OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Category Archives: Law Students & Pro Bono

The best way to find yourself…

Is to lose yourself in the service of others…Happy National Volunteer Week!

Mahatma Gandhi once said that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and we couldn’t agree more! Over the past year, 766 volunteers have brought help, hope, and justice to over 1,200 Californians around the state. These volunteers traveled all over California, and with just a few hours, they changed many lives.

This National Volunteer Week, we express our deepest gratitude with a slideshow of your photos! A million thanks to all of the outstanding volunteers who made this work possible this past year! You will always be a part of the OneJustice network!

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Without volunteers like you, hundreds of Californians would not have access to legal help. You make all the difference to them and to OneJustice! Thank you for making justice accessible!

They deserve an equal opportunity to life…

University of San Francisco School of Law students tell us what pro bono means to them. 

Last month, six law students traveled on a two-day Justice Bus trip to Fresno to provide free legal help with the expungement process, which helps individuals clean their criminal records and opens doors to opportunities that their records previously prevented. Thanks to the hard work of these law students and the advice of expert attorney volunteers, 31 individuals received legal assistance. A big shout out to our partners, Ciummo and Associates, the Fresno Vet Center, and University of San Francisco School of Law for bringing help, hope, and justice to the Fresno area!

Check out what these amazing students had to say about pro bono!

University of San Francisco School of Law students give their own personal quotes on why pro bono matters to them.

Thank you all for taking the time to talk with us! You make all the difference!

Transforming the civil legal aid system…

Through pro bono innovation

Here, at OneJustice, we believe that pro bono work brings help, hope, and justice to thousands of Californians each year. Pro bono work holds the power to transform the civil legal aid system and create equal access to legal help across the state. It inspires smiles and makes all the difference for an individual in need – heck tons of individuals! So today, we’d like to take a moment to update you on the tremendous pro bono innovations the network made last year plus give you a sneak peek at what’s in store for this year!

IMAGE: Volunteer attorney holding sign that says, "Working with DAPA applicants pursuing higher education brings help, hope, and justice."2015 Pro Bono Innovations with Impact:

Developed a Replicable, Highly-Efficient Model for Pro Bono Engagement in Immigration Assistance: OneJustice developed a toolkit that empowers organizations throughout the state to develop their own pro bono-driven clinics to help immigrants apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. The toolkit was created based on data collected by OneJustice at clinics around the state and features workshop models that OneJustice itself vetted through its Justice Bus and Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative projects.

Transformed the Way Nonprofits Train Pro Bono Attorneys: OneJustice helped initiate the Pro Bono Training Institute, a project that develops highly-interactive online trainings that empower attorneys around the state to help low-income communities. By using a collaborative model in which multiple legal aid organizations around the state help create each training, OneJustice, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County reduced the burden on individual organizations to create pro bono trainings and created a more efficient community response to the training needs of pro bono attorneys. In just the second half of 2015, the Training Institute created trainings in more than 18 subject areas!

Innovated Assistance to Rural Veterans with Criminal Records: Working with local partners around the state, OneJustice identified a particular need among rural veterans for assistance with criminal record expungements. Responding to that need, OneJustice organized 9 veterans-focused Justice Bus trips to rural communities and helped 23 individuals petition for record clearances, paving the way to expanded access to employment opportunities and other benefits.

2016 Goals for Innovating Pro Bono:IMAGE: Volunteer attorney holding sign that says, "TIME makes all the difference."

Make Bay Area Pro Bono Attorneys Available to Rural Immigrants Using Technology: OneJustice will commence a new project that connects immigrants in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced counties with pro bono attorneys in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Using technology, the project aims to expand the level of assistance provided to rural immigrants beyond the limited-scope assistance they are most typically offered. The project, named Rural Immigrant Connect, will provide 15 rural immigrants with ongoing representation from Bay Area-based pro bono attorneys.

Implement a Highly-Effective Pro Bono “Hub” System for LA County’s Nationalization Efforts: OneJustice will serve as the pro bono coordinating entity for an ambitious, collaborative effort in Los Angeles County to assist immigrants in applying for U.S. citizenship. To ensure efficient and effective utilization of pro bono attorneys, OneJustice will develop an innovative, uniform pro bono training and will train and assist partners organize pro bono-staffed clinics.

