OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Look what you’ve done over the past year…

You brought justice to 1,383 Californians! Wow!

As we kick off this season of gratitude, we wanted to share with you the tremendous impact you made this past year. Volunteers, donors, and partners like you brought free legal assistance to over 1,000 individuals in need, and we couldn’t be more grateful!

Final 2015 Report Back Infographic (with map pins)

Spread the word! This holiday seasonthe OneJustice Board of Directors will match every gift, dollar-for-dollar. That’s right, that means twice as much justice for veterans, vulnerable seniors, and low-income children and youth. You are our justice heroes – and you make the work possible. Donate now!

Lieutenant Joseph Rocha Reporting for Pro Bono Duty

This Veterans Day, we would like to introduce you to Justice Bus Rider and Marine, Joseph Rocha. 

At OneJustice, we really love our volunteers, and every so often, we like to feature one of them on our blog. This month, we’re excited to feature Joseph Rocha!

As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Joseph Rocha is no stranger to public service. Since beginning law school at the University of San Francisco in 2013, Rocha has traveled more than 800 miles with the Justice Bus, participating in four clinics in some of the most far-flung regions of California! We really can’t thank our volunteers enough for traveling so far and bringing justice where it’s needed most!

Join us in welcoming Joseph on this Veterans Day!

Photo: Joseph Rocha, Lieutenant and Justice Bus Rider Alumni.

Joseph Rocha, Lieutenant and Justice Bus Rider Alumnus.

Thank you so much for joining us, Joseph! Tell us, what made you want to attend law school?

From a very early age, there have been moments of great challenge where I have felt alone, and was resolved to believe that justice would somehow play out in the end. This drove me to seek a career in public service, dedicated to the promise of justice.

We love your commitment to public service! Why did you volunteer with the Justice Bus Project?

I volunteered for the Justice Bus Project, because I wanted to find a way to spend Spring Break involved in community service. I was midway through my second semester of my first year of law school and craved practical experience and interactions with clients; with Justice Bus Project, I found both. My first Justice Bus experience built me back up after the impact of the first year of law school, reminding me of the tremendously powerful endgame of working for clients which fuels my aspirations to be a lawyer.

Photo: Joseph Rocha with his USF School of Law colleagues at last year's Expungement Justice Bus clinic in Kelseyville, CA.

Joseph Rocha with USF School of Law colleagues at last year’s Expungement Justice Bus clinic in Kelseyville, CA.

We’re honored to hear that the Justice Bus Project gave you such a great experience! During your time at the clinics, were there any client interactions that were particularly impactful?

The most impactful aspect of the Justice Bus clinic for me was meeting those in need where they live and work. The nature of driving through the regions and neighborhoods that they live and work in, including an overnight stay, provides you with the opportunity to truly reflect on and appreciate the lives of our clients. Next, was the trust with which the clients shared the most intimate and challenging aspects of their lives with you. It was this experience that reinforced in me the role in the justice system I aspire to as an attorney.

We couldn’t agree with you more, Joseph. Justice Bus Riders, like you, make all the difference for distant communities in need! Thank you for all your help! Tell us, how do you hope to use your degree after graduating?

My most immediate goal, as an officer in the Marine Corps contracted as an attorney, is to contribute to upholding the integrity of the Corps and dedicate myself to the sons and daughters of our Nation. I deeply believe in the ability and duty of attorneys to uphold and defend our core values as a nation both through legal counsel and trial representation.

We can’t wait to hear about your work once you become an attorney! Last question, who is your favorite social justice hero?

Ms. Malala Yousafzai: her selflessness, ability to forgive, relentlessness and positive attitude moves and inspires me profoundly.

Thank you so much for your serving our nation and for bringing justice where it’s needed most, Joseph! You’re truly inspiring!

This Veterans Day, serve those who have served by making a charitable contribution to the Veterans Legal Aid Fund. Thank you!

