OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

Tag Archives: Rural Justice Collaborative

Meet our summer law clerks! Part 1

Join us in welcoming Grant, Erika, Kyle, and Chris to the OneJustice team!

Each summer, we’re excited to have summer law clerks join the OneJustice team. These law clerks will be responsible for assisting with a variety of our Pro Bono Justice projects and will use their skills at mobile legal clinics. Please join us in welcoming the first two summer law clerks, Grant and Erika!


IMAGE: Summer Law Clerk Grant Lehner will be assisting with the Justice Bus Project.

Summer Law Clerk Grant Lehner will be assisting with the Justice Bus Project.

Welcome, Grant! Tell us, what drew you to the work of OneJustice and what will be you be working on?

I was initially drawn to OneJustice because of our desire to bring access to high-quality legal aid to everyone, not just those who can afford it. Justice doesn’t work if it’s only accessible to some. In order for a society to actually work, everyone has to be playing by the same rules, on the same field, and OneJustice’s desire to bring life-changing legal help to those individuals who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise helps balance out the scales of justice. This is something I absolutely love.

I’ll be working on the Justice Bus Project, assisting in the organization and implementation of clinics in rural parts of California. These are places where people almost never get to access lawyers, and I am extremely excited to help bring a little assistance into their lives.

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

I currently go to school at Georgetown University Law Center (GULC), and have worked for a few environmental nonprofits during my gap. At GULC, I’ve helped with the International Migrant’s Bill of Rights, a submission to the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees. I have also helped folks with Special Immigrant Visas pass through the immigration process as part of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Wow — both sound like very rewarding experiences! Finally, what’s something quirky about you?

In my spare time, I really enjoy sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags, and walking very long distances with a heavy backpack for no particular reason. I also love to slather rocks with white powder and fall off of them in dramatic fashion. Back in DC, I volunteer at Catalyst Climbing clinics, helping folks with various disabilities get up on the rock and kick some major boulder booty.

IMAGE: Summer Law Clerk Erika Villaseñor will be helping with Rural Justice Collaborative and the Justice Bus Project.

Summer Law Clerk Erika Villaseñor will be helping with Rural Justice Collaborative and the Justice Bus Project.

Thank you, Grant! And welcome, Erika! Why did you choose OneJustice for your summer clerkship? What will you be responsible for at the organization?

I was immediately drawn by OneJustice’s mission to increase access to high-quality legal services for individuals living in rural parts of California. As someone who grew up in the Central Valley, I understand the needs and share experiences with some of the underserved populations OneJustice serves. I am passionate about reforming both our immigration and criminal justice systems, so I look forward to being part of an organization that serves as an innovation lab and is currently working to transform the civil legal aid system.

As a Summer Law Clerk, I will be supporting the Pro Bono Justice Program in Northern California. I will have the opportunity to provide various types of legal assistance to Californians living in rural parts of the state through OneJustice’s Rural Justice Collaborative and the Justice Bus Project. I will be using the skills I learned during my first year of law school and my experiences to help make legal aid services more accessible to underserved and unserved populations.

Great to have you on the team! Tell us, what did you do before coming to OneJustice?

I am currently a rising 2L at University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). As a first year student, I was involved in the La Raza Workers’ and Tenants’ Rights Clinic at Centro Legal de La Raza in Oakland and the Immigrants’ Rights Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects. Prior to law school, I worked alongside community organizations, a state government representative, and grassroots organizations in Bakersfield.

And, final question: what is something quirky about you?

I love gummies! Sprouts Farmers Market has the best ones — 12 Flavor Gummi Bears.

Thank you so much for joining us this summer — we’re excited to have you aboard! 

She hears their calls…

Welcome to our new Pro Bono Justice Program Associate, Lyla Bugara!

We’re super excited to introduce you to the newest member of our team! Lyla will be working with the Pro Bono Justice Program, which fosters volunteerism in the legal profession and builds innovative, private/nonprofit collaborations that deliver free legal services to vulnerable communities. So to get to know her better, we sat down with Lyla this week and asked her a few questions!

Please join us in welcoming her to the OneJustice network!


Photo: Lyla Bugara, the new Pro Bono Justice Program Associate in the San Francisco office.

Meet Lyla Bugara, the new Pro Bono Justice Program Associate in the San Francisco office.

Thank you for joining us today, Lyla! Tell us what drew you to the work of OneJustice?

I was extremely excited by the opportunity to work at OneJustice because of the organization’s commitment to systemic and transformative change. OneJustice is a unique nonprofit in that it takes a bird’s-eye view of the legal aid system in California and works to develop innovative solutions to the many problems that plague our state’s justice system. Millions of people live their lives every day without access to legal resources just because of where they live, how much money they make, where they were born, what language they speak, the color of their skin, and their gender identity. It’s wildly unjust, and the time for change was yesterday! The good news is that we are living in historic times. Thousands of Black and brown people across the country are rising up to say “enough!” to systemic racism and oppression. I hear their calls. And OneJustice’s work plays such an important part in the fight for equal justice, economic justice, and racial justice. I am honored to work here.

We’re honored to have you on the team! What will you be doing in your role at OneJustice?

As the Pro Bono Justice Program Associate, I will be responsible for managing the Justice Bus Project in Northern California and clinic coordination for the Rural Justice Collaborative. Both of these programs provide essential legal services to people living in rural areas who might otherwise never be served. I hope to ensure these projects best serve the needs of oppressed and marginalized Californians, while transforming the legal aid system in California.

We look forward to hearing about this work in the near future! What were you up to before coming to OneJustice? 

In 2011, I worked at the Correctional Association of New York advocating for an end to the incarceration of domestic violence survivors. From 2012-2016, I worked at ColorOfChange, the country’s largest online civil rights organization, as Criminal Justice Campaign Manager where I managed campaigns relating to ending for-profit prisons and anti-Black police violence.

It sounds like really rewarding work! And final question, tell us something about you that is not work-related!

I was born and raised Macrobiotic — a Japanese diet based on the power of whole foods to heal and nourish the body. From ages 10-13, I went to “Macro Camp” every summer. 🙂

Thank you so much for your time, Lyla! We’re happy to welcome you to the OneJustice team!

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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!

Everybody can be great because everybody can serve

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the OneJustice network paid homage to him by bringing justice to rural communities that need it most.

Photo: Poverty Density in California

Poverty Density in California

California currently has the largest poverty population in the country. In the state alone, between 8 to 12 million low-income residents are eligible for free civil legal aid, and most of them live in rural communities.

To meet this great need, OneJustice is joining forces with community partners and organizations around the state by participating in the White House Rural Council‘s Rural Impact initiative, a national effort to enlist volunteers and organizations to strengthen and build thriving rural communities. To do this, our Justice Bus and Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative projects are mobilizing more urban attorneys and law students to provide free legal services in these communities.

Photo: Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. volunteer attorneys aboard the Justice Bus to Modesto, California.

Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. volunteer attorneys aboard the Justice Bus to Modesto, California.

In fact, today, volunteer attorneys from Morrison & Foerster LLP and Yahoo Inc. are traveling on the Justice Bus to Modesto to provide free immigration assistance to those who need it.

We continue to be amazed by the commitment of our wonderful volunteers and community partners in the effort to expand access to justice.

Stay tuned as our network works together to #ServeRural!

Look what you’ve done over the past year…

You brought justice to 1,383 Californians! Wow!

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

Final 2015 Report Back Infographic (with map pins)

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

Meet our Expert Dancer and Tae Kwon Do Master

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

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

Please welcome Miguel and Brandon!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last thing, what is something quirky about you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

%d bloggers like this: