Georgia’s “Incubator” Up for an Award- Vote for Us!

Lawyers for Equal Justice is a nominee for the 2017 Louis M. Brown Award and is also in the running for Brown Select (which will be presented to the Brown Award nominee that gets the most votes from the general public).

VOTING IS NOW OPEN.  Voting closes at noon CST, January 10th, 2017. We hope that you will vote, as well as encourage others to take a look at the nominees and vote for us.

You can access the Brown Select site here:


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Read about Georgia’s new law student practice rule- and access to justice approach

Professor Clark Cunningham,  Professor and W. Lee Burge Chair of Law and Ethics at the Georgia State University College of Law, outlines in the current edition of the Georgia Bar Journal the new law student practice rule recently published by the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Georgia Office of Bar admissions.

Cunningham’s summary of the new practice rules is laid out here:

An entirely new student practice rule was adopted by the Georgia Supreme Court effective August 15, 2015 after a five year review process. Major changes: (1) Students are eligible after the completion of the first year of law school; (2) Client eligibility is changed from indigency to “unable financially to pay” for legal services and non-profit organizations can also be represented if their purpose “is to assist low or moderate income persons” (3) Student practice can be supervised by any member of the State Bar, thus opening up the possibility of student practice in the setting of law firm pro bono work; and (4) While the old rule only referred to “assist[ing]in proceedings” and required authorization by “the court where such authority is to be exercised” the new rule authorizes students to “advise, prepare legal instruments, appear before courts and administrative agencies and otherwise take action” on behalf of an eligible client and authorization is provided through registration with the Office of Bar Admissions.

You can read a complete analysis of the new law student practice rules here.


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The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service Year-in-Review

ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange

Mary Ryan, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service Mary Ryan, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service

When I began my term as chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service in 2013 I knew that the Committee had a busy slate of activities.  I had completed a full three year term on the Committee, was honored to be appointed to serve as Chair and was ready to lead the ABA’s pro bono initiatives to the next level.  The scope of the Committee’s efforts has turned out to be even more impressive and impactful than I ever imagined it would be, in both scope and depth.  As 2015 draws to a close, here is a review of the Committee’s work over the past twelve months:

ABA Working Group on Unaccompanied Minor Immigrants

  • Co-sponsor with the ABA Commission on Immigration
  • Developed and implemented training for potential pro bono volunteers in collaboration with…

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My Recent Bar Journal Articles

Here’s a list of links to my recent State Bar of Georgia Bar Journal articles. The upcoming April 2016 edition article is focused on pro bono and law practice management.

February, 2016 Predictions: What’s Hot in Pro Bono for 2016

December 2015 Lawyering at the Intersection of Poor and Frustrated: A Clinic Approach

October 2015 Local Bar Associations, How Do You #Probono?

August 2015 Eureka Moments

June 2015 Pro Bono Incentives for You

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ABA Commission Paper on Legal Check-Ups Could Offer Opportunity to Integrate Private Providers Into ATJ Triage Movement — Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog

A few days ago, the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, fresh from a major step forward in getting House of Delegates approval for their Model Regulatory Objectives, issued for comment a draft Issues Paper Concerning Legal Checkups. While, it is important to note that this is NOT ABA policy, merely a draft […]

via ABA Commission Paper on Legal Check-Ups Could Offer Opportunity to Integrate Private Providers Into ATJ Triage Movement — Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog

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Pro Bono Innovation Grants from the Legal Services Corporation — ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange

LSC 2016 PBI Conference – Innovations in Legal Services from Legal Services Corporation on Vimeo. In this video, Pro Bono Innovation Grants from the Legal Services Corporation are discussed in depth. The panel, Innovations in Legal Services, took place at the Pro Bono Institute’s annual conference on March 24, 2016. LSC President Jim Sandman was […]

via Pro Bono Innovation Grants from the Legal Services Corporation — ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange

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The Needed Components for National ATJ Initiative Taking

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

A couple of years ago, I blogged about what a state capacity for access to justice might look like.  Folks might find this post useful to start to talk about evaluation of the progress of their state’s ATJ Commission (or justification for lack of one).

I thought it might now be time to think about what the capacities for national Access to Justice focusing and initiating of activities are needed, particularly when new areas of opportunity arise.

I am not here suggesting how these functions might be fulfilled, or whether or how they should be integrated or divided, rather I suggest them as a way of assessing whether our community is doing all it should in focusing and opportunity-taking terms.

