PSJD: Your Pathway to Public Service Legal Careers

(We originally posted this last October but felt it appropriate to revisit what is possibly the best source for public service legal career information.)

Welcome to week two of Progressive Lawyer’s weekly focus on organizations that help law students and lawyers practice the type of Progressive Law they want to practice. This week we speak to Christina Jackson from PSJD.org, the Public Service Jobs Directory where she brings us up to speed on what PSJD is all about and how it can help you find your place in a public service legal career.

Progressive Lawyer: Thank you for taking the time to talk to Progressive Lawyer. Please introduce yourself and describe your role with PSJD.org.

Christina Jackson
Christina Jackson

Christina Jackson: My name is Christina Jackson. I am the Director of Public Service Initiatives and Fellowships at NALP.  I have been with NALP for more than a year.  Prior to coming to NALP, I served as a law school public interest career counselor for many years after practicing public interest law.  As part of my duties at NALP, I manage PSJD, a NALP initiative.  PSJD is a comprehensive public interest career resource and job search tool.

My role is to bring together law school professionals, employers and law students and alumni through professional development resources, recruitment and retention strategies, and job search tools.

PL: Why was your organization started?

CJ: Both NALP and PSJD were created to serve an identified need.  Details on each follow.

NALP:    NALP is an association of over 2,500 legal career professionals who advise law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools in North America and beyond.

What brings NALP members together is a common belief in three fundamental things. First, all law students and lawyers should benefit from a fair and ethical hiring process. Second, law students and lawyers are more successful when supported by professional development and legal career professionals. Third, a diverse and inclusive legal profession best serves clients and our communities. That’s why NALP members work together every day to collect and publish accurate legal employment data and information, and champion education and standards for recruiting, professional and career development, and diversity and inclusion. For more than forty years, NALP has played an essential role in the success of our members and the lawyers and law students they serve.

NALP believes in fairness, facts and the power of a diverse community. We work every day to be the best career services, recruitment, and professional development organization in the world because we want the lawyers and law students we serve to have an ethical recruiting system, employment data they can trust, and expert advisers to guide and support them in every stage of their careers.

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Video: We need to talk about an injustice

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. … Read more

Appleseed – A Network of Public Interest Justice Centers

(In recognition that interest in Progressive Lawyer has been steadily increasing, we felt it to be a good time to periodically reintroduce you to the organizations and people we have featured as well to update the post with any changes relevant to the subject we are covering. This week I am re-posting our very first feature on the Appleseed Network from October 6th, 2014. Since this was published Betsy Cavendish has moved on to become general counsel for Washington. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The Appleseed Network interim presidency is currently in the very capable hands of Annette LoVoi.)

Welcome to the launch of Progressive Lawyer! Every Monday over the next few months we will be spotlighting some of the most innovative progressive law organizations around the world and we could think of no better way to kick off the site and this feature than by starting with the Appleseed Network. As our mission (and yes we have chosen to accept it!) is to connect law students and lawyers with progressive, public interest organizations and firms from around the world, the first step is to become aware of who those organizations are. Please check in regularly on the site, follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook and join our LinkedIn group as this is just the beginning of what we hope will be a true, progressive legal community that leads with its values and makes a real difference in our world.

Welcome to Progressive Lawyer!

Progressive Lawyer:       Thank you for taking the time to speak to us! Please introduce yourself and describe your role in the Appleseed Network

Betsy headshot.2014
Betsy Cavendish

Betsy Cavendish: I’m Betsy Cavendish, President of Appleseed.  Appleseed has seventeen Centers in the U.S. and Mexico; I lead the headquarters office.  We’re a network of public interest justice centers. Each Center and the national office tackle a diverse portfolio of issues.  We address problems at their root causes and aim for systematic, structural solutions.  The national office incubates and supports local Centers.  We help connect our network of pro bono supporters to Centers to advance their work and we connect Centers to each other, so that they build on each others’ successes and learn from their efforts.

My role:  you’ve heard the phrase “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer?”  My roles span the range from social justice entrepreneur, to public interest organization medic, chief cheerleader, fundraiser, and connector.

