ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 19, 2009

2009.11.19: Today 4:30 again for People’s Lawyer Lynne Stewart

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:44 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Today 4:30 again for People’s Lawyer Lynne Stewart

Yesterday, from the International Action Center:

THURS 4:30 again for People’s Lawyer Lynne Stewart!

Lynne has spent her entire career defending the poor and oppresses. She is 70 years old and has had recent bouts with breast cancer.

Come Support Lynne Stewart!!

Lynne Stewart called with this latest update:

She has just been notified by Judge Koeltl to surrender tomorrow, to begin serving her sentence.

She is to turn herself in at the Federal Court Building, the entrance is at Worth and Baxter.

This is the back side of the Federal court building at 500 Pearl St..- a block from Foley Square. Map with subway stops <http://maps.google.com/maps/mpl?f=d&dirflg=r&q=Grand+Central+Station,+NYC&daddr=Grand+Central+Station,+NYC&z=12&ie=UTF8&moduleurl=http://maps.google.com/help/maps/transit/nyc/mapplet.html&mapclient=google&ll=40.730478,-73.976612&spn=0.102635,0.171318&utm_campaign=en&utm_medium=ha&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-sk-trs&utm_term=subway%20map&gt;

On Tues and Wed as this shocking news of 2nd Circuit decision that Lynne’s bail be revoked and she be taken into custody many, many people came to Foley Square to stand with Lynne,

Lynne’s lawyers will try to appeal this surrender order tomorrow. But now this is the official order.

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November 18, 2009

2009.11.18: Today 4 p.m.: Foley Square for Lynne Stewart

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:03 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Today 4 p.m.: Foley Square for Lynne Stewart

From the International Action Center: Today at 4pm, the original trial judge in Lynne Stewart’s case will hear arguments from Lynne’s lawyers and the government as to whether she should be set to jail immediately, or whether she can remain at liberty pending an official mandate from the 2nd Circuit. We are asking everyone to gather today at 4pm in Foley Square to support Lynne Stewart.

Additional background:

Democracy Now: EXCLUSIVE: Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart Responds to Court Ruling Upholding Conviction and Ordering Her to Prison: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/18/exclusive_civil_rights_attorney_lynne_stewart

November 17, 2009

2009.11.17: Lynne Stewart update

From:  Fry, Julie
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 3:05 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Lynne Stewart update

PROTEST SCHEDULED FOR TODAY AT 4 PM AT JOHN PAYNE PARK, ACROSS THE STREET FROM 500 PEARL STREET!  Lynne is scheduled to appear in court at that time.

2009.11.17: RE: Extern Grievance

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 2:30 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

No, the problem is that once again:

1. The Executive Board violated ALAA’s bylaws, which state that, barring an emergency, decisions must be made by the Joint Council or the membership (see attached).

2. Union headquarters failed to report and seek membership input prior to any decision.

Whatever one’s opinion on the externs, that anti-democratic process is a recipe for disempowering the membership. As a result, leadership is not accountable to the members, and has no leverage with management.

_____________________________________________

From:  [S.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 2:11 PM
To: MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Here is our overall problem.  The negotiations after the fact were done – this was approved by the Executive Board and anyone from the Executive Board who was present at that meeting.  Many people were shocked to hear about this because they were not present at the meeting, despite being members of the Executive Board.  Membership was not made aware of this because their representatives on the Executive Board (myself included) – failed to share this information with their offices and groups.

This issue, for this year, has been dealt with.  Certain people may not like the results, but to essentially attempt a referendum on the E-boards vote and actions, in the guise of a “grievance” benefits no one.

_____________________________________________

From:  [T.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:59 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Would it matter to the rest of you if the remedy sought by the grievance called for making these externs INTERNS, instead of outright expulsion?  By far, the majority of the Brooklyn contingent would glady welcome these folk assisting us in dealing with our actual cases.  For all of us.  Demanding a remedy of removal is no different than the remedies we ordinarily argue for in court…we shoot for the moon, with the idea of negotiating something more realistic.  In fairness, union leadership asked for externs to be treated as interns and was shot down.  Of course, “asking” management to play nice may not always work.  Sometimes, we have to demand such relief because the opposing side wronged us in some material way.  Here, what management did (or didn’t do) cannot reasonably be seen as some innocent mistake.  Management has worked with the union in the civil dept for quite some time when it came to the issue of bringing in firm folk.  How could they not think the same ought to apply in CDD?  The implication is clear….they purposely avoided mentioning CDD externs because they knew of the potential fallout.

