OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Category Archives: Strengthening the Nonprofit Network

Leadership is like a box of chocolates

You have to hack into them with a knife to avoid the marshmallow crème

And things can get a little messy

Photo: Box of Chocolates

Photo credit: imgkid.com

So, I recently returned from a three-month sabbatical.  Fair warning – I’d like to take the next 1,000 words to tell you why I am now a full-time sabbatical evangelist.

But first, I want you to know that my first 10 drafts of this post were sprinkled liberally with photos of my sabbatical tour of European soccer stadiums.  It was like an aggressive slide show on “My Amazing Vacation.” My staff objected, and after just 9 rounds of edits I gave in. See, I really can share leadership!  I hope you enjoy my 3 boastful photos and feel appropriately envious.  Thank you!

Why a sabbatical?

OneJustice had doubled in size over the last 8 years and was ready to grow yet again.  But our leadership structure was stuck.  We were locked in a traditional model of the solo executive director overly involved in every aspect of the organization.  And while I loved being part of the organization’s accelerated growth, it had also taken a personal toll.

At exactly the moment that OneJustice was preparing to take the next leap forward, armed with a new strategic vision, I was flagging – badly.  I didn’t want to leave, but I was feeling tapped out.  The Board and I decided we had to do something outside the box to meet both my need for rejuvenation and the organization’s need to scale.

Photo: Loyal Tottenham Hotspurs fan at White Hart Lane (North London) #COYS

Loyal Tottenham Hotspurs fan at White Hart Lane (North London) #COYS

How did we do it?

First, we won the nonprofit lottery.  I know, you didn’t know such a thing existed, right?  Well, it does.  It’s called the O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award.  And it is truly a remarkable gift.  The program provides funding for 3-month sabbaticals for Bay Area executive directors, plus a stipend for the leaders who provide sabbatical coverage, a professional development fund, and an organizational coach before, during, and after the sabbatical.  If that’s not the lottery, then I don’t know what is.

Second, we prepared.  We promoted three talented folks into newly created Director positions: Arbour Decker, Kim Irish, and Mike Winn. This new Leadership Team then worked with an insightful organizational coach from CompassPoint.

We ripped apart my job description and externalized every aspect of the position.  We conducted trainings, wrote memos, created detailed plans, and had lots and lots of meetings.  We formed a group meditation practice and walked across hot coals together.  Actually, we didn’t do that last part.  But now I wish we had, because it makes a better story.  Darn.  Next time.

After more than 7 months of planning and preparation, we were ready.  Or, at least, we were so sick of talking about sabbatical that we just wanted it to be under way already.  Which was close enough.

We also realized that you can’t prepare for everything.  There will always be some unexpected situation or decision that needs to be made.  You can write 25 memos about what to do if you grab the marshmallow crème, but when you end up with the rum raisin by accident, you just have to decide whether to chew or spit it out.  Both decisions are valid – and it’s up to that particular leader to make his or her own call.

How we know it worked.

On a personal level, the time away was incredibly restorative.  I traveled, spent time with my family, played a lot of soccer, and engaged in some great self-care.  And yes, even a little yoga took place.  By the end of the three months, I was itching to get back to work.  Now, instead of feeling burned out, I am fired up to explore new ways to bring life-changing legal help to those in need.

Photo: In the stands at Anfield (home of Liverpool Football Club)

In the stands at Anfield (home of Liverpool Football Club)

And the organization thrived in my absence. The Leadership Team successfully undertook programmatic expansion, revenue generation, and deepened their direct relationships with the Board. They also managed some unexpected challenges with poise and strategic responses. In fact, the entire staff didn’t just maintain the organization — they all excelled.

There were also significant benefits for the members of our Leadership Team.  Kim, Mike and Arbour have all shared with me the different moments when they realized that their job during sabbatical was not to figure out what I would have done in a given situation.  Instead, their job was simply to lead the organization – in their own way.  That’s pretty powerful stuff.

It’s a messy process.

Our challenge now is to take all the initiative and ownership that grew in my absence and institutionalize it through shared leadership.  We’re overhauling our decision-making structures, mapping power and authority in the organization, and setting up systems for mutual accountability.

We now know that creating our new leadership structure will be an ongoing process.  In fact, it’s pretty messy at times, and it will surely take us a while to figure out.  But already, when we hit the right chord together, it’s totally satisfying – like dark chocolate with almonds.  There is so much promise in the work, that living through the messiness is clearly worth it – for me, the Leadership Team, and the entire organization.