The Justice Bus Project takes teams of attorney and law student volunteers from urban areas to set up free legal clinics for low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities.  These clinics provide life-changing legal assistance to low-income veterans, vulnerable seniors, children with disabilities, low-wage workers, immigrant youth, and families.

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.

Trick or Treat

This All Hallows’ Eve, the OneJustice staff dressed up for treats!

The OneJustice offices brought to life some of their favorite characters! We had a queen, a traveling doctor, a legendary Wookiee warrior, some fictional movie characters, and a bat! Every year, we vote on the best costume and this year’s contest goes to…

  • First place in San Francisco: Frida Kahlo (a.k.a Sandra Hernandez, Program Associate for the Pro Bono Justice Program).
  • First place in Los Angeles: the 4th Doctor from Doctor Who (a.k.a Patrick Fodell, Training Institute Coordinator for the California Pro Bono Training Institute).
  • Second place: Jurassic World’s Owen Grady (a.k.a Chris McConkey, Staff Attorney for the Healthy Nonprofits Program) and one of his four Velociraptors (a.k.a honorary team member)!

Congratulations to our winners! Check out the photo montage below for a peak at all the awesome costumes! 

Wishing you a very Happy (and spook-tacular) Halloween!

Photo: OneJustice Staff

2 new Fellows aboard the Justice Bus

OneJustice welcomes 2 new Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows to the team!

This National Pro Bono Week, we’re proud to celebrate all of our pro bono volunteers, who care deeply about bringing justice where it’s needed most. We also wanted to take this moment to introduce you all to two special people who also care about access to free legal assistance, Marian Lee and Maureen Slack.

Marian and Maureen are OneJustice’s new Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows for the Justice Bus Project, which mobilizes pro bono resources to bring free legal assistance to low-income Californians across the state. We’ve asked Maureen and Marian to share with you all a bit about themselves and the work they will be doing at OneJustice.

Please join us in welcoming these two new members!

Welcome Marian! Tell us, what drew you to the work of OneJustice?

Photo: Marian Lee is the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow for the Justice Bus Project at OneJustice's Los Angeles office.

Marian Lee is the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow for the Justice Bus Project at OneJustice’s Los Angeles office.

I was drawn to OneJustice because of our commitment to leveraging the underutilized talent and passion for public service that already exists in the legal community to help the most vulnerable Californians. Throughout my career, I’ve always committed extensive time to pro bono work, so I’m so excited to encourage and enable other attorneys to do the same through the Justice Bus program.

The Justice Bus Project offers such a logical solution to a complex problem in California – most attorneys live in urban areas, whereas so many low-income and underserved populations do not. OneJustice plays a unique role in helping to close this justice gap by collaborating with law schools, a variety of nonprofits, and attorneys in both public and private practice.

We’re excited to see where the Justice Bus is headed next! What will your role be in this project?

As an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, I’ll be responsible for the Justice Bus Project in Southern California. I’m charged with mobilizing pro bono attorneys and law students from urban areas to assist rural and isolated communities out of our Los Angeles office. I hope to expand the Justice Bus program by creating new partnerships with legal services providers and community based organizations in Southern California.

Sounds like great work! What did you do before coming to OneJustice? 

I started my legal career in private practice as a real estate and real estate finance attorney, where I represented developers and lenders. Most recently, I developed programs for 3Ls and international students as an Assistant Director at a law school in Northern California. It’s great to return to L.A. to start my public interest career and reconnect with local attorneys while continuing to work with law students!

Those are wonderful experiences! What is something quirky about you?

I have a healthy fear of heights but love skiing! I went from tumbling down the bunny slopes to doing blue runs in a couple of seasons. My goal is to one day finish an entire black diamond course in one piece!

Photo: Maureen Slack, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow for the Justice Bus Project at OneJustice's San Francisco office.

Maureen Slack is the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow for the Justice Bus Project at OneJustice’s San Francisco office.

Thank you, Marian! Your turn, Maureen! What inspired you to join OneJustice?

