A Hot July for Civil Legal Aid

July 31, 2015 - 2:36 pm
by Elizabeth Arledge

July was a blockbuster month for civil legal aid in the media, thanks in large measure to your willingness – from staff attorneys to a cabinet level secretary – to raise your voices on behalf of civil legal aid. Legal aid was featured in national news stories, a popular NPR show, first-person posts and the TalkPoverty Radio. This roundup, with links, tells how the JusticeVoices network made it happen.

July was an especially visible month for civil legal aid in the media, thanks in large measure to your willingness – from staff attorneys to a cabinet level secretary – to raise your voices on behalf of civil legal aid. Here is our roundup:

A Slack Lifeline for Drowning Homeowners – 7/31/15 – New York Times – Business Day column by Assistant Business and Financial Editor Gretchen Morgenson.
Morgenson turned to Voices for examples of homeowners who had been wrongfully turned down for HAMP assistance. In spite of a very short  (less than 24 hours) turnaround time, the JusticeVoices network responded with a number of excellent stories for us to share. Morgenson chose to quote civil legal aid attorneys in New York and Vermont, and featured the story of a woman who was helped by Vermont Legal Aid.

How to Save Families from Losing Everything – 7/27/15 – CNN – Op-ed by U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Voices Executive Director Martha Bergmark.
Building on Secretary Perez’s rousing keynote speech last fall at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s annual gala, Voices worked with Secretary Perez and his staff to develop this piece. After considering several options for pitching, we settled on CNN, which is ranked in the top five online news sites.

Related: Alone in Court: How Access to Legal Aid is Tied to Mobility  – 7/28/15 – WNYC – Interview with Martha Bergmark on The Brian Lehrer Show (19 minutes).
This was a direct result of the CNN op ed.

The Push and Pull Towards an Inclusive Nation – 7/27/15 – TalkPoverty – by Atlanta Legal Aid Society attorney Talley Wells.
Talley developed the piece, and Voices worked with TalkPoverty to get it placed as the first in a special weeklong series on disability and poverty. TalkPoverty promoted it to Moyers & Company, which posted it both to its website and to Facebook (where it received more than 2,200 likes, more than 600 shares, and  more than 40 comments).

Related: Disability & Poverty: Breaking the Link – 7/30/15 – TalkPoverty Radio – Interview with Talley Wells, Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Voices pitched TalkPoverty Radio to include Talley in its show focused on disability and poverty. His 20-minute segment is first. The podcast is available to stream or download.

Kids Should be Focused on Homework, Not Working to Find a Home – 7/22/15 – TalkPoverty – by Katara Jordan, Columbia Legal Services.
Voices invited Katara to write a post for TalkPoverty after we became aware of Columbia Legal Services’ work with homeless children. It’s a strong piece on an under-reported topic.

Why Is It So Hard for Corinthian Students to Get Their Promised Debt Relief? – 7/15/15 – The Nation – by Michelle Chen.
Empire Justice Center responded to a JusticeVoices network ask regarding an ongoing issue in which we thought legal aid may be involved, yet missing from the news coverage. They identified a newsworthy angle that was not being covered, and we were able to interest a reporter.

Last, but not least, the Voices team made its live video debut. Attracting Media Coverage: Pitching, Messaging, & Storytelling was July’s “Google+ Hangout,” part of a monthly series produced by the Shriver Center. We gathered around a computer camera while excellent host Amanda Moore interviewed us. We answered several very good questions from the audience. We promoted the JusticeVoices network. (Are you a member yet?) We had a blast. You can watch us on the Shriver Center Clearinghouse Community website, or you can access the video directly on YouTube.

If any of this inspires you to write about a civil legal aid issue that’s on your mind, please let us know. We are eager to work with you.

Geographic coverage: Georgia, NATIONAL, New York, Vermont, Washington
Tags: Consumer Protection, Housing, Housing: Foreclosure