some Greenville SCLS staff attorneys and before long, he was working in the office there.

When I spoke with Brad, he mentioned that he has enjoyed his work at SCLS. He is especially pleased that he was given such a broad exposure to the legal issues that so many people face. He has had client interaction from the start and has really enjoyed working with his SCLS colleagues.

His biggest eye-opener?

The fact that so many of his clients don’t know how to advocate for themselves. Many of the people coming in with tax problems don’t understand that they need to respond to the demand letters. They don’t know the next step. They can’t do this on their own and they can’t afford to hire anyone. Many times they’re victims of predatory lending and have a lot of personal debt with huge interest rates. They are stuck until they reach out to us for help. They are good hard-working people who are stuck and often we can help them resolve the issue quickly.

His Takeaway?

If you are an attorney just starting out and even if you’re not interested in working for legal services on a permanent basis, this is still a great place to get pro bono experience or to volunteer.

  1. It is rewarding.
  2. You get good practice drafting.
  3. You have fabulous opportunities for trial experience.
  4. And the clients are wonderful.

Plus it’s a great place to give back to the community.

What changes would he make to his experience at SCLS?

More time. More time to expand to other legal issues. He focused on tax because of the need, but legal services is a great place to learn so many areas of the law. It’s a great place to learn to be a generalist.

As we spoke it was obvious he had tremendous respect for the attorneys he worked with – “they are experts in so many areas but also practice in such a broad range.” They have to be – so much of what they do covers so much of the law – tax law, family law and benefits.

If he could change SCLS, what would he change?

I’d raise awareness about SCLS. It’s a great community resource. And the staff are motivated, interested individuals who want to be a part of this community. They do great work.

And his final words?

I’m a better lawyer because of this experience.

And we appreciate that. Thanks Brad!

-RFW

5 States Receive ProBono.Net Award

What do Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New York have in common?

Sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not. If it were, they would be laughing all the way to the bank.

Instead ProBono.Net has awarded these five states’ legal services organizations developing innovative online document assembly projects through its NPADO Demonstration Project.  The projects address legal issues including foreclosure, criminal expungement and the needs of the Spanish-speaking community.

To read more, click here.

Congratulations!

-RFW

Friday Wrap-Up 5.22.09

Here’s a Wrap-up of the week ending 5.22.09

I know this is mostly pointing folks to other sources for news, but as you can see, there are simply too many stories from the week to cover.

Thanks to my new law clerk Allie! She’s already jumping in with both feet.

Enjoy the stories below and have a safe holiday weekend!

Honolulu – City Awards almost $4 million for Homeless Services

LSC – Update enewsletter

South Carolina – SC Statehouse Report

New Brunswick – New Brunswick is facing Legal Aid cuts

Minneapolis – Best & Flanagan wins Pro Patria Award

Memphis – TBA President ready with plans

Washington D.C. – Bread for the City Beyond Bread: The Human Rights Clinic

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Foundation 25th Anniversary (thanks State Bar of Texas Blog)

Australia

Homeless Person’s Legal Service Forum (Robert McClelland)

Pro Bono Initiative to Strengthen Rule of Law (Robert McClelland) – Lawyers Beyond Borders

The Legal Intelligencer/Law.com – Use ‘Pro Bono Networking’ to Market Yourself into a New Job

New Jersey – TRENTON: State courts closed Fridayand again in June

JD Supra: Legal Articles – The 4 Ps of the Internet: Personal, Private, Professional and Public

Michigan

Mental health court serves public interest

The South End – Law School fellowships provide students with work opportunities, tuition dollars

California – New California Law School Unveils its First Clinic

InHouse Insider – 2009 Best Legal Department: And the Winner is . . . (be sure to track all 3 “winners”)

Tolerance.org: Teaching Tolerance – Use This Summer for Social Justice

NPR: Lawyers Make Pro Bono Leap into Foreclosures (thanks to Mercy Politics for pointing us to this story)

-RFW

Online Info: Legal Services Now

Just in case you weren’t aware, there is an online site to go to learn about what’s happening in the Legal Aid and Pro Bono communities – at Legal Services Now. The current e-newsletter is available in html or pdf.

-RFW

Technology and the Law – 3 online articles

technology-in-the-court

Many thanks to www.selfhelpsupport.org/news for these 3 online articles:

  1. Signs of Innovative Life in the Practice of Law – Transforming Legal Aid by Ronald W. Staudt. This article offers insight into recent changes in the way that technology is affecting law. It notes some of the entities that have impacted the practice including ProBono.net, Kaivo, NPADO and A2J Author, and the way that these technologies are expanding access to justice for individuals living in poverty.
  2. Technology Evangelist Keeps Faith in Legal Aid by Maria Kantzavelos. This article documents the accomplishments of the previous author, Ronald W. Staudt, who proclaims himself the “technology evangelist.” Staudt is the director of Chicago-Kent’s Center for Access to Justice & Technology.
  3. Tazewell County Legal Self-Help Center Opens by Tara Mattimoe. This article introduces the new Self-Help Center in Tazewell County (IL). The purpose of the Center is to assist people unable to afford an attorney. All the information is found online at http://tazewell.illinoislegalaid.org, which is maintained by Illinois Legal Aid Online.

Enjoy!

Robin

Latte and the Law

LATTE -n- LAW: legal assistance for middle class

java-and-justice-3

While many of the posts here have focused primarily on people living at, below or slightly above federal poverty guidelines, there are many more people unable to adequately access legal assistance or the civil court system due to prohibitive costs. And the numbers are rising.

According to a Los Angeles Times article “an estimated 60% of Americans find themselves in the gap between those poor enough to qualify for publicly funded Legal Aid and those wealthy enough to afford an uptown lawyer.”

And at storefront law offices like Santa Monica’s LegalGrind, a cafe-legal clearinghouse, those facing court dates to deal with divorce, custody matters, driving offenses and debt can find out for $45 how best to tackle their problems without plunking down a $5,000 retainer and $400 an hour for a lawyer.

One of the proffered solutions is unbundled legal services. Another is additional online resources. Yet another is more Pro Bono service.

Latte and the law – a solution for all of us?

-RFW