OneJustice’s goal of tapping into rural and low-income communities in need provides a great opportunity to examine, and hopefully address, the ways that the legal system underserves certain geographic and socioeconomic populations. Also, connecting with local community and legal organizations to facilitate this goal is really inspiring and rewarding.

Tells us more about your role — what kind of things will you be doing?

I’ll be working on the Justice Bus Project in Northern California, as the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow. In addition to planning and executing one-day legal clinics throughout Northern California, I hope to successfully connect clients in rural communities to meaningful social and legal services assistance, both during the one-day clinics and beyond.

We can’t wait to hear about these clinics in the upcoming months! What were you up to before coming to OneJustice?

An East Coast native, I grew up in New Jersey and then went to NYU for undergrad. After graduation, I hung around New York for a year as a paralegal at a union-side labor law firm, before heading to Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, I prioritized exploring as many different public advocacy fields as possible, including civil rights, asylum, and eviction law. I’m excited that the Justice Bus Project will allow me to continue exploring different legal areas.

Sound like an exciting adventure aboard the Justice Bus! One last question: what’s something you really love?

I love exploring new cities. My new move to San Francisco means I get to fully indulge my love of comfortable sweaters and affordable avocados.

Thank you so much for joining us, Maureen and Marian! We look forward to hearing about the upcoming Justice Bus trips!

A BIG thank you to our wonderful and committed volunteers who make all the difference for veterans, seniors, families, and children! You are all truly inspiring! Happy National Pro Bono Week!

The Justice Bus Project takes teams of attorney and law student volunteers from urban areas to set up free legal clinics for low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities.  These clinics provide life-changing legal assistance to low-income veterans, vulnerable seniors, children with disabilities, low-wage workers, immigrant youth, and families. Learn more about this project in the video below!

Justice is what love looks like in public

OneJustice’s Board Chair Max Ochoa tells us about his love for justice.

We’re so excited to feature our Board Chair Max Ochoa this week! Max has served on our Board of Directors for over 7 years. Under Max’s leadership, our Board won the 2013 Prudential Leadership Award for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards, an award that honors the innovative and transformative work that nonprofit boards are doing to help position their organizations for success.

Thanks to his guidance and the incredible work and support of our Board of Directors, OneJustice can continue our commitment to equal access to high-quality civil legal aid. We asked Max to share with us a little bit about himself and what justice means to him.

Please join us in welcoming Max!

Photo: Max Ochoa, OneJustice Board of Directors Chair.

Max Ochoa, OneJustice Board of Directors Chair.

Thank you for joining us, Max! Tell us about yourself. How did you become involved with the organization?

I am the General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer for Turn Inc., an advertising technology company based in Redwood City, CA. I’m also the proud father of two great kids, Catherine and Alex, and the lucky spouse to my wife, Julie.

I have been a proud member of the OneJustice Board since 2008. When I joined, I was a decade out of law school and had spent several years as in-house counsel for small technology companies. Working for small tech companies is great, but it isn’t always easy to find pro bono opportunities. I had been heavily involved in pro bono efforts at my law firm prior to going in-house, and I sorely missed the opportunity to serve.

Tell us why do you support OneJustice? Why is this organization important to you? 

I joined OneJustice because I believe in the mission of increasing access to justice for California’s underserved. When poor, underprivileged, and disenfranchised people need the protection of the legal system, too often they are left to fend for themselves, with predictably unfair and life-shaking results. OneJustice works to ensure timely, free access to a lawyer whose help can make all the difference. That work is as important today as ever.

Max, we can’t thank you enough for your leadership — you inspire us! Why does justice matter? What is it?  Why is it a part of our name? 

Justice is fairness, justice is equal treatment under the law, justice is timely and affordable access to legal aid, justice is looking out for the oppressed. As Dr. Cornel West has observed, justice is what love looks like in public.

