Tall Buildings to Tree Tops

I practiced commercial litigation for about nine years, and there are three cases that changed the course of my career.

Nine years ago, I was a baby lawyer. I graduated in the top of my class, and I thought I knew something about the practice of law. I could draft a mean memo, and I knew exactly how to start an appellate argument: “May it please the court!”

My first week, my supervising partner asked me to help a homeless Seattle girl access $1300 that had languished in a court fund for 11 years. Her name was Jennifer (I still remember her last name too, but confidentiality and all those lawyerly things…). She wanted to be a journalist; she needed an apartment. The apartment needed a deposit. I didn’t know how to petition a court for release of funds. I didn’t know that a civil docket was miles long, and that my hearing would be set along with 50 other cases. I trembled when I had to get the order releasing funds signed by a real judge in front of 50 other lawyers who tittered a bit when I entered my appearance, “May it please the court, my name is Regan Beatty.” But I won. My success? A young woman in Seattle got an apartment. She emailed me months later to tell me that she was writing for a website and doing well. I hope she still is.

A couple of years later, I really did know something about practicing law. I could lift the stay in bankruptcy and file a lawsuit. I even knew how to answer interrogatories: “Objection. Interrogatory No. 1 is overly broad and unlikely to lead to discoverable information.”

I didn’t know what a guardian ad litem was. I had no idea how to make a home visit or what questions to ask. I did know that I had been assigned to a little girl named Kayla, and she was 4 years old. I visited her grandparents and her parents. I met her mom, her dad, her aunt, and her dog.

One rainy afternoon, my law-student husband and I set out to find Kayla’s new home. (I made my husband ride along because I was nervous.). We got lost, and I called for directions. “You’re going to pass a tree that got knocked over by the creek. Make a right at the tree, and we’re the next driveway.” We spotted the toppled tree, its branches scraping the car as we made our right turn into the driveway of a double-wide mobile home.

Kayla had a toddler bed and her own room. Her mom had cleaned for our visit. The upholstered kitchen chairs squished when we sat–the water hose draped over the porch rail evidence that while Kayla’s mom had tried, she didn’t quite grasp the finer points of homemaking. It was a decent home. And she was loved.

I appeared in front of the judge without a script because I didn’t know quite how to report on this one. Kayla’s mom and dad loved her. So did her grandparents. They all wanted her to be in school, and they could all provide for her in a general sense. My final report? “Grandma and Grandpa just don’t like it that their daughter trailer-ed up.” The judge guffawed. He hooted. And he signed off on my report indicating that Kayla’s mom and dad were fit parents living in a double wide just past the toppled tree on a dirt road.

My success? About a year after my meeting with the judge, counsel for Kayla’s grandparents, who had petitioned for guardianship, called me to let me know that Kayla was doing well. That grandma, grandpa, mom, and dad had reconciled their relationship. Things were looking up, and the guardianship proceeding was going to be dismissed with no hard feelings.

I stopped doing pro bono work after that. I just didn’t have time. I was getting closer to a partnership vote at my firm, and billable hours were calling me. I filed some corporate bankruptcies and some foreclosures. I defended some really fun fraud actions and worked with some really great clients and some shameful ones.

About two years ago, I foreclosed on a ranch just outside of Purcell, Oklahoma. I filed my Petition. Service of process was tricky. My defendants refused mail; they ran from process servers; they moved. The Postmaster in West Virginia called me personally and asked me to stop sending packages to one address because the resident believed I was a terrorist sending packages laced with Anthrax. I remain convinced to this day that the terrified homeowner was in fact one of my defendants trying to avoid service one more time.

Eventually, the defendants hired local counsel in Purcell, and I finally got a Motion for Summary Judgment set for hearing. Per standard operating procedures, I appeared in court wearing my steel-grey, power pinstripes with my three-inch heels. The judge wore cowboy boots. Opposing counsel walked in wearing bib overalls, checked his mailbox in the court clerk’s office (yes, really) and greeted the judge by his first name.

And just like that, this tall building lawyer had been taken down more than a few notches. Opposing counsel ethically and artfully delayed foreclosure on a 180-horse operation for nearly two years. We got a judgment, called out the sheriff, and put a receiver in place. We negotiated a sale. We fought an emergency temporary restraining order and two bankruptcies.

Ultimately, we won. I succeeded for my client. My success? A Missouri bank now owned a 200+ acre reining horse ranch. A rancher moved his wife, his five-year old son, his 18 personally-owned horses, a couple of trucks, some tractors, and a toy John Deere ride-on to a rental property inside city limits. He started to look for work. I looked out my window from the 17th floor and socked away the pleadings in in a form file. I won. I did the right thing for my clients. But ultimately, I questioned if I had done the right thing for myself.

