OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

When Disaster Struck in Napa, Volunteer Attorneys Made All the Difference

A year after the South Napa Earthquake.

OneJustice’s Ruby Kimberly is taking over the blog this week! In this post, she tells us about the Justice Bus Project‘s work in Napa County. She also shares with us her interview with Staff Attorney Kristi Lesnewich from Legal Aid of Napa Valley on providing legal help to the South Napa Earthquake victims.

Guest Blogger: Ruby Kimberly, Justice Bus Program Coordinator at OneJustice

Low-income populations are most vulnerable to the devastating effects of natural disasters, and California has suffered a few over the last two years. Among them, the 6.0 magnitude South Napa earthquake that shook the North Bay Area in August 2014 which caused more than $350 million in damages and left many residents in dire straits.

Photo: Kirkland & Ellis LLP volunteers with their client at the estate planning Justice Bus clinic in St. Helena with our partner Legal Aid of Napa Valley.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP volunteers with their client at an estate planning Justice Bus clinic in St. Helena with our partner Legal Aid of Napa Valley.

The Justice Bus Project has visited Napa County 20 times over the last five years, assisting more than 400 clients with their legal issues. With one of the highest costs of living in the state, Napa County depends on the provision of free and low-cost services for its low-income communities. And, in the wake of disaster, access to an attorney can make all the difference.

Legal assistance is crucial during times like these. Many people lose their homes or just do not know what legal steps need to be taken. Take Lilly*, a single mother whose rental home was “yellow tagged” by Napa city officials as a result of earthquake damages. Facing homelessness, she turned to the attorneys at Legal Aid of Napa Valley, who were able to negotiate with her landlord and help secure a stable place for her to live. It is situations like this where legal aid is the difference between someone sleeping on the streets or in a bed. This is why we must bring justice where it’s needed most.

This is why projects, like the Justice Bus Project, are committed to bringing more attorneys to places like Napa, to ensure that Lilly’s happy ending is not unique, that everyone has access to high-quality civil legal aid — on days with destruction and days without.

*Client name changed for confidentiality.

Listen to our Justice Bus Program Coordinator Ruby Kimberly’s interview with Legal Aid of Napa Valley Staff Attorney Kristi Lesnewich on providing legal help to the 2014 earthquake victims. 


For the transcript of this interview, please click here.

Ruby KimberlyAs the Justice Bus Program Coordinator in the Pro Bono Justice Program, Ruby Kimberly coordinates Justice Bus trips in Northern and Southern California, mobilizing attorney and law school student volunteers to bring life-changing legal help to isolated communities in the state.

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