Why we kept the electoral college; pro bono opportunity in housing law

TIME: The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists

The Signing of the Constitution of the United States, with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention of 1787; oil painting on canvas by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940. The painting is 20 by 30 feet and hangs in the United States Capitol building. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

The Signing of the Constitution of the United States, with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson at the Constitutional Convention of 1787; oil painting on canvas by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940. The painting is 20 by 30 feet and hangs in the United States Capitol building. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists” published Nov. 8, 2016, updated Nov. 10, 2016, by TIME Magazine, written by Akhil Reed Amar. Illustration courtesy of TIME/Getty Images.

“Enter the 12th Amendment, which allowed each party to designate one candidate for president and a separate candidate for vice president. The amendment’s modifications of the electoral process transformed the Framers’ framework, enabling future presidential elections to be openly populist and partisan affairs featuring two competing tickets. It is the 12th Amendment’s Electoral College system, not the Philadelphia Framers’, that remains in place today. If the general citizenry’s lack of knowledge had been the real reason for the Electoral College, this problem was largely solved by 1800. So why wasn’t the entire Electoral College contraption scrapped at that point?

Standard civics-class accounts of the Electoral College rarely mention the real demon dooming direct national election in 1787 and 1803: slavery.” Read the full article here.

Due Jan. 1, Pro Bono Opportunity: Tenant Rights Bootcamp

be-seattleApplication Deadline: Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017

Law students welcome to apply to Tenant Rights Bootcamp Group Leader, Be:Seattle Organizing

Group leaders will act as a point of information for groups of 5-20 tenants. Group leaders hear and answer basic questions relating to a tenants situation  (i.e. What is the best way to communicate with my landlord? How do I ask for a repair? Can my landlord lock me out or vice versa? Etc.) or refer them to a tenant advocacy organization if their situation requires legal assistance. Read more about the position here.

Application Process: Please send a letter of interest to the contact email provided below to Devin Silvernail, devin@beseattle.com, 206-295-4192

Celebrate Human Rights Day! Join the Seattle Human Rights Commission at Town Hall Seattle

Volunteer for the SGB/LBAW Legal Clinic at El Centro de la Raza on Wednesday, December 9th!

LBAW

We are in need of volunteers (attorneys, law students, interpreters) for next month’s SGB/LBAW Legal Clinic at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle coming up on Wednesday, December 9th. We expect that many people will show up for consultations and we need your help in all areas of law!!

PLEASE consider volunteering in December 2015.  The Clinic takes place the 2nd Wednesday of each month at El Centro.

Don’t speak Spanish??  No sweat!  We will provide you with an interpreter.

Just complete the Volunteer Application.

Attorneys needed in the following practice areas:

  • Family Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Consumer Law
  • Employment Law
  • Property/Landlord Tenant
  • Workers Comp

Law Students and interpreters needed for intakes and interpretation.  If you would like to help in another way, please let us know.

Op-Ed: The New Rent Control Wars

Rent Control Flyer

By Randy Shaw | Beyond Chron

On November 4, a near riot broke out in the usually quiet city of Alameda, California The reason? A battle over rent control. Rising rents and evictions are causing tenant displacement and activists hoped that the November 4 City Council meeting would bring some relief. Instead, the meeting broke out in violence, with a city official assaulting  a tenant activist and the police arresting two tenants for the “crime” of advocating for rent control.

Alameda is the latest battleground in the new rent control wars. Earlier this year the city of Richmond, California enacted a rent control and just cause eviction law, only to have landlords get it suspended by qualifying a referendum. Instead of waiting for the election on the referendum Richmond activists are now gathering signatures to put their own measure on the November 2016 ballot.

Continue reading here.

Join the Seattle Human Rights Commission for Human Rights Day

City of Seattle Logo

On behalf of the Seattle Human Rights Commission and our Human Rights Day planning partners, we would like to invite you to join us in celebrating Human Rights Day on Thursday, December 10th at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle.

Every year at our Human Rights Day celebration we recognize our City’s exceptional human rights leaders.  Please help us identify those leaders in Seattle by nominating those that have advanced human rights locally, nationally or globally.

Award Categories:
1) Human rights leader (individual)
2) Rising human rights leaders (youth),
3) Human rights organization
4) Human rights business
5) Human rights artist
6) Human rights coalition

Please nominate those individuals and entitiestinyurl.com/2015humanrightsawards
Nomination deadline: November 15th, 2015.

