Sue Talia and Practicing Law Institute Partner for Free Jan 30 Program on Unbundling –It Will be Available Online Then and Afterwards

On Jan 30, 9 AM Pacific, Sue Talia will be presenting a three hour online program through PLI on unbundling. The  program is free, and will also be available online afterwards.

Here is the link to the information.  You can find out there if it is approved for continuing legal information in your state — it appears to be approved for many states, and even in some non-US countries.

Sue, of course, is a real leader in this field, and particularly in presenting the concepts in ways that show how appealing the approach can be for lawyers in the market.

This is an extract from the promotional materials:

Why You Should Attend

This program will provide an introduction to the rapidly changing practice of limited scope representation (often called “unbundling”) in a family law context, including all of the fee agreements, forms and other materials you will need to practice limited scope representation competently, safely and profitably.

What You Will Learn

The ethical rules governing limited scope representation
How to limit risk, including malpractice and insurance coverage issues
How to identify the cases which lend themselves to limited scope representation
How to reach a currently untapped pool of paying clients
How to market your limited scope practice
How to use limited scope to expand pro bono recruitment, lawyer for a day programs, and stretch legal services budgets farther

Who Should Attend

Solo and small firm family lawyers who serve middle class and moderate income clients, any family lawyer who wants to expand their client and referral base, and pro bono recruiters and legal services providers who want to learn how to help more clients with limited funding would benefit from attending this program.

Congratulations to all.  Please spread the word in your states.

Posted in Unbundling | 1 Comment

Guest Post From Elizabeth Arledge: #LegalAid Voices “Storm” the Twitterverse

Elizabeth writes as follows:

Well, THAT was fun.

Something amazing happened last week on the way to tonight’s State of the Union address. When Voices for Civil Justice invited members of our JusticeVoices network to participate in a “Twitter storm” organized by, civil legal aid advocates from 26 states responded with a torrent of tweets – 545 by our count – calling on President Obama to include legal aid in tonight’s address. organized the online event as a vehicle for individuals to tell the White House that the President should focus on solutions to poverty.

The 545 tweets promoting civil legal aid were posted from 65 different Twitter accounts and represent fully one third of the 1,600 tweets posted by anti-poverty advocates during the storm. Let me say that again – one third of the tweets told President Obama that civil legal aid matters.

Put simply: Legal aid rocked it.

How fitting is it that there’s a word cloud for a tweet storm? Look here for a visual representation of civil legal aid’s visibility in the Twitter storm.
What’s so amazing about this? The level of participation (with only three hours of lead time, no less) is a clear indication that advocates are eager to talk about why civil legal aid matters, and are increasingly capable of using new platforms like Twitter to do so.

The impact of online engagement / social media can often seem fuzzy, but legal aid’s showing in last week’s Twitter storm proves that we can use our voices strategically, combining our efforts to deliver a common message to high-priority audiences. And, working with allies such as leverages our efforts.
Two opportunities:

If you are on Twitter, your next opportunity to participate in a joint event is tonight. Join TalkPoverty and other online activists who will be live tweeting during the State of the Union address. Offer your thoughts using #LegalAid, #TalkPoverty and #SOTU, and ask your friends to join in.

Are you a member of the JusticeVoices network yet? If not, you can learn more and join here.

Thanks and congratulations to all.

Posted in Access to Justice Generally, Communications Strategy, Funding, White House

The Power of the Pen and Phone — Exploring Opportunities for Access to Justice in the Next Two Years

Recent executive actions in immigration, and now asset forfeiture underline just how great is the President’s “power of the pen and phone.” — his ability by regulation or other executive action to make very significant changes in the way government deals with the people.

Surely we in the access to justice world should be thinking about whether there are actions that this administration can take before January 20, 2017 — now just over two years away.

To be a viable candidate for such action, a federal regulatory change should probably be:

  • One for which is there is little real focused opposition, or one which it would be hard to repeal in the future
  • Not be too obviously expensive
  • Build its own constituency over time

Some possible areas in which advocates might look are:

  • Funding formulas set by regulation rather than by statute, in which access to justice might be made either a priority or included more explicitly as available — DOJ has already had very significant impact in this area.
  • Federal administrative agency procedures that impact poor and middle income people (a huge category from the VA to Social Security)
  • Oversight of future changes in Federal and federally supervised quasi judicial agencies that have an impact on access to justice — such as by setting up an “access to justice impact statement” requirement for all changes in such agencies.
  • State administrative agency and quasi-judicial procedures that are funded and regulated by Federal agencies (such as unemployment, food stamps, TANF, etc.)
  • Use of nonlaywers in such Federal or Federally-supervised contexts — an area in which there is already substantial precedent.  Could, for example, the Federal section 8 housing regs be modified to allow non-lawyers to appear on behalf of tenants in cases in which the judge found a need under Turner?  And what about child support enforcement, a major area of federal investment?
  • Federal funding of state courts, including data collection — a big budget item on which conditions could be met, and which might provide leverage on forms and accessible electronic filing
  • Things being done by state Commissions that might be adopted as Federal standards.
  • Leverage provided by funding of law student loans and other forms of assistance to law schools.

These, and others, are surely areas on which advocates and policy advocates should be brainstorming about how to take advantage of this short and rare moment of opportunity — we may not get another for a generation or two.  Let’s think big.

We should also be asking how we can facilitate such discussions within our communities.

I would add this situation and opportunity to the list of ideas that demonstrate the need for more intentional and focused leadership capacity in our field.

A final, if controversial, thought. It may be that some of the most appropriate changes would be ones that some of the President’s more traditional stakeholders might oppose, and with respect to which it might therefore be easier for an outgoing administration be willing to do the right thing.

I would very much appreciate any thoughts on these and related topics.



