OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Introducing the California Pro Bono Training Institute

OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County launch statewide pro bono training website.

Image: Legal services organization staff person leading a training at a Justice Bus clinic last year.

Legal services organization staff person leading a training at a Justice Bus clinic last year.

Training is one of the first steps a pro bono attorney takes to deliver justice to those who need it. Many pro bono attorneys have vast knowledge in their own particular area of law, but may not have the most experience defending their client against an unlawful detainer or working with an interpreter. Training – particularly by legal services organizations – helps grow the pro bono attorney’s knowledge so they can guide their client to a just outcome.

Trainings are being held all over the state by legal services staff, who juggle already jam-packed schedules. Due to limited staff and limited time, many of these trainings can only prepare volunteer attorneys for a single clinic, but doesn’t necessarily provide them with skills for the rest of their career. To meet this need and assist overextended legal service organizations, OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County came together to create the Pro Bono Training Institute (PBTI) in 2015, thanks to the Legal Services Corporation’s Pro Bono Innovation Grant. The three organizations are working to bring together California’s nonprofit and private legal sectors to develop online trainings with the goal of standardizing training production throughout the state.

What is the Pro Bono Training Institute? 

Image: Patrick Fodell, Training Institute Coordinator, working on a webinar for the Pro Bono Training Institute.

Patrick Fodell, Training Institute Coordinator, working on a webinar for the Pro Bono Training Institute.

The Pro Bono Training Institute’s goal is to produce universal, interactive, and on-demand trainings that will be available to any pro bono attorney, law student, or advocate who would like to volunteer at a legal aid organization. What’s unique about PBTI is that it’s making these trainings more time efficient and interactive. We went ahead and cut up a large bulky training into bite size training modules that can be absorbed during a potential volunteer’s lunch, commute home, or even during a meeting (we won’t tell!). Our built-in quizzes and interactive activities help engage the learner, so he or she absorbs and retains more information during each training module. By allowing the attorney to view these trainings at their leisure and making each one interactive, PBTI hopes to increase the number of trained pro bono attorneys ready to assist those who need justice throughout California.

Finally, the most innovative aspect of PBTI is that each training will be universal. Using the expertise of trainers throughout the state, we will be able to solidify the basic learning objectives on large training topics such as asylum, expungement, and housing matters. We hope that in the future an attorney in Los Angeles can view a training on expungements during the week and be ready to volunteer at a legal clinic in Fresno that weekend. With your help, we can give a new justice-filled meaning to the term “Weekend Warrior.”

How to Get Involved?

We would love your knowledge on substantive legal information. Let us know if you want to create a training with PBTI on a topic that helps your organization train your volunteers! We’ve reached out to many of you in 2015, but our goal is to reach out to more of you in 2016.

Interested in hearing about the Training Institute? Like our Facebook and LinkedIn pages to keep updated with all of our upcoming trainings, news, and ways to get involved, as well as how to use PBTI to volunteer at a local legal aid organization!

Namaste, Justice Bus riders!

OneJustice welcomes Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and yoga teacher, to the team!

Before our Justice Bus Project ramps up to full speed this spring, we asked Elinor to tell us more about herself and the work that she will be doing at OneJustice’s Los Angeles office!

Please join us in welcoming Elinor!


Photo: Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Elinor, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us! Tell us, what drew you to the work of OneJustice?

OneJustice provides a unique perspective in the nonprofit world and has been instrumental in bridging the justice gap between legal services providers and people in isolated, rural communities. It’s an organization that responds to its diverse partners with down-to-earth, yet innovative solutions to create an educated and empowered community of lawyers, law students, and community partners. I believe this holistic approach leads to more engaged service providers and helps build trust with our clients. I’m a passionate public servant, and it’s an incredible opportunity to be working with such inspiring people!

We couldn’t agree more! What is your focus at the organization, and what do you hope to achieve during your Fellowship?

While serving as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, my primary focus will be on the Justice Bus Project in Southern California. Through this project, I will be able to connect legal experts to clients with unmet legal needs in isolated, rural areas. By drawing on the breadth of institutional knowledge at OneJustice, my experience working with veterans and other underserved populations, and the commitment of SoCal’s pro bono attorneys and law students, I hope to grow our program by focusing on relationship and community building throughout the region.

We look forward to seeing the project grow! What did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I served as an advocate for veterans in veteran treatment courts which helped me narrow my focus in on providing services for low-income or otherwise isolated clients. I also have experience on the policy side working on voter outreach and women’s rights issues. As a native of the Southwest, immigration and trafficking issues intersected with almost every case I worked on and showed me how limited comprehensive legal assistance actually is. I am so excited to be a part of OneJustice and the Justice Bus team!

