OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Departing Fellow reflects on social justice

OneJustice’s Megan Kent shares how human stories inspired a lifelong passion.

With her Fellowship coming to an end, we invited Megan Kent, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, to share with us her inspiration for becoming a public interest attorney.

We are so fortunate to have Megan as our Justice Bus Project coordinator in Southern California. Thanks to her leadership and coordination, 231 clients have received life-changing legal help!

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Guest Blogger: Megan Kent, OneJustice Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

[Photo: Megan Kent, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, at an IMPACT LA with volunteer attorneys.]

Megan Kent, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, at an IMPACT LA with volunteer attorneys.

What drove me to start my career as a public interest attorney? It’s simple – social justice.

Prior to law school, I served as a social worker and educator committed to social justice advocacy. The people I met – their stories – were humbling and inspiring. I witnessed firsthand the effects of generational poverty, mental illness, and social isolation on an abused six-month old.  I also saw the child’s mother successfully battle a meth addiction and thereafter pull herself and her child out of poverty. I watched as depressed and isolated mothers gathered together for our weekly support groups, battling the effects of mental illness while simultaneously strengthening their attachment with their newborns.

Later, I advocated on behalf of a 22-year-old survivor of human trafficking whose condition had become so severe that he had to use a walker. He suffered from a severe neurological disorder that developed from the modern-day slave-like conditions under which he was forced to work. After receiving a visa granted to victims of human trafficking, he was able to receive an experimental surgery he needed to overcome the effects of his illness.

These people – their stories – inspired me to start my career as a public interest attorney. By serving in this capacity, I continue advocating for social justice causes, and continue addressing challenges affecting marginalized individuals and their families. At the same time, I can more effectively address systemic issues (like anti-poverty policies, racial injustice, and immigration laws) that affect marginalized individuals’ ability to thrive and succeed in our county.

My inspiring colleagues at OneJustice and I are able to do just that. Through projects like the Justice Bus, we’ve implemented innovative strategies to address systemic issues that affect low-income and underserved populations. Marginalized veterans, immigrants, seniors, and families throughout California are able to access quality legal services to address problems they face – services they likely would not access without our programs.

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[Photo: Megan Kent, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow.]Our guest author, Megan Kent, is an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and member of the national Equal Justice Works Veterans Legal Corps. At OneJustice, she runs the Justice Bus Project in Southern California, bringing life-changing legal assistance to low-income Californians in rural and isolated communities.

How a hiker and a dancer got into Justice

OneJustice welcomes new staff: Part 2.

Welcome back! This month, we are featuring a two part series to introduce our new staff: two last week and two this week. Please join us in welcoming our other two newbies: Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate and Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate. We are so excited to embark on this adventure with them, and would like to introduce them to you too!

Please welcome Sandra and Katie!

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Photo: Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate

Sandra Hernandez, Pro Bono Program Associate.

Sandra, what drew you to the work of OneJustice?  

I was born and raised in a rural part of California, and I witnessed first hand how difficult it was to access basic legal help. When I heard about OneJustice and their commitment to making legal help accessible to  communities like the one I was raised in, I knew I had to be part of this amazing team.

What will you be responsible for at the organization – and what do you hope to achieve?

As the Program Associate for the Pro Bono Justice Program, I will be responsible for supporting and coordinating many aspects of the Law School Pro Bono Project, Rural Justice Collaborative, and Justice Bus programs. I am also very excited to be working on the upcoming Statewide Conference in 2016. In the future, I hope to help the Law School Pro Bono Project grow so that many more students have the opportunity to be directly involved in making a difference in California.

We can’t wait to hear about the upcoming conference! Now tell us, what did you do before coming to OneJustice?

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Theater Directing, I pursued my developing passion for community engagement. I worked at a nonprofit organization where I focused on outreach and helping families access resources and basic life necessities.  Through this work, I began to see the necessity for free legal help for underserved communities. Soon after, I began to seek opportunities in legal services to be able to make a direct impact.

And what is something quirky about you?  

One of my hobbies is hiking. Not the kind of hiking that you have to wear special shoes or carry around ropes and walking sticks for, but I do enjoy a moderate hike/climb. I find it is a very relaxing and rewarding activity!

Photo: Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate.

Katherine Pluymert, Healthy Nonprofits Program Associate.

Thank you, Sandra! Hello Katie! Tell us, why work with nonprofits and in particular, OneJustice?   

