OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Taking pro bono trainings to a national level

Pro Bono Training Institute receives national attention at the White House Forum!

IMAGE: M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina of Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Mark O'Brien of Pro Bono Net, James Sandman of Legal Services Corporation, Phong Wong of Legal Aid of Foundation of Los Angeles, and Julia R. Wilson of OneJustice at the White House Forum on April 19, 2016

M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina of Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Mark O’Brien of Pro Bono Net, James Sandman of Legal Services Corporation, Phong Wong of Legal Aid of Foundation of Los Angeles, and Julia R. Wilson of OneJustice at the White House Forum on April 19, 2016

How would you evaluate your most recent experience at a training? Was it interactive, engaging, high energy — and dare we even ask…FUN? Well, believe it or not — the need for interactive and innovative training for pro bono volunteers got national attention last month!

The White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice included a panel on innovation that featured the California Pro Bono Training Institute, a joint project of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), and OneJustice. The Training Institute offers online, on-demand bite-sized training videos on areas of law commonly used in pro bono clinics and cases.

“Trainings are a crucial element to pro bono work, and the Pro Bono Training Institute provides legal services organizations with the tools to effectively train volunteers — for legal clinics and to take cases — in a short period of time. We’re excited to continue developing and expanding this training platform with our partners, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and OneJustice,” said Sharon Bashan, Director of Pro Bono and Operations at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.

IMAGE: M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina, Mark O'Brien, Phong Wong, and Julia R. Wilson after the White House Forum on April 19, 2016.

M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina, Mark O’Brien, Phong Wong, and Julia R. Wilson after the White House Forum on April 19, 2016.

Thanks to the amazing efforts and collaboration of California’s legal community, trainings are helping increase pro bono and meet the needs of pro bono stakeholders. Over the last three months, two different legal services nonprofits, including another Legal Services Corporation grantee, have used these trainings to prepare volunteers to staff five mobile legal clinics for low-income veterans throughout Central and Southern California.

LAFLA’s Pro Bono Director Phong Wong said, “PBTI is such a wonderful project that will help support pro bono efforts statewide. This project would not happen without partners, OneJustice and NLSLA.”

To ensure that the training format and content truly meet the needs of our audience and are effective in preparing them for their volunteer experience, volunteers are being asked to evaluate the trainings immediately following their volunteer experience. Already, 91% of volunteers using the trainings reported they felt better prepared to do pro bono after watching them!

Our most heartfelt thanks to Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, as well as all the legal services organizations, for participating in the Training Institute and all the volunteers who are using the trainings and providing feedback! We know it takes a village to provide life-changing legal help to those in need, and we look forward to continuing to work with you all to create engaging, effective online trainings.

Watch the presentation on the Pro Bono Training Institute at the White House Forum:

LSC 2016 White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice – Panel: Pro Bono & Technology Innovations from Legal Services Corporation on Vimeo.

Meet our newest team member!

New Pro Bono Justice Program Associate, Dulce Sanchez, joins the OneJustice team.

We’re excited to introduce you to Dulce, our newest team member in the Los Angeles office! She is currently working on pro bono naturalization work in Los Angeles and on the IMPACT LA and SoCal Justice Bus projects. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Dulce!

We’re pretty nosy here, so we forced her to sit down and answer a series of questions before she leaves for the next clinic!


IMAGE: Dulce Sanchez, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate in the Los Angeles office.

Dulce Sanchez, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate in the Los Angeles office.

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

As a person interested in applying to law school and in working with underserved groups and populations, I was most drawn to OneJustice’s mission. OneJustice’s push for expanding legal access in rural communities via the Justice Bus and legal clinics, aligned perfectly with my own personal and professional interests. Working with OneJustice simply seemed like (and continues to be) a perfect fit!

We’re happy to hear that we’re a match! What will you be responsible for at OneJustice – and what do you hope to achieve?

At OneJustice, I will work closely with my colleagues to implement and expand pro bono naturalization and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)/DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) work through community outreach, through the Justice Bus, and in a collaborative effort with other community partners. Ultimately our goal is to reach out to hard-to-reach populations in Los Angeles County and neighboring counties to expand immigrant integration efforts and to provide the hard-to-reach populations education on the citizenship process.

Sounds like great work ahead! What were you up to before coming to OneJustice? 

Before joining OneJustice, I studied sociology and government at Smith College. Though Smith College is located in Western Massachusetts, I interned and volunteered at different nonprofits in Los Angeles during my summer breaks. Among those organizations are the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Town Hall Los Angeles. Upon graduating, I moved back to LA and worked with Town Hall Los Angeles as Program Coordinator.