PL:       Why was Appleseed started?

BC: Appleseed’s founders thought that the agenda for justice was ever changing and that communities across the country needed local justice centers that could tackle local needs and problems. They wanted to break out of the model of lawyers handling one case at a time to fix injustices once and for all.

Appleseed’s founders were at their 35th law school reunion and they wanted to make a lasting difference with their talents.  They ran big transactions, huge litigations, they were trusted advisors to major companies and government agencies.  They thought that their talents would be best spent creating institutions for change across the country.

They wanted to switch the paradigm from charity to justice.

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Rule of Law Initiatives at the World Bank

I recently came across a tweet from Paul Scott Prettitore about some Rule of Law work that he was doing in the Middle East. While the work that he was doing was not a surprise, that he was doing it on behalf of the World Bank. As I wasn’t even aware that the World Bank was involved in Rule of Law initiatives, I contacted Paul and he was gracious enough to take the time to discuss what he does.

Progressive Lawyer: A lot of people may be surprised that the World Bank is involved in Rule of Law initiatives when their mission is the reduction of poverty. Can you briefly describe what kind of work they do in this area and how they see this as part of their mission?

Paul Scott Prettitore: Yes, I was surprised myself when I was first approached by a friend at the Bank to help with one of his programs. The Bank has viewed rule of law through a number of lenses, including the links between the rule of law and economic growth. It has also acknowledged the importance of the rule of law in terms of quality of institutions, and its role in promoting good governance, namely accountability, transparency and delivery of public services. Building the capacity of justice sector institutions has been a core component of broader work on public sector reform. More recently there has been additional focus on the rule of law and the promotion of intangible wealth, such as social capital and human development. For me, the rule of law and associated work building justice sector institutions is very much a cross-cutting issue within the Bank, touching upon many of its major areas of activities, including poverty, social protection, private sector development and social development.

PL: What is the JUSTPAL network?

PSP: My colleague Amit Mukherjee is leading this work. It is primarily a community of practice to share experience and knowledge for practitioners in the rule of law in the Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region. We are now trying to link this work with the Middle East and North Africa region as well.

PL: What is your background and how did you become employed by the World Bank?

Paul Scott Prettitore
Paul Scott Prettitore

PSP: I came to the Bank mostly by accident, in that it was never planned. I never considered it as a place to work, thinking it was only for economists. And given my background I was always a bit suspicious of the Bank. I started my career in Bosnia in 1998, working on human rights, refugee and land restitution issues at the Office of the High Representative and then OSCE. My area of focus in law school was human rights and humanitarian law. My big plan was to find a job at ICRC and write about violations of humanitarian law. I very much enjoyed the human rights and refugee work in Bosnia. One of the more interesting aspects of the work was meeting often with refugees and victims of human rights abuses. While they were generally interested in exercising their rights, there was also a strong interest in economic and social development. People wanted their rights, but they also wanted good opportunities for themselves, and better ones for their children, in terms of employment, education and healthcare. This sparked my interest in broader development issues.

While working in Bosnia a friend who worked at the Bank in its Jerusalem office asked if I could provide an analysis of land expropriation procedures in the West Bank for a study he was conducting. This led to requests for some analysis of legal frameworks and evaluation of a judicial reform program with the Palestinian Authority. After several trips to Jerusalem, the Bank’s Country Director asked if I would be interested in moving there and taking a longer-term position with them. As he put it ‘usually the Bank lawyers are all in Washington, but it has been useful having you here’. I never planned to stay at the Bank longer-term, thinking opportunities for lawyers to work on substantive issues would be limited. But I’ve always managed to have interesting work. It can be frustrating at times to be in an institution where rule of law and justice sector reform are not the utmost priorities. However, the Bank is a large organization with much expertise and huge resources, and if you can direct just a bit of them to issues you think important the impact can be very rewarding.

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The Hugh M Hefner Foundation First Amendment Awards

When one thinks of the battle for freedom of expression we may not necessarily think of Hugh Hefner and his Playboy empire but that would be a mistake. Hugh Hefner has been promoting and fighting for First Amendment rights both within the pages of Playboy magazine and through the work of the HMH Foundation for years and this year marks the 36th year of the Hugh M Hefner Foundation’s First Amendment Awards.

