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Nebraska Legislature Amends Cy Pres Rule to Benefit Legal Aid – The Nebraska legislature amended the state's statute governing cy pres awards to direct that, after class members have been paid and unless the court orders otherwise to further the purposes of the underlying cause of action, any unpaid residue in class action judgments or settlements are to be paid to the Legal Aid and Services Fund. The amendment becomes effective on July 18, 2014. Nebraska will then join 14 other states in having rules or legislation that authorize or require some portion of class action residuals be paid to legal aid. For more information about the Nebraska legislation, contact Dave Pantos, Executive Director, Legal Aid of Nebraska or call 402/348–1069, ext. 203. For additional information about cy pres generally, contact Meredith McBurney, Resource Development Consultant, ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives, or call 303/329–8091.
West Virginia Legislature Increases Filing Fees to Support Legal Aid – The future is brighter for legal aid providers in West Virginia due to the passage of recent legislation that is expected to generate an additional $1.3 – $1.9 million annually for civil legal aid. The funding will come from an increase in the current civil filing fee and new counter, cross–claim and third party intervener fees. The success is the result of a very strategic, time–intensive campaign, led by a strong group of lawyer lobbyists and other dedicated legal aid volunteers. To learn more, contact Adrienne Worthy, Executive Director, Legal Aid of West Virginia or call 304/343–3013, ext. 2128.
Maryland Issues Longitudinal Analysis of Pro Bono Reporting – Since July 2002, all Maryland lawyers authorized to practice law in the state have been required to annually report their pro bono activities. The Maryland Access to Justice Commission and the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service recently issued a Longitudinal Analysis of Pro Bono Reporting: 2002–2012. It reveals that there is a greater than 99 percent reporting compliance rate by attorneys statewide. The report also provides a compilation of the results of the annual pro bono reporting prepared for calendar years 2002 through 2012 by the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. For more information, contact Pamela Cardullo Ortiz, Executive Director, Maryland Access to Justice Commission or call 410/260–1258.
Tennessee Releases Pro Bono Report – The Tennessee Access to Justice Commission released the 2013 Pro Bono Report. It revealed that approximately 42 percent of Tennessee attorneys reported doing some pro bono work during 2012. These attorneys reported an average of 73.8 hours per attorney, well above the national average. The report also describes the significant work being done by bar associations, law schools, legal aid organizations and faith–based communities across Tennessee and includes information from some of the nearly 70 legal organizations that have adopted pro bono policies. For additional information, contact Anne–Louise Wirthlin, Access to Justice Coordinator or call 616/741–2687.
Washington D.C. Honors "40 at 50" – Federal judges in Washington gathered in April to honor 30 law firms at which a minimum of 40 percent of all lawyers provided 50 or more hours of pro bono service last year. The event, held at the U.S. Courthouse, marked the 11th annual "40 at 50" Judicial Pro Bono Recognition Breakfast. For more information contact Monika Kalra Varma, Executive Director, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program or call 202/737–4700, ext. 3201.
Colorado Bar Association and San Juan County (New Mexico) Bar Association Receive the 2014 Harrison Tweed Award – The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association will present the 2014 Harrison Tweed Award to the Colorado Bar Association and the San Juan County (NM) Bar Association during the 2014 ABA Annual Meeting in Boston. This award, named for an outstanding leader in the promotion of free legal services to persons living in poverty, recognizes the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services to poor persons or criminal defense services to indigents. For more information about this award, contact Bev Groudine, Associate Counsel, SCLAID or call 312/988-5771.
ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Announces Winners of the 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award – This annual award is presented to individual lawyers and institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged. The awards will be presented this year at the ABA Annual Meeting to the law firms of Dechert LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, as well as to the following lawyers and jurist: Judge Edward M. Ginsburg (Retired), Alan Howard and Kermit Lowery. For more information about the award, contact Erin Wellin, Meetings and Committee Specialist, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service or call 312/988-5766.
On May 30, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that provides $350 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in FY2015. The measure passed by a vote of 321–87. The Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies (CJS) FY2015 Appropriations bill would decrease current funding by $15 million but is $50 million more than the House voted to allocate to LSC last year. The bill passed the House after lawmakers defeated two proposed amendments: one that would have restored funding to the current level of $365 million, and the other that would have eliminated all funding for LSC.
On June 5, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY2015 CJS Appropriations bill at $400 million, which is $35 million higher than the current appropriation. The full Senate is expected to take up the bill by the end of the month. The two chambers will then have to reconcile the expected differences in amounts allocated for LSC through a conference committee process. For additional information about the LSC appropriation, contact Ann Carmichael, Legislative Counsel, ABA Governmental Affairs Office, or call 202/662-1767.
For more information about specific items, contact the person listed for that item. To contribute items to future issues of LEGAL SERVICES NOW, or for general information about this bulletin, contact Bev Groudine, call 312-988-5771, or fax 312-988-5483.