I really love the nonprofit sector, and I care deeply about providing essential services like legal assistance to people in need. But I think that a successful nonprofit is mindful not only of the services it provides, but also of the way that the organization functions as a whole.  It’s a huge blessing to work at a place like OneJustice, which helps train attorneys, executives, and entire organizations in best practice. It’s all the little things put together that make a nonprofit great. And a nonprofit functioning at its fullest potential can provide the best services to people who really need it! I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of the amazing work that OneJustice is doing.

What will you be doing at OneJustice?

I’ll be helping out by providing program assistance for the Executive Fellowship program, which helps train legal service nonprofit executives in a holistic set of skills like effective fundraising, communications, strategic planning, and board development. I’m also providing support for various consulting projects, and I will be coordinating PI/PS Day, which connects law students from several Bay Area law schools with public interest/public sector groups for their summer clerkships. I hope that the work I do will help support legal service nonprofits and law students, so that they can provide legal justice for all.

What did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I recently graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Sociology. One of the most formative experiences of my undergrad was a full-time summer internship with the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where I worked to provide homeless and low-income individuals with food, clothing and basic computer skills. It was through that experience—and others like it—where I discovered my love for nonprofits and the tangible impact that they can have on the lives of people in need.

Sounds like amazing work! Tell us something else about yourself!

I just finished up my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper at my college, so if you need a catchy headline, I’m your person! I also used to be a competitive tap dancer and dance teacher.

Welcome Sandra and Katie! Thank you for joining us!

Justice with a side of Burritos and Science

OneJustice welcomes new staff in a two part series.

This month, we will feature a 2 part series to introduce our new staff: 2 this week and 2 next week. So many great new folks at OneJustice and we can’t wait for you to meet them! Please join us in welcoming the first two newbies: Chris McConkey, Staff Attorney of the Healthy Nonprofits Program and Patrick Fodell, California Pro Bono Institute Coordinator.

We were so excited to hear about these new positions that we asked them to share with us a little about themselves and their projects.

Please welcome Chris and Patrick!

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Chris McConkey, Staff Attorney for the Healthy Nonprofits Program.

So Chris, what drew you to OneJustice and in particular, the Healthy Nonprofits Program? 

OneJustice leads with cutting-edge best practices and optimism. I love that the Healthy Nonprofits Program (“HNP”) concentrates on strengthening California’s legal nonprofit infrastructure. HNP works –at both the organizational and system levels–through nonprofit management consulting and public policy advocacy. We help legal services nonprofits to become more robust and grow. A larger and stronger legal nonprofit infrastructure expands the availability of quality legal representation for people who are lower-income.

Tell us more about your Staff Attorney position. What kind of work will you be doing?

As a Staff Attorney, I will help with OneJustice’s consulting and public policy work. This includes researching, crafting, and sharing best practices in nonprofit law and management, such as strategic planning, program assessment, board governance, employment, ethics, and tax. I will also track and advocate for public policies that promote the health and positive perception of legal services nonprofits.

What was your career path that led to OneJustice?

Just before I came to OneJustice, I was the Staff Attorney and Intake Coordinator for the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (“LA HLPP”) at the Disability Rights Legal Center. At LA HLPP, I provided counsel and representation to people living with HIV or AIDS. Most of our clients were lower-income, LGBTQ, monolingual Spanish-speaking, and/or had co-occurring chronic health issues. I advised them on legal issues arising from their medical conditions such as employment discrimination, medical privacy, public benefits, and medical planning. Before LA HLPP, I clerked at the ACLU of Southern California and Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles.

All great answers, Chris! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I really like science–especially astronomy and astrophysics. I even prepared to study those subjects in college. Now, I visit the California Academy of Sciences whenever I can, and try to camp where there is little light pollution, so I can see the stars!

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Chris! Patrick, your turn! Tell us, why OneJustice?  

Photo: Patrick Fidell, California Pro Bono Institute Coordinator

Patrick Fodell, California Pro Bono Institute Coordinator.

I love how OneJustice fights for justice by engaging a broad network of individuals throughout California. I find this comprehensive approach very effective in fighting for those who need assistance the most. I also shared an office space with them while working at the Legal Aid Association of California, so I knew they were some of the most passionate and hardworking people I have ever met.

What will you be responsible for at OneJustice – and what do you hope to achieve?

