Welcome Back

We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable spring break! You might have missed some of the legal news last week, so here is a recap of several top stories:

  • The Supreme Court announced it will release same-day audio recordings of the arguments over the constitutionality of the health care overhaul law
  • Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of hate crimes, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, for using a webcam to spy on his roommate
  • The Justice Department civil rights division blocked a Texas law that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls because the law would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters and prevent many of them from voting

Know of any other big stories that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know.


Law Student Faces Public Attack

Recently, there has been heated debate (to say the least) over the Obama administration’s birth control policy.  As you might have heard, Rush Limbaugh attacked law student Sandra Fluke, who had publicly expressed her views in support of the policy, by calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  President Obama himself reached out to Ms. Fluke, thanking her for her support after Limbaugh’s attack.  Though Limbaugh apologized for his comments, today he reportedly lost another advertiserthe seventh to back out after his remarks.  Some are calling this a “war on women,” but at base level, it was a law student being attacked for expressing her views.  As a law student, what do you think about Limbaugh’s behavior?

Supreme Court Law Clinics

IU has many clinics to offer, and the Moot Court competition is great, but imagine actually arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court as a law student.  Students at George Mason, Stanford, Harvard, NYU, Northwestern, UVA, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Texas can do just that. These schools offer clinics that provide pro bono representation before the Supreme Court. Students work with attorneys at prominent firms to prepare the cases, and though students don’t actually argue the cases before the justices, they are able to work on just about everything else.

We like this idea, not only because of the experience it provides students, but also because of the pro bono work it enables. If more firms enlisted the work of law students to help with their pro bono cases, would they be able to increase the number of cases they could handle? The best attorneys and the best law students in the country coming together to handle cases seems like a great idea and might make a bigger dent in the growing number of cases that require pro bono representation. What do you think? Would you participate in such a clinic if it were offered?

More News for Legal Services Corp.

An Update: A few weeks ago, we told you about slashes in funds to Legal Services Corp. and the legal services jobs that would be lost as a result.  This week, good news appeared on the horizon.  President Obama has urged Congress to increase funds to LSC for fiscal year 2013.  The proposal would mean a 15.5% increase in the agency’s current budget.  The agency has requested a 35% increase for 2013, however, which means that even if President Obama’s recommendation is heard, Legal Services Corp. will still be in great need.  Still, any increase in funding means more people can receive the legal services they need.

Unpaid Internships: Valuable Experience or Exploitation?

Like most of us in PILF, you have probably had an unpaid summer internship–in fact, like most students, you have probably had more than one.  And as students pursuing careers in public interest, most of us have accepted our fate and willingly apply for these (often highly competitive) unpaid positions.  Yet some have questioned whether it is fair for employers to hire students for free. In fact, some feel that most internships violate federal law and flout Labor Department rules.  The New York Times had a lively discussion of the issue this week, and it left us wondering, DO unpaid internships exploit college students? Should it matter whether the employer is a non-profit versus a for-profit entity? What about a government organization?  Should the government step in and do something? Read the discussion and share your thoughts.

Webinar Today on Securing a Summer Internship

Today from 12-1pm NALP and Equal Justice Works are sponsoring a webinar on best practices in interviewing and in-person networking. The webinar will provide law students with insight on the key elements of the summer public-interest job application process.  Attorneys with years of application review experience will highlight do’s and don’ts; explain how and why public interest application materials may substantively differ from law firm materials; and explore the dynamics of personal interactions in interviews and networking situations. Register here and watch today at noon.

Legal News

We have two stories that might interest you this week:

First, on Monday, the Supreme Court issued a key Fourth Amendment decision, holding that attaching a GPS tracking device to a vehicle constitutes a search and that authorities need a warrant to perform such a search in most cases.  What implications do you think this case will have for the future? In what other ways do you think current and evolving technology will alter what constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment? You can read the full decision here.

Second, in local news, a Lake County, Indiana judge made an example out of a juror who did not return for jury duty.  After the juror did not follow the judge’s instructions and return to court as he was supposed to, the judge forced him to stand in front of the courthouse with a sign that said he failed to appear.  Do you approve of this judge’s actions? Or are they too extreme?

Leave us a comment and share your thoughts!

Nonprofit Workshop

SPEA’s Nonprofit Management Association has organized two one-day workshops for small and medium-sized 501(c)(3) organizations, one in Bloomington, hosted by Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and one in Indianapolis, hosted by the Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.The Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division of the Internal Revenue Service will present the workshops and explain what 501(c)(3) organizations must do to keep their tax-exempt status and comply with tax obligations–something that may be of interest to students interested in public interest law.  The Bloomington workshop will be held on February 29th–registration information is available online.

Additional Opportunity

The IU Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help to
low-income citizens and IU students in completing their Federal and State
Income tax returns.

Each VITA Volunteer meets one-on-one with a VITA client, or can choose to
operate in a pair. Based on the information provided by and solicited
from the client, the volunteer completes a 1040 tax return that is then
submitted to the IRS.

IU VITA is a great opportunity to demonstrate an interest in business or
tax law on your resume! VITA operates on Mondays and Tuesdays during
February and March for 3 hours each night. A call-out meeting will be
held on January 18 at noon in room 120 to ascertain interest in the
program. A training session will follow on Saturday January 21nd from
1:15 to 4 pm in room 123. If you re unable to attend the callout session,
you can still attend the training session on the 21nd! For more
information, email Daniel Huntley at danhuntl@indiana.edu

Public Interest Opportunities

If you weren’t able to get involved in any extra curricular public interest activities last semester, or you’re looking for more ways to volunteer your time, it’s not too late. There are many student organizations that provide ways to volunteer including:

When you volunteer your time pro bono, you can report those hours to wedogood@indiana.edu and track your pro bono commitment. The law school recommends each student volunteer at least 20 hours per year, but getting involved in any of these opportunities can allow you to go above and beyond.  In addition to pro bono opportunities, the law school has many other student organizations and ways to get involved–you can check out a full list of activities here.