I am very fortunate to join such a supportive, driven, and energetic staff…I am looking forward to working with everyone at OneJustice and with the vast communities OneJustice serves!

We’re excited to have you on the team! Last question, what is something quirky about you? 

I LOVE Hello Kitty! Perhaps a little too much… I also like buying Hello Kitty items from the countries I’ve visited. I’m considering learning Japanese and flying to Japan on the Hello Kitty airplane!

Thank you so much, Dulce, for answering all of our questions! Welcome to the OneJustice team!

It’s never too late for a fresh start…

Over 100 individuals receive free legal help in Los Angeles!

IMAGE: Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the John M. Langston Bar Association volunteer attorneys at the Fresh Start Legal Clinic in Los Angeles.

Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the John M. Langston Bar Association volunteer attorneys at the Fresh Start Legal Clinic in Los Angeles.

On Saturday, March 19, 2016, OneJustice, in partnership with Jenesse Center Legal Advisory CommitteeAlternate Public Defender, Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Californians for Safety and JusticeICE out of LAIMPACT LA, the John M. Langston Bar Association, Legal Aid Foundation of Los AngelesLos Angeles Public DefenderNeighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, A New Way of Life Reentry ProjectOne LA I.A.F., and other Los Angeles-based community organizations helped give Angelenos a Fresh Start.

At the newly created Fresh Start Legal Clinic, South LA residents completed applications for the Traffic Ticket Amnesty program, which allows individuals with unpaid fines on traffic and non-traffic infraction tickets to get a reduction of up to 80% of the amount owed to the court or collections agency. Clients also filled out applications for Proposition 47, a program that changes low-level crimes from potential felonies to misdemeanors.

Having a suspended driver’s license or felony criminal record can be a barrier to employment that keeps individuals and families trapped in an endless cycle of poverty. Without the ability to work and earn a living, families are forced to make difficult decisions about housing, transportation, and other life necessities. Traffic Ticket Amnesty and Proposition 47 programs can help end this cycle. Both programs are crucial to bettering individuals’ lives. Participants in these time-limited programs are able to improve their employment prospects, regain driver’s licenses, remove immigration barriers, and reduce old debts all through a brief application and short post-clinic process.

IMAGE: Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the John M. Langston Bar Association volunteer attorneys hard at work at the Fresh Start Legal Clinic in Los Angeles.

Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the John M. Langston Bar Association volunteer attorneys hard at work at the Fresh Start Legal Clinic in Los Angeles.

At the clinic, about 70 volunteers helped over 100 South Los Angeles community members with Proposition 47 reclassification and Traffic Ticket Amnesty. Volunteer attorneys helped clients with the support of community organizations. Thanks to the Fresh Start Legal Clinic, South LA residents face fewer barriers to success in their futures.

“[The clinic was] extremely helpful and it helps people to achieve what they always wanted to do,” said one client.

Thank you to our wonderful partners, supporters, and volunteers for making this clinic a reality!

For more information about Proposition 47, please visit http://myprop47.org/.

To learn more about Traffic Ticket Amnesty, please visit http://www.backontheroadca.org/.

Namaste, Justice Bus riders!

OneJustice welcomes Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and yoga teacher, to the team!

Before our Justice Bus Project ramps up to full speed this spring, we asked Elinor to tell us more about herself and the work that she will be doing at OneJustice’s Los Angeles office!

Please join us in welcoming Elinor!


Photo: Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Elinor Rushforth, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow

Elinor, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us! Tell us, what drew you to the work of OneJustice?

OneJustice provides a unique perspective in the nonprofit world and has been instrumental in bridging the justice gap between legal services providers and people in isolated, rural communities. It’s an organization that responds to its diverse partners with down-to-earth, yet innovative solutions to create an educated and empowered community of lawyers, law students, and community partners. I believe this holistic approach leads to more engaged service providers and helps build trust with our clients. I’m a passionate public servant, and it’s an incredible opportunity to be working with such inspiring people!

We couldn’t agree more! What is your focus at the organization, and what do you hope to achieve during your Fellowship?

While serving as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, my primary focus will be on the Justice Bus Project in Southern California. Through this project, I will be able to connect legal experts to clients with unmet legal needs in isolated, rural areas. By drawing on the breadth of institutional knowledge at OneJustice, my experience working with veterans and other underserved populations, and the commitment of SoCal’s pro bono attorneys and law students, I hope to grow our program by focusing on relationship and community building throughout the region.