Before the list I would also point out that filling in the gaps in this list, and making sure there is some form of linkage between the elements, would provide…

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The DOJ Access to Justice Research Workshop Is An Important Achievement And A Milestone

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

The recent Research Workshop was sponsored by NIJ (National Institute of Justice) and ATJ (Access to Justice Initiative) within the Department of Justice, and by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Attorney General Loretta Lynch both spoke and blogged about it here.  Obviously it is very important for the future that she said this in the post:

Through the Access to Justice Initiative, we’re building partnerships across the country to expand legal aid and rethinking policies that reduce its impact.  Thanks to the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, which ATJ helped launch in 2012, more than two dozen federal grant programs—involving health care, citizenship, post-incarceration reentry, housing for veterans, and other federal priorities—have now been clarified to allow funding for legal services to further program goals. And under the Department’s recently-expanded Pro Bono Program, any DOJ employee can now use up to 30 hours of administrative leave for pro bono…

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Rapid California Court Rule Action Shows Momentum is Building on Fines and Fees Issue

Hot topic around the country– debtor’s prisons.

Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

Here is the story.  On May 1, the Fresno Bee ran a story under the headline: ACLU: Traffic-ticket policy by Valley courts unconstitutional.  The core of the story follows:

A court policy of making Valley traffic offenders pay fees upfront in order to challenge a ticket in court is unconstitutional and unfairly impacts low-income residents, the associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said Friday.

In a move to give the public their right to due process, the ACLU has sent letters to Fresno and seven other counties, reminding them that a person’s right to appear in court — even traffic court — should not depend on their ability to pay a fee.

The Bee explained the back ground and significance as follows:

A recent report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and other advocates found that California traffic courts have saddled millions…

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Work for a court-based help center? Tell us.

I am working with the State Bar of Georgia Access to Justice Committee on an effort to help court-based help centers in Georgia.

We would like to learn more about your services, your plans in regard to lawyer referral, assisted pro se and whether you track data and are willing to share your data with us.

We have created a listserv for court-based help center staff around the state to share information and best practices with each other.  We will have a help center tool kit available shortly for distribution.

Here is a list of court-based help centers of which we are aware:

If you work in a court-based help center in Georgia, please drop me a line at  If you would like to join our support listserv, send me an email using your official court email address with your name and contact information.  I will add you to the listserv.   Send your email request to

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Toaster, elevator, hula hoop and air conditioning

I just returned from the American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference. I felt a bit agitated. I guess that’s the right word. It’s a feeling I always get at the end of several days of exchanging thought-provoking ideas and discussing new ways to look at our work.

I lean slightly toward the techno-geek side of the spectrum. Some of you don’t know that. Many of you laugh that I felt I had to articulate that.

I favored sessions at the conference that covered technology and legal services delivery. It makes me crazy to see the astounding things that my colleagues are doing to advance access to justice through innovative tech. I always hope some of their passion will rub off on me, and that maybe some fantastic innovative process will suddenly map itself out completely in my brain before I leave. But, as I always say, I’m not real bright, but I can lift heavy things which, is to say, it may take me a while to figure something out, but my real talent is perseverance.

One of my colleagues– Eve from Iowa, I think– said to me, “I hate it when they say, ‘Everyone loves tech except when it doesn’t work.'” I nodded my head in agreement, mumbled a bit about “those people”– you know, the ones who sigh when you want to explain how innovation might help them in their work.

With Eve by my side in the conference exhibit area, I drew some coffee from one of the nearby urns into my cup, turned and nearly launched myself into a table with several toasters and bagels. You’d think all the time at the gym would make me less clumsy.

The shiny chrome toaster got me thinking.

When the toaster was first introduced, lots of folks got upset with it. Sure, you could toast your bread most of the time, but you often scorched your thumb or burned the toast, or maybe you couldn’t get the damned thing to pop the toast up. Did folks throw their toasters out the window? Well, maybe one or two highly passionate folks did so, but the larger population hung in there, made adjustments and on most mornings, got their bread toasted pretty much the way they wanted it.

Some of us remember “going into the city” in our childhood. In many of the stores and businesses, your elevator ride was managed by someone hired by the business to push the buttons for you, open and close the door and call out the floor number- often telling you what you’d find on that level. Elevator operators were around for a very long time. I do miss those days. I have a hard time reading the floor numbers on the elevator buttons and frequently I step off on the wrong floor. I’m not alone on that, right?

The hula hoop hopped onto the popular culture screen in the late 1960s. It was a new kind of amusement. You could thrust and roll your hips much like one does when… nevermind. It was innovative: light, plastic and colorful, and you could either be the hit of your neighborhood or drop to the floor in pain. The hula hoop is still around, embraced by many, and thank gawd for ObamaCare.

The advent of air conditioning gave rise to the modern southern city. Talk about your innovation, air conditioning has saved us from flies and humidity and has enabled us to look good under any hot, bright lighting. Sure, multitudes of us whine in meetings because “it’s tooooooo collldd,” but the reality is, we would never want to live without it.

The moral of these meanderings? When it comes to innovation, you may get burned. You, too, will have your ups and downs. And you most certainly will get bent out of shape at some point. But you will use the innovation. It’s all cool.

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Gone mobile

I’m very happy to announce that we have launched a mobile site for our client-focused legal information and help site, GeorgiaLegalAid,org.  On your smartphone, navigate to

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