CROPPED Edited_VeteransDevelop and Test a Sustainable Model to Bring Consistent Legal Help to Rural Veterans: In an effort to move beyond the model of providing ad hoc clinical assistance to veterans in rural counties, OneJustice will test a multi-clinic response to the needs of veterans in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in partnership with Pepperdine University School of Law. Drawing from legal needs assessments, OneJustice will fashion and execute at least five clinics staffed by Pepperdine Law students that assist more than 75 veterans in need of legal assistance.

Tons of great work ahead! Keep tuned for more awesome updates!

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.

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!

Wrapping up a summer on wheels

Justice Bus mobilized volunteers to bring legal help where it’s needed most!

As we wrap up the summer and prepare for fall, we’re excited to report back on a very successful Justice Bus summer season! This summer, the Justice Bus traveled to nine locations around the state–sometimes traveling to two locations in the same week! In three months, our amazing volunteers assisted 264 low-income individuals with a variety of legal problems, including housing, immigration, veterans benefits, expungements, estate planning, and medical debt-related issues.

A big thank you to all of our wonderful Justice Bus Riders, supervising attorneys, supporters, firms, and partnering organizations for bringing justice where it’s needed most!

Summer Season Pic Stich

Thank you to these firms and organizations for participating in this summer’s Justice Bus season!


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.

Correction: August 18, 2015

This blog post has been updated to include O’Melveny & Myers LLP  and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

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!


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!

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


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.

Virtual pro bono: from theory to reality

We’ve been talking about virtual pro bono for years

It’s time to move from theory to reality!

Jenna Finkle, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate at OneJustice

Jenna Finkle, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate at OneJustice

Last month over 125 people gathered at the two Regional Pro Bono Meetings to discuss hot topics in pro bono in California and plan for continuing to expand pro bono services throughout the state.  Thank you to everyone who participated in these great conversations in Los Angeles (October 2nd) and San Francisco (October 28th)!

Both of the meetings had sessions that continued our community’s discussion about how to more strategically use technology to connect Californians facing pressing legal problems with pro bono resources in the private sector.  Thank you to the Pro Bono Project’s Virtual Legal Services Program for appearing – virtually – at both meetings to share their successful model.  This model is highly replicable – and we’re excited about the opportunities that exist to move this topic forward in a big way over the coming year.

Today’s guest blogger, our very own Jenna Finkle, reflects both on her work coordinating the Regional Meetings and her participation in our own virtual pro bono clinic earlier this year.  Thanks Jenna!

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Guest Blogger: Jenna Finkle, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate

NorCal Pro Bono Regional Meeting

Over 80 participants attended the Northern California Pro Bono Meeting – we almost couldn’t fit them into one photo!

As OneJustice’s Pro Bono Justice Program Associate, I help coordinate and administer OneJustice’s support work and pro bono convenings throughout California. During the two regional Pro Bono Meetings in October, I had the opportunity to meet in person many of the pro bono stakeholders I have been communicating with via email, phone, and webinar from my office in San Francisco.

Both of these daylong conferences included a robust discussion about how to make pro bono virtual by connecting three essential ingredients through video and online chat: the clients, the volunteers, and the legal services experts to supervise.

Virtual Pro Bono Session

Cameron Day of the Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley appeared virtually at the Southern California Pro Bono Meeting to demo their virtual pro bono services.

Watching these two groups dig into the idea of virtual pro bono during the sessions, I immediately thought about my experience working on OneJustice’s first virtual clinic in April, 2014. The Justice Bus Project brought 15 University of San Francisco School of  Law students to a DACA clinic in Humboldt in March, 2013. Due to limited resources in 2014, the Justice Bus Project was unable to return to Humboldt County to provide desperately needed immigration services. However, students from Humboldt State’s student group, F.R.E.E. (Find Resources and Empowerment through Education), reached out to OneJustice and prompted our partnership and coordination of our first ever virtual clinic to help immigrants in Humboldt County gain access to free DACA and immigration assistance.

The dedication of this student group astounded me. They were already a group seen in their community as an organizing node and resource. Their advocacy helped provide free legal services that were desperately needed. In preparation for this clinic, they coordinated DACA information sessions and found a space for the clinic, and F.R.E.E. members served as interpreters and doubled as technological navigators for clients during their appointments. They were ultimately able to successfully bring DACA & immigration assistance to 15 members of their community.

Ann, clinic volunteer at the April 2014 virtual clinic.

Volunteers in San Francisco connected virtually with immigrant youth in Humboldt County during the April 2014 virtual pro bono clinic.