Photo: From left to right: Kathryn Fritz, OneJustice Board Chair Max Ochoa, Claire Solot, Martin Tannenbaum, and OneJustice Chief Executive Officer Julia Wilson at this year's Opening Doors to Justice event.

From left to right: Kathryn Fritz, OneJustice Board Chair Max Ochoa, Claire Solot, Martin Tannenbaum, and OneJustice Chief Executive Officer Julia Wilson at this year’s Opening Doors to Justice event.

For OneJustice, the mission is furthered by strengthening the legal system’s ability to deliver life-changing legal services when and where they are needed. We do this by training the leaders of legal services organizations throughout the state, making them more effective. We do it by putting attorneys where they are needed via efforts like the Justice Bus Project. And we’ll continue to do so by innovating and deploying talent, people, and technology where it’s needed most.

OneJustice fills a need in my life, in your life, and in the life of a just society. I’m proud to serve OneJustice and to support its work with my time and my money.  Join us.

Thank you so much, Max, for your leadership! 

This fall, the OneJustice Board of Directors has challenged our network to raise $50,000 before December 31st. Join us by making a donation today, and your gift will be matched by the Board, dollar-for-dollar, up to $50,000! That’s right – together we can bring $100,000 of free legal assistance to Californians in need!


The Justice Bus: Bringing Legal Assistance from Silicon Valley to Bay Area Immigrants

FWD features recent Justice Bus trip to Vallejo.

Today, we are delighted to bring you a special guest blog post by on their recent Justice Bus trip to Vallejo. is an organization founded by world-class technologists such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marissa Mayer to support comprehensive immigration reform and policies. A big thank you to Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn for joining us in bringing vital legal assistance where it’s needed most!

We can’t thank enough for featuring our DreamSF Fellow, Miguel Castillo! Check out this amazing read!

JusticeBus_CoverPhoto1By: Katie Aragon, Silicon Valley Director of, and Justice Bus Rider

Have you ever been on a “Justice Bus”? Well I have, last Wednesday, and it was awesome.

Because how else would you describe watching dozens of high powered lawyers and legal professionals from Silicon Valley and San Francisco law firms and companies help 23 hard-working members of our community become U.S. citizens, or apply for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)?

Yeah. Awesome.

The day-long trip, which sent the lawyers and legal professionals on a bus from Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco over the Bay Bridge to Vallejo, CA, was organized by OneJustice, a statewide non-profit organization that brings life-changing legal help to those in need by transforming the civil legal aid system.

In many rural or low-income communities like Vallejo, legal need far outstrips supply. For example, in Solano County, there is on average ONE attorney for every 77 low-income individuals. Because our communities are safer and more secure when folks are protected under programs like DACA or are naturalized U.S. citizens, the work done by OneJustice and its partners, like the International Institute of the Bay Area, is incredibly important.

Photo: Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn attorney volunteers at the Justice Bus DACA and immigration clinic on September 30th in Vallejo.

Fenwick & West LLP and LinkedIn attorney volunteers at the Justice Bus DACA and immigration clinic on September 30th in Vallejo.

One of the highlights of the Justice Bus clinic was the building of bonds between communities. I met Miguel (featured above), a DACA beneficiary who is now able to give back to his community as a DreamSF Fellow at OneJustice, where he works with the organization’s Pro Bono Justice Program, and helps organize free mobile legal clinics. I also watched as Mike, a lawyer with Fenwick & West LLP, helped Armando*, an elderly Giants fan, fill out his citizenship application. Armando has been in the U.S. since the 1980s and is a fixture at his local church.

At the end of the day, we helped 23 Bay Area immigrants like Miguel and Armando apply for U.S. citizenship or DACA.

Meeting new friends like Miguel, who are so extraordinary but are only able to work today because of DACA, reminded me of the urgent need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The immigration system today is deeply flawed, and our country will benefit economically and culturally from fixing it. That is why we look to Congress and the Senate to work with us to pass comprehensive immigration reform for families and businesses in 2017.