I left private practice for a number of reasons, two of whom will occasionally be roaming the halls at OCU wielding Crayons and Hot Wheels. But in large part, I left private practice with the ultimate goal of making a difference for myself, for my children, for my husband, and for someone else. That someone else turns out to be you.

OCU was my college home. It was my law school home. And I’m thrilled to call it my career home now. My office is on the second floor, and I look out over the tree tops. (It’s Oklahoma, trees are shorter here; skies are bigger.). Call me, email me, stop by and say hello. My success? When you’re satisfied knowing that you’ve made a difference and that you’ve used law school to become exactly who you know you can be. I’ll do everything I can to help, and I can tell you from experience that the view from the pro bono office is beautiful.

Regan S. Beatty, Pro Bono Coordinator
Law Career Services

Equal Justice Works 2012 Conference and Career Fair

Friday, October 26 & Saturday, October 27, 2012
Crystal Gateway Marriott
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202

The Equal Justice Works annual Conference and Career Fair is the largest public interest career fair in the country. It is the only event where you’ll find more than 1,200 public interest-minded students representing 200 law schools from across the country coming together to explore career options with leading nonprofit organizations and government agencies.  The Conference and Career Fair provides access to job opportunities for law students; connects employers with talented attorneys and law students; and offers a multitude of skill-building and career advising sessions with experts from around the country. Our conference continues to be an unparalleled networking opportunity for students, law school professionals and legal professionals.

This year’s keynote speaker is Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Student/Recent Graduate Registration Opens August 15

NOTE: Due to NALP guidelines, 1L students are not eligible to interview with employers during the Equal Justice Works Career Fair. However, 1L students may informally talk to employers during Table Talk on Friday and Saturday.

Important Dates
September 13: deadline to register and submit resumes for employer consideration
October 4: deadline for employers to post interview selections
October 11: deadline for selected candidates to accept or decline interviews
October 11: deadline to register for conference attendance (workshops and Table Talk participation only, no interviews)
October 16: deadline to cancel registration with full refund

Registration fee: $25 per student/recent graduate

LCS NOTE: Law Career Services will cover the first ten (10) online registration fees for those who subsequently attend the conference. Please print and submit copies of your registration/payment confirmation to Carol North in Law Career Services (Sarkeys Suite 216) for reimbursement.

LCS :: Oklahoma County Pro Se Waiver Divorce Docket Training – Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sarkeys Law Center Room 103

This opportunity allows you to work with the Oklahoma County family law judges and some of the best family law attorneys in Oklahoma City while assisting clients who cannot afford a lawyer for their divorce. This pro bono opportunity allows law students to get actual courtroom experience now. These pro se litigants have drafted their divorce documents using a variety of sources: the Internet, paralegals, divorce “kits,” and form books. When the documents are presented to the judge for an order granting the divorce, the judge may find that the documents are incorrect, do not follow the law, or do not adequately address all the necessary legal issues in the case. The pro se litigant is then left to start the process again, without any help.

Here is where you can help. Three times a week, during the pro se waiver divorce docket, law students will be present in the courthouse to assist these pro se litigants with their cases and documents so that their divorce can be granted. An experienced family law lawyer will always be present with you in the courthouse on Thursdays to assist you and the clients. Space in the courthouse to confer privately with the client will be available, as well as a computer and printer and forms of necessary documents. The family law judge will refer the client to you and your supervising lawyer for help during the court docket, and in many instances, you may remedy the situation so that the client may have the divorce granted that day, rather than having to return to the courthouse at a later time. The docket is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to approximately 3:30 or 4:00 pm. Students may volunteer one time a month, twice a month, or every week, as your schedule allows.

The family law judges have told us that this help by law students with the pro se waiver divorce docket is very meaningful to them and to the pro se litigants. You will gain great experience, learn much about family law, become acquainted with the judges, court personnel, and lawyers who practice in this area, and put your legal education to use for those who need help the most but who cannot afford a lawyer.

A mandatory training session is planned to prepare you for this opportunity. Included in the training session is information presented by experienced family law lawyers in private practice in Oklahoma City, from Legal Aid, and Oklahoma Child Support Services. Basic information about divorce law, including jurisdiction, property division, alimony, child custody, and child support will be addressed. The procedural aspects of a waiver divorce will be discussed, as well as the requisite information to include in pleadings and orders. Sample forms for pleadings and orders will be available.