100% of my time is dedicated to the California Pro Bono Training Institute (CPBTI), a new project of OneJustice. With our partners at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Neighborhood Legal Services, we hope to achieve CPBTI’s goal of increasing efficiency in the statewide pro bono delivery system and expanding overall pro bono in the state by increasing access to trainings, reducing the creation of duplicative trainings, and facilitating easier recruitment and support of private sector attorneys. We all know how impactful pro bono volunteers are, so I am very happy to be part of a project that will bring in more pro bono volunteers throughout California to assist those seeking justice.

What did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I’ve been working in legal aid since I graduated from college in 2008. My positions at the Legal Aid Association of California, the Watsonville Law Center, and Self-Represented Litigation Network revolved around planning and executing trainings for either legal service organizations or community members. I am so excited to continue to plan trainings but this time for future pro bono attorneys!

And tell us something about you that is not work-related.

As a recent transplant to the Los Angeles area, I’m very into exploring LA in order to determine if Southern California does indeed have a better burrito than Northern California. The jury is still out, and I am open to suggestions.

We are so excited to welcome you two to the team!

See you all next week when we introduce our other 2 new staff members!

 

Dining out for Justice has never been so tasty!

This month, you can support OneJustice by dining at Credo Restaurant in downtown San Francisco.

Signature Cocktail_New Amsterdam

Credo’s Signature Cocktail: New Amsterdam Premium Gin, Fresh Squeezed Lime juice, and Ginger Ale

Each year, Credo restaurant (and long time supporter of OneJustice) seeks to reinvest in their community through direct action, charitable giving, and long-term partnerships with organizations whose goals and aspirations they share. Through their “Credo Community Partners” program, Credo reaches out to organizations they believe in that have matched the strength of their convictions with energy and action and highlights a specific issue that they care about. This July, they chose OneJustice as the beneficiary of this terrific program!

This means that every day in July, $2 of each signature cocktail (New Amsterdam Premium Gin, Fresh Squeezed Lime juice, and Ginger Ale) and signature appetizer (Fava Bean Crostini with Parmesan Cheese and Tuscan Oil) will be donated to OneJustice.

And as a part of this partnership, OneJustice will have a special “Take Over Night” on Thursday, July 16th, in which 20% of all sales during dinner service will be donated to us. 

So take advantage of this absolute permission to indulge – and feel good doing it! Come join us for food and drinks while supporting a great cause!

Hope to see you there!

OneJustice

Credo Image Newsletter

Did you hear about what happened last Thursday?

The OneJustice Network brought justice where it’s needed!

[Photo: Julia with Honorees: Kathryn Fritz, Claire Solot, and Martin Tannenbaum]

OneJustice CEO Julia Wilson and honorees, Kathryn Fritz, Claire Solot and Martin Tannenbaum, at the 2015 Opening Doors to Justice event.

Last Thursday night, over 60 corporate and individual sponsors and over 300 OneJustice supporters came together for this year’s Opening Doors to Justice event to honor Kathryn Fritz, Claire Solot, and Martin Tannenbaum for their leadership in advancing access to justice for Californians.

Generous individuals and sponsors, like you, raised a total of $273,000 to fund the Immigration Pro Bono Response Network. This project will provide regional training, support, and coordination to deploy private sector volunteers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles to bring vital legal help to those eligible for immigration relief. In addition, your support will launch a pilot project serving three high need rural counties — Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin — with local clinics and virtual connections to urban volunteers.  We promise to bring immigration relief to 450 Californians over the next year -thanks to you!

Photo: Betsy White, ‎Legal Counsel, Apple & OneJustice Advisory Board member at the 2015 Opening Doors to Justice event.

Betsy White, ‎Legal Counsel at Apple & OneJustice Advisory Board member, at the 2015 Opening Doors to Justice event.

We are so honored to be surrounded by passionate and amazing individuals, corporations, and organizations that bring life-changing legal help to those in need. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Thank you for bringing justice where it’s needed most.

The OneJustice team

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P.S. And in case you were unable to attend, check out our thank you videos in honor of Kathryn, Claire and Martin below!

2015 Opening Doors to Justice: Kathryn Fritz from OneJustice on Vimeo.

2015 Opening Doors to Justice: Claire Solot & Martin Tannenbaum from OneJustice on Vimeo.

Camelot photographer & seeker of justice

The OneJustice network lost a lion of a supporter.

