OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

December’s contest: a guessing game

What makes a legal services desert?

Can you guess the number of poor people per attorney in Merced County?

At OneJustice, we’ve been noodling around on the idea of a legal services desert.

San Bernardino Desert

San Bernardino is both a geographic and legal services desert.

Drawing on the concept of “food deserts” in the anti-hunger movement, we’ve been working to develop a set of factors that can identify (and describe) legal services deserts — communities that face particularly difficult barriers to accessing legal services and justice.

What might those factors be?  Well, we’d love your ideas!  And we think that it the rubric should probably include criteria like:

  • total number of people in poverty
  • density of poverty (the percentage of the community living in poverty)
  • total number of attorneys practicing in the community
  • ratio of poor people to local attorneys (i.e., are there local pro bono resources)
  • distance to the closest local legal services nonprofit (if there is one)
  • distance to the closest courthouse
  • geographic barriers to legal services and courthouses
  • access to public transportation to the nonprofits and courthouses
  • language barriers to services
  • other local communities needs
  • And what else?  We would love your thoughts and input!

As part of our noodling around, we’ve been comparing the NUMBER OF POOR PEOPLE in all 58 counties to the NUMBER OF ATTORNEYS practicing in the county.  This gives us a ratio of the number of poor people per each attorney.  We’re using this ratio as a rough gauge for how possible it is for the local legal community to meet the need for pro bono legal services for the local low-income residents.

And the results are pretty interesting!

You can win this nifty water bottle!  Post today!

You can win this nifty water bottle! Post today!

San Francisco has the lowest ratio of poor people to attorneys – with 6 poor people for every 1 attorney.  The next lowest is Marin with 9 poor people per attorney.  Los Angeles County has 31 poor people per attorney, while San Bernardino (shown in the photo above), has 141 – making it not only a geographic desert but also a legal services desert.  Tulare County has 259 poor people per attorney, while Imperial has 290 – meaning that the need for legal assistance in low-income communities cannot possibly be met by the local attorney population.

So here is the guessing game for our December justice contest.

Merced County has the HIGHEST ratio of poor people per attorney.  What do you think that number is?   Tell us how many poor people you think there are per attorney in Merced County.

Enter your guess as a comment to this blog or our facebook or LinkedIn pages – or tweet it to us at @OneJusticeOrg – by Sunday December 15th.  The person whose guess is the closest to the correct number wins this awesome OneJustice water bottle.

Happy guessing – thanks for playing!

2 responses to “December’s contest: a guessing game

  1. Gabe Hernandez December 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

    100

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