In any event, demanding that management include us in future hiring of CDD externs is not a sufficient remedy since we thereby implicitly concede the existence of EXTERNS (as opposed to INTERNS in CDD) going forward.  Later, we can no longer debate IF they should come, but (at best) how many? What borough? What division?  To that end, while management may have vowed to include us in such future discussions, it’s unclear  what parameters will be used to select externs in the future.  Does LAS (union and management) decide who joins us, or is the organization available to any associate who wishes to join us?  Do we (LAS) get to decide what division they are assigned to?   It sounds like the firms (and/or associates) made ALL decisions this last go around.  Perhaps, the fight of making them interns is completely untenable, but maybe we at least get to make the selection process more stringent than it was.  Finally, this is not the type of discussion that any of us are taking lightly, so it makes sense to me that it is at least discussed and voted up by a larger body such as the Joint Council.

All this ranting is making me thirsty.  If anyone asks, I’m in AP-7.

_____________________________________________

From:  [C.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:03 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Thank you, [E.].

Incidentally, [E.’s] discussion reflects the seriousness, thoughtfulness and intelligence with which ALAA leadership including delegates — and so many members, too — deal with the difficult issues of working at The Legal Aid Society.

_____________________________________________

From:  [E.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:59 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that management was wrong in failing to notify the Union about the externs and in failing to sit down with us in advance to negotiate the terms under which they would work at CDD. That was the unanimous sentiment of the Executive Board and that is why the EB voted to demand that management negotiate with our leaders. That negotiation has already taken place and resulted, among other things, in management acquiescing to Brooklyn CDD not getting any externs. But, if the point of this proposed grievance is to protest management’s failure to sit down in advance, then it is purely symbolic. The clock cannot be turned back and the only remedy would be for management to agree to participate in the very negotiation that has already taken place. So, this grievance must be about something else.

And that something else better be really important. Because it is readily apparent that this proposed grievance, regardless of its intent, is threatening to undermine union solidarity by opening a rift between our Civil Division colleagues and those in the Criminal Practice. Management had no choice (and frankly, neither did our Union), in allowing the externs to work at CDD. To have said no would have been to risk the good will of the major law firms whose financial contributions are the lifeblood of the Civil Division. Civil is already reeling from government funding cutbacks and the potential loss of a large pot of money that had been generated by IOLA. The last thing our Civil Division brothers and sisters need is for the major law firms to reduce their contributions to Legal Aid as a result of the controversy over the extern program.

So, what’s the great principle at stake here? Time and again, at the EB and in emails,  I have heard the charge that the extern program constitutes union-busting. Well, union-busting is certainly a bad thing. Those of us who were around for the 1994 strike experienced it first-hand when Giuliani threatened to blacklist us and have us all fired if we didn’t return to work immediately. And our union continues to suffer from the existence of the non-union alternate providers that Giuliani set up in the aftermath of the strike. Granted, not every instance of union-busting is as blatant as what Giuliani did. But, how do 8 temporary externs in a 435 lawyer office threaten to undermine our union or diminish its power? They certainly don’t change the balance of power with Legal Aid management. I have no doubt that management has already come to regret its failure to notify ALAA in advance about the externs. Nor is it remotely conceivable that the extern program could constitute a blueprint that management can use in the future to undermine our union. And, as far as I can tell, the externs do nothing to threaten our funding from the City. The City couldn’t care less about the externs. CAB has had a volunteer program in existence for the past quarter century, in which law firm volunteers handle individual criminal appeals. Not once has the City ever suggested that CAB funding could be cut because we were benefiting from free labor from the law firms. The argument that it could happen with CDD funding would be especially ludicrous in light of the case cap legislation, which will kick in in 2010 and likely result in the hiring of scores, possibly hundreds, of new attorneys.