We’re excited to have you on the team! One more question: what is something quirky about you?

I am a yoga teacher and will probably annoy you about yoga within five minutes of meeting you. It changed my entire world after a serious injury, and I think everyone can benefit from a little time on the mat! Namast-yay!

Thank you so much, Elinor – and a very warm welcome to the OneJustice team!

Everybody can be great because everybody can serve

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the OneJustice network paid homage to him by bringing justice to rural communities that need it most.

Photo: Poverty Density in California

Poverty Density in California

California currently has the largest poverty population in the country. In the state alone, between 8 to 12 million low-income residents are eligible for free civil legal aid, and most of them live in rural communities.

To meet this great need, OneJustice is joining forces with community partners and organizations around the state by participating in the White House Rural Council‘s Rural Impact initiative, a national effort to enlist volunteers and organizations to strengthen and build thriving rural communities. To do this, our Justice Bus and Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative projects are mobilizing more urban attorneys and law students to provide free legal services in these communities.

Photo: Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. volunteer attorneys aboard the Justice Bus to Modesto, California.

Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. volunteer attorneys aboard the Justice Bus to Modesto, California.

In fact, today, volunteer attorneys from Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. are traveling on the Justice Bus to Modesto to provide free immigration assistance to those who need it.

We continue to be amazed by the commitment of our wonderful volunteers and community partners in the effort to expand access to justice.

Stay tuned as our network works together to #ServeRural!

Justice Bus Rider Spotlight: Kyuli Oh

Electronic Arts Inc.’s Associate General Counsel tells us about her experience aboard the Justice Bus.

Before we start, we just want to thank all our volunteers from Electronic Arts Inc. and Covington & Burling LLP for bringing life-changing legal assistance to 18 clients in Modesto this past November! Because of their hard work, these clients are more informed about their immigration options and many are ready to submit their applications! Volunteers like these really make all the difference for Californians in need.

Now, please welcome this month’s featured Justice Bus Rider, Kyuli Oh!


Photo: Kyuli Oh, Associate General Counsel at Electronic Arts Inc.

Kyuli Oh, Associate General Counsel at Electronic Arts Inc.

Welcome, Kyuli! Tell us about yourself. What type of law do you practice and why are immigration issues like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) important to you?

I’m the Associate General Counsel at Electronic Arts Inc. with responsibility over all corporate matters, including securities, M&A, and corporate governance. I’ve got 2 young boys (ages 5 and 2), who keep me busy. I came to the US when I was 4 years old and became a naturalized citizen, so I identify with the immigrants that we help on the Justice Bus.  I was lucky to have had legal status and to become a naturalized citizen.

Thank you so much for giving us a sneak peek into your life! Why does pro bono matter to you and what motivates you to do pro bono work?

Living and working in Silicon Valley, there’s so much wealth around you. It’s easy to lose perspective. Doing pro bono work helps me realize that my problems do not compare to those truly struggling – people worried about deportation, unemployment, having enough money to pay rent and buy groceries.

Photo: Kyuli and EA and Fenwick & West LLP attorneys at the Justice Bus clinic in Greenfield, CA.

Kyuli and EA and Fenwick & West LLP attorneys at the Justice Bus clinic in Greenfield, CA.

We couldn’t agree more! Pro bono really makes the difference for low-income individuals everyday. Why do you participate in the Justice Bus model of pro bono?

They make it so easy for you – you get on the bus; they provide breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner; they train you; they provide expert advisors to answer all your questions and review your work; and it’s a one-day commitment. There are no excuses not to do this!

We’re happy to hear the process was so easy for you! During your time at the Justice Bus Clinic, which client story resonated with you the most?

My first client was a berry picker in the Salinas Valley. I helped him with his naturalization application and his fee waiver request since the $680 fee was a true hardship for him and his family. He had 2 young kids, who were close in age to my 2 boys. I remember speaking to him about his income and his assets and I was stunned. It was really humbling to think about how hard it must be for his family to live at that level and why it was so important that we helped him that day.

It’s amazing how being a parent can be the shared common experience among people of different backgrounds! Final question, who is your favorite social justice hero and why?

Oprah – my mom learned English watching the Oprah show. Oprah was the first African American person she “knew”. Later in her life, my mom branched out of her Korean community and became involved in a racially diverse church and became very close friends with an African American woman from church.  I think Oprah had that impact on so many women and I think that opened the door for more acceptance.


Thank you for joining us, Kyuli! This work is possible thanks to volunteers, like you!

Great news for 2016 – all because of you

Thank you for bringing hope, help, and justice to those in need.

Once again, you did something simply amazing.

And you did it for people whom you will probably never meet.  That is truly remarkable.  Thank you.