Many pro se waiver divorces include an element of domestic violence. Experienced lawyers for domestic violence victims will present information on how to screen and counsel clients on domestic violence issues and the ethical concerns in such cases. Considerations about the safety of the victim and how court proceedings may impact that safety, the needs and concerns of domestic violence victims and their families, and how to recognize when domestic violence may be present will be discussed.

Pre-registration in Symplicity is required to participate in this program.
(Log into Symplicity and open the Events module from the main navigation across the top of the screen.)
Deadline: 5:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

*Interested 1L’s awaiting access to their Symplicity accounts may pre-register directly with Law Career Services via email to cnorth@okcu.edu.

PCDC: Public Interest Fellowships with Equal Justice Works

More information about Equal Justice Works’ fellowship programs follows.  Please be aware of these job opportunities for students and recent graduates. 

AmeriCorps Legal Fellowships: In partnership with AmeriCorps, this program allows Fellows to promote public service at law schools by facilitating pro bono opportunities and training for other students.  A living allowance is provided and an educational award is earned after successful completion of the program.
Equal Justice Works Fellowships: As a participant in the largest postgraduate legal fellowship program in the U.S., Equal Justice Works Fellows create dream jobs with nonprofit organizations. Fellows receive a salary and are eligible for loan repayment assistance.
Public Defender Corps: Equal Justice Works and the Southern Public Defender Training Center have partnered to improve the quality of representation for adults and juveniles nationwide. This three-year fellowship program addresses the ongoing national crisis of providing quality representation to accused persons who cannot afford counsel.
For more information, please go to www.equaljusticeworks.org .

PCDC: Equal Justice Works news

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Please let your students know that there is still time to apply for the 2012 Summer Corps program. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, April 10. Incomplete applications will not be considered and there will be no exceptions.
  • 2012 AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship: Positions announced in June on PSLawNet. Applications ongoing.
  • 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellowship: Application open July 6 to September 18
  • 2013 Public Defender Corps: Application open July 6 to September 18
What are the differences between the three Equal Justice Works post-graduate fellowships programs? How do you help students with their applications? Who should apply to which program? We are offering several webinars this spring to answer these questions and more. All webinars are free. Please visit our website and to learn more and register for our webinars.
Save the Date
Friday, October 26 & Saturday, October 27, 2012
Crystal Gateway Marriott
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Registration information will be coming soon. Travel and accommodation information is now available.
We have been receiving great feedback for the new The Equal Justice Works Guide to Law Schools. From November 21 to March 30, The Guide received 12,414 visits, with 86% being first time visitors. Based on results from our survey, 79% of those utilizing the site are prospective law students, along with a small number of current law students and undergraduate advisors.
One of the most popular features was the comparison view that allows visitors to obtain side-by-side summaries of several schools’ programs at one time. This feature was used 1,598 times throughout this period.
We encourage you to update your school’s information in The Guide with the information most recently reported to the ABA and NALP, and any other changes you would like to make to your school’s profile. Remember that you can make changes in The Guide anytime by logging in at http://survey.ejwguide.org. When you do make changes, please let us know by sending an email to guide@equaljusticeworks.org, so that we may ensure your edits transfer to the live, public version of The Guide. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Educational Debt We are pleased to announce the publication of a new educational debt resource. Take Control of Your Future: What You Should Know About Educational Debt provides basic information about student loans, repayment options and relief programs such as Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Visit our website to download a free copy today.
Our educational debt relief team recently participated in the final session of negotiated rulemaking proceedings held by the Department of Education. As a member of the student loans committee, we advocated for borrowers’ interests on 25 different issues, which included regulations governing Income-Based Repayment and Income-Contingent Repayment and implementing President Obama’s Pay As You Earn proposal. On Friday, March 30, the committee, which included representatives from the Department of Education, schools, loan servicers, legal aid, consumer advocates and students, reached consensus on these issues. As a result, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with the committee’s proposals will be issued later this year. Programs like Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness can help ease the burden of educational debt, but students must make sure they take the right steps to qualify. If you have any questions or would like more information about these programs or the rulemaking proceedings, please email our educational debt team at debtrelief@equaljusticeworks.org.
To learn more on educational debt relief news, check out our Student Loan Ranger blog at U.S. News Education and follow us on Twitter (@EJW_org #studentdebthelp) and Facebook. Sign up for our free webinars to learn about available educational debt relief, whether you are eligible and how to qualify.
Brooklyn Law School has named Nicholas W. Allard as their new dean effective July 2012. Mr. Allard was previously an attorney with Patton Boggs, and has also previously been a contributor and advisory board member of several legal publications and an adjunct professor at several other law schools.
Case Western Reserve University School of Law has developed a partnership with two new Chinese law schools to expand their China study program making them a leader in U.S.-China legal education. The expanded program allows faculty and student exchanges, visiting lecturers, and expanded law journals.
University of Pennsylvania Law School is celebrating the opening of Golkin Hall, a new modern and environmentally-friendly law building.
Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has named Douglas Sylvester as dean effective immediately. Mr. Sylvester has been the interim dean for almost one year and formerly served as associate dean for Faculty Research and Development at ASU. The College of Law’s academic rankings have increased in the time Mr. Sylvester has been interim dean.
Do you have comments, webinar suggestions or blog topics to share?
Send an email to membership.
David Stern, Executive Director
Susan Gurley, Deputy Director
Sally Carlson, Director of Communications and Outreach
Nita Mazumder, Program Manager, Law School Relations
Isaac Bowers, Senior Program Manager, Educational Debt Relief and Outreach
Radhika Singh Miller, Program Manager, Educational Debt Relief and Outreach
Lauren Fuchs, Law School Program & Member Services Specialist
Equal Justice Works | 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1010 | Washington, DC 20036 | www.equaljusticeworks.org