But Randy Silver’s passion for justice continues through the Veterans Clinics in his honor.

My heart is broken.

Julia Wilson with Randy and Anne Silver at the Opening Doors to Justice event, standing together.

A sweet moment together at the 2014 Opening Doors to Justice celebration.

There are simply no other words for it.

Last year, Randy Silver, my dear friend and a talented photographer, donated an original, signed print of President John F. Kennedy for the live auction at our Opening Doors to Justice event.  Randy was the official photographer to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963, while he was serving in the U.S. Navy.  He took this photo of the President at the Press Association Dinner in Washington D.C. in May 1963. Over the years, he had only produced three prints – until last year, when he created the 4th and donated it to the OneJustice auction.

Randy and Anne, his wife of 35 years, were there in the audience as the bidding went fast and furious.  Just at the point when the next-to-last bidder dropped out, Randy graciously agreed to produce and sign a 5th print so that there could be two final winners.  Together, the prints raised $8,000 – and to Randy’s surprise and delight, I announced on the spot that we would use the funds to create two Randy Silver Justice Bus Clinics to bring life-changing legal help to veterans in rural California, in honor of Randy’s years of service in the Navy and his incredible personal commitment to justice.

If I could go back in time to that moment, I would also run over and give Randy a huge hug.  And oh, how I wish that I could.

Because, you see, Randy passed away unexpectedly in January, leaving an unimaginable hole in the OneJustice network – and in my heart.

Just six weeks after his death, a team of volunteers boarded the Justice Bus and traveled to Northern California.  Over two days, they staffed the Randy Silver Memorial Legal Clinics for veterans in Chico and Redding – serving 36 veterans and their family members.

Photo of President Kennedy smiling.

And now Randy’s beautiful print of JFK is back in our office.  When one of last year’s winners, honoree Erika Rottenberg, learned of Randy’s death, she decided to donate her print back to OneJustice to be part of our live auction again this year.  Once again we will use the funds raised to support another series of Randy Silver Justice Bus Clinics, bringing volunteers from urban areas to set up mobile pro bono clinics for veterans in isolated communities.  It is incredibly generous of Erika, and I think Randy would be so pleased.  I wish so much that I could tell him in-person, but instead I have to just trust that he knows, somehow.

“For me, it is not a matter of giving back; it’s a matter of just giving because it’s the right thing to do.”

Anne & Randy Silver at the 2014 event holding a sign that says "I'm with Julia"

Anne and Randy Silver at last year’s event.  This message brings me great joy.

This was Randy’s acceptance message when the San Mateo County Chapter of the NAACP presented him with their 2014 Distinguished Service Award for his many years of devoted volunteerism with the NAACP and many other causes.  He was an active volunteer with the NAACP, Second Harvest Food Bank, Relay for Life, and Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo.  He offered his photography skills pro bono to the Annual Cyril Magnin Awards, Red Cross, San Mateo Women’s Hall of Fame – and of course, OneJustice.

He had a quiet and deep-seated passion for justice and a commitment to serving others.  He earned  a JD from Boalt School of Law, but knew mid-way through that the law was not his life’s work.  Instead, he began working as a social worker in Napa County and found a true calling in helping people work through the challenges and problems of life.  He obtained his Masters in Psychology at Chapman College, which launched a long and successful private practice  as a psychotherapist.

A third generation photographer, Randy created his first print on his 9th birthday, in his mother’s darkroom, and continued with photography his entire life.  This included teaching throughout the Peninsula, organizing national and international trips for groups of beginning photographers, and the production of three books that showcase his particular area of expertise – infrared photography.

Randy and Anne Silver at the 2013 Opening Doors to Justice event.

Randy and Anne attending the 2013 Opening Doors to Justice event.

And now Randy’s generosity will live on.  We will once again auction his original print of JFK – which sadly we now know must be the last signed edition.  His art will once again bring much-needed assistance to veterans facing pressing legal problems.  And I will try to find solace in the fact that in this way, Randy is still giving back – still making great things happen in the world – and that those of us left behind can continue on, in his name and taking inspiration from his life.

For Randy was a man of palpable integrity.  He cared deeply about the people around him and was effortlessly generous with his time, talents, and energy.   He died as he lived, with great dignity, and he will be sorely missed by all of us who had the great joy of knowing him.