These community members were served by seven University of San Francisco School of Law students working under the expert supervision of attorneys from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. These students came into USF’s library on a Saturday, despite schoolwork, jobs, and their many other obligations, to provide much-needed services to folks up in Humboldt. The enthusiasm OneJustice saw from our community partners, volunteers, and clients clearly demonstrated the importance of bringing desperately needed legal services to rural and isolated communities.

In my 10 months at OneJustice, I have seen amazing collaborations across geographic areas and services, from community organizers to law schools to pro bono legal service providers. The folks present at the SoCal and NorCal Regional Meetings are key players in the many statewide efforts to build connections and provide services to help low-income, under-served Californians navigate a complex legal system. I was inspired at the Regional Meetings to see stakeholders’ dedication to create innovative ways to use technology to increase access to free legal assistance in rural areas.

I am excited that there will be new virtual pro bono pilot projects in the next year, and I look forward to bringing stakeholders back together to share best practices development and new ideas at the 2015 Pro Bono Conference, to be held in the fall of 2015 in Los Angeles.

Mark your calendars now for the California Pro Bono Conference – Fall 2015 (more details to come soon).  Our big dream?  That next year’s conversation will include a TON of new virtual pro bono pilots developed over the next 12 months!

He didn’t want to miss the bus

Meet Joe Casey – Justice Bus Rider extraordinaire

He’s traveled over 800 miles to reach those in need.

Joe at a 2013 Justice Bus clinic.

We would never leave you off the bus, Joe!

No doubt about it – we think all of our Justice Bus Riders are pretty darn special.  All 1,312 of them!

They travel hundreds of miles to bring life-changing legal help to rural communities.  They give so generously of their time, energy, and skills to help poor Californians facing terrible legal problems.  They are the solution to the lack of legal assistance for hundreds of veterans, children, families, and seniors each year.

As a result, we have a special place in our hearts for these volunteers – we call them our “Justice Bus Riders.”  We think they are justice super heroes.

So we’ve decided that we will feature some extraordinary Justice Bus Riders here on the blog – so you can also get to know them.  We’re starting with a true Justice Bus hero – Joe Casey.    Joe, who will be starting this fall as a new associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, has been on SIX justice bus trips – all during his three years as a student at Stanford Law School.  He went on four trips with Stanford and two trips with law firms during his summers.  He has traveled over 800 miles on these trips to reach communities like Watsonville, Modesto, and Gilroy.

We sat down with Joe recently to ask him some questions about being a Justice Bus Rider extraordinaire.

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Joe, tell us about one of the clients you were able to help during your Justice Bus Trips?

Joe on the Justice Bus (on his way to assist rural seniors in 2012).

Helping a retiree prepare his will was a very satisfying experience. He was preparing for surgery and was visibly relieved to get his affairs in order. He was extremely appreciative for the assistance, and I was very thankful that OneJustice made the trip possible.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing you have witnessed on a Justice Bus Trip?

Sometimes, eager students can almost be a bit too earnest. For example, certain immigration forms require asking applicants questions like whether or not they have ever been “habitual drunkards.” I remember one client looking a student in the eye and asking whether or not having a few drinks a week makes him a “habitual drunkard.” Other questions on the immigration form relate to willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States and affiliation with the Communist Party. I couldn’t find a single client who could answer these questions without breaking into laughter.

What motivates you to do pro bono work and why do you volunteer with the Justice Bus Project?
Mike Winn Hero Cartoon_2014

Our amateur rendering of Mike Winn as a rural justice super hero!

There is a serious justice gap in California. While Silicon Valley is very prosperous and has a glut of legal services, lawyers are hard to come by across large swaths of our state. The gross disparity in legal resources as seen through the lens of geography convinced me that the Justice Bus is an effective means of ensuring that people who don’t live near thriving economic and legal centers can also receive the legal aid they need.

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

I think my favorite fictional social justice hero has got to be OneJustice’s own Michael Winn. I just imagine Mike slipping off into the Canadian woods under the cloak of nightfall, notebook in hand after a hearty steak dinner, looking for injustices he can help to right. (Note: You have to have heard one of Mike’s inspiring speeches to the Justice Bus riders to fully understand that reference.) Seriously, you might consider creating a OneJustice comic book presenting (lightly fictionalized) accounts of real iniquities that the OneJustice team has helped to set right. And in the comics, the OneJustice team could have their own (magical, justice-seeking, flying) bus!

Thank you, Joe, for your years of participation in the Justice Bus Project – we look forward to many more years of working together to bring life-changing legal help to those in need!

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