Category Archives: Legal Aid

New Blog Post: Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

New Blog Post: Douglas Quenqua, Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness, NYTimes.com, May 12, 2015.

New Article: Civil Society and Civil Justice: Teaching with Technology to Help Close the Justice Gap for Non-Profit Organizations

New Article: Raymond H. Brescia, Alexandria Decatur, & Julia Kosineski, Civil Society and Civil Justice: Teaching with Technology to Help Close the Justice Gap for Non-Profit Organizations, Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 29, 2019 (Forthcoming). Abstract below:

Technological innovation, climate change, economic inequality, globalization, and the increased migration of individuals and families to urban settings are all changing the way humans work, relate to each other and themselves, engage with the wider world, and form community. These forces are altering the relationship of the individual to the state, and between the individual and civil society: that loose sphere of organizations, associations, and collections of individuals that exist beyond government and the business sector. These groups that make up civil society play a significant role in the lives of individuals and families throughout the world. They mediate religious worship, educate youth and adults alike, heal us when we are sick, channel competition in sports, and help individuals work collectively to topple dictators. Technological innovations are affecting how these organizations function and communicate and often play a role in the social change such organizations and networks pursue. But the organizations themselves must adapt to changing environments, new needs spurred by such change, and the ways in which the legal ecosystem is itself also changing, spurred on by technological innovation as well. This Article explores whether the technological changes afoot in society generally, and the legal services sector in particular, can expand access to justice for non-profit organizations through the delivery of web-based legal guidance. It does so by exploring one effort to help non-profits that wish to form under New York State law obtain information and guidance that helps them generate the critical documents such organizations must prepare to organize themselves under state law. This effort was the product of a class taught at Albany Law School, led by one of the co-authors, and in which the two other co-authors were enrolled as students. In this class, entitled “The Law of Social Entrepreneurship and Exempt Organizations,” the students learned not just the substantive law of non-profit entities, they also learned how to incorporate technology into the provision of legal services to non-profit groups to help address the justice gap such organizations face. This Article explores the work of this class and the ways in which the students were able to incorporate technology to improve access to justice for non-profit entities. It is our hope that this process yielded helpful insights into the ways in which one can use technology to improve access to justice for non-profit groups in particular, but also for individuals and other corporate entities as well. This Article will identify these insights and examine what implications they might have for the use of technology to improve access to justice, for both organizations and individuals. It also shows how law schools can incorporate technology-based projects that help close the justice gap generally.

New Article: Vulnerability, Access to Justice, and the Fragmented State

New Article: Elizabeth L. MacDowell, Vulnerability, Access to Justice, and the Fragmented State, 23 Mich. J. Race & L. 51 (2018). Abstract below:

This Article builds on theories of the fragmented state and of human and institutional vulnerability to create a new, structural theory of “functional fragmentation” and its role in access to justice work. Expanding on previous concepts of fragmentation in access to justice scholarship, fragmentation is understood in the Article as a complex phenomenon existing within as well as between state institutions like courts. Further, it is examined in terms of its relationship to the state’s coercive power over poor people in legal systems. In this view, fragmentation in state operations creates not only challenges for access, but also opportunities for resistance, resilience, and justice. Focusing on problem-solving courts, and family courts in particular, the Article examines the intersection of human and institutional vulnerability within legal institutions and provides a framework for identifying ways to create greater access to justice. The Article contributes to state theory and the feminist theory of vulnerability, while providing a new way to understand and address an increasingly coercive state and its punitive effects on low-income people.

New op-ed: Give Tenants Lawyers

New op-ed: Brian Gilmore, Give Tenants Lawyers, N.Y. Times, Oct. 9, 2018.

New Article: Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington

New Article: Sara Rankin, Jocelyn Tillisch, Drew Sena, Justin Olson, Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington, Seattle University Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, 2018. Abstract below:

The act of panhandling, commonly known as begging, is a form of speech protected by the United States Constitution. But Washington’s cities are increasingly enacting laws that criminalize begging, despite courts finding these laws unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause. This brief surveys begging restrictions, assessing their scope and legality. This report offers the first statewide analysis of laws that restrict begging.

Among the brief’s key findings is that the vast majority (86%) of Washington cities criminalize begging; the majority (83%) of these laws result in a criminal charge if violated, leading to serious collateral consequences that impact one’s eligibility for housing and employment. Many of these laws would not survive constitutional scrutiny.

New Report: Tracking Outcomes: A Guide for Civil Legal Aid Providers and Funders

LegalData_PublicInterest

The National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School just published a very important report for all lawyers who work in civil legal aid. As the Center acknowledges in the report, data is not being collected, tracked, and used in the civil legal aid community at a rate consistent with other markets in the legal profession. The report expertly addresses many of the key reasons why data in civil legal aid is less effective, and carries on to address ways to make up the gap — notably recommending “that providers adopt a culture that supports the exercise of care in gathering, organizing, and analyzing data.”

The report is a must-read (and take to heart) for all those in the civil legal aid community.

National Center for Access to Justice, Tracking Outcomes: A Guide for Civil Legal Aid Providers and Funders, 2018.

Upcoming Conference: “State of the South Conference” Feb. 22-23, Georgia State University College of Law

Upcoming Conference: “State of the South Conference” Feb. 22-23, Georgia State University College of Law. From the conference website:

Join the Center for Access to Justice from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in the Catherine P. Henson Atrium for an opening reception featuring food from Kevin Gillespie’s Red Beard Restaurants.

On Friday, Feb. 23, the center will hold its inaugural State of the South Conference at the College of Law in partnership with the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. This year’s conference will explore the intersection between the civil and criminal justice systems and how practitioners operating in each system approach that overlap.

Op-Ed: “Courts Sidestep the Law, and South Carolina’s Poor Go to Jail”

Timothy Williams, Courts Sidestep the Law, and South Carolina’s Poor Go to Jail, New York Time, October 12, 2017. [“One homeless man has been arrested or cited 270 time on the same charge…”]

News Coverage: “Lawyers for Child Welfare and Legal Aid Under Scrutiny for Facebook Posts.”

Nikita Stewart, Lawyers for Child Welfare and Legal Aid Under Scrutiny for Facebook Posts, New York Times, August, 30, 2017. [Facebook posts pose expectation and standard of conduct questions for Legal Aid workers.]

New Article: “Law School Clinic and Community Legal Services Providers Collaborate to Advance the Remedy of Implied Warranty of Habitability in Missouri”

Karen Tokarz and Zachary Schmook, Law School Clinic and Community Legal Services Providers Collaborate to Advance the Remedy of Implied Warranty of Habitability in Missouri, 53 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 169 (2017). Abstract Below:

This Essay discusses the economic and public policy concerns regarding the implied warrant of habitability law and the ability of tenants in the state of Missouri can raise effective defenses to rent and possession/eviction actions. The authors, Tokarz and Schmook, director and supervising attorney, respectively, of Washington University’s Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic, evaluate these issues in light of Kohner Props., Inc. v. Johnson, which currently awaits a decision from the Missouri Supreme Court. Tokarz and Schmook use statistical analysis to identify recent trends in favorable results for landlords in disputes with tenants and stress the effects the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision in Kohner could have in future cases involving tenant rights.