This October, the Practising Law Institute (PLI) is hosting trainings on a variety of subjects that will be especially helpful for pro bono and legal services attorneys. These programs are an essential element of PLI’s commitment to providing attorneys with the skills and training to feel confident taking on pro bono cases (and to win them!). These events will be held in PLI’s San Francisco Center; unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to wrangle a flight out to San Francisco so I’ll have to watch via the live webcasts available on

Before delving into the program details, we want to highlight two other ways PLI supports legal services attorneys and the larger access to justice movement. PLI’s Pro Bono Privileged Membership program provides approved non-profits with “an all access pass to attend ANY PLI seminar” for free without having to submit scholarship applications. The Privileged Membership is an easy, convenient, and free way for non-profits to stay-up-to-date on crucial legal issues. Interested organizations can apply by contacting PLI’s Pro Bono Membership Services.

If your organization does not qualify for a Membership, make sure to take advantage of PLI’s generous scholarship program for nonprofit and public interest attorneys, law clerks, professors, low-income, and unemployed attorneys. Applying only takes a few minutes and the scholarships grant you full access to both in-person trainings and webcasts.

We would also like to thank PLI for championing the need for pro bono as one of Pro Bono Net’s Bronze Sponsors since 2011. In addition to sponsoring us, we thank them for generously inviting us to some fantastic events over the past few years.

And now on to the programs:

October 2nd: Representing the Pro Bono Client: Advocacy Skills for Administrative Hearings 2014

The need for pro bono assistance with administrative hearings has never been higher. The trend of employers increasingly challenging all Unemployment Benefits claims combined with the explosion of Unemployment Insurance claims during the recession and court system and legal services budget cuts have created a “perfect storm” for public assistance recipients. As a result, families face the very real possibility of hunger, homelessness, and overall family instability.

This free training is designed to help mitigate the crisis by providing attorneys with a basic understanding of common issues and strategies in providing assistance with administrative appeals. The program will focus on California law, but will also cover many topics such as due process and other rights that apply nationwide; therefore advocates from other forums would benefit from the information and attending the program. Register with PLI to attend online or in person.

October 8th: California Special Education Law 2014 

Close to 700,000 California students (10% of the state’s total public school enrollment) with disabilities receive special education services. The California Special Education Law 2014 program will provide attendees with a targeted look at a number of hot topics and cutting edge issues affecting the practice of special education law:

  • Transition Planning: Trends and Strategies for Students with Individual Education Plans
  • Understanding School Discipline for Special Education Students
  • How to Leverage the IDEA to Assist Children with Disabilities and their Families in Obtaining Child Care, Early Education, and After-School Care Opportunities
  • How to Effectively Get Services for OHI Children Under IDEA and Section 504

The free program is appropriate for both new and veteran practitioners, both as a live classroom training and via PLI’s webcast platform.

October 20th: California Trial Evidence 2014 

Mastering the complexities of California evidence often can be the difference between winning and losing at trial. Recent case law and statutory developments in the law of evidence render this mastery critical in modern litigation and trials. This program is designed to give you the most up-to-date information on California evidence standards including admissibility of electronic evidence, demonstratives, expert witnesses, and more!

All civil and criminal trial attorneys who want to hone their evidence skills and stay on top of recent developments in the field should attend. The program will be especially valuable for newer attorneys trying their first few trials as well as for experienced courtroom advocates who will stay abreast of recent developments. Registration and more information is available at PLI.