PCDC – Dean’s Summer Fellowship Application Deadline Extended!

The deadline to apply for a Dean’s Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Fellowship Award has been extended to Monday, April 16, 2012 (5:00 pm).

Local, regional and nationwide pro bono employers are still posting available positions. Interested students are encouraged to check the Symplicity PCDC Job Listings module daily for new opportunities.

For more information about the Dean’s Summer Fellowship program, please click here.

PCDC: Equal Justice Works Fellowships and Information

Dear Students,


Please know that the application for the 2012 Summer Corps program is now open!  Students have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 23 to complete the application to become a 2012 Summer Corps member and receive a $1,175 AmeriCorps education award. For more information on the program, please visit the Equal Justice Works website. 


Equal Justice Works is offering several free webinars this month for law school professionals and students of our member schools.  Click on the links below to learn about and sign up for webinars focused on: 

If you have any questions or would like to suggest webinar topics, please contact membership@equaljusticeworks.org.


Tuesday, March 20 at 2 p.m. EST
Student Strategies for Success: How to Find Your Dream Job


Thursday, March 22 at 2 p.m. EST
Law School Professional Series: How to Help Your Students Find Their Dream Job


Thursday, April 12 at Noon EST

Link In to Further Your Job Search
Please let your students know that they can send an email to Lauren Fuchs at lfuchs@equaljusticeworks.org for a chance to have their LinkedIn profile reviewed live during the webinar. One person will be selected at random and will be notified before the actual webinar if chosen.


Equal Justice Works Programs


For law school professionals:


Tuesday, March 27 at 2 p.m. EST
Law School Professionals Series: Public Defender Corps Program Overview 


Wednesday, April 4 at 2 p.m. EST 

Law School Professionals Series: Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program Overview


For students:


Friday, April 20 at 2 p.m. EST

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship Program and Application Overview


Thursday, March 29 at 2 p.m. EST

Law Student Series: Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program Overview


Tuesday, April 17 at 2 p.m. EST

Law Student Series: Public Defender Corps Program Overview


Wednesday, May 16 at 2 p.m. EST

Law Student Series: How to Create a Successful Application for the Equal Justice Works Fellowships


Monday, June 18 at 2 p.m. EST

Law Student Series: How to Become a Member of the Public Defender Corps


Tuesday, June 26 at 2 p.m. EST

Law Student Series: How to Create a Successful Application for the Equal Justice Works Fellowships


Educational Debt Relief


Friday, March 16 at 3 p.m. EST

How to Pay Your Bills AND Your Student Loans: Utilizing Income-Based Repayment


Friday, March 23 at 3 p.m. EST
Get Your Educational Loans Forgiven: Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Thursday, April 12 at 2 p.m. EST

Plan Before You Borrow: What You Should Know About Educational Loans BEFORE You Go to Graduate School


Thursday, April 19 at 2 p.m. EST
Drowning in Debt?  Learn How Government and Nonprofit Workers Can Earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Equal Justice Works | 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1010 | Washington, DC 20036 | www.equaljusticeworks.org

PCDC: Equal Justice Works news

Equal Justice at Work | www.equaljusticeworks.org
Fighting Racism in America

February marks Black History month, and as the nation celebrates the achievements of black Americans and their central role in shaping U.S. history, it is also a time to reflect on the injustices and racism that plagued this country for centuries and continues on today.