Recently Progressive Lawyer spoke with Christie Hefner, former CEO Playboy Enterprises Inc. about the awards and the importance of recognizing First Amendment advocacy.

Christie Hefner
Christie Hefner

Progressive Lawyer: Playboy has always been a strong supporter of freedom of expression which may come as a surprise to some casual observers. Why does the foundation and magazine continue to engage in the freedom of expression debate?

Christie Hefner: From the very beginning of the magazine, Hef felt strongly that personal freedom and individual rights were the foundation of the magazine, and his editorial philosophy; and that no right was more fundamental that the 1st Amendment. As is clear every day, the fight to protect and enhance those rights is never ending.

PL: With Charlie Hebdo having kick started the debate over freedom of speech and what is considered “acceptable”, how do you define what is acceptable and what is not in a free speech debate? Is this even an issue?

CH: From the perspective of the magazine and the awards, it is a mistake to carve out types of ‘speech’ that may be hurtful or offensive and not offer them protection. As has been noted, it is precisely that kind of speech, i.e. the speech that is not supported by the majority, that is the most in need of constitutional protections. Our society is premised on the idea and ideal that the counter to ‘bad’ speech is not censorship, but more ‘speech.’

PL: How does the HMH foundation decide on its finalists and judges?

CH: The chairman of the Awards and the Executive Director of the Foundation have historically invited the judges. Those judges then select the winners, and present the awards. This year’s judges are:

Mike Hiestand, past winner, Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for organizing the Tinker Tour, the national free speech and civic education bus tour. Hiestand was the staff attorney for the nonprofit Student Press Law Center (SPLC), located just outside Washington, D.C., from 1991-2003, and worked full-time as the Center’s sole consulting attorney until 2012. He continues to assist student media and work with the SPLC on special projects affecting the student press community. Over the years, Hiestand has provided legal assistance to nearly 15,000 high school and college student journalists and their advisers.

Pamela Samuelson, Faculty Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law. She is recognized as a pioneer in digital copyright law, intellectual property, cyber law and information policy. Since 1996, she has held a joint appointment at Berkeley Law School and UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Samuelson is a director of the internationally renowned Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. She serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as on the advisory boards of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, for the Center for Democracy & Technology, Public Knowledge, and the Berkeley Center for New Media.

Ronald Brownstein, two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns, and Atlantic Media’s Editorial Director for Strategic Partnerships, in charge of long-term editorial strategy. He also writes a weekly column and regularly contributes other pieces for the National Journal, contributes to Quartz, and The Atlantic, and coordinates political coverage and activities across publications produced by Atlantic Media. In addition, he currently serves as a senior political analyst for CNN and also served as an electoral analyst for ABC News during the 2012 election.

Prior to joining Atlantic Media, Brownstein was the National Affairs Columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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Canadian Lawyers Abroad – Avocats canadiens à l’étranger: Using Law to Improve Lives

For this edition of the Progressive Lawyer Spotlight, we shine it on Canadian Lawyers Abroad – Avocats canadiens à l’étranger, an amazing organization that supports good governance, rule of law and human rights work in the developing world and Canada. We recently spoke to Executive Director Brittany Twiss who took time out of her very busy schedule to fill us in on what CLA-ACE is all about.

Progressive Lawyer: Please give us an overview of the kind of projects CLA-ACE is involved in.

Brittany Twiss: CLA-ACE is a catalyst for positive social change. Through education and engagement we are increasing access to justice for marginalized populations worldwide, and enabling law students and lawyers to use their legal training to make a difference. Two extraordinary women, Yasmin Shaker (International Trade and Investment Counsel, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) and Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre Candidate, Liberty Party of Canada), founded CLA-ACE in 2005 in Ottawa.

At present, we have three major programs in operation:

National Dare to Dream Program

We are positively transforming the way First Nation, Métis, and Inuit youth aged 11-14 perceive and engage with the justice system through meaningful interaction with legal professionals and fun, justice-focused learning activities. Dare to Dream is now in operation in Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and the Siksika Nation, with over 150 students and 80 volunteers participating.