Above all, a new sense of gratitude.

I found that as I slowed down enough to take in my whole life, just like the Grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes.  From the first day of the sabbatical and through this very minute, I have been simply overwhelmed by waves of intense gratitude.

Photo: End of the soccer pilgrimage: selfie at Camp Nou in Barcelona.

End of the soccer pilgrimage: selfie at Camp Nou in Barcelona.

I’m tremendously appreciative for the support of OneJustice Board, Advisory Board, and Strategy Council.  I’m thrilled to watch Kim, Arbour and Mike’s innovative leadership. I’m deeply moved by how brilliantly and diligently our staff work.  I treasure every moment I have with my family and friends, the relationships that sustain me.

I’ve realized that my life is not like any old box of chocolates.  No way!  My life is that ginormous box of See’s candies that arrives – unexpectedly – as a gift from your office landlord.  Just when you are trying to fix the copier for that last round of fundraising letters that are going out late.  (Not that I’m saying that has ever happened at OneJustice.)

And then you rip open the box and grab a chocolate, and lo-and-behold, it’s the perfect one.  Your favorite.  The one that makes you close your eyes, savor the experience, and smile.  That’s how my life feels now.  That exact blissed-out moment.  That is what O2 Initiatives made possible.  So yep, I’m pretty darn grateful.

In this lovely holiday season, I wish you all so much chocolate that you have to loosen your pants and lay down on the floor – and many, many moments of bliss and gratitude in the coming new year.

Yours,

Julia

Photo: Julia R. Wilson


Julia R. Wilson has served as OneJustice’s CEO for the last 8 years.  When not working to transform the civil legal aid sector (or saving the OneJustice copier from paper jams), she is most likely watching, playing, coaching, or refereeing a soccer game.  If you are interested in diving deeper into the benefits of nonprofit sabbaticals, she encourages you to read “Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector,” by Deborah Linnell and Tim Wolfred.

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!

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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 Guide.com. 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 FiredUpFundraising.com, 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.

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.

I could see happiness in their eyes

Healthy Nonprofits Program’s Christopher McConkey tells us about the civil justice shortfall and the need for free legal assistance.

We asked our Staff Attorney Christopher McConkey to give us his insight on why it’s necessary for organizations and programs in the legal sector to transform the civil legal aid delivery system.


Guest Blogger: Christopher McConkey, OneJustice Staff Attorney for the Healthy Nonprofits Program

[Photo: Huffington Post]

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

There is a phenomenon in our society where people who are less able to afford legal help are often the people who need it the most. These low-income individuals struggle every day to find the legal assistance they need to preserve basic life necessities like housing, health care, economic security, and child custody.

This is not a minor phenomenon. Over 60 million people in the United States might qualify for free civil legal services because they live at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, people are less likely to access these services due to limited resources, mental health issues, and inexperience with our legal system.

Worsening this crisis, insufficient funding prevents many legal aid programs from serving 50% or more of the people who actively seek their help, leaving attorneys to address less than 20% of lower-income people’s legal needs.1 All of these shortfalls ultimately leave low-income individuals without critical legal assistance.

The Civil Justice Shortfall

The civil justice shortage is especially acute in California. As a legal aid attorney right after law school, I encountered hundreds of people slowly moving from one legal services project to another with the same issues. The recurring problem was program capacity. Staff attorneys reached full caseloads, projects offered fewer services to help more people, and funders carved programs to reflect their priorities. Even waves of talented and eager volunteers could expand an organization’s capacity only superficially, and only to a point.

I recall a monthly legal clinic I helped coordinate in Los Angeles. This clinic aimed to reduce an overwhelming and countywide need for immigration legal aid. The immigration attorneys who volunteered–I was not one of them–helped numerous lower-income Angelenos to understand and pursue their legal options. Limited capacity, however, left some clients on the waitlist for months. Those who persevered accessed expert immigration services for free. Those who dropped off the waitlist continued the long search for assistance or, worse, gave up.

For the clients who received assistance, legal help gave them their safety, jobs, family cohesion, dignity, and peace of mind; I could see happiness in their eyes. To me, this clinic exemplifies why finally eliminating the justice gap is worth our collective effort, resources, and ingenuity.

Transforming the Legal Services Sector through Innovation

As with all solvable problems, we should be optimistic! Our resourceful and morally ambitious society can overcome this justice shortfall. More funding is necessary, but for now, we can and should innovate additional ways to expand legal services for people who are lower-income.

