Small and mid-size nonprofits have many legal needs that would not be met without the generous donation of time and resources by lawyers around the country. To this end, the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta (PBP-ATL) organizes local volunteer lawyers to meet the non-litigation needs of nonprofit clients. From contracts to corporate governance, PBP-ATL maximizes the impact Georgia nonprofits have on their communities. After all, organizations need legal services not just when something goes wrong, but also to prevent problems in the first place.
Rachel Spears is the executive director of PBP-ATL. Like many nonprofit leaders, she first practiced at a very large law firm. She tells us how issue spotting plays a central role in matching expert volunteers to clients. Not only does Rachel need vast legal knowledge to see what her clients don't, but she also needs to manage her board of directors and staff, develop a budget, do the books, fundraise, and more.
It turns out that focusing too much on your mission can actually impede your organizational success. Rachel can sympathize with her clients that simply want to help, but it's clear that ignoring fundraising or running afoul of state or federal regulations puts you on track to help nobody. Organizations like PBP-ATL are rare and small, but keep nonprofits within the law by leveraging the generosity of members of the legal profession.
This episode is hosted by Mike Spivey, a consultant for prospective and current law students.
Deportation can rip families apart, and it's up to immigration lawyers to help individuals seek relief under the law. The job is pressure-filled and has high stakes. In this episode, immigration attorney and St. Mary's University School of Law graduate Manuel Escobar discusses his experience representing people whose livelihoods are on the line.
As Manuel tells us, an essential part of his practice is interacting with clients during "intake" sessions. Manuel spends a portion of every day interviewing clients, some of whom are petitioning for family members or are interested in learning how the law can affect them. Other clients are battling deportation and are desperate for help. "We have clients whose backs are against the wall," Manuel explains. "There is a lot at stake with immigration."
Manuel addresses some key questions pertinent to immigration law. What options are available to those seeking relief from deportation? How does an immigration attorney prepare for hearings? What challenges do immigration lawyers face, and which strategies can help mitigate stress from work?
This week's episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at the Ohio State University.
One of the most famous cases in U.S. history involved a writ of mandamus -- an order to a government agency or official to behave in accordance with the law. In Marbury v. Madison, William Marbury asked the U.S. Supreme Court to order the U.S. Secretary of State (James Madison) to affirm Marbury's commission as the D.C. Justice of the Peace.
Today, courts still use these writs to compel government action. In this episode, Michael Morguess discusses his new solo practice in southern California, where he frequently seeks writs of mandamus for clients fired by government agencies. Michael's clients come to him when they need to appeal an unfavorable result from an administrative hearing. The job of the court is to review the administrative proceedings to ensure that the agency proceeded in accordance with the law, that the employee received a fair trial with the agency, and that the agency's decision is supported by the evidence and findings.
Michael has not only spent many years helping government employees, but he's also been across the aisle representing cities and in chambers clerking for a California state judge who ruled on the very writs he seeks. So when he writes and argues briefs for a judge, he knows exactly what everybody is thinking. With jobs and livelihoods on the line, Michael faces a lot of pressure, but the intellectual challenge and thrill of victory buoy his non-traditional litigation practice.
This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University.
Think you might be allergic to litigation? In this episode, real estate attorney and University of Texas School of Law alumna Barbara Stewart shares what keeps her out of the courtroom.
Barbara started her career as in-house counsel for a large communications company before venturing into real estate law. Today, she helps clients purchase and sell residential homes. She spends her time drafting real estate transaction documents -- usually from forms -- and helping people understand the process.
Now that she's on her own, she's able to provide valuable insight into running a modern real estate practice. Barbara outlines several common trappings that face real estate attorneys. If her sky-high malpractice insurance is any measure, its among the riskier practice areas around.
This week's show is hosted by Aaron Taylor, a law professor at St. Louis University.