OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Can you find yourself….

In our awesome volunteer slideshow?

Created just for you – as part of National Volunteer Week.

When you board the Justice Bus, volunteer at a mobile legal clinic, or give generously of your time and energy in any way,  you are making all the difference for those in need! You are coming to the rescue for children with disabilities who need special education services, low-income veterans encountering barriers to employment, isolated seniors facing serious medical problems, families at risk of losing their housing, and youth who are eligible for immigration relief. Thank you!

We are so tickled to be able to celebrate you during National Volunteer Week!

In fact, we love our volunteers so much that we made this slideshow featuring you and all the Justice Heroes. It shows you out there at clinics, on the ground, in the neediest communities – bringing justice where it is needed the most!

So toast yourself during National Volunteer Week.  You deserve it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For ways to get involved, please contact Arbour Decker at adecker@one-justice.org

 

Did you ever spend spring break stuck in a classroom?

These USF School of Law students did . . .

And it unleashed a fountain of creativity and innovation.

Earlier this month, a group of 21 students at the University of San Francisco School of Law did something out-of-the-ordinary during spring break.  (And no, it wasn’t a Justice Bus trip this time!).  They chose to stay in the classroom for a three-day “boot camp” on nonprofit management.  Pretty counter-cultural, right?

The reason was a brand-new class developed by OneJustice in collaboration with USF School of Law, called “Practice Ready Leadership for the Nonprofit Sector.”  Designed and taught by Kim Irish, Director of OneJustice’s Healthy Nonprofits program, the class is based on the curriculum of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship, a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business skills.

So over the course of three days, the students learned a wide array of nonprofit management skills, ranging from the history of civil legal aid in California to how to build a project budget with full organizational and overhead costs.  They did a deep dive into lateral leadership and strengths-based management of personnel.  They conducted scans of the sector and analyzed revenue models.  They learned project management skills and debated how to create effective evaluation systems for legal aid projects.

And throughout the class, they worked in small teams to design a new project for a fictional legal aid organization, culminating in a group presentation on the final afternoon on their project goals, sector and financial context, budgets, evaluation metrics, and implementation plans.  And the results were simply amazing.  In just three quick days, these teams:

  • developed the idea for a statewide online intake system, targeted at bringing services to rural communities
  • designed a medical-legal partnership focused on holistic services for children with disabilities
  • created a pro bono program focused on eviction defense in a small rural county, and
  • drafted an outreach and training plan on the new immigration relief programs for advocates around the state.

Aren’t you impressed?  We certainly were!

And our big take-away was this: if our sector can offer these bright, strategic, and thoughtful folks  opportunities to be part of California’s civil legal aid system post-graduation, either as legal aid attorneys, pro bono volunteers, or Board members, — well, then we’re feeling pretty confident that the sector’s future is in very good hands!

Thank you from all of us at OneJustice to these amazing individuals who chose to spend their spring break with us.  You inspired us deeply and taught us more than you can possibly know!

 

 

 

Someone with such strong character stays with you

I could see his determination to improve his life.

One pro bono attorney’s reflection on bringing legal services to veterans.

Photo of Jennifer Cormano, an associate at the law firm of Nixon Peabody.

Jennifer Cormano, Associate at Nixon Peabody LLP

Last month, Jennifer Cormano joined a team of attorneys from Nixon Peabody LLP and DIRECTV on the Justice Bus to staff a free legal clinic for isolated veterans living in Lancaster. Over the course of just one afternoon, these volunteers provided vital advice and assistance to 29 veterans facing a wide array of legal problems. Working closely with expert attorneys from the Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles (LAFLA), these attorneys brought much-needed services to those who served our country.

We asked Jennifer to share with us some of her reflections on the experience – what it meant to be able to serve veterans, her experience on the Justice Bus, and her personal connection to pro bono.

We know you’ll enjoy her answers as much as we did!

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Jennifer, tell us a little bit about your favorite memory of volunteering at the Justice Bus clinic for veterans?

