LSC Updates - August 3, 2005
LSC BOARD ADOPTS NEW FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY RULE; WILL REVIEW CERTAIN OTHER RULES
The LSC Board of Directors met on July 30, 2005. The Board adopted a final rule overhauling 45 C.F.R. 1611, relating to the financial eligibility of clients. The revisions are intended to simplify and streamline the requirements of the rule to ease the administrative burdens facing LSC recipients, and to facilitate compliance with and enforcement of the regulation. The final rule also makes changes regarding group representation and the requirement for retainer agreements with clients. The new rule will take effect thirty days after its publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled to occur on August 8.
The Board also asked LSC staff to review and report back to the Board at the October 2005 meeting with respect to three regulations which seem obsolete or out-of-date in their current form: Part 1621 relating to client grievance procedures, Part 1624 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of handicap, and Part 1631 relating to the expenditure of certain pre-1986 funds. The Board will consider how to proceed with respect to the rules at that time.
SENATE CONFIRMS NEW LSC BOARD MEMBERS
July 28, 2005
The U.S. Senate confirmed Thomas A. Fuentes and Bernice Phillips as members of LSC's Board of Directors today. Both were nominated by President Bush on January 24, 2005.
Mr. Fuentes is a Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute in California and the former Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party. He has been active in a number of charitable causes and was a founder of the Orange County Food Bank. Mr. Fuentes served on the LSC Board in 2003 and 2004 as a recess appointment and is being confirmed to fill the vacancy created on the expiration of that appointment.
Bernice Phillips is a social worker and community activist from Buffalo, New York. She is an eligible client member of the board. Ms. Phillips is replacing Maria Luisa Mercado, who has served on the Board for the last twelve years.
DIETER SWORN IN AS AMBASSADOR TO BELIZE
July 25, 2005
Former LSC Board member Robert J. Dieter was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Belize by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on July 25, 2005. LSC Board Chairman Frank Strickland, Board member Herb Garten, and President Helaine Barnett attended the swearing-in ceremony at the State Department.
Nominated by President Bush on May 6th, Dieter was confirmed by the Senate on June 16th. He was director of clinical programs and clinical professor of law at the University of Colorado Law School. Dieter was a member of the LSC Board of Directors since April 2003, serving as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Helaine Barnett, the Board, and the entire staff extend our gratitude to Dieter for his exemplary service as a board member, and our warmest wishes to him and his family during this time of transition.
UB PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIP: A 'WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN' FOR LEGAL SERVICES
Joe Surkiewicz, The Daily Record (MD) - July 15, 2005
In April, the University of Baltimore School of Law announced the endowment of the UB Public Interest Fellowship, which covers the final year of law school and guarantees full-time employment in public interest law following graduation. The scholarship is modeled after the Equal Justice Scholarships at the University of Texas School of Law and Baylor University Law School. The Maryland Legal Aid Bureau and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender are partnering with the university, each selecting a second-year law student as a fellow, hiring them as summer interns, and placing them in staff positions for at least three years following graduation. "Usually, only large law firms commit to hiring long-term after graduation," says Michele Gilman, director of UB's civil advocacy unit. "This way, clients get lawyers who are really passionate - and who may have otherwise been forced to take a different path." This year, the public defender's office has hired its first intern, and the Legal Aid Bureau will follow suit next summer. "The University of Baltimore School of Law and its leadership deserve tremendous credit for this initiative," says Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr. "It directly seeks to address a significant barrier for law graduates with the desire and commitment to work in public interest law. It simply minimizes the sometimes overwhelming financial burden."
FREE LEGAL CLINIC TARGETS NEEDY
Jimmie E. Gates, The Clarion-Ledger (MS)
July 13, 2005
Low-income residents of Jackson recently got some free legal advice over plates of taco casserole, sweet peas, and mashed potatoes, at Stewpot Community Services. The clinic is being held every Tuesday in July by attorneys from Adams & Reese, a firm that has been participating in this annual event since 2000. "Many of the participants wouldn't get legal advice without the assistance," says Gee Ogletree, director of Adams & Reese's pro bono program in Mississippi. The lawyers assist clients on matters ranging from Social Security and veterans benefits and foreclosures.
NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF CLEVELAND
July 26, 2005
Colleen Cotter started work as the new Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (LASCLEV) today, replacing C. Lyonel Jones at the helm of an organization he had led for nearly 35 years. Cotter's new position is only the most recent in a long career spent working for the public interest, including at Maine's Pine Tree Legal Assistance and Indiana Legal Services. Since 2003, Cotter has worked as a consultant for legal services programs and state justice communities, addressing management and planning issues. "I am honored to be asked to play this role with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland," said Ms. Cotter. "Legal Aid has a strong tradition and history; I look forward to working with the staff, board and community to ensure access to justice for low-income people."
IOWA LEGISLATURE RESTORES LEGAL SERVICES FUNDING
Iowa's state legislature recently approved legislation providing Iowa Legal Aid with $900,000 in funding to support their services to low-income Iowans.
The appropriation will allow Iowa Legal Aid to maintain current staffing levels and office structures throughout their ten regional offices, which serve all of the state's 99 counties. The funding will also allow Iowa Legal Aid to fill a few of the 22 attorney positions that have remained unfilled since 2002, when state, federal and IOLTA funding cuts reduced Iowa Legal Aid's overall budget by approximately 20%, or nearly $1.5 million.
ND LEGAL AID GETS DONATION FROM INSURANCE LAWSUIT
Associated Press - July 17, 2005
A resolution of a lawsuit against two insurance companies for the cost of nursing home coverage has left North Dakota Legal Aid with a donation of $1,761, according to Director James Fitzsimmons. "Even a small amount of money like that does help," he notes. "We do so much work for the elderly." The amount was left over following payment of claims from the class-action lawsuit against United Equitable Insurance Co. of Chicago and Standard Life and Accident Insurance Co. of Galveston, Texas, says Tim Purdon, an attorney who worked on the case. He pointed out that most of the donation came from interest earnings on the settlement before it was distributed. The lawsuit was settled for $2.1 million and an agreement that the companies would scrap planned rate increases of $412,000. "We wanted to do something to support the elderly, and legal services to the elderly seemed like an appropriate deal," says Purdon.
HOMELESS PROGRAM GETS FEDERAL AWARD
Staff, Topeka Capital-Journal (KS) - June 25, 2005
The Topeka-Moving Ahead Program (T-MAP) recently received a Best Practices award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regional office. T-MAP, a program created to assist the homeless in such areas as life skills and employment training, was recognized as a model program for the homeless. Overseen by Kansas Legal Services, the program has graduated 49 people, with over 20 currently enrolled in classes. Since being formed in 2003, T-MAP has helped 78 percent of its graduates obtain employment, and approximately 69 percent have found permanent shelter.
Client Success Story
SUCCESS STORY FROM GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAM (GLSP)
(Legal aid is about helping ordinary people with real-life problems. Client stories from the field illustrate the day-to-day struggles, and victories, of poor Americans seeking justice under law.)
Eric is 10 years old and suffers from congenital hydrocephalus associated with developmental delayed learning disabilities. This condition makes him at high risk for failure in school. Currently in the third grade, he was forced to repeat kindergarten twice. During the 2002-2003 school year, he was evaluated by the school's special education staff, who declared him ineligible for special education services without informing his mother of her parental rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
After being contacted by Eric's mother for help, GLSP filed a complaint against the school system with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. As a result, Eric was subsequently re-evaluated for special education services by the school, which also developed an Individualized Education Plan and agreed to comply with federal guidelines in the future.