The PBEye recently reported on some of the creative and replicable projects featured during the two Marketplace of Ideas sessions at the 2015 PBI Annual Conference. Here are a few more of the projects highlighted during these exciting sessions:
Jobseeker Legal Clinic
Heather Hodges discussed the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s (NLSP) innovative Jobseeker Legal Clinic, which helps low-income individuals seeking employment overcome legal obstacles that may be barriers to successful job searches. Recognizing the need to “go where the clients are” and that public libraries are critical access points, NLSP formed a partnership with the District of Columbia Public Library to hold clinics and informational presentations at library branches around the city.
Clinic attendees meet one-on-one with attorneys at the library to address legal barriers to employment, such as criminal record sealing, credit reports, background checks, identity theft, homelessness, obtaining driving and professional licenses, and resolving back child support arrearages. Pro bono lawyers are also often able to help with issues related to workplace discrimination, recovering unpaid wages, tips, and overtime, and employment-related tax problems. The Jobseeker Legal Clinic is an effective model for addressing structural unemployment and related problems in our communities.
International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative
Rene Kathawala discussed Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe’s*† work with the International Bar Association’s Anti-Trafficking Initiative to prioritize markets for anti-trafficking training programs in 2015. The firm ultimately recommended six countries from among the 163 that signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol) that would be ideal for anti-trafficking training programs for police officers, judges, and prosecutors.
The Orrick team did extensive research, vetting countries to assess their commitment to and compliance with the Palermo Protocol by prosecuting traffickers within the past five years and which had not been involved in significant training programs to minimize duplication of efforts, eventually narrowing the list down to, as requested, six countries – Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Niger. The team was comprised of 34 attorneys in 12 offices across the U.S., Asia, and Europe and is a prime example of “pro bono glue,” that is, how large-scale pro bono projects can be used to integrate the offices of a global law firm.
Natalie Kraner described Lowenstein Sandler’s*† new pro bono initiative to reform the New Jersey juvenile justice system. The firm helped form a juvenile justice working group, bringing together prominent academics, nonprofits, and the Office of the Public Defender. The coalition has engaged in a number of advocacy and reform efforts.
Lowenstein Sandler attorneys and summer associates conducted a nationwide survey on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities. Relying on this research, the coalition is seeking through executive and legislative advocacy to eliminate or reduce the use of punitive solitary confinement. The group has also engaged in impact litigation challenging transfers from juvenile custody to adult prisons. Additionally, it regularly hosts roundtable discussions with various stakeholders − including police, corrections officers, prosecutors, public defenders, parents of children in the justice system, young adults who were in the system, legislators, and judges − to discuss and initiate reforms.
Through this work, the coalition has attracted the attention of national foundations that will help sponsor a multi-year campaign with the twin goals of creating viable alternatives to incarceration and more humane treatment for juveniles in state custody.
Check out our full recap of the 2015 Marketplace of Ideas sessions in this month’s edition of The Pro Bono Wire. We look forward to learning more and sharing other replicable ideas and projects at the 2016 PBI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 23-25. We invite those wishing to serve as a presenter to submit a brief proposal describing your initiative so that we can ensure adequate time and capacity for all presentations. Please send submissions to Law Firm Pro Bono Project Assistant Eva Richardson. (Due to time limitations, we may not be able to accept all proposals this year.)
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project