[Photo: Legal Services Nonprofit leaders discussing trainings.]

Legal Services Nonprofit leaders discussing trainings.

OneJustice is already strengthening California’s legal services infrastructure to provide greater access to the legal system. In the Healthy Nonprofits Program (“HNP”), we are supplying nonprofit management consulting, legal technical support, and public policy advocacy to legal services organizations throughout the state.

Additionally, we help connect hundreds of public-interest-minded law students to nonprofit and government employers every year. We are invigorating legal nonprofits while enhancing the environment in which they operate—all so we can transform the legal services sector.

Individual attorneys will close the justice gap one client at a time. Several factors can coalesce to make that possible: additional funding, robust nonprofit management, public policies that value legal services organizations, and the gumption to innovate strategies that will solve one of the most stubborn justice crises of our time.

1 For more information about this civil justice gap, please see the Legal Services Corporation’s report titled Documenting the Justice Gap in America: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans


Chris_CROPPED

As a Staff Attorney in the Healthy Nonprofits Program, Chris helps guide legal services organizations on matters of nonprofit law and management. He also advocates for public policies that foster the growth of legal nonprofits and–through them–meaningful access to justice for all Californians. In this way, his work bolsters California’s infrastructure for civil legal assistance at the organizational and systemic levels. As part of his role, Chris provides legal support for OneJustice’s consulting and policy work. Additionally, he provides policy briefings and advocacy for OneJustice’s statewide community of legal services organizations.

 

Meet our very own financial guru

A chat with Executive Fellowship faculty, Elizabeth Schaffer.

We invited Elizabeth Schaffer—a nonprofit leader, consultant, trainer, and author—to tell us about herself and her work with the OneJustice Executive Fellowship.

Elizabeth is a longtime faculty of the Executive Fellowship. She coaches nonprofit leaders in the process of improving the quality of their organizations’ financial data and analysis, and also assists in enhancing organizations’ decision-making abilities. She is the co-author of Financial Leadership for Nonprofit Executives: Guiding Your Organization to Long Term Success (Fieldstone Alliance Press), a book that we use in our program, and an absolutely essential resource for all nonprofit leaders.

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth!

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[PHOTO: Elizabeth Schaffer, CFO at the Global Fund for Women and Executive Fellowship faculty.]

Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Financial & Operating Officer at the Global Fund for Women and faculty of the Executive Fellowship.

Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth! Tell us a little more about yourself and what you do.

I am currently the Chief Financial & Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women – the largest foundation exclusively funding international women’s rights organizations. I have been involved with nonprofit financial management for over 20 years, as a finance director, consultant, trainer, and author.

We are so happy to have you as an Executive Fellowship faculty. Tell us why you are involved in the Fellowship program.

The fellows cohort is consistently smart, dedicated, and engaged.

I especially love teaching in the program because so many folks introduce themselves by saying: ‘I’m not good at finance,” and then go on to really, really understand the content – and bring it back to their organizations. Without question, my best student is Julia!

As a nonprofit financial management coach, what is your top advice to nonprofits hoping to develop and strengthen their financial leadership?

Trust your instinct, not necessarily the numbers on the paper. If what you have at hand does not seem correct, challenge it!

Amazing advice! Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for your guidance and leadership teachings! 

Announcing the 2015-2016 Executive Fellows!

Empowering leaders to transform the legal services sector.

As schools get ready for the school year, OneJustice is getting ready for the newest class of Executive Fellows. We invited Director of the Healthy Nonprofits Program, Kim Irish, to give us a sneak peak into this year’s class and what is ahead.

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Guest Blogger: Kim Irish, OneJustice Healthy Nonprofits Program Director

It hardly seems possible, but in September, OneJustice will welcome its 6th class of Executive Fellows! The 2015-2016 cohort promises to be outstanding, with 20 participants hailing from a wide variety of organizations located in cities like San Diego, San Bernardino, East Palo Alto, Fresno, and Berkeley. We’re excited to have representatives from 18 organizations, including 5 organizations who are joining us for the very first time.

[Photo: 2014-15 Cohort during one of their many Executive Fellowship classes, which include becoming a great communicator, human resources, financial context and ratios, and budgeting and change management.]

2014-15 Cohort during one of their many Executive Fellowship classes, which include becoming a great communicator, human resources, financial context and ratios, budgeting, and change management.