We look forward to seeing the project grow! What did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I served as an advocate for veterans in veteran treatment courts which helped me narrow my focus in on providing services for low-income or otherwise isolated clients. I also have experience on the policy side working on voter outreach and women’s rights issues. As a native of the Southwest, immigration and trafficking issues intersected with almost every case I worked on and showed me how limited comprehensive legal assistance actually is. I am so excited to be a part of OneJustice and the Justice Bus team!

We’re excited to have you on the team! One more question: what is something quirky about you?

I am a yoga teacher and will probably annoy you about yoga within five minutes of meeting you. It changed my entire world after a serious injury, and I think everyone can benefit from a little time on the mat! Namast-yay!

Thank you so much, Elinor – and a very warm welcome to the OneJustice team!

2 new Fellows aboard the Justice Bus

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

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

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

Please join us in welcoming these two new members!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Justice 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!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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!

 

Making Joe Biden proud

Creating Impact in Los Angeles

A new lawyer’s reflection on launching an ambitious new pro bono project

What’s a Leslie Knope-type to do after law school graduation? For me, as my 3L year at Loyola Law School began, I was hoping to land a fellowship and start a public interest career in Los Angeles.

Luckily for me, some wonderful people over at the Association of Pro Bono Counsel were looking for someone to work on a brand-new project working with domestic violence survivors in Los Angeles at the same time.  Through fate, and a dash of speedy emailing, I was able to get an interview for this new position, armed with little more information than I’ve spelled out here.  And I think they mentioned something about Joe Biden.  After a few hours of incessant email refreshing; a quick application period; and a bit more waiting, I found out I’d received a Loyola Fellowship to coordinate the Los Angeles Project of a nationwide program, IMPACT.

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer opens yesterday’s IMPACT LA launch clinic.

From there, it was a whirlwind of bar studies and life changes. A few months later, I found myself in the Los Angeles office of OneJustice, hoping I was the only one who thought I had no idea what I was doing. My friends all gave me time-tested 20-something advice, “fake it ’til you make it.” After just a few months of working with the fabulous OneJustice team and the great folks from APBCo, I know I’m incredibly lucky to be here and that I have a remarkable opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.

My role as the Loyola Law School Post Graduate Public Interest Law Fellow is to coordinate the IMPACT LA Project. IMPACT is a nationwide project that was formed in response to a meeting between ABPCo members and Vice President Joe Biden.  The APBCo IMPACT (“Involving More Pro Bono Attorneys in Our Communities Together”) Project is taking root in eight urban centers, including Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The objective of the IMPACT Project is to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services by utilizing pro bono volunteers.

Here in LA, our project is a monthly clinic that provides free wrap-around legal services to survivors of domestic violence in South LA at the Jenesse Center, a leading domestic violence shelter and support center. At the clinics, volunteer attorneys from Los Angeles APBCo-member law firms provide free legal assistance in the areas of housing, immigration, and public benefits. And just yesterday, with the help of the LA City Attorney, Mike Feuer, we kicked off 2014 decisively.

Photo of IMPACT LA volunteer attorneys.

Volunteer attorneys from Latham & Watkins and Morrison & Foerster staffed the IMPACT LA launch clinic yesterday working with supervising attorneys from Public Counsel and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.

At our official IMPACT LA launch clinic yesterday, eight volunteer attorneys from Morrison & Foerster and Latham & Watkins gathered at the Jenesse Center to give generously of their time and energy.  During the clinic, the volunteers met with and advised six women, working closely with two supervising legal services attorneys from Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and Public Counsel.

And this was just the beginning.  We will now be running monthly clinics at the Jenesse Center, staffed by a rotation of pro bono attorneys from law firms and supervised by a partnership of local legal services nonprofits.

For me, the most impressive thing about last Friday’s clinic was the outpouring of support from volunteers for survivors of domestic violence.  It’s an issue that can be difficult to talk about for many.  However, my experience with the clinic has been that all of our volunteers are compassionate people who enjoy the opportunity to provide these services to women in the city that we all share.

And most importantly, the women who receive the services are able to better understand their situations and take control of their own lives.  And that is what makes my job so worthwhile. Well, that and being able to imagine that somewhere out there, Vice President Biden is proud of me.

——————————————————

Kelsey Williams sitting at her desk.Kelsey Williams is a Loyola Law School Post-Graduate Public Interest Law Fellow at OneJustice and runs IMPACT LA in Southern California. During law school, Kelsey spent one summer working in the Students’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Southern California and her second summer working with foster youth at Public Counsel. Kelsey is loving running IMPACT LA, learning more about the needs of domestic violence survivors, and devising ways for IMPACT LA to meet them.  If your law firm or corporate legal department is interested in volunteering for an IMPACT LA clinic, please email Kelsey at kwilliams@one-justice.org.

%d bloggers like this: