We are on our summer break!

We will be taking off the month of July but look forward to being back in August. Have a happy, safe and relaxing summer! Mark on behalf of everyone at Progressive Lawyer

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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Happy Holidays from Progressive Lawyer!

As I power down and attempt to stay offline over the holidays I just wanted to wish you all, both readers and contributors alike a very happy, safe and healthy holiday. As I look back on 2014, despite the sometimes grim news and never ending suffering I see hope in every single legal professional who … Read more

Progressive Lawyer is powered by the sun! The quest to build a sustainable website part 2

AISO.net Solar Panels

Last week in Part 1 of this piece I talked about how Progressive Lawyer is using Open Source software to power its infrastructure and how I believe that is the way to go versus proprietary software. This week in Part 2 I highlight how I am working to make the Progressive Lawyer website as sustainable as possible and why that is important. Again, I am not a professional web developer or designer but with the resources I have listed and some experimentation, anybody with a website can make their online home that much greener and for that we all win!

The issue of sustainable web design and the corresponding issue of the energy usage of the Internet are intricately linked and drawing increasing attention. As we have been moving our lives online, a lot of people are starting to study the carbon footprint of all this activity in order to determine how to mitigate its environmental effects. The growing use of Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, iTunes, the cloud, Amazon, Pinterest, etc. is having an increasingly detrimental effect on our environment but the good news is that it isn’t all bad. Despite the growing demand requiring greater server usage and therefore increasing energy consumption, companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook are using cutting edge technology and renewable energy sources to power their voracious server farms. Greenpeace has done some excellent work documenting the Green Internet and their latest report “Your Online World: #ClickClean or Dirty?” highlights both the trendsetters and the environmental laggards when it comes to operating a green data center.

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Progressive Lawyer is powered by the sun! The quest to build a sustainable website part 1

As Progressive Lawyer is passionate about helping lawyers and law students make a difference and as I prepare to launch the site in October, part of my mission is to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” Part of that talk, as outlined in the values of the site are that the site be built on Open Source software and that the design incorporate sustainable web design.

On a personal note, while I consider myself to be quite “geeky” and I do have experience running websites, I am not a professional web designer or developer. The great thing about the tools that I am using for Progressive Lawyer is that they allow anybody truly interested in building a web presence the opportunity to do some cool things with a not too steep learning curve. When you get to the point where you are in over your head you can always then go to a developer to help out but at least you will be comfortable in running and maintaining your site which is always helpful moving forward.

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Progressive Lawyer is now on Facebook!

Love it or loathe it, there is no doubt that Facebook has become a ubiquitous and for some indispensable part of life so in the quest to maintain a presence on all major social platforms there is now a Progressive Lawyer Facebook page. You can check it out at https://www.facebook.com/progressivelawyer. Please stop by and like … Read more

Our Values

As I prepare to launch Progressive Lawyer next month, I felt it important to put down in writing the values that I want the site (and eventually the B Corp that will follow) to incorporate as part of its DNA. I want Progressive Lawyer to be more than just a place to get career information … Read more

Why Progressive Lawyer?

Progressive Lawyer is a simple idea born out of a realization that for those law students and legal professionals interested in pursuing progressive, public interest law there is no easy way to get career information, news and commentary related to areas like human rights, the environment, access to justice, freedom of expression and sexuality, digital … Read more

Progressive Lawyer is on Twitter!

As we lead up to the launch of Progressive Lawyer, we have recently started a Twitter feed that highlights a lot of the organizations and issues that Progressive Lawyer will be involved in. Human Rights, Environmental Law, Freedom of Expression, Digital Rights, Women and Indigenous Rights and more are all part of our feed. Once … Read more