Congratulations Executive Fellows

Fellows follow in footsteps of success

Celebrating the 100th Executive Fellowship graduate and the entire 2014-2015 cohort
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Early this week, OneJustice staff and this year’s Executive Fellows met for a two day retreat. Fellows presented their Capstone projects and celebrated the end of their 10-month training in skills such as  effective fundraising, marketing, communications, strategic planning, program evaluation, and board development.

Graduates follow in the footsteps of 5 years’ worth of success from the cohorts that came before them. Each participant comes away from the program with a skill set that equips them to transform the legal services sector and ensure justice for all.

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the OneJustice Executive Fellowship, we are honored to celebrate Martin Tannenbaum and Claire Solot in this year’s Opening Doors to Justice event! Both Claire and Martin are leaders in the development of the program, and we thank them for their vision and amazing dedication in building the next generation of civil service nonprofit leaders. Won’t you join us on:

Thursday, June 25th 

6-9 pm

The Julia Morgan Ballroom (downtown SF)

*Tickets and auction items are now available

We are also excited to celebrate the graduation of its 100th Fellow (James Zahradka, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley), and we look forward to continue to serve legal service leaders for years to come! Congratulations, Fellows!

Exec Fellows Graduation Picture raising their hands and holding their certificates

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To learn more about this Fellowship and how you can become a part of it, please visit:

One-Justice.org/Fellowship

OneJustice Executive Fellowship from OneJustice on Vimeo.

 

Their words…

Will inspire you, too.

Our very own legal fellow tells us what motivates her to do this work each and every day.

We are excited to announce a new project sponsored by Fenwick & West LLP (and our 2015 Exclusive event sponsor), spearheaded by our very own Renée Schomp, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow.  We asked Renée to share with all of you this wonderful new project she’ll be tackling next year!

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“Because of this legal clinic, I will continue on and not stop for any reason.”

Guest blog post by Renée Schomp, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

As a social justice attorney, one of my greatest sources of ongoing inspiration is the words of my clients. At a recent immigration clinic one of my clients wrote a note that said, “This clinic has changed my life. It has given me a lot of emotional support to know that I am not alone. Because of this [legal] clinic, I will continue on and not stop for any reason. I will make my dreams come true – for myself and to prove to all the good people that helped me today that it is not a waste of [their] time. Thank you to all the volunteers … from the bottom of my heart.”

To be honest, some days I could really use a bit of inspiration such as these words. This is because the need for legal services is so incredibly overwhelming–particularly among the rural immigrant population with whom I commonly work—and the resources for low-income clients so sparse, that I often find myself fighting what feels like an unwinnable battle.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, California has the largest immigrant population in the fifty states (10.3 million) and currently houses over 3 million undocumented immigrants, nearly 700,000 of whom are children and youth under age 24. In November 2014, the Obama Administration sought to improve the lives of over 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. through an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. In California alone, over 1.5 million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for at least temporary relief through these programs. At the moment, however, their implementation has been temporarily halted by a preliminary injunction.

OneJustice develops innovative programs to serve immigrants in rural California

All that said, I have another source of inspiration and that is working for an organization that finds innovative ways to progress when progress seems impossible.

Volunteer attorneys with client at a Justice Bus immigration assistance legal clinic in Greenfield, CA

Volunteer attorneys with client at Justice Bus immigration assistance legal clinic in Greenfield, CA

OneJustice’s award-winning Justice Bus Project and Rural Justice Collaborative programs provide as many as eight legal clinics per month in rural and isolated California communities throughout the state–where we serve clients who would likely otherwise receive no assistance at all. Our clinics leverage the talent of teams of attorney and law student volunteers from urban regions such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles to assist rural-based clients with a wide range of civil legal needs, including those related to DACA, citizenship and general immigration.

In September 2015, I will begin a new project focused solely on serving immigrants in three rural counties with a particularly high number of undocumented immigrants and a dearth of legal services–San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced Counties. About 115,000 undocumented immigrants live in these three counties alone, and poverty density is high.

This project is being made possible through the support of an Equal Justice Works fellowship sponsored by the law firm Fenwick & West LLP.  The project will build a network of pro bono attorneys to provide full-scope representation to immigrants living in these rural counties. This project will be a part of the continued expansion and growth of the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative project, part of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo) IMPACT initiative and a collaboration of legal services organizations and law firms that strives to increase access to legal services in isolated communities through free limited scope legal clinics staffed by pro bono attorneys.