I’m not suggesting that the extern program is wonderful. I am suggesting that it’s time to accept it and to move on. The proposed Brooklyn CDD grievance is at odds with the decision taken by the Executive Board and can only be approved of by the Joint Council, our Union’s highest governing authority. I certainly hope the JC votes tonight not to endorse the Brooklyn grievance. It’s time to recognize, on balance, the extern issue for the molehill that it is and to send our Brooklyn CDD colleagues off in search of other mountains.

_____________________________________________

From:  [B.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 7:32 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

I am a delegate in Brooklyn so I will speak for myself.  There was a majority vote in support of the grievance.  I am not personally opposed to the externs.

What is amazing to me is that this is even a debate.  This is clearly an issue that effects all of our jobs, and goes directly to our rights and abilities to negotiate with management over issues like this.  This is not about free help; its about management making serious staffing decisions without our input.

This is NOT about trying to hurt Civil, or destroy any relationship with the big firms that support LAS.  It’s not about any personal issues with externs.  Again, this is about how management makes decisions without our input.

I take issue with any attorney who thinks that we would be so petty.  Yes, we do not have externs in Brooklyn.  We made that choice, knowing it would be unpopular.  I personally voted for the grievance because I felt it was important to protect all of our rights and jobs.

Having different opinions in this union does make it stronger entity, but what will ultimately weaken us is this continued divisiveness over email.  I’m sorry if people just want us to move on and forget it about, but that is neither strategic nor smart when considering the long-term health and strength of our union.

(This message was approved by my officemate [G.]).

Sincerely,

_____________________________________________

From:  [S.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 5:35 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

So are you representing that over 1/2 of Brooklyn CDD supports this grievance?  There was a vote?  Did more than 1/2 of Brooklyn CDD say they didn’t wish to have externs working in Brooklyn?

_____________________________________________

From:  [M.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 5:32 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Wow, we think alike – I was thinking that Queens isnt filing the grievance, so I don’t see the us of your email.

_____________________________________________

From:  [A.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 1:58 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Brooklyn doesn’t even have any externs, so I do not see the use for this grievance.

_____________________________________________

From:  [S.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 1:58 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Just two quick questions – (1) is a grievance the appropriate remedy? (2)  Were externs even contemplated at the time we were certified in 1969?

_____________________________________________

From:  Fry, Julie
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 1:06 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Extern Grievance

The  members of Brooklyn CDD have voted to file a grievance regarding the hiring of the so-called “externs” to work as staff attorneys in the Criminal Defense Practice.  We would appreciate support form other boroughs and practices as well.  We have asked that this grievance be put on the agenda of tomorrow night’s JC meeting.  Below is the grievance we plan to file.  Please review it before tomorrow’s meeting.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Julie Fry, VP Brooklyn CDD

Danielle Feman, VP Brooklyn CDD

Dear Mr. Banks:

On behalf of the Society’s criminal defense attorneys in Brooklyn, we hereby grieve placement of non-employee attorneys (“externs”) in the Criminal Defense Practice.

As stated in the Certification of Representation issued by the New York State Labor Relations Board on December 30, 1969, the Staff Attorney bargaining unit includes all non-supervisory attorneys and law graduates working at the Society. ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement, § 1.1.1.

Terms and conditions of employment for Staff Attorneys, including various aspects of hiring, are governed by the CBA negotiated between The Legal Aid Society and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325. Nonetheless, without the union’s knowledge or agreement, management now accepted law firm “externs” to do beginning unit work in our division.

These externs were not chosen through the normal union-management selection process. They are paid by their law firms at a much higher rate than Staff Attorneys, and are otherwise not being treated according to ALAA’s CBA. They are not eligible to be union members or receive union representation.

Therefore, we seek immediate removal of all externs from the Society’s Criminal Defense Practice. Please let us know as soon as possible when we can meet with you to discuss these issues.

Sincerely,

Julie Fry, VP Brooklyn CDD

Danielle Feman, VP Brooklyn CDD

2009.11.17: RE: Extern Grievance

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 1:04 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Thank you, [D.]. This is just the latest in a seemingly endless series of union concessions (free speech, givebacks, etc.), yet again presented to members as a “done deal” and wrongly justified as “solidarity.”