All of the veterans I helped while participating in the Justice Bus Project were very inspirational, but one stuck with me. Even though he was recovering from Postraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some physical injuries, he wanted to go back to school.  When I worked with him, I could see his determination to improve his life. As cliché as it sounds, meeting someone with such strong character stays with you.

A photo of Jennifer sitting on the Justice Bus with other lawyers.

Jennifer with fellow volunteers from Nixon Peabody LLP and DIRECTV head out on the Justice Bus!

What was the funniest thing that happened on your trip?

As an ice breaker to get to know everyone on the trip, we took turns saying our names and our high school mascots. One of the lawyers couldn’t remember his mascot, but was pretty sure it was the fighting fawns. While I appreciate the alliteration, I don’t think  fighting baby deer would be very intimidating. Actually, I think it might be pretty adorable.

What is your personal motivation to do pro bono work? 

I believe it is our professional responsibility as lawyers to provide access to our legal system. I like the Justice Bus model, because it does two very important things.  First, the pro bono model allows me to empower clients to advocate for themselves, which is about more than just legal advice.  Second, the model of having experts on-site allows a team of legal professionals to provide meaningful legal advice to as many clients as possible in a short amount of time.

A photo of Jennifer with another volunteer at the Justice Bus clinic, holding a sign that says "impacting one life makes all the difference."

Bringing free legal help to veterans in isolated communities truly makes all the difference.

What are your plans in terms of continuing to do pro bono work?

Since my commercial work is all transactional, I am most comfortable in a clinic setting.  I plan to continue to volunteer at clinics, participate in pro bono models like the Justice Bus, and where possible partner with my clients. For example, recently DIRECTV‘s legal department participated with Nixon Peabody LLP on the Justice Bus.  It was very rewarding to work with a client to serve our community.

And our final question for you – what fictional social justice hero do you most admire and why?

A fictional social justice hero? There are so many real social justice heroes that I admire – Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony come to mind first.  However, if I have to name a fictional character, I’d say Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Like a lot of lawyers, it is my favorite book. One of my favorite quotes in the book is something Atticus said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Over the past year, the Justice Bus Project has served 144 veterans throughout the state.

A most heartfelt thanks to Jennifer and all of these volunteers, who make the Justice Bus possible! 

Craving the best tuna tartare with avocado cream and crispy wonton?

Fear not…

We’ve got you covered at our 2015 Opening Doors to Justice awards reception! Mark your calendars today!

Don’t roll up the red carpet, yet!

In the spirit of the Oscars, we announce…

The 2015 Opening Doors to Justice awards!

Every year, the OneJustice network gathers to celebrate three individuals whose outstanding accomplishments have truly moved the needle on legal services, pro bono, and access to justice in California.  We look forward to gathering with you all again this year at our Opening Doors to Justice awards ceremony. Mark your calendars now:

2015 Opening Doors to Justice
Thursday, June 25, 2015

6:00pm to 9:00pm
Julia Morgan Ballroom
465 California St, San Francisco, CA 94104

And now to announce the 2015 honorees! The envelopes, please!

In the category of: Building the Power of Pro Bono…

2 Kathryn Fritz_Honoree Announcement
Kate Fritz has a vision; she knows first-hand that the private sector can be mobilized to bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.  And due to Kate’s leadership, Fenwick & West delivers on that vision. In 2013, Fenwick & West contributed over 11,000 hours in pro bono services, valued at over $5 million in legal services.
Fenwick & West is at the forefront of pro bono delivery, as a founding law firm in the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative, the Virtual Legal Services Project, and a frequent partner in the Justice Bus Project, reaching isolated communities throughout Northern California.  Thank you Kate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch the Winning Film: Fenwick & West in “The Power of Pro Bono”

Pro Bono in Action: Fenwick Attorneys Board the Justice Bus from Fenwick & West on Vimeo.