*Name changed for confidentiality

Original Article posted on blog on 10/15/15; reposted here with the permission of FWD and Katie Aragon.

Fundraising experts to help you reach your goals!

Healthy Nonprofits: Top 10 Experts to learn from as you prepare for your fall fundraising season.

The busiest season for development professionals in the nonprofit world has just started! As a support center for over 100 legal services organizations in the state, we care about the successes of our fellow legal nonprofits. With this in mind, our Healthy Nonprofits Program put together a list of folks you should follow to boost your year-end campaigns. Check out this diverse and amazing group of people, and be sure to subscribe to their newsletters!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Claire Axelrad has helped nonprofits implement innovative fundraising and marketing strategies that advance the mission, vision, and values of causes addressing society’s most pressing problems. She also teaches a variety of topics such as development/marketing integration, nonprofit management, strategic planning, major gift stewardship, and annual giving donor identification and cultivation.

2. Pamela Grow helps small nonprofits develop sustainable funding through donor-centered fundraising. She is also the author of Five Days to Foundation Grants, the first online grant-writing guide, and the creator of Simple Development Systems, an interactive ebook written exclusively for the overwhelmed fundraiser in the one-person marketing and development shop.

3. Mission Minded is a branding firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations and foundations. They provide help with honing an organization’s brand, strategically crafting messages, and creating campaigns, websites, and printed materials that are easy to understand and that move people to action.

4. Tom Ahern is considered one of the world’s top authorities on raising more money with more donor-centered communications. He is an award-winning copywriter and journalist and author of five well-received books on the topic.

5. Kivi Leroux Miller teaches webinars and workshops several times a month and writes a top-ranked blog on nonprofit communications at Nonprofit Marketing She is also the award-winning author of two books, “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause” and “Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money.”

6. Chris Davenport creates fun weekly videos to help nonprofits raise money, steward donors, and inspire board members. Each week, he takes interviews with Development Directors, Executive Directors, Board Members, Donors, etc., and turns them into short videos on how fundraising professionals overcome particular problems every Monday morning!

7. Shannon Doolittle is a fundraising and donor happiness coach. She helps nonprofits create and improve their event fundraising programs. In her trainings, she shares the know-how nonprofits need to skyrocket their fundraising results and donor retention rates.

8. Gail Perry provides a number of innovative strategies for getting Boards energized and involved with the fundraising process. You can read her weekly blog at, and also find her articles at Nonprofit PRO (formerly FundRaising Success), Guidestar, and Capital Campaign Magic.

9. Joan Garry works with nonprofit leaders assisting with crisis management, executive coaching, and the building of strong management teams to support the work of the CEO. She also teaches nonprofit media strategy as a professor at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.

10. Tony Martignetti is the creator and host of the Nonprofit Radio and hosts 50 shows a year, picking the brains of authors, consultants and thought leaders to help small- and mid-size nonprofit organizations.

Meet our Expert Dancer and Tae Kwon Do Master

OneJustice welcomes its newest members, DreamSF Fellow Miguel Castillo and Pro Bono Justice Program Intern Brandon Marquez.

Our busy fall season is in full swing for the Rural Justice Collaborative project and the Justice Bus Project! With our clinics filling up and phones ringing off the hook, we welcome Miguel and Brandon to the team to bring legal help where its needed most. We asked them to share with us a little about themselves and their upcoming work during this busy season.

Please welcome Miguel and Brandon!

Miguel, tell us what drew you to the work of OneJustice? 

[Photo: As a DreamSF Fellow, Miguel Castillo assist in outreach efforts for the Justice Bus Project and the Rural Justice Collaborative.]

As a DreamSF Fellow, Miguel Castillo assists in outreach efforts for the Justice Bus Project and the Rural Justice Collaborative.