You see, your continued support for OneJustice will bring life-changing legal help to people in need.  Veterans who are struggling – right now – to access medical care and employment. Women who are – at this very moment – experiencing horrific abuse.   Teenagers who – as you read this – are living in fear of deportation because they cannot apply for the federal immigration relief they deserve.

Thousands of Californians are suffering – right now – from solvable legal problems.

And because of you – help is on the way.

Veterans will get jobs and medical treatment. Women will escape abusive relationships.  Young adults will get immigration relief, driver’s licenses, and jobs.

You will transform their lives in 2016.  So, here at OneJustice, we think you are pretty amazing.

I am so inspired and moved by your steadfast support that I made a short video to try to express how very grateful I am – we all are – for your generous support.  I hope it conveys how much your donation means to me, to the OneJustice Board and staff, and most of all, to the people whose suffering will end this year – because of you.

Thank you.  Thank you for bringing hope, help, and justice to those in need.

Yours,

Julia

2016 Thank You Video from OneJustice on Vimeo.

 

Time is running out…

The OneJustice Board will match all donations made before midnight, dollar for dollar! 

Your gift will mean twice as much. $25 becomes $50, $50 turns into $100, and $250 means $500. Please join us in bringing justice where it’s needed most. Every gift, of any size, makes all the difference for those in need. Thank you!New Year's Eve Last minute Appeal Image 2

Seasons greetings and…

Image: Happy Holidays from OneJustice

Wishing you a joyful holiday season and a happy New Year!

Thank you for being a part of the OneJustice family and for caring deeply about access to justice for everyone, regardless of income or geography.

You make OneJustice’s work possible…and we could not be more grateful!

During this season of gratitude, we thank you for bringing life-changing legal help to those in need. Thank you for bringing justice where it’s needed most.

Sending you warm wishes,

the OneJustice staff, Board, and Advisory Board

 

Leadership is like a box of chocolates

You have to hack into them with a knife to avoid the marshmallow crème

And things can get a little messy

Photo: Box of Chocolates

Photo credit: imgkid.com

So, I recently returned from a three-month sabbatical.  Fair warning – I’d like to take the next 1,000 words to tell you why I am now a full-time sabbatical evangelist.

But first, I want you to know that my first 10 drafts of this post were sprinkled liberally with photos of my sabbatical tour of European soccer stadiums.  It was like an aggressive slide show on “My Amazing Vacation.” My staff objected, and after just 9 rounds of edits I gave in. See, I really can share leadership!  I hope you enjoy my 3 boastful photos and feel appropriately envious.  Thank you!

Why a sabbatical?

OneJustice had doubled in size over the last 8 years and was ready to grow yet again.  But our leadership structure was stuck.  We were locked in a traditional model of the solo executive director overly involved in every aspect of the organization.  And while I loved being part of the organization’s accelerated growth, it had also taken a personal toll.

At exactly the moment that OneJustice was preparing to take the next leap forward, armed with a new strategic vision, I was flagging – badly.  I didn’t want to leave, but I was feeling tapped out.  The Board and I decided we had to do something outside the box to meet both my need for rejuvenation and the organization’s need to scale.

Photo: Loyal Tottenham Hotspurs fan at White Hart Lane (North London) #COYS

Loyal Tottenham Hotspurs fan at White Hart Lane (North London) #COYS

How did we do it?

First, we won the nonprofit lottery.  I know, you didn’t know such a thing existed, right?  Well, it does.  It’s called the O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award.  And it is truly a remarkable gift.  The program provides funding for 3-month sabbaticals for Bay Area executive directors, plus a stipend for the leaders who provide sabbatical coverage, a professional development fund, and an organizational coach before, during, and after the sabbatical.  If that’s not the lottery, then I don’t know what is.

Second, we prepared.  We promoted three talented folks into newly created Director positions: Arbour Decker, Kim Irish, and Mike Winn. This new Leadership Team then worked with an insightful organizational coach from CompassPoint.

We ripped apart my job description and externalized every aspect of the position.  We conducted trainings, wrote memos, created detailed plans, and had lots and lots of meetings.  We formed a group meditation practice and walked across hot coals together.  Actually, we didn’t do that last part.  But now I wish we had, because it makes a better story.  Darn.  Next time.

After more than 7 months of planning and preparation, we were ready.  Or, at least, we were so sick of talking about sabbatical that we just wanted it to be under way already.  Which was close enough.

We also realized that you can’t prepare for everything.  There will always be some unexpected situation or decision that needs to be made.  You can write 25 memos about what to do if you grab the marshmallow crème, but when you end up with the rum raisin by accident, you just have to decide whether to chew or spit it out.  Both decisions are valid – and it’s up to that particular leader to make his or her own call.