In the category of: Supporting legal services leaders through new learning…

2 Claire Solot + Martin Tannenbaum_Honoree Announcement

Claire Solot and Martin Tannenbaum believe deeply in the power of civil legal aid to remove legal barriers to basic necessities. At the same time, they realize that dramatic sector and funding shifts have left legal services nonprofits – and their executive directors – needing to develop a new set of skills around effective fundraising, marketing, communications, strategic planning, program evaluation, and board development. Together, Claire and Martin sparked a novel idea – an intensive program to give legal service leaders the business skills they need for their organizations to survive – and thrive – in today’s increasingly complex environment. The result – the OneJustice Executive Fellowship – is now in its 5th year, and this June will graduate the 100th Fellow!  Thank you Claire and Martin!

Watch the Winning Film:  OneJustice Executive Fellowship

Meet Incredible Justice Bus Rider, Devin Kinyon!

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Devin Kinyon

We are so thrilled to introduce you to our featured Justice Bus Rider, Devin Kinyon! 

Devin is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law where he oversees academic support programming. The amazing thing is, during his time at University of San Francisco School of Law, Devin attended 6 Justice Bus trips, traveling over 1448.2 miles to reach those in need – wow!

Devin wanted to share with all of you his experiences as a Justice Bus rider, and what motivates him to give back!

Thank you Devin, we are so honored to have you in our network!

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1.)  What’s the most inspirational memory you have from your time spent participating in the Justice Bus Project?

I still remember my very first client. I was helping out with some family law cases and worked with a woman who was filing for divorce. Her husband had left her, and after months of waiting for him to return she decided to divorce. What struck me at the time was how young she was. I was 30 at the time of my first Justice Bus trip, and she was much younger than me. And I’d grown-up in rural Northern California, not far from where we were volunteering. So as I helped her fill-out the divorce petition, I couldn’t help seeing myself and so many people I grew-up with in her experience. She was incredibly grateful, which made me feel good. But more importantly, I realized how lucky I was to have had the privilege to get a good education and go to law school. I have so many wonderful opportunities that many of our clients would never have. She was an important reminder of that, and I continue to think of her when I’m helping out other clients in need.

2.)  What’s the strangest/funniest thing that you have witnessed on a Justice Bus trip?

It was very weird to receive the respect from the Justice Bus clients that we got.  I had no legal experience before law school, and had never interacted with legal clients.  During the first few Justice Bus trips, we would be helping clients complete forms, or conducting interviews on behalf of the attorneys.  Every time we met a client, they would treat us with incredible respect – probably well beyond what we deserved.  In all honestly it freaked me out a bit since I didn’t feel like I’d done anything to earn that respect.  Over time I came to understand that lawyers represent such a valuable resource in some communities that it’s a huge deal to have access to one, even if that “lawyer” is just a law student.  Their need for legal services and respect for the role that I was playing made me want to do my very best for them.  I continue to feel that way aboutmy legal volunteer work.

3.)  What motivates you to do pro bono work and why do you chose to participate in the Justice Bus model of pro bono?IMG_0851

I grew-up in a working class family. We didn’t have a lot of money, but whatever we could do to help others, we did. My family ran a food bank out of my dad’s union hall.  My mom, who ran a small day care out of our home, always took care of people’s kids at low- or no-cost. My grandmother volunteered at a senior center. These were just the norm in our world. When I went to college, and ultimately law school, I knew that kind of service would continue to be a priority for me. And being able to do it was a part of the Justice Bus was doubly welcome – I could do meaningful service, and help out people who came from communities a lot like the one I grew-up in.

4.)  Where do you work now and how do you incorporate pro bono into your career?

I’m incredibly lucky to serve as a faculty member at the Santa Clara University School of Law. I oversee our academic support programming and help students get ready for the Bar Exam. I love working in higher education, and particularly at a Jesuit University, because the sense of service permeates my work. I have students who come from so many different backgrounds and experiences, and I get to help them undertake the huge challenge that is law school. I really feel that I’m meeting my mission when I see a student pass the Bar who really had to work throughout school to make it – because of that effort and commitment I know they’re going to be a great attorney and excellent exemplar for our profession. Outside of work, I volunteer with the Alameda County Lawyers in the Library Program and with the Alameda County Schools Mock Trial program. Giving back is fundamental to being a lawyer, and I’m happy to be able to do so.