_____________________________________________

From:  [D.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 11:45 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

So what everyone seems to be saying is as long as it generates money for civil, it’s okay to overlook the fact that we are a union shop.  Perhaps we should just vote to get rid of the union altogether.

Allowing non-union employees to carry case-loads weakens the union.  It’s not acceptable.  We can’t run a shop where some people are covered by union protection and others aren’t.

Furthermore, the contract does specify that staff participate with management in the selection of new-hires.  Given that the externs are case-handlers and function in all senses as if they were a new hire, and here at CDD, staff had no say in the selection of the externs; that alone should be grievable.  We have a stringent application and interview process here at CDP; the externs did not go through that process.

We’re slowly eroding rights that the union has fought hard to secure.  This is setting a bad precedent when it comes time to negotiate with management.

___________________________________________

From:  [J.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 4:59 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Actually, the negative implications would be two-fold.

First, as the civil division has been suffering attrition over the last year and a half in order to preserve existing position, there are growing holes in our ability to serve our communities.  Civil is employing something like 31 externs this year and it allows us to continue doing the work we normally do, but in the face of an extreme financial crisis where the need for civil attorneys to deal with unemployment, public assistance, evictions and foreclosures is at a record high.  Externs help us better represent our clients by assisting with client screening, legal research and writing, etc.

I couldn’t tell if Mr. [P.]  was making light of the fact that Civil depends on big firm money.

Second, in the civil division, we rely on funds from over 70 grants from sources like the city, state, and federal government.  We rely on private foundations and private donors, including the large firms in NYC.  In light of the fact that civil funding statewide is in peril because the IOLA funds have dried up because of reduced interest rates and fewer lawyer escrow transactions, we can’t afford to lose other important funding sources.  So, yes, maintaining good relationships with large firms is important to our continued work.  Legal Services of NYC, our sister organization receives LSC (federal civil legal services) funds and we do not.  Those funds restrict their ability to work with undocumented populations and to bring class action lawsuits.  Legal Aid can do what other civil legal services can’t because instead of LSC funds, we get law firm funds.  Additionally, unlike the specific grant money we get that often funds very specified work, law firm funds are unrestricted funds.  This means that less “glamorous” practices such as public benefits which would otherwise go unfunded  but are certainly essential to poor and low income New Yorkers still receive funding.

Perhaps in CDD, you aren’t reminded of how your job is funded, but in Civil it is ever-present in our minds.  Many of us have to fill out grant reporting paperwork daily.  We get updates from our management about how we can’t fill positions because of the downturn in our funding.  It would be nice just to focus on the purely legal aspects of our jobs and not fear that we will be laid off this July.

I understand management screwed up initially, but subsequently as a union the extern issue has been discussed, rationales explained, issues raised, and agreements negotiated.  Why does one borough office feel so effected when they have little to gain or lose since they do not have externs?

_____________________________________________

From:  [J.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 4:17 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Why?

_____________________________________________

From:  [A.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 4:13 PM
To: MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

I would think that the Big Firms which mostly fund the Civil Division, will tell Civil that they won’t fund them anymore..  That is what may happen..

_____________________________________________

From:  [J.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 4:09 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

[J.] – what do you mean by “profound negative implications?”

_____________________________________________

From:  [J.]
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 4:06 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Extern Grievance

Although, you seem to try and limit this to CDD, asking for the use of externs to be found in violation of the contract would have profound negative implications for the other two practices, Civil and JRP.  I don’t understand the purpose of this grievance since Brooklyn CDD participated in union-management negotiations regarding externs( as directed by the EB)  and specifically asked that no extern be placed in Brooklyn CDD.

_____________________________________________

From:  Fry, Julie
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 1:06 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Extern Grievance

The  members of Brooklyn CDD have voted to file a grievance regarding the hiring of the so-called “externs” to work as staff attorneys in the Criminal Defense Practice.  We would appreciate support form other boroughs and practices as well.  We have asked that this grievance be put on the agenda of tomorrow night’s JC meeting.  Below is the grievance we plan to file.  Please review it before tomorrow’s meeting.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Julie Fry, VP Brooklyn CDD

Danielle Feman, VP Brooklyn CDD

Dear Mr. Banks:

On behalf of the Society’s criminal defense attorneys in Brooklyn, we hereby grieve placement of non-employee attorneys (“externs”) in the Criminal Defense Practice.