The way OneJustice travels all over northern California with pro bono attorneys to rural areas and provides legal assistance to low-income underrepresented communities is what drew me to work at such a respected and amazing nonprofit. As an immigrant and a DreamSF Fellow (the DreamSF Fellowship is for DACA-approved youth to serve San Francisco’s immigrant communities while gaining valuable professional experienc), I hope that by working for OneJustice I can bring more access to legal aid to the immigrant communities that need it the most.

That’s so inspiring, Miguel! What will you be responsible for at OneJustice – and what do you hope to achieve?

As a Senior DreamSF Fellow, I help the Rural Justice Collaborative and the Justice Bus projects organize clinics and do outreach efforts. During the clinics, I mainly serve as a Spanish interpreter and support the staff on-site. I also help the Development team with communication tasks, such as website maintenance/creation and flyers. I hope to utilize my skills in visual communication and help OneJustice move forward with their social media, website, and posters/flyers.

It sounds like great work ahead for you! What did you do before working for OneJustice? 

Before working for OneJustice, I served as the Administrative Assistant at another nonprofit organization in San Francisco, Legal Services for Children (LSC). As their Administrative Assistant, I mainly helped the Development team with administrative tasks such as scanning, court filing, translating documents, interpreting, outreach, and mailing. I also helped them with their communication efforts by running their social media accounts, website maintenance, and flyer creation.

Last thing, what is something quirky about you?

On my spare time, I love to go dancing or dance in general. I dance most Latin dances pretty well and I will dance to any kind of music. Also, I will dance anywhere if I get the urge, no problem at all!

Great answers, Miguel! And Brandon, how did OneJustice appeal to you? 

[Photo: As the Pro Bono Justice Program Intern, Brandon Marquez assists in outreach efforts for the Justice Bus Project and the Rural Justice Collaborative, which bring legal help to the Bay Area and around the state of California.]

As the Pro Bono Justice Program Intern, Brandon Marquez assists in outreach efforts for the Justice Bus Project, which brings legal help around the state of California.

Growing up in a rural area and then having the opportunity to pursue my career has motivated me to work in the legal field as a way to benefit others who may not be able to have the same opportunities as I have been privileged with. That is why I chose OneJustice–its main focus are low-income Californian residents. My passion to help my community is one of the many reasons OneJustice appealed to me in giving back to others. Its this kind of work that gives me a drive to do my best in whatever I am assigned to help with.

Tell us about the work you’ll be doing at the organization.

One of my main responsibilities is reaching out to communities and organizations where OneJustice will be hosting free legal clinics as part of the Justice Bus Project in Northern California. It is great to be sharing OneJustice organized opportunities in which we assist families and individuals in times of hardship.

We’re so appreciative of your hard work, Brandon! What were you up to before coming to OneJustice? 

This summer, I worked for an immigration law firm in Madrid, Spain. My daily routine was interacting with consulates from many countries in Central and South America. I had the opportunity to intern for the Monterey County Public Defender’s Office. At the Public Defender’s Office, I would help clients prepare for trial, or would initiate pretrial preparation for attorneys. I would also meet with clients in county jail, and then give our attorneys new case information.

And share with us something about you that isn’t work related! 

A secret talent I don’t tell many about is that I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Also, some of my favorite hobbies are going to concerts, listening to music, and traveling.

Thank you, Miguel and Brandon, for joining us for this Q&A! We’re so grateful to have you on our team and we’re excited to see your work ahead!

Avoiding ethical pitfalls in our sector

Toby Rothschild, a Board member and pro bono Of Counsel to OneJustice, shares valuable insight all nonprofit leaders should know.

Toby is a longtime partner in OneJustice’s efforts to strengthen the civil legal aid system and has been a member of the OneJustice board since 2000. He provides ethics trainings to our network organizations throughout the state. We asked Toby to tell us about his path to becoming an Ethics trainer in the legal services sector.

Please join us in welcoming Toby!

[Photo: Toby Rothschild, Of Counsel to OneJustice.]

Toby Rothschild, Of Counsel to OneJustice.

Thank you for joining us, Toby! Tell us what started your interest in legal ethics?