How we know it worked.

On a personal level, the time away was incredibly restorative.  I traveled, spent time with my family, played a lot of soccer, and engaged in some great self-care.  And yes, even a little yoga took place.  By the end of the three months, I was itching to get back to work.  Now, instead of feeling burned out, I am fired up to explore new ways to bring life-changing legal help to those in need.

Photo: In the stands at Anfield (home of Liverpool Football Club)

In the stands at Anfield (home of Liverpool Football Club)

And the organization thrived in my absence. The Leadership Team successfully undertook programmatic expansion, revenue generation, and deepened their direct relationships with the Board. They also managed some unexpected challenges with poise and strategic responses. In fact, the entire staff didn’t just maintain the organization — they all excelled.

There were also significant benefits for the members of our Leadership Team.  Kim, Mike and Arbour have all shared with me the different moments when they realized that their job during sabbatical was not to figure out what I would have done in a given situation.  Instead, their job was simply to lead the organization – in their own way.  That’s pretty powerful stuff.

It’s a messy process.

Our challenge now is to take all the initiative and ownership that grew in my absence and institutionalize it through shared leadership.  We’re overhauling our decision-making structures, mapping power and authority in the organization, and setting up systems for mutual accountability.

We now know that creating our new leadership structure will be an ongoing process.  In fact, it’s pretty messy at times, and it will surely take us a while to figure out.  But already, when we hit the right chord together, it’s totally satisfying – like dark chocolate with almonds.  There is so much promise in the work, that living through the messiness is clearly worth it – for me, the Leadership Team, and the entire organization.

Above all, a new sense of gratitude.

I found that as I slowed down enough to take in my whole life, just like the Grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes.  From the first day of the sabbatical and through this very minute, I have been simply overwhelmed by waves of intense gratitude.

Photo: End of the soccer pilgrimage: selfie at Camp Nou in Barcelona.

End of the soccer pilgrimage: selfie at Camp Nou in Barcelona.

I’m tremendously appreciative for the support of OneJustice Board, Advisory Board, and Strategy Council.  I’m thrilled to watch Kim, Arbour and Mike’s innovative leadership. I’m deeply moved by how brilliantly and diligently our staff work.  I treasure every moment I have with my family and friends, the relationships that sustain me.

I’ve realized that my life is not like any old box of chocolates.  No way!  My life is that ginormous box of See’s candies that arrives – unexpectedly – as a gift from your office landlord.  Just when you are trying to fix the copier for that last round of fundraising letters that are going out late.  (Not that I’m saying that has ever happened at OneJustice.)

And then you rip open the box and grab a chocolate, and lo-and-behold, it’s the perfect one.  Your favorite.  The one that makes you close your eyes, savor the experience, and smile.  That’s how my life feels now.  That exact blissed-out moment.  That is what O2 Initiatives made possible.  So yep, I’m pretty darn grateful.

In this lovely holiday season, I wish you all so much chocolate that you have to loosen your pants and lay down on the floor – and many, many moments of bliss and gratitude in the coming new year.

Yours,

Julia

Photo: Julia R. Wilson


Julia R. Wilson has served as OneJustice’s CEO for the last 8 years.  When not working to transform the civil legal aid sector (or saving the OneJustice copier from paper jams), she is most likely watching, playing, coaching, or refereeing a soccer game.  If you are interested in diving deeper into the benefits of nonprofit sabbaticals, she encourages you to read “Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector,” by Deborah Linnell and Tim Wolfred.

I bet you know a kid like him…

We had the pleasure of meeting Alex at a recent mobile legal clinic in a small rural town.

Photo: Alex and his kid sister at a Justice Bus clinic this year.He’s a high school senior, his favorite class is political science, and he also plays on his school’s basketball team. Probably sounds like a lot of the kids you know, right?

Except Alex lives in fear, every day.


P.S. We’re excited to let you know that all gifts before New Year’s Eve will be DOUBLED. The OneJustice Board of Directors will match all donations dollar for dollar. $25 becomes $50, $50 turns into $100, and $250 means $500. You can double your gift by donating today!

When’s the last time you Googled “Pro Bono”?

Google attorneys tell us why pro bono matters!

Last month, attorneys from Google Inc. headed to Stockton to provide free legal assistance on Criminal Record Expungements with our community partner, Dignity’s Alcove, Inc on the Justice Bus. At this clinic, we asked some of them to share with you all why pro bono is so important.

A big thank you to our incredible volunteers for making all the difference for 15 clients. Please join us in welcoming these wonderful volunteers!


2015 Google Attorneys

Thank you all for taking the time to talk with us! We’re honored by the outstanding commitment of volunteers, like you!

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