Briefs

 

PRO BONO GRANT FOR OREGON LAW CENTER
The Oregon Law Center is a recipient of one of six mini-grants aimed at rural legal services groups as part of an initiative to improve delivery of pro bono legal services to impoverished rural Americans. The award is sponsored by the ABA Center for Pro Bono.

Oregon Law Center will use the grant money to hold community summits to enhance existing pro bono programs, strategize about new pro bono delivery models and build a cooperative network of community and legal services providers within the rural areas. The summits will include sole practitioners, law firms, judges, judicial representatives, bar representatives and other community providers such as shelters and domestic violence programs.


FIND UNCLAIMED IRS REFUNDS
The IRS list of unclaimed rebate and traditional income tax refund checks is available at www.tax.org; the list includes the taxpayer's name, city and zip code. More than 390,000 taxpayers have not received their checks, which were returned as 'undeliverable' because taxpayers had moved, married or changed their names. The average refund that could not be delivered is $927.

If taxpayers think they are missing a check, they can call IRS roll-free assistance to find out how to proceed: (800) 829-1040.


RECRUITMENT DURING ECONOMIC DOWNTURNS
The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education has published Managing Law Firm Recruitment & Retention in a Downturn, to provide an objective resource that explores options available to law firms as they manage personnel. The 70-page white paper posits that during a market downturn, it is critically important to approach decisions from the perspective that human resources are assets. Among the topics included:

  • Effective communication during an economic crisis can preempt rumor mills and alleviate angst, contributing to better morale and firm loyalty.
  • Reducing the headcount in law firms is rarely achieved easily, but there are practices that can make the process less brutal, e.g., reliance on natural attrition, hiring freezes and voluntary time-off programs.
  • When a workforce reduction or layoff is contemplated, establishing an oversight committee comprised of trustworthy individuals who can engender confidence in management's leadership and decisions may offer significant benefits.
  • A firm that reduces its workforce will need to overcome negative reviews it may receive from three distinct audiences that are key in recruiting: students, lateral associates and search consultants. (As the economy revives they will affect the firm's ability to access a high-quality talent pool as needed.)
  • Downsizing represents a shift in the direction and culture of an organization. Strong leadership is needed to safeguard the sense of comfort and level of trust and confidence employees have in their future with the firm.

For more information or to order a copy of the full report, visit www.nalp.org online, or call (202) 835-1001. The price is $125 for the general public, $85 for NALP members.


EDUCATING THE PUBLIC
There are many opportunities available to lawyers for participating in public legal education, according to a new guide put out by the ABA Division for Public Education.

The 16-page guide, 'Educating the Public About the Law: Guide for Individual Lawyers,' encourages attorneys to take a proactive role to improve public understanding of the justice system and to sustain the public's confidence in the system. It contains practical advice on communicating with public audiences, highlights programs that depend on the contributions of volunteer lawyers and more. Printed versions are available for $2.50 by calling (800) 285-2221 and asking for product code #235-0204, or download one for free at www.abanet.org/publiced/volunteer.

ORDER ECONOMIC SURVEY FOR
FEE PETITIONS

The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon has announced a new framework for assessing attorney fee petitions. The court's announcement can be found at http://ord.uscourts.gov/
attorney_fee_statement.pdf
. Note that the court will be using the OSB Economic Survey (1998) as its initial benchmark of reasonable hourly rates - and that the reasonableness of fee petitions will be scrutinized even if there is no challenge to the hours or the rates by opposing counsel.

Copies of the survey are available for $6 from the OSB Order Desk, (503) 620-0222, ext. 413. OSB members can also view a copy of the survey on the memberlinks portion of the bar's website at www.osbar.org.


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