Shortly after I became Executive Director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Long Beach, I was faced with an ethical conflict. We were representing a client who was attempting to stop the demolition of some low income housing by the city. The president of my Board of Directors raised questions about the client’s eligibility and asked me to show him the intake information. I refused, and told him that I had verified that the client was eligible, and that he had not consented to sharing the information with the board. To avoid a standoff, we agreed to send a joint letter to the Ethics Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar and be bound by their decision. The Committee issued an opinion that made clear that the board was not entitled to confidential client information.

I maintained an interest in legal ethics after that, occasionally doing training for my staff and for other legal services attorneys. When LAFLB and LAFLA merged, I became General Counsel of LAFLA, and ethics advice and training became a major part of my job. I began offering monthly ethics training for LAFLA advocates, and soon began inviting all of the other LA area advocates to attend as well. In addition, I provided counselling on ethics issues for LAFLA and other advocates throughout the state.

When I retired from LAFLA about a year ago, I was looking for a way to continue to use the knowledge I had developed to assist legal services advocates and programs. I talked to OneJustice’s CEO Julia Wilson and we agreed that it would be useful to offer the training and consulting I had been doing through LAFLA as part of OneJustice’s programs.

What are the general topics you cover?

In some ways, ethics in legal services programs is no different than for any other lawyers. The same rules apply. On the other hand, the kinds of ethical issues that arise are often different. Legal services lawyers seldom face ethical problems with how to collect their fees, or how to sell their practice (for example, who would want to buy it?). The two primary ethics issues that do arise, conflicts of interest and confidentiality, come up in different contexts. So the training focuses on the particular issues like these that arise in a legal services setting.

In these trainings, we talk about the unique issues of representing nonprofit organizations, withdrawal from representation, whether you can give a client money for a meal or bus fare, and communication with clients, among other issues. There are many issues that arise in situations where the program is representing multiple clients in the same case. It might be several tenants suing a landlord for lack of maintenance, or several employees suing their employer for wage theft. There are several disclosures that have to be made to the clients in such cases to get their consent to continue representing all of them.

And how do organizations benefit from Ethics trainings and consulting?

Every lawyer needs to keep up to date with their ethics training. First, it is important to understand the rules of the road, so you can avoid ethical pitfalls. Second, ethical conundrums arise in every practice, and it very useful to have a place to go to get guidance on how to address the complexities of the rules and cases. And it is useful to have someone outside the organization to consult with, as there are some circumstances where consulting only with your colleagues can cause ethical problems by itself.

And third, every lawyer is required to obtain a number of hours of Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) on a regular basis. Several of these hours must be in legal ethics. It is much better to obtain the MCLE ethics hours in programs that focus on the unique needs of legal services attorneys. And California law requires paralegals to obtain regular ethics training as well, so we provide the training for paralegals. Particularly for confidentiality, we often include the entire staff, as it is critical for everyone to understand the obligations of a lawyer, and all who work for or with the lawyer, to “maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself to preserve the secrets, of his or her client.”

Thank you so much, Toby, for your guidance and leadership!

About Toby Rothschild: He recently retired after serving as the General Counsel of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) for 13 years. Prior to that, he was the executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Long Beach (LAFLB) for 28 years and Interim Executive Director of LAFLA. He graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1969, and has worked at legal aid programs since graduation. He has been the president of the Long Beach Bar Association and was Vice Chair of the California Commission on Access to Justice. Toby has served as a member of the State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct and as Chair of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar. He also was liaison on access to justice issues to the first commission which drafted the proposed new California Rules of Professional Responsibility, and is a member of the newly appointed Rule Revision Commission. He currently serves as a member of the State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission and he’s been a member of the OneJustice board since 2000. He currently serves as pro bono Of Counsel to OneJustice.


Thank you for subscribing to “OneJustice Blog”

You’ll get an email with a link to confirm your sub. If you don’t get it, please contact us

The authors can also be followed on:

%d bloggers like this: