Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?
I am a program coordinator on the NorCal clinics team. One of my main roles is to develop and maintain long term relationships with legal services providers (support them in whatever it may be) and community partners throughout our virtual legal clinics. I also connect with our clients in the immigrant communities and establish and build a trusted relationship with them. I am also a co-lead of the Equity and Inclusion Committee.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work, and the work of our partner organizations?
It was difficult to brainstorm virtual clinics in the very beginning of the pandemic! Our physical clinics were an opportunity for the legal service providers, clients and the pro bono volunteers to come together for a day and build stronger relationships with them all and provide multiple free legal services to underrepresented communities.
What has the process been like developing and facilitating remote legal clinics?
Once we figured out our strategy to have remote legal clinics we had a lot of momentum! We noticed a huge shift with clients attending the remote clinics versus physical clinics. In our virtual setting, clients could do it out of the comfort of their own home and not have to drive somewhere, worry about a babysitter, etc. We experienced some hiccups because at times it is a bit more difficult to build relationships with the pro bono volunteers virtually, or to give people the benefit of the doubt. We can only see so much in our virtual setting.
What types of clinics have you been able to assist with since March?
Since March we have been able to assist with DACA renewals, citizenship applications, record clearance, estate planning, and general immigration screenings.
Have you been able to get a sense of the greatest challenges the clients are facing during COVID?
Since we concentrate primarily with the immigrant community with our remote legal clinics a lot of these clients are essential workers and caregivers/parents in the midst of a pandemic. Unfortunately, some of them didn’t qualify for a stimulus check due to their immigration status which is incredibly frustrating. Overall, when you are a low income BIPOC this pandemic hits a lot harder in different ways.
Anything else you think would be valuable or important for readers to know?
If anyone is interested in volunteering in our virtual legal clinics (especially Spanish speaking people) please email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always in need of legal volunteers for our clinics.