Awardee selection will be based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates a strong commitment to advancing human rights
  • Works for racial and social justice
  • Provides courageous leadership
  • Develops innovative programs advancing human rights
  • Supports equal opportunities and workplaces free from discrimination
  • Business awardees: Provides a living wage, fosters a positive work environment, and has family friendly policies

Past award recipients have included The Colectivo de Detenidos, Matt Remle, Garfield High School’s Black Student Union, Yasmin Christopher, Legal Voice, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Casa Latina, Pride Foundation, Molly Moons and Tutta Bella, among others.

Thank you so much for your participation! If you have any questions, please call Marta Idowu at 206-684-0390 or email her at marta.idowu@seattle.gov.

UN Human Rights Experts Welcome Release of Egyptian Journalist and Rights Defender

UN Logo

By UN News Centre

UN human rights experts today welcomed the release of Egyptian journalist Hossam Bahgat but expressed their “grave concern” over the “very difficult environment” for journalists and human rights defenders in Egypt that deters reporting and intimidates writers and activists of all kinds.

In a joint statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, said “even after his release, his detention sends a signal of disrespect for the very principles of freedom of expression that [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] Sisi only days ago claimed his Government upheld.”

Continue reading here.

Pro Bono Opportunity – SGB/LBAW Legal Clinic at El Centro de la Raza, 12/9

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Location: El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Third Floor, Seattle, WA 98144
Registration: To volunteer, complete the Volunteer Application
Contact: Chach Duarte White, LBAW President

Volunteers Needed: Attorneys, Law Students, Interpreters

We are in need of volunteers (attorneys, law students, interpreters) for this month’s SGB/LBAW Legal Clinic at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle coming up Wednesday, December 9. We expect that many people will show up for consultations and we need your help!

PLEASE consider volunteering in December.  The Clinic takes place the 2nd Wednesday of each month at El Centro.

Don’t speak Spanish??  No sweat!  We will provide you with an interpreter.  Just complete the Volunteer Application.

Attorneys needed in the following practice areas:

  • Family Law
  • Immigration
  • Criminal Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Consumer Law *especially high need in this area this month*
  • Employment Law
  • Property/Landlord Tenant *especially high need in this area this month*

Law Students and interpreters needed for intakes and interpretation.  If you would like to help in another way, please let us know.

Attentions Law Students! Limited Funding Available for Equal Justice Works Career Fair! Apply Now!

Equal Justice Works Career Fair Limited Funding Support for UW Law Students

EJW Logo

As noted in the CommonGoodUW.org blog, UW Law students can request up to $450 in reimbursement for the cost of attending the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair October 23-24, 2015 in Arlington, VA.  Priority in selection will be given to students who have secured interviews and to 3Ls.

Application Procedure & Deadlines for UW Law:

To apply for funding please email Dean Storms at mestorms@uw.edu and provide a resume and a brief written statement describing why EJW career fair attendance will be useful for you. If you have applied for or secured an interview during the career fair please include this information.

Monday, October 5, 5:00 p.m.: deadline to apply for travel funding

Friday, October 9, noon: students to be notified of funding awards

Please note: the stipend will reimburse up to $450 of documented travel expenses.  Receipts are strictly required.

The Return of the Debtor’s Prison

Empty Pockets

By Anthony D. Romero | Huffington Post | Photo Credit to Huffington Post

The debtors’ prison was supposed to be a thing of the past–a relic of the colonial era that was outlawed by the United States government nearly two centuries ago. More recently, the Supreme Court ruled that jailing people who lack the means to pay criminal justice fines or fees–a modern-day form of debtors’ prison–is unconstitutional. Ultimately, debtors’ prisons are not only illegal, they are counterproductive: incarceration strains limited public resources and can have devastating consequences on the lives of the poor.

Nonetheless, in the wake of the recent economic recession, cash-strapped state and local governments have aggressively targeted poor individuals who have already served their criminal sentences. The March 2015 U.S. Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri, provides a horrifying glimpse of what can happen when governments treat the poor as mere revenue sources.

Continue reading here.

Establishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable

UN Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

By Director Lisa Foster of the Office for Access to Justice

“Providing meaningful access to justice is a national responsibility and a moral charge.  I am delighted by President Obama’s action to expand legal aid resources for Americans in need, and excited for all that the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable will achieve as it works to advance opportunity, promote equality, and ensure justice for all.” – Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch

What do 20 federal agencies, the United Nations, and civil legal aid have in common?  Plenty, according to President Obama who recently issued a presidential memorandum formally establishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR).  The presidential memorandum was announced by Roy Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity as well as Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations at an event held on the eve of the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in New York.  The event highlighted the inclusion of Goal 16 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Goal 16 calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, for access to justice for all and for the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.  With Goal 16, the international community has recognized that access to justice is essential to sustainable development and necessary to end poverty.

Continue reading here.

Pro Bono Gives Solos Experience and Satisfaction

Jill Metz

By Kevin Davis | ABA Journal | Photo of Jill Metz; Photo by Wayne Slezak

When Chicago attorney Jill Metz started practicing as a solo attorney in the early 1980s, she decided she would always make time to do pro bono work.

Though she needed to get her practice off the ground and earn a living, Metz volunteered five to 10 hours a week for the People’s Law Office in the Uptown neighborhood, doing criminal defense work and housing law for the mostly poor clientele.

Recent news stories have exposed that major law firms donate only 0.1 percent of their proceeds to legal aid for low-income people, making the contributions by lawyers like Metz even more crucial for impoverished clients.

Continue reading here.

Attention Spanish-Speaking 2Ls and 3Ls!  International Human Rights Pro Bono Opportunity! EarthRights International Seeks 2L or 3L for Remote Litigation Support

ERI Logo

EarthRights International seeks a 2L or 3L for remote litigation support.  The time commitment is 9-10 hours per week.  No prerequisites, but experience with U.S. litigation is a plus.  The position requires proficiency in Spanish.  The volunteer will work closely with one of the attorney’s at EarthRights International with regular weekly check ins.

The volunteer will be conducting factual and U.S. legal research to assist ERI in developing a transnational injunctive strategy against a mega development project in the Amazon that poses a high risk of environmental and human rights abuses.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume and writing sample to Maryum Jordan, maryum@earthrights.org.  The application deadline is rolling until the position is filled.

Want Direct Client Experience and Make a Difference? Applications Now Being Accepted for Bridging the Gap/Moderate Means Program- Due 10/19

Bridging the Gap Logo

Bridging the Gap provides legal referrals for low and moderate income individuals as a part of the WSBA Moderate Means Program.

Bridging the Gap is a UW Law in-house pro bono program. The goal of the program is to increase access to civil legal services for people of moderate means who cannot afford an attorney but make too much money to qualify for traditional free legal aid services. The program is focused in the areas of Family, Housing and Consumer law.

Law students serving as Bridging the Gap volunteer interns interview potential clients by telephone to collect information and evaluate their cases. Qualifying cases will be referred by interns to participating attorneys who have agreed to represent clients for a reduced fee. After completing training, Bridging the Gap interns will be expected to commit to a minimum of five hours a week for the duration of fall and winter quarters (one hour is a weekly staff meeting).

Benefits to students:

  • Hands-on experience interviewing clients;
  • Training in substantive legal issues, issue-spotting, interviewing skills and ethics;
  • Instruction on how to use the Legal Server database, which is used by most of the civil legal aid organizations in Washington State, and many other states;
  • Supervision and mentoring by experienced attorneys;
  • The satisfaction of helping low and moderate income individuals who otherwise might not receive any legal help at all;
  • Time spent volunteering for Bridging the Gap counts for recognition with the Pro Bono Honors Society.

Upper level students (2L, 3L and LLM) may participate in training for the program now (fall quarter) and begin interviewing clients in November. 1Ls can train now and begin interviewing clients in January.

To apply for the program, submit a letter of interest and resume to Ann Spangler at spangler@uw.edu by October 19, 2015.

Wayfind Microenterprise Clinic and Nonprofit Law Clinic – UW Law Student Volunteers Needed- Application Due 10/20

wayfind logo

Assist pro bono transactional lawyers at either microenterprise clinics or nonprofit legal clinics by taking client interview notes and drafting the client “work plan” which summarizes the legal advice given by the attorney. 

Wayfind provides free business legal services for nonprofit organizations and low-income microentrepreneurs.  Wayfind pro bono attorneys assist non-profit organizations with a range of legal matters including real estate, tax, non-profit governance, and intellectual property.  Wayfind pro bono attorneys also help low-income microentrepreneurs at legal clinics on legal matters including review of contracts, operating agreements and leases, business entity selection, intellectual property matters including publishing and trade name, and adding people to a partnership.