As stated in the Certification of Representation issued by the New York State Labor Relations Board on December 30, 1969, the Staff Attorney bargaining unit includes all non-supervisory attorneys and law graduates working at the Society. ALAA Collective Bargaining Agreement, § 1.1.1.

Terms and conditions of employment for Staff Attorneys, including various aspects of hiring, are governed by the CBA negotiated between The Legal Aid Society and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325. Nonetheless, without the union’s knowledge or agreement, management now accepted law firm “externs” to do beginning unit work in our division.

These externs were not chosen through the normal union-management selection process. They are paid by their law firms at a much higher rate than Staff Attorneys, and are otherwise not being treated according to ALAA’s CBA. They are not eligible to be union members or receive union representation.

Therefore, we seek immediate removal of all externs from the Society’s Criminal Defense Practice. Please let us know as soon as possible when we can meet with you to discuss these issues.

Sincerely,

Julie Fry, VP Brooklyn CDD

Danielle Feman, VP Brooklyn CDD

2009.11.17: Councilman Convicted of Disorderly Conduct at Bench Trial

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 10:23 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Sean Bell Update: Councilman Barron Convicted of Disorderly Conduct at Bench Trial
ALAA members served as legal observers at the protest for which Councilmember Barron was convicted. (See attached.)

————–

http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=4&id=31943

Councilman Convicted of Disorderly Conduct at Bench Trial
by Samuel Newhouse (sam@brooklyneagle.net), published online 11-16-2009

Charles Barron Claims Sean Bell Protests Were Simply Free Speech

City Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York, Brownsville) talks on his cell phone outside the BTP1 courtroom in Brooklyn Criminal Caourt, as he awaits the summations phase of his disrderly conduct trial Monday. Judge Alexander Jeong found the outspoken councilman guilty of disorderly conduct for his actions during the Sean Bell protests in May 2008. He was sentenced to time-served.

November 5, 2009

2009.11.05: RE: Please Read [Externship]

From: Morris, Susan
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:37 AM
To: Wright, Deborah; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: RE: Please Read

Aside from substantive problems with the externship agreement (the fact that it is union-busting),

the process here is entirely undemocratic:

1. The membership hasn’t even seen this proposed agreement.

2. This should be decided by the JC, not the EB. See bylaws:

–Article V, § 1: The (J)C will be the highest authority in the union after the membership.

–Article VI, § 1: The EB will be empowered to represent the union between meetings of the union when urgent business requires prompt and decisive action.  (Emphasis mine.)

This is not “urgent” business … apparently it has been in “process” for many months, and only *after* an “agreement” was reached (the externs are already here!) was it even brought out to the EB/ALAA.

The memo from Steve Banks is CONFIRMING the agreement!


From: Wright, Deborah
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 1:47 PM
Subject: Please Read

As you can see below, I have forwarded the final draft agreement between LAS and ALAA regarding the extern

and rotator programs in CDD.  Earlier this week, management conceded to the last demands of the CDD VPs.

This issue will be placed on the [Susan Morris] (EB)]  agenda for discussion and vote.


From: Banks, Steve
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 8:33 PM
To: Wright, Deborah; Albro, George
Cc: James, Seymour
Subject: Externs

As a follow up to our prior discussions and our meeting with the Bronx Criminal Defense staff on October 16, this is to confirm the following:

In the Criminal Defense Practice, law firm externs are not replacing existing staff attorney positions.  For the current fiscal year, we are staffing up to the 435 level for staff attorneys that is authorized in our City contract, taking into account attorneys who are on leave or going on leave and are returning to staff during the fiscal year.  In order to do so, we have hired a new class of 15 staff attorneys who will be allocated among the four Criminal Defense offices irrespective of the number of externs deployed in these offices.  Beginning next Fall, we anticipate increasing substantially the number of Criminal Defense staff attorneys as part of the State case cap law implementation process.  The law firm deferral programs that have resulted in this externship program in the Criminal Defense area are, in part, time-limited responses to major changes that are occurring in the law firms which provide annual support to the Civil Practice.  This law firm support is the lifeblood of the Civil Practice, particularly in light of the projected dramatic drop in Civil IOLA funding beginning in 2010.  The Society’s current comprehensive extern program in all three practice areas is an important component of the Society’s relationship with these firms and is consistent with the Society’s long-standing externship programs with law firms.