National Student Chapter Program

We have Student Chapters at 15 law schools across Canada where we educate and engage students on pressing social justice issues. In the fall of 2014, we worked with various refugee law experts to draft a report and host an intensive two-day conference on “Access to Justice for Refugees” at UOttawa. After attending the conference, the students from across Canada returned to their schools to host their own refugee rights events and contribute reports to our national student journal.

International Student Internship Program

We enhance the capacity of international and indigenous human rights organizations, and provide law students with important learning experiences beyond the classroom. Since 2005, 120 students have provided valuable legal assistance to 35 organizations in 10 countries. In the summer of 2015, students will be placed in Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Alaska, D.C., and throughout Canada.

PL: How do you pick partner organizations?

BT: We collaborate with other non-profit organizations that share our mission to use law to improve lives. Typically an intern host organization will conduct work in the areas of human rights, good governance and/or the rule of law, and will be working towards increasing access to justice for marginalized or underserved populations. The host organization is required to provide our interns with a legal supervisor and substantive, meaningful and educational legal tasks.

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Why I Do What I Do: International Free Speech and Human Rights Lawyer Jennifer Robinson

This week we kick off our brand new feature “Why I Do What I do” where we talk to an amazing array of lawyers who explain why they have taken the path less travelled in their legal careers. We hope you find reading these features to be as inspiring to you as they are to us. This week we feature Jennifer Robinson. (Updated with a video highlighting the first ever Bertha Justice Initiative Global Convening in Cape Town, South Africa, in March 2014)

Jennifer Robinson
Jennifer Robinson

Global justice requires global leadership. This month, Progressive Lawyer is proud to feature the work of Jennifer Robinson, Director of Legal Advocacy for the Bertha Justice “Be Just” Initiative for the Bertha Foundation.

An Australian native and a Rhodes Scholar, Jen is an internationally known human rights and free speech lawyer whose clients have included the New York Times, CNN, Human Rights Watch and Global Witness. Since 2010, Jen has been a member of the legal team advocating for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Additionally, Jen is a contributing author to such seminal media law texts Law on Contempt (2010), Information Rights: Law and Practice (2014) and, later this year, Robertson and Nichol on Media Law. She also writes for publications such as Al Jazeera English, Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue.

Jen joined the Bertha Foundation in 2011 and established the Be Just Initiative to support the next generation of human rights lawyers around the world. The Be Just Initiative now supports more than 100 lawyers in 15 different countries. She also provides strategic advice to activists and social justice filmmakers supported by the Foundation.

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A Look Back and a Path Forward: Reflections on Six Months of Progressive Lawyer

The Author
The Author

On October 6th, 2014 I launched Progressive Lawyer, a 100% solar-powered website designed to connect lawyers and law students with social justice organizations and law firms involved in social justice work. As this is roughly the sixth month anniversary of its launch, I would like to briefly discuss why the site was created, what has been achieved so far, and what plans I have going forward. And as will become clear, the most exciting thing is that it is not just me involved with Progressive Lawyer any more. There are now some talented and inspirational people involved with the site, and I will introduce them here and discuss how you can get involved. But first, let me go back to the “why” behind Progressive Lawyer.

Like many law school graduates, for a variety of reasons I am not actively practising law. The path I took was perhaps as much a reaction to the area of law I found myself in (personal injury litigation) as to what law school inflicted on me, but needless to say I am not alone. According to the latest statistics from the American Bar Association, only 62.2% of the Class of 2013 were employed in a position that required passage of a Bar exam, and the legal job market is sluggish and has been for awhile.

But that is not why I left the law.

I left the law because I found it difficult to find a position that matched my values, that gave me a reason why being a lawyer was such a noble profession. In fact I forgot why I went to law school, and by the end of my articles (a form of mandatory internship here in Canada} I wanted nothing to do with the law.