This Central Valley immigration project builds upon OneJustice’s already-existing work with Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC) on the Immigration Pro Bono Network, which was developed as a means of creating a universally-employed training and certification program regarding DACA for pro bono volunteers. Through this program, we have been collecting and analyzing data from our DACA clinics in order to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of pro bono volunteers. Beginning in the fall of 2014, the Immigration Pro Bono Network also responded to the expanded DACA and DAPA programs by holding multiple convenings of stakeholders in the legal field interested in developing an effective, wide-reaching pro bono response to these new immigration programs.

This summer, you can help OneJustice help immigrants in rural California

Brother and sister at a Justice Bus immigration assistance legal clinic in South Lake Tahoe, CA

Brother and sister at a Justice Bus immigration assistance legal clinic in South Lake Tahoe, CA

The funds raised at our annual Opening Doors to Justice event on June 25 will be 100% allocated to make the Immigration Pro Bono Network a reality. When we achieve our goal of raising $50,000 in one evening, OneJustice attorneys will be able to provide regional training, support, and coordination to deploy private sector volunteers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles – two of the highest areas of need in the state. In addition, OneJustice will develop a pilot project serving three high need rural counties — Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin — with local clinics and virtual connections to urban volunteers.

Won’t you join us? 

Donate Button

P.S. Check out this neat clip of Renée!

Renée Schomp talking with Univision news reporter about the need for immigration relief. To watch the full video, please visit: [pending link]

Renée Schomp talking with Univision news reporter about the need for immigration relief. To watch the full video, please visit: here

Have you met this consultant, educator, and philanthropist?

Celebrate Martin Tannenbaum with us

For his incredible work in strengthening the legal services sector

Martin Tannenbaum, consultant, educator, and philanthropist, honoree of this year's Opening Doors to Justice eventEvery year, the OneJustice network gathers at our Opening Doors to Justice event to celebrate three individuals whose outstanding accomplishments have truly moved the needle on legal services, pro bono, and access to justice. Won’t you join us this year on:

Thursday, June 25th 

6-9 pm

Julia Morgan Ballroom (downtown SF)

*Tickets and auction items are now available

We are so pleased to be honoring Martin Tannenbaum – Consultant, Educator, Philanthropist, and a wonderful partner of OneJustice. Martin has been a leader in transforming the civil legal aid system through the development of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship, which is now in its 5th year, and next month, will graduate the 100th Fellow. Please welcome our third honoree, Martin Tannenbaum!

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Martin, Opening Doors to Justice event is less than a month a way and we can’t wait to honor you on June 25th! Tell us – why are you involved with increasing access to justice?

Even though most people probably think I’m a privileged white male – which I guess, on some level, I am – I have a very different sense of myself. I grew up as a gay Jew in Utah – as a double-outsider. And add to that, my parents also grew up Jewish in Utah.  So I learned at an early age to love and respect those who didn’t fit in – which meant a wide range of people – the economically challenged, the foreigner, and the less-abled.

Also, since I had experienced the tyranny of the majority (both growing up and during some pretty ugly ballot initiatives), it was clear that the courts – not public opinion – were THE place for change and fairness. And so I was naturally drawn to legal organizations because they focus on the judicial system – and they welcomed me in.

Initially, my volunteering and philanthropy focused on LGBT rights. Given what we’ve accomplished in the last 30 years, it was clearly a wise investment. In California and several other states, I am now protected in the workplace and was even able to marry the man of my dreams, Alex Ingersoll. This was all unimaginable when I was in my 20’s.

And there are still many with justice still denied – not just many in the LGBT community, but also those without sufficient financial resources, health challenges or an unclear path to citizenship. The work must continue until every person secures equal justice under the law – it’s what this country was founded upon – it’s what we owe ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

We couldn’t agree more! Martin, could you share with us how you became involved with OneJustice?

Over 7 years ago, I had the great good luck to meet Claire Solot and Julia Wilson. They had this idea about creating a program for leaders within the legal services sector – one that would provide these leaders with the knowledge, skills and support to enhance their work, stabilize and build their own organizations, and change the legal services sector.  (And I had the background and knowledge to develop the curriculum and guide the program in the early years.)

