Nonprofit corporations suffer from legal problems, too!
We’ve learned that rural justice isn’t just for veterans, seniors, and kids.
I know, it’s kind-of our constant refrain here at OneJustice. We’re pretty much always going on about rural justice and the urban/rural divide. We can’t help it! We care a lot about the legal needs of rural Californians – and we are all about addressing the fact that nonprofits providing civil legal aid in rural areas have less funding, less access to volunteer attorneys, and larger geographic regions to cover.
So you’ve heard us talk before about veterans, children with disabilities, seniors, and families living in rural and isolated areas of the state. Reaching those folks is the whole point of our statewide Rural Justice Initiative, including the Justice Bus Project.
And yet, we never really thought about the legal needs of the rural nonprofit organizations serving those same isolated communities. Until yesterday.
Our staff had the amazing experience this week of working with volunteer attorneys from Hewlett-Packard Company and Morgan Lewis & Bockius to put together the first-ever Rural Justice Clinic for Nonprofits. Yesterday a terrific group of attorneys from HP and Morgan Lewis – together with the entire national class of Morgan Lewis summer associates, from all of the firm’s offices, came together for a high-octane free legal clinic for nonprofits serving the North Bay counties.
In just 3 hours, the volunteers assisted 12 nonprofits – walking them through a comprehensive legal “audit” (like a health check-up on their legal needs) – and then providing individualized advice. It was beyond awesome. The volunteers brought incredible understanding and expertise to help these nonprofits, whose missions range from cultivating healthy families to providing shelter and services to victims of domestic violence to ensuring affordable housing for persons with development disabilities.
And here is our big takeaway from yesterday: rural justice isn’t just for individuals. It is also for nonprofit organizations – and in these isolated communities, the local network of nonprofits serves as an essential safety net of services and assistance to the same individuals that the OneJustice network reaches through the Rural Justice Initiative.
It was pretty much an eye-opener for us. And we’re already working up the idea of replicating this clinic in other rural areas. More to come, both in our Rural Justice Initiative and on this blog!
So, a most heartfelt “thank you” to the attorneys at Hewlett-Packard Company and Morgan Lewis, both for providing all the volunteers to make yesterday’s clinic possible, but even more importantly for opening our eyes to the need for this kind of rural justice.