Posted in Access to Justice Generally, Administative Proecdure, Budget Issues, Dept. of Justice, Document Assembly, E-filing, Funding, Law Schools, Non-Lawyer Practice, Veterans, White House | Tagged , ,

The Expanding Role of ATJ Commissions — Florida and California

As we build out state level access to justice leadership that does beyond information sharing to project leadership and the building of an integrated system, it is great to see two new state level initiatives that are building the needed foundation.

Demonstrating the leadership power that comes with grant-making, the California ATJ Commission has recently announced the awarding of four grants worth $185,000 in total.  They were the first in a new Modest Means Incubator program that funds groups to train lawyers to create sustainable law practices providing affordable legal services.  The guidelines for the RFP process are here.  Reading them will show how such an RFP process can guide collaborations, evaluation and other important aspects of access innovation.

I believe that all Commission should be exploring such competitive and guideline-driven grant-making, even it it means going out and raising the money to do so.  (In this case the funding came from the Ford Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation and the California Bar Foundation).  For Commissions to become real leaders, they have to get beyond the idea that they just help raise money that then gets distributed on formula.  Such a system is one of the ways we discourage leadership through our institutional structures.  Local as well as national money will be needed.

Similar good news out of Florida.  The State Supreme Court has not only given broad publicity to the creation of its new ATJ Commission, reflecting its commitment, it has also announced plans to broadcast over the Internet its first meeting at this link.  The meeting will be this Friday Jan 16 at 12:30 PM, Eastern.  The agenda is here.  While the whole agenda is important, particularly interesting will be the keynote, given by Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, scheduled to be delivered at 1:10.  Those interested in the expanding role of Commissions may also be particularly interested in remarks by Melissa Pershing to be given at 1:40, immediately following CJ Hecht.

It should be noted that I understand that Florida found that the announcement of the ATJ Commission got more media attention that any prior Florida Supreme Court release.  This suggests that Voices is getting through in changing the thinking of media folks.  It is also particularity nice that NCSC is using its communications systems to spread the word about Commissions, legal aid, and access to justice.  I very much hope that we will soon see the same increase in media attention to court-based legal aid that we are already seeing to community-based legal aid.  This is something we can all help happen by suggesting stories to Voices for Civil Justice, and by making sure that local court media people are aware of, and connected to, its activities.



Posted in Access to Justice Boards, Communications Strategy, Incubators | 1 Comment

Analysis of Proposed Regs on HHS IV-D Child Support Money — Comments Due Jan 16 — Opportunity to Help Finance Self-Help Infrastructure

I have long been urging states to take advantage of the IV-D program, which through uncapped matching, triples state investment in child support activities, to help finance self-help services.  Several states such as California do so, and California has used it as the foundation for building a broader self-help infrastructure.

Now, HHS has issued draft regulations for comment on the program, and this is an opportunity to help make sure that this program is as helpful as possible to all, including the self-represented.  Comments are due on Jan 16 to HHS.  I encourage folks both to comment, to engage others in commenting, and to consider how they can best move forward to take advantage of this program.

To help with the comment process, SRLN has engaged Lee Mohar, who was instrumental in California figuring out to to make use of this stream, to prepare an analysis of the proposed regs.  The analysis  is here.

Please spread this around so that HHS can have the benefit of as many comments as possible.

Also, to assist states to plan for and adopt the use of IV-D money for self-help and related child support services, SRLN with funding from SJI, has prepared this Manual.  Here is the link  to the companion Webinar, featuring Lee Mohar and John Greacen, hosted by the National Center for State Courts.  If your state is already providing self-help services to litigants in Title IV-D child support cases, you may be able to seek federal reimbursement for 66 percent of your costs going forward — thus tripling your money in the future! Continue reading

Posted in Access to Justice Generally, Child Support, Court Management, Funding, Self-Help Services

Updated Post with Recent Stats: Will NYC Cops Prove that Most Arrests — and Indeed Most Cops — are unnecessary? Taking Advantage of a Natural Experiment

More careful reading of the NYT leads me to update the post of a few minutes ago to include recent bolded police stats that would appear to support the contrarian hypothesis below.

The news that arrests in NYC have fallen 66% as an apparent result of an unofficial and informal job action by the police sets images of research sugar plum fairies dancing in my head.  (For a more detailed story on the stats, see here.)

Setting aside the tendentious questions of whether police who stop enforcing the law can be said to be complying with their oaths, and thus whether they can be said to be generally trustworthy (a good question for cross examination on the stand), and indeed whether it is appropriate under civil service rules for them to keep their jobs, this job action offers a remarkable natural experiment.

We will soon know if reported crime rates rise or fall.  We could do rapid victimization surveys to find out if unreported rates rise or fall.  We might even find out the relationship between broken windows policing and serious crimes, and whether the alleged practice of arresting to get information actually has an impact.

Indeed, the first weeks stats seem to suggest that the serious crimes are falling.  From the Times:

Yet reports of major crimes citywide continued their downward trajectory, falling to 1,813 from 2,127 for the week, a nearly 15 percent drop, according to Police Department statistics.

This might have a major impact on understanding of the relationship between policing and crime.  My own suspicion is that heavy enforcement may help get rates down in the short term, but is not needed in the long term, but rather may increase criminal behavior in the long term, through increased alienation, particularly when people are released. But that is only a suspicion.

It would be a supreme irony if the job action were to show that we have too many arrests and too many cops.  I just hope someone is out there looking for the data, and that research groups are sufficiently independent to look for it.



Posted in Criminal Law, Policing | 1 Comment

Will NYC Cops Prove that Most Arrests — and Indeed Most Cops — are unnecessary? Taking Advantage of a Natural Experiment

An updated version of this post is here.


Posted in Criminal Law, Policing