And so, we built a program together, the OneJustice Executive Fellowship, which next month will graduate its 100th fellow – all able and willing to create meaningful change – to serve more clients and provide better services and to build more sustainable organizations. I have had the distinct honor of meeting and working with each of these Fellows.  Nothing is more rewarding than seeing their growth and accomplishments.  What a gift!

Absolutely! What’s your favorite part of being a member of the OneJustice network?

I know this is hard to imagine, but there are still people – even friends and colleagues of mine – who don’t know about OneJustice and the incredible work that we do to create impactful nonprofits and to enhance the legal services sector. I love to explain our work and watch faces light up.  Most want to learn more, and get involved.  It’s such leveraged, important work.  I’m very proud to be part of the OneJustice family.

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About the OneJustice Executive Fellowship: OneJustice trains current executives and the next generation of nonprofit leaders through our management training program. OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship program is a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business skills.

A leader in pro bono delivery

Join us as we celebrate Kathryn Fritz

Managing Partner at Fenwick and West LLP and one of our event honorees!

Headshot of Kathryn Fritz, Managing Partner of Fenwick & West LLPEvery year, the OneJustice network gathers at our Opening Doors to Justice event to celebrate three individuals whose outstanding accomplishments have moved the needle on legal services, pro bono, and access to justice. Won’t you join us this year on:

Thursday, June 25th 

6-9 pm

Julia Morgan Ballroom (downtown SF)

*Tickets and auction items are now available

We are incredibly honored to be recognizing Kate Fritz for her work in mobilizing the private sector to bring legal help to those in need. With Kate’s leadership, in 2013, Fenwick & West contributed over 11,000 hours in pro bono services, valued at over $5 million in legal services. The firm 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. Please welcome our second honoree, Kathryn Fritz, Managing Partner at Fenwick & West LLP!

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Why have you committed your time and energy to working on increasing access to civil legal services and access to justice?

I’ve always viewed service not only to our clients but to our broader community as a core part of being a lawyer. Sometimes we lose sight of just how essential our service is in providing access to justice, but it’s critical that we do not forget, and so critical that we remember what an essential part every member of the legal profession has to play. Philosophically, those ideas are what drew me to the study of law and those same themes have drawn me into pro bono work. It’s both gratifying and deeply humbling to be able to serve those who don’t have easy access to the privilege we take for granted and whose voices often go unheard.  The need is so great and the legal profession has a unique ability to make a difference.  On a more personal note, I’m also very motivated by my two teenage sons and the desire to help make our community one that ensures fairness and protection  for everyone. Community engagement is tremendously powerful, and we all have meaningful contributions to make, but we must act.

What is one particularly rewarding experience you have had in your work on these issues?

Every pro bono case that I have worked on has changed my life: they could not help but do that. But three cases stand out. In two cases I was able to help secure political asylum for clients whose lives were in grave danger in their home countries – one because of his religious beliefs and another because he was a gay man who was HIV positive.  In a third case,  we obtained reversal of the death penalty  for our client. It is hard not to be changed fundamentally by these experiences.

In addition to my personal pro bono work, in my role as Managing Partner of Fenwick & West, I’ve also made it an important part of my focus to promote the firm’s pro bono commitment. Not only do our attorneys and staff devote thousands of hours every year to pro bono work, but we support fellows and organizations (such as OneJustice) who in turn go out and engage even more people to do this work.

What is your favorite part of being a member of the OneJustice network?

How can I name just one?  The Justice Bus project  is just one example of the inspired and innovative way that OneJustice enables the expansion of pro bono work. We have made several trips to serve clients in rural areas, including Napa and Yolo counties, and each time our bus has been oversubscribed. It’s our most popular pro bono opportunity for our attorneys and summer associates (and the client in-house teams that we sometimes partner with on the trips). They come back so energized and engaged. The Justice Bus is a great opportunity to have a personal impact and make a difference in the lives of those you’re helping. We’re also proud of the work being done through the Rural Justice Collaborative which is expanding access to legal services in rural and isolated communities throughout the Bay Area. The group supports the role of pro bono attorneys in the delivery of legal services to the poor, including innovative collaborations between law firms and legal services organizations. We’re also looking forward to working with OneJustice as you host our upcoming Equal Justice Works Fellow, Renee Schomp, and extend the reach of the Justice Bus project even further.

Thank you, Kate, for your commitment to bringing pro bono assistance to Californians in need. We cannot wait to celebrate your achievements next month! 

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