March 26, 2019
One of the things that makes OneJustice truly unique is the number of ways that we support and strengthen California’s legal aid system. Today may have seemed like a normal day in the office. Staff trickling in from all across the Bay Area in the morning before running off to meetings. Flurries of conversations in the new Los Angeles office space. Staff fielding calls and emails from other organizations. In other words, a day just like any other!
OneJustice’s Lusik Gasparyan, Program Manager and Ana Urgiles, Program Associate, started off their morning in Rohnert Park training a group of attorneys from across the Bay Area––some traveling from as far as 2.5 hours away–– to staff a free immigration clinic. More than a dozen clients––mothers and fathers, neighbors, friends––eagerly awaited their arrival so they can get the crucial legal support they need to take the next steps to renew their DACA status or file for citizenship. In the state of California, there are about 800 full-time legal aid attorneys, or roughly one for every 16,250 Californians in need. In Sonoma County there are 11 legal aid staff attorneys. Today, these volunteers brought that number to 21.
The same time the OneJustice clinic in Rohnert Park was starting, Roel Mangiliman, Director of Innovation and Learning, is training 11 legal aid leaders from six Bay Area Legal Aid Nonprofits on how to build and lead innovation at their organizations. Red boardroom chairs are pushed to the far walls of a boardroom in Berkeley as hundreds of post-it notes are flung onto a glass wall in a flurry. Roel is spending the day running and teaching high-engagement innovation exercises focused on human-centered design. The goal: to consistently iterate ideas, question everything, and create a final product that brings meaningful and accessible solutions to the real life legal problems of so many Californians.
Over 2,800 miles away, Renée Schomp, Senior Staff Attorney, is at the 2019 Pro Bono Institute Conference in Washington DC, the biggest national pro bono conference of the year. Renée is facilitating a session on the changing pro bono landscape. Leaders from across the sector, and across the country, are sharing their experiences from working with pro bono attorneys and volunteers, their expertise in the field, and the best practices they have developed.
Back in OneJustice’s San Francisco Office, Chris McConkey, Dana Marquez, and Fredrick Ghai, with Bruno Huziar calling in from our Los Angeles office, are in our 8th floor conference room. They are putting together the final strategy points for their upcoming trip to DC. The 4 of them –– along with Renée, and OneJustice CEO, Julia Wilson –– are less than two weeks away from walking the halls of congress lobbying to protect federal funding for vital legal services from the draconian cuts proposed by the Trump administration in their latest budget.
At OneJustice, we don’t just claim to transform California’s legal aid system. We actually do it – every day. From working on the ground in underserved communities across the state, to training more than 75% of California’s legal aid organizations, to amplifying the work of these nonprofits in Congress, we work at every level to improve and expand the reach of California’s civil legal aid system. We fight for a California where access to justice is not a privilege — it’s a right.