This year’s curriculum is divided into three core modules, starting with “You As A Leader,” which focuses on Fellows’ personal leadership and communication styles, as well as their relationship with their organization’s board of directors. Module Two – or “Managing Resources” – teaches Fellows how to manage and leverage human and financial resources, including the always-important and sometimes-confusing skill of budgeting.

The third and final module, “Creating Change,” encourages Fellows to take a broader view than their everyday work and think about how they can make changes in their organizations and even the broader legal services or nonprofit sector. A special learning opportunity called the capstone project is woven throughout the fellowship year. Fellows each choose an issue they are grappling with at their organizations and work to define the problem, gather data, research potential solutions, and present a memo and oral presentation to end the fellowship year in June. Though Fellows have reported it can be hairy at times to balance the capstone work with the everyday demands of their jobs, some claim it is the most beneficial part of the Fellowship experience.

As I begin directing the 2015-2016 Fellowship Program, I know I will reflect on my experience as a Fellow in the most recent class. Understanding what it’s like to go through the learning, camaraderie, and professional skills development that takes place during the Fellowship will hopefully help me to provide support that current Fellows may need as they embark on this new adventure.

Welcome new Executive Fellows!

The OneJustice Executive Fellowship is a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business and leadership skills.

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As Director of OneJustice’s Healthy Nonprofits Program, Kim Irish is responsible for directing the Executive Fellowship and developing continuing education programs for Alumni of the Executive Fellowship Program, including in-person trainings and other support. She also oversees OneJustice’s consulting work and provides training, resources, and coaching to the Board of Directors and Executives of legal services nonprofits on governance, fundraising, and strategic planning.

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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EDITED_Chris McConkey Photo

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!

 

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 serial legal services entrepreneur

Join us as we celebrate Claire Solot

For her work advancing justice and bringing training to legal services leaders

Claire Solot, Managing Director of Bigglesworth Family Foundation, head shotEvery 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 excited to be honoring Claire Solot, Managing Director of Bigglesworth Family Foundation, this summer. In 2009, Claire approached OneJustice with the idea for a comprehensive nonprofit management training for legal services leaders, and the result of that conversation – the Executive Fellowship – is now in its 5th year and next month will graduate the 100th Fellow. Please welcome our first honoree, Claire Solot!

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Claire, we can’t wait to honor you on June 25th! Please tell us, why have you committed your time and energy to working on increasing access to justice? 

Twenty-five years ago as a law student extern in the Family Law Department of the San Francisco Superior Court, I had the opportunity to see first hand both the value of and need for civil legal services.  Following my career as a litigator, I joined the philanthropic sector in 2000.  While working on a “safety net” grants portfolio, I started to wonder why legal services were not regularly included in this category.  As a result in 2008, we launched our first legal services grants portfolio.  Working with these grantees for the past eight years, I am more convinced than ever that civil legal aid is a critical part of the solution to breaking the cycle of poverty.

From working on these issues, what is one particularly rewarding experience you have encountered? 

Bringing together the OneJustice Fellows Advisory Board in 2009 to start vetting the need for a training program for legal services leaders was an amazing experience.  In a matter of months, we were able to assemble a “dream team” of diverse leaders, which included: legal aid executive directors, law firm partners, pro bono coordinators, state bar representatives, a non-profit consultant and a funder.  In less than 9 months, we went from a mere concept to a fully operating program.

What is your favorite part of being a part of the Executive Fellowship?

Every time I hear a Fellow share the value of the program, I get shivers.  It is amazing to know that by creating and supporting this program, we not only help these individuals in their roles, we help the organizations they work for and the communities they serve.  As we graduate our 100th Fellow, I know we have developed an important resource for the legal aid community. As we field requests from alumni, law students and out of state practitioners for more offerings, I know that the current Fellows program is just the first piece of this puzzle.

You really are building a powerful civil justice puzzle. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Perhaps I am a serial “non-profit program legal service entrepreneur,” as last fall I assembled a new team comprised of funders from a wide variety of sectors, including: community foundations, private foundations, law firms, crowd-source funders, government and individuals.  Together, we have launched the Bay Area Legal Services Funders Network.

Thank you, Claire, for your dedication to excellence, and your outstanding contributions to ensuring justice for those in need! We are honored to partner with you, and we are thrilled to be recognizing your achievements this summer! 

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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 is a 10-month comprehensive program that brings legal aid leaders new business skills.

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