As I went through my post-law school career I didn’t think much about it, but as I got older, the constant attacks on the profession – some justified but many not – started to gnaw on me. Not all lawyers are “money-grubbing ambulance chasers,” I would patiently explain to friends and colleagues. There are incredible lawyers doing incredible work out there. “Prove it” would come the response. And so I set out to show people that not all lawyers are the ugly stereotype.

I started reading about social justice lawyers and social justice lawyering, and started thinking about how I could contribute, could give back something to a profession I had essentially walked away from. It was through this research that I came across an article that was to directly kickstart Progressive Lawyer. The article was titled “Letter To A Law Student Interested in Social Justice,” by William P. Quigley, a law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans. In my opinion? It should be required reading to any law student and lawyer practising today. I encourage you to read it, but in essence it describes how the practice of social justice law is difficult, frustrating and often not very glamorous but at the same time is perhaps the most rewarding possible way to use your law degree.

And I was inspired.

The purpose behind Progressive Lawyer is to connect lawyers and law students to social justice organizations and law firms practising social justice work.

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A Closer Look: The Battle to Decriminalize Sex Work in Canada

Painting by ErinMarie Tankupine
Painting by ErinMarie Tankupine

The question of decriminalization of sex work in Canada has been a hot button issue ever since the recent Canadian Supreme Court decisions in Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2012 SCC 45 and the 2013 Canada (Attorney General) v Bedford case. As a result of Bedford, on December 20th, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three anti-prostitution laws:

1. Bawdy house law – which banned sex workers from hosting clients at an indoor location.

2. Living on the avails – which banned sex workers from working with anyone else (drivers, security personnel, call-bookers, etc.) if that person was being paid.

3. Communicating – Criminalizes any sex worker communicating for the purpose of sex work in a public place near parks, schools, playgrounds or daycares.

In agreement with the sex workers who brought this charter challenge, the Supreme Court found that these laws were harmful to “the health, safety and lives of prostitutes” & that they were unconstitutional. They gave Parliament one year to come up with new legislation -should it choose to do so.

In response to the Court’s decision, on December 6th, 2014 the majority Conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper introduced into law Bill C-36, formally called the Protection of Communities & Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). In essence, PCEPA attempts to legislate sex work out of existence. Justice minister Peter Mackay has stated that this law aims to abolish prostitution.

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Spotlight on Refugees International: A Powerful Voice for Lifesaving Action

RI_Logo2c_corr_hiresThe world is awash in refugees and internally displaced people. We see it everyday in the news whether it be in Syria, Somalia or Myanmar, people from all walks of life, religions and political beliefs are fleeing war, persecution and death. We hear about it, we understand that it is happening but what is being done to help these people and who is offering them assistance?

This week we talk to Sarnata Reynolds of Refugees International on her role within the organization and how they use the rule of law to effect change.

Sarnata Reynolds is the senior advisor on human rights at Refugees International. She serves as the principal liaison and focal point with United Nations agencies, the U.S. government, and focus countries on human rights issues. She has traveled to Bangladesh, Haiti, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, and South Sudan, among other countries, to document the situation of displaced populations and advocate for the protection of their human rights.

Sarnata has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she taught a seminar on statelessness and a human rights fact-finding course on the repatriation of people with mental disabilities. Sarnata has served as a member of the National Lawyers Committee for Human Rights’ Mexico Advisory Team, as the Vice-Chair of Refugee Council USA, and as Chair of the Iraqi Refugee Working Group during the height of displacement in that country.

Sarnata has appeared before Congress many times and represented the NGO community before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the anniversaries of the Refugee and Statelessness Conventions. Prior to joining RI, Sarnata worked as the Policy and Advocacy Director for Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International USA. In this position she promoted the enforcement of international human rights standards pertaining to refugees, asylum seekers, the stateless, migrants, and other uprooted people. Sarnata has also litigated asylum and deportation defense cases before the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States District Courts, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She has published multiple articles on international human rights and U.S. immigration issues, and she is currently writing a book on “theoretical” nationality. Sarnata completed her Women’s Studies degree magna cum laude at the University of Minnesota and the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She completed her law degree at the University of Minnesota, and studied European Union law at University College Dublin.

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