5.)  What fictional social justice hero do you most admire and why?

There’s a woman named Anna Madrigal in the Tale of the City books by Armistead Mauphin.  She’s a landlord who effectively becomes a surrogate mother for her group of tenants in San Francisco.  She’s probably not the typical social justice hero that most people would think of, but I really love and respect the part of the character that’s all about bringing people together. Those books demonstrate how important family and friendship are, regardless of bloodlines, gender, or sexual orientation  (There’s lots of juicy bits too)!

Thank you Devin!

Happy Valentine’s Day from OneJustice!

High Resolution_FRONT_ValentinesDay Card

 

“I am so grateful for OneJustice and all the volunteers for bringing my mom legal help. At first we were so overwhelmed, but we left the legal clinic with all of the answers we needed. We are so relieved and thankful!”

– Justice Bus client from our clinic in San Geronimo

 

Thank you to all of our wonderful donors and supporters for bringing more justice to Californians in need!

Love,

the OneJustice Network

One-Justice.org with Hearts

What color cape do you want?

To all the justice heroes . . .

Thank you!

Each year, the OneJustice network comes together to say “thank you!” to our donors, supporters and volunteers.  Folks from all over the state send in video clips that come together with a heartfelt message of gratitude.

Click on the image above to watch (it’s just 2 minutes long!), and we hope you enjoy it as much as we loved making it.

Happy New Year and thank you!

I used to live with so much fear

California is my home.

Finally my parents and I can live here without fear.

For the past 6 months, OneJustice has been so honored to serve as the host site for two amazing DreamSF Fellows, Jesus Castro and Talissa Carrasco.  Talissa and Jesus have become an integral part of the Rural Justice Initiative, conducting vital outreach to isolated communities and providing essential staffing for Justice Bus and Rural Justice clinics.  When the President recently announced the expansion of the “deferred action” immigration relief, we asked Talissa for her perspective on the new programs.

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From living in fear to planning for law school

Guest Blog post by Talissa Carrasco, a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice

Hello, my name is Talissa Carrasco and I am a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice. In 2013, I was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and since then my life has improved tremendously.

Talissa

Talissa, hard at work on rural outreach

Before DACA, I used to live with so much fear. Fear that my American friends wouldn’t accept me for being undocumented, fear that they would judge me as an “illegal alien,” fear that my teachers would treat me differently and place me in ESL classes, and fear that one day my family or I would be deported back to Peru. This fear drove to me to reject my roots as a child. For years, I struggled to find my identity, where I belonged, and whether I was Peruvian or American. Technically, I was Peruvian, but I only spent 2 years of my life in Peru and have spent the last 22 years in the US.

California is my home. It’s where I went to elementary school, it’s where I went to middle school and high school, it’s where I am attending college, and where I will be going to law school.

Since being granted DACA, I transferred to U.C. Davis, where I am now in my senior year completing my B.A. in Political Science, and upon graduation, I will apply for law school. I now have a driver’s license which helps with my commute to Davis, and I have a job doing what I love — serving underrepresented and low income communities that desperately need legal services.

Talissa on the Justice Bus!

I had the option of choosing between 13 different nonprofit organizations where I would be working to develop my professional skills. One of the first things that captivated me about OneJustice was the work they do. Having lived in many different urban cities, I’m thankful for always having had access to resources. Unfortunately that is not the case for everyone. I have an older sister who lives in Eureka who is also a DACA recipient and who is in need of legal aid to help renew her DACA. But, because the legal resources in Humboldt County are so scarce, I was unable to find her an attorney that she can afford or that is nearby.

