If you are looking to keep up with progressive legal news I would urge you to follow the Twitter feed @proglawyer (which you can also see on the right of this page).
I am looking at turning this site into a directory of progressive legal organizations and firms. If you would like to help out you can contact me at proglawyer(at)gmail(dot)com. It will take a fair amount of work but in this day and age I believe it is much needed.
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.
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 takes the time to make a difference, whether it be in pro bono or volunteer work or being a part of one of the great progressive, social justice organizations whose mission it is to make a difference.
For 2015 I look forward to bringing you more organizational spotlights, more inspiring interviews and more tools and resources to allow you to lead by example and make a difference. Thank you for taking the time to get involved in Progressive Lawyer. I look forward to seeing what we can do in 2015 and beyond. Publication will resume January 12th, 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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 or legal updates, I want Progressive Lawyer to be an agent of change. So here they are. Post any questions and comments below.
To provide our community of lawyers and law students with the most accurate and comprehensive information and resources available to enable them to use their legal skills in a way that is progressive, altruistic and in the public interest while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
To inspire legal professionals to follow their progressive values and make a difference with their legal skills regardless of the kind of law they currently practice.
To make a positive social impact locally, nationally and internationally. We believe that business should be socially responsible and give back to the community and as such we operate ours with a triple bottom line of profit, people and planet.
To always be transparent to our community in how we operate and what we do.
When it comes to technology we believe in:
Open Source – Progressive Lawyer is built on open source software such as Linux and WordPress and we encourage its use wherever possible.
Open Standards – We avoid proprietary standards wherever possible and have embraced web standards such as HTML 5 and CSS.
An Open Internet – We believe that a free and open internet is the basis for innovation and free speech. As such we support any and all efforts to protect and enhance this vision.
To maintain our autonomy. We are independent of any group or association, religious creed or political ideology.
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 rights, international law and development. There are myriad sources of information but they are spread out all across the internet making it a real chore to keep up with it all.
Progressive Lawyer wants to change this.
Progressive Lawyer is being developed as a digital hub connecting lawyers and law students with socially progressive organizations and law firms active in social justice and public interest advocacy.
We want to inspire lawyers and law students to use their legal skills in pursuit of progressive causes by publishing interviews with progressive legal professionals, spotlights on organizations and firms on the cutting edge of human rights, social justice, environmental and other progressive causes and publish impactful multimedia features and issue oriented specials.
We want to inform by connecting progressive organizations and firms with our community by way of a career and resume service and our hand selected Progressive Lawyer database as well as a continuously updated events guide.
Finally we want to encourage our community to exchange information and opinions through social media and eventually, on our own social media platform.
Phase 1 will launch in October 2014 with spotlights on a number of cutting edge organizations involved in progressive legal issues and developments. Please check back here regularly as we update the community on our progress to launch and don’t forget to follow us 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 the site launches the feed will include blog posts from Progressive Lawyer.com, career opportunities and more updated regularly.
If you are on Twitter and would like to show us some Twitter love our feed can be found here.
We will be adding Facebook and LinkedIn Groups soon and possibly something on Google + as well.