Wayfind hosts different types of legal clinics for its two client populations: non-profit organizations and microentrepreneurs.

For more information, click here.

Attention Spanish Speakers Interested in Family Law & Equal Justice! Pro Bono Opportunity with the King County Bar Association Family Law Program

KCBA Logo

The Family Law Programs of the King County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Services promote family safety and equal access to the legal system by assisting domestic violence survivors, children at risk of abuse or neglect, and clients facing barriers to accessing the courts due to language, disability, and other factors. The Kinship Care Solutions program provides pro bono representation in nonparental custody actions, and the Self-Help Plus program provides pro se assistance in uncontested dissolutions and parenting plan actions. The programs have expanded to help unaccompanied children from Central America who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by a parent and who may be eligible for protective immigration relief called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Volunteer attorneys assist caregivers and family law members with family law actions in order to obtain court findings that may be used in the SIJS process.

This position will provide experience in practical legal skills such as client interviewing, legal issue spotting, case development, and working with immigrant clients. In addition, the intern will learn substantive and procedural aspects to family law practice and exposure to immigration law. This position is unpaid but can be sponsored for academic credit if available through the student’s school.

For more information, click here.

Attention 1Ls and 2Ls! International Human Rights Pro Bono Opportunity!

Liberty scales

An international corporate accountability and human rights NGO seeks a first- or second-year law student for a short-term unpaid legal internship to begin immediately.  Working closely with the NGO’s attorneys, the intern will conduct legal research and analysis to support litigation in U.S. federal court regarding environmental and human rights violations committed abroad.  The work will be completed remotely and on the intern’s own schedule as long as agreed-upon deadlines are met.  We estimate an initial commitment of 10-20 hours of work in the next month, with the possibility of additional assignments depending on how the matter proceeds.  Please submit a writing sample and a CV to Chris Benoit at chris@coylefirm.com. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Attention 3Ls, Recent Grads and Project Based Fellowship Applicants!

UW Law

Did you just submit an EJW or other project based fellowship application? Here’s another opportunity to get your innovative project up and running. Apply for the Berkeley Law Foundation Fellowship! Application due January 15. UW Law students have been past recipients!

For complete info, click here.

Pro Bono Opportunity – International Human Rights Remote Research Intern

Position: Volunteer Intern
Volunteers Needed: 1Ls and 2Ls
Time Commitment: 10-20 hours in October 2015
Location: Remote
Application: Writing Sample & CV
Application Deadline: Rolling
Contact: Chris Benoit at chris@coylefirm.com

An international corporate accountability and human rights NGO seeks a first- or second-year law student for a short-term unpaid legal internship to begin immediately.  Working closely with the NGO’s attorneys, the intern will conduct legal research and analysis to support litigation in U.S. federal court regarding environmental and human rights violations committed abroad.  The work will be completed remotely and on the intern’s own schedule as long as agreed-upon deadlines are met.  We estimate an initial commitment of 10-20 hours of work in the next month, with the possibility of additional assignments depending on how the matter proceeds.  Please submit a writing sample and a CV to Chris Benoit at chris@coylefirm.com. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Pro Bono Opportunity – Wayfind Microenterprise Clinic and Nonprofit Law Clinic, Due 10/20

Assist pro bono transactional lawyers at either microenterprise clinics or nonprofit legal clinics by taking client interview notes and drafting the client “work plan” which summarizes the legal advice given by the attorney. 

Position: Wayfind Law Student Volunteer
Open to: All Law Students
Time Commitment: Must commit to volunteering for a minimum of three 3-hour clinics during the academic year
Locations: Clinics locations include: Ventures (formerly Washington CASH) at 2100 24th Ave South in Seattle (off of Rainier Avenue), Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at 220 2nd Ave S in Pioneer Square, Edmonds Community College, and the Nonprofit Assistance Center, 1265 S. Main Street in Seattle (near Jackson and 14th)