With the recent news released by President Obama on Administrative Relief, I am grateful that my parents will finally be able to obtain legal status after living 22 years in this country undocumented, struggling to work and provide a better life for our family. Filling out DACA on my own was quite a challenge. Because of the challenge I faced, I know my parents will need legal assistance in applying for administrative relief.  There are millions of families – just like my parents – who will need legal assistance to determine if they qualify for administrative relief as well as to help them apply.

Since starting at OneJustice, I have been on 13 Justice Bus trips to serve rural counties that really need the legal assistance. This is why I chose to work at OneJustice, because the next community we serve may be one my sister lives in and that means a lot to me.

I chose this path so that I would be able to give back to my community, to give back to those who have helped me reach success. My goal is to serve as a role model for future generations of immigrant children and inspire ethnic students to succeed. My ambition gives me determination to fight for immigrants in this country, and DACA has paved that way for me. With DACA, I am no longer afraid to speak out about being undocumented.

Thank you for listening to my story, and for your support for OneJustice!

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My journey from gangs to legal aid

From concerned to joyful faces

Lessons from a DACA recipient on the power of legal services

For the past 6 months, we have been so honored to serve as the host site for two amazing DreamSF Fellows, Jesus Castro and Talissa Carrasco.  Jesus and Talissa have become an integral part of OneJustice’s Rural Justice Initiative, conducting vital outreach to isolated communities and an essential part of our mobile pro bono clinics.  When the President recently announced the expansion of the “deferred action” immigration relief, we asked Jesus for his personal perspective on what DACA has meant for him and how it intersects with his DreamSF Fellowship at OneJustice.

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My journey from gangs to working in civil legal aid

Guest Blog post by Jesus Castro, a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice

My name is Jesus Castro. I am 19 years old, a DACA recipient and a current participant in the DreamSF Fellows program.

IMG_0102I came here from Mexico when I was five years old. My parents gave up their childhoods, left their families, and a chance at an education, so that my 3 brothers and I could have a better life. This better life includes me being an immigration attorney – that’s my end goal, that’s where I want to be.

I wasn’t always on the path of becoming an immigration attorney. Middle school and high school were tough for me due to my relationships with gangs. I was fortunate enough to realize that this gang life wouldn’t benefit me and that it would only get me incarcerated or worse – get me killed – especially since I was involved in a gang fight. And these guys who supported me, who said they were my family, left me standing alone.

Shortly after leaving the gang life, I began looking for ways to better myself.

I began my journey by joining the Coro Exploring Leadership Program. Coro gave me the initial professional skills that I needed to begin this new journey. As my time at Coro came to an end, I received the amazing opportunity to work for the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs or OCEIA for short. OCEIA is where the DreamSF Fellowship program was initiated and where I got the chance to be a part of the amazing cohort that we have today. The DreamSF Fellowship gave me – an immigrant and DACA recipient – the chance to intern at OneJustice in order to get my feet wet and truly find out what type of work I will be doing as an attorney some day.

Why I choose OneJustice as a host site. 

My time at OneJustice has really made it clear that I want to be an attorney, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for when I chose OneJustice as my host site. OneJustice also taught me that there’s much more legal assistance needed in the rural areas of California.

Jesus on the Justice Bus

Jesus on the Justice Bus!

OneJustice has also made me realize that working directly with a client plays a huge part in the work that I want to do. Being a part of the Justice Bus trips has given me a chance to hear others stories and help them – which is really rewarding.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a consumer debt clinic and all I can say is – wow.  I was truly amazed by the type of problems our clients had. Not only that, but I was also very aware of all their concerned faces. I can say with confidence that the clients that we assisted left with their minds at ease. My proof you ask?  That would be how grateful our clients were for the assistance we had given them. I can also say that their concerned faces had turned into joyful faces.  It’s very rewarding to know that I have helped someone in order to make their lives a little easier.  Just as they are thankful for that assistance, I am very thankful for the DreamSF Fellows program and also OneJustice – because without them, I wouldn’t be able to make a difference in people’s lives.

Thank you for supporting OneJustice, so they can support others like me. 

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