According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group, every day thousands of people in this country still face harassment and abuse because of their skin color or ethnicity. To those of us in the social justice arena, this is hardly news. Every day we see and hear about racial injustices that make us uncomfortable and outraged – from incarceration rates among African American to immigration, from workplace discrimination to voting rights. Over the years, Equal Justice Works has placed scores of Fellows in communities across the country to stop this cycle of hate and prejudice.


Seeing Injustice

Because of his Hispanic background and upbringing in Brooklyn, Franco Torres has always felt connected to the Latino immigrant community. The challenges and hardships that immigrants face are often violations of their most fundamental and sacred rights. These injustices, which include racial profiling, unlawful detention and harassment, are what inspire Franco to represent those who do not have the ability or means to effectively advocate for themselves.

Franco began serving at Americans for Immigrant Justice in September. As a 2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow co-sponsored by The Florida Bar Association and Greenberg Traurig, he is dedicated to challenging civil right violations against Florida’s immigrant community.


Continuing to fight against discrimination

As a member of the 2006 Equal Justice Works Fellowship class, Alexander Saingchin created the New Jersey Asian American Legal Project, an initiative of the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF) to address the unmet legal and civil rights concerns of New Jersey’s diverse Asian-American communities. Alex’s work ranged from combating injustices faced by immigrant populations to ensuring access to government services with interpreters and translations.

U.S. Department of Education releases Public Service Loan Forgiveness certification form

We are pleased to announce that the Department of Education has released an Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form to assist borrowers in tracking their qualifying employment and qualifying payments as they work toward earning loan forgiveness.
February 2012
Equal Justice Works would like to thank Kirkland & Ellis LLP for their sponsorship of two Fellows in the Class of 2012. The firm also supported our annual dinner program, including our 25th Anniversary Gala, and Chicago regional event.
1730 M Street, NW, STE 1010, Washington DC ++ 202.466.3686 ++ equaljusticeworks.org 

PCDC – Dean’s Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Fellowships Program

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sarkeys Law Center Room 104
5:00 to 5:45 pm

Interested in Pro Bono, Public Interest, Government, or Non-Profit work but don’t think you can afford to work for free? Well, now you can!  

Each year, a group of 20 students who have internships or clerkships in the areas above are selected to receive a summer fellowship (living stipend). This is an incredible way to work in an area in which you are passionate while also receiving compensation! While the process is competitive and the expectations are high, the experience and training are unparalleled.

Please join us to learn more about the Dean’s Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Fellowships program and hear from past recipients.

Equal Justice Works e-news

Equal Justice at Work | www.equaljusticeworks.org
Remembering the Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time and remains an inspiration for all of us at Equal Justice Works as we help ensure access to equal justice regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or education. Still, 49 years after Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, social injustices occur daily.

Uncovering civil rights issues through legal services

“Civil rights infringement and social injustice can seem overwhelming on a larger scale, but we can truly make a difference if everyone does their part,” shared Equal Justice Works Fellow Nicholas Webber. Nicholas is doing his part at the Watsonville Law Center sponsored by the Morrison & Foerster Foundation where he provides direct legal services to Spanish speaking low-wage workers in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, California.

Regaining rights through reentry

While most of us can agree on the need and importance of advocating for the rights of under-represented populations such as children and minorities, prisoners’ rights remains a taboo topic. The issue is complicated and for that reason, many people avoid it or simply denounce the idea altogether. Caroline Hsu is not many people. An Equal Justice Works alumna from the class of 2009, Caroline spent her Fellowship working at the Legal Aid Society of New York (LASNY) to protect the rights of disabled prisoners.
  Caroline Hsu

Fill out your FASFA

Only federal loans are eligible for Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. They also come with important protections during repayment, like deferment and forbearance. Some more good news? Because of Grad PLUS, students can fund their entire graduate or professional school education without taking on private loans.
January 2012
  • Need tips for your public service summer job search? Register for the first free webinar of a two-part series hosted by Equal Justice Works and NALP. Second part is February 1.
  • Learn how to start a street law program at your school.
Equal Justice Works would like to thank Baker & McKenzie LLP for their sponsorship of our fellowship and support of the 25th Anniversary Gala.
1730 M Street, NW, STE 1010, Washington DC ++ 202.466.3686 ++ equaljusticeworks.org