In order to appropriately operate the externship program in the Criminal Defense area, the following are key elements of the program: Because of the need to manage the implementation of expanded Criminal Defense staffing as part of the case cap process, we do not anticipate expanding the number of externs in the current program in the Criminal Defense offices.  The current program involves eight full-time externs participating in 12-month externships.  We will seek ALAA’s input before expanding this program, at which point we understand that ALAA is reserving any rights it has with respect to this program.  We will also include staff attorneys in the selection process for 12-month Criminal Defense externs.  Each of the eight current externs have had at least some level of relevant advocacy experience as law students and affirmatively chose to work in the Criminal Practice over other Society Practice areas.  While our preference is to allocate two externs to each of the four Criminal Defense offices, based on the input that we have received, we are allocating three externs to the Queens office, three to the Manhattan office, and two to the Bronx office.  Although these externs are not employees of the Society, they will be subject to all of the Society’s policies, such as the rules with respect to new attorney training, professional conduct, time off, and shift assignments.  They have been advised of the Society’s policies at an orientation session.  They will not be on the ALAA e-mail group and those who have been added erroneously have been removed.  The caseloads of the externs will be monitored closely and each case in which they are involved will be recorded in our case management system as assigned to the extern and a supervising attorney, which will require some reprogramming.  These externs will cease to be assigned new cases in June in order to provide a substantial period to work down their caseload before their externships conclude in October.  If necessary to accomplish this aim in individual cases, new case assignments may cease earlier.  During the balance of the Summer and the early Fall, the externs will also be available to cover arraignment assignments for permanent staff.  Any cases that cannot be resolved at the end of these 12-month externships will be handled by supervisors or staff attorneys depending on the nature of the cases, all of which will be misdemeanors.  The externs may seek permanent staff attorney positions through the normal hiring process for positions that will be available at the conclusion of their 12-month externships; if they seek permanent employment at the Legal Aid Society, there will be no special hiring process for the externs other than the normal hiring process.

In addition to 12-month externships, the Society has also operated externship programs involving law firm associates who spend varying amounts of time in rotations in offices.  In the Criminal Defense area, the Society has just expanded a well-publicized program that has operated for a year in Manhattan to the Bronx.  For the new Bronx program, the Society has reopened the process for selecting mentors to make sure that all staff attorneys interested in being mentors have an opportunity to be considered by the office managers who select the mentors.  As in the Manhattan rotational program, in the Bronx program the law firm associates receive prior training and are assigned to mentors.  These rotating externs will work on the mentor’s caseload and handle cases only with the mentor’s oversight.  Any cases on which externs work will remain assigned to the mentor although for reporting purposes the rotating extern’s name will also be listed in the case management system.  When these rotating externships conclude, the mentors will continue to work on the cases.  As with all rotating extern programs that the Society has operated over the years with the law firms which support the Civil Practice, the Society has no role in selecting law firm associates to be rotating externs but the Society reserves the right to terminate any rotating externship placement based on performance.  Because of the need to manage the implementation of expanded Criminal Defense staffing as part of the case cap process, we do not anticipate expanding beyond these two current rotational programs in the Manhattan and Bronx Criminal Defense offices.  We will seek ALAA’s input before expanding this program to other Criminal Defense trial offices, at which point we understand that ALAA is reserving any rights it has with respect to this program.

Finally, as we have said previously in the Law Journal, while we greatly appreciate the contributions that externs have made to the Society over the years, externship programs are no substitute for permanent staff even in difficult economic times.  Our successful efforts to establish case caps for the Juvenile Rights Practice and now for Criminal Defense and our current efforts to secure a bailout of the IOLA Fund to maintain the crucial legal assistance which Civil staff provides are all aimed at obtaining sufficient resources to have a permanent staff with proper caseloads.  The Society has no plans to institutionalize one-year rotations of externs in our offices before law firm associates begin work at their firms.  In fact, we have spoken against such a broad-based program which would not provide the experienced and stable staffing that our clients need.

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