Training:  Law student volunteers must have attended the 2014 or will attend the 2015 Pro Bono Core Competencies Training (including professionalism) on Saturday, October 17, 8:30am-3:30pm in room 138 at UW Law.   If you apply to volunteer at the Microenterprise Clinics, you must attend the Microenterprise 101 training on October 1st – 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, or watch the Microenterprise 101 CLE training video. If you apply to volunteer at the Nonprofit Legal Clinic, you must watch the video of the Wayfind Nuts and Bolts of Nonprofit Law CLE training video. You can volunteer for both the Microenterprise and Nonprofit Legal clinics.
Application Process:  Email a resume and cover letter addressed to Jodi Nishioka, Wayfind Executive Director, to the contact below.
Application Deadline: Tuesday, October 20, 2015.
Contact:  Aline Carton-Listfjeld, Director of Center for Public Service Law at acarton@uw.edu
Wayfind provides free business legal services for nonprofit organizations and low-income microentrepreneurs.  Wayfind pro bono attorneys assist non-profit organizations with a range of legal matters including real estate, tax, non-profit governance, and intellectual property.  Wayfind pro bono attorneys also help low-income microentrepreneurs at legal clinics on legal matters including review of contracts, operating agreements and leases, business entity selection, intellectual property matters including publishing and trade name, and adding people to a partnership.

Wayfind hosts different types of legal clinics for its two client populations: non-profit organizations and microentrepreneurs.

Microenterprise Clinics:
Wayfind partners with three different non-profit organizations and the City of Seattle, Office of Economic Development, that support low-income microentrepreneurs.  They are Ventures (formerly Washington CASH), Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (formerly Start Zone NW at Bainbridge Graduate Institute) and Mercy Corps NW.  All Wayfind Microenterprise Clinic clients are clients of our partner organizations, who handle the initial client screening. Wayfind pro bono transactional lawyers meet with low-income microentrepreneurs to issue-spot and counsel them on legal issues and responsibilities with respect to their business venture.

These clinics meet at the following locations and dates/times:

  • Ventures Clinic is located at 2100 24th Ave South in Seattle (off of Rainier Avenue near the 1-90 overpass) and takes place from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.  The first fall clinic for students is October 13th.
  • Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship offers its clinics in rotating locations which include the Impact HUB at 220 2nd Ave South in Pioneer Square and Edmonds Community College. The clinics are offered on the 4th Tuesday of a quarter from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.  The specific dates are: January 26, 2016 at the Impact HUB and on April 26, 2016 at Edmonds Community College.
  • City of Seattle and Mercy Corps NW clients go to any of the locations listed above.

Non-Profit Assistance Legal Clinic:
Wayfind partners with the Nonprofit Assistance Center (NAC) which assists nonprofit organizations through capacity-building programs.  Nonprofit organizations are screened by NAC staff and volunteers.  The clinic meets on the 3rd Monday of every month from March through December between 6:00 and 8:00 pm.  The clinics take place at the Nonprofit Assistance Center which is located at 1265 S. Main Street which is located within blocks from the law school.

Volunteer Law Student Role:
Wayfind Law Student volunteers serve as legal clinic assistants.  They assist the lawyers at the clinics by taking interview notes and drafting the client “work plan” which summarizes the legal advice given by the attorney.  This plan is reviewed by the attorney and given to the client.

This volunteer opportunity is a great way to learn about legal issues facing nonprofit organizations and microentrepreneurs, work with a diverse population, learn about transactional practice, and network with pro bono attorneys.

Students can apply to volunteer at either or both of the different types of legal clinics – microenterprise and/or nonprofit.  Students must make a commitment to going to three different clinics throughout the academic year.  If a student is going to volunteer at both types of clinics, he/he must complete at least the ATJI Pro Bono Prep, Microenterprise 101 CLE on October 1st and watch the Nuts and Bolts of Nonprofit Law CLE and Fast & Easy 501c3 Tax-Exemption: The New Form 1023EZ CLE videos.

Pro Bono Opportunity – EarthRights International Seeks 2L or 3L for Remote Litigation Support

Volunteers Needed: 2Ls or 3Ls
Time Commitment: 9-10 hours per week
Location: Remote
Recommended Skills/Prerequisites: None but experience with U.S. litigation is a plus
Language skills needed: Proficiency in Spanish

Type of Supervision and Training: Will work closely with one of the attorney’s at EarthRights International with regular weekly check ins
Application Process: Cover letter, resume and writing sample
Application Deadline: Rolling until position is filled
Contact: Maryum Jordan, maryum@earthrights.org

Description of Activity: Will be conducting factual and U.S. legal research to assist ERI in developing a transnational injunctive strategy against a mega development project in the Amazon that poses a high risk of environmental and human rights abuses