Staff Perspective

by Gail Quan, OneJustice Director

As someone who could be viewed as an example of the ”model minority”—child of Asian immigrants and raised in a working-class community in East Los Angeles who attended a top-rated college and became a lawyer—the recent attention to violence against Asian Americans reminds me that the creation of an equitable society remains a distant dream. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the economic and racial inequities of our society and resulted in the continued othering of Asian Americans.

Violence against Asian Americans is not new to me. The recent incidents remind me of the too numerous acts of violence committed against my family—my sister ran for her life when a man pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t get into his car; my father was knifed when he was mugged; and my grandfather died from injuries he sustained when he was assaulted and pushed down a flight of stairs.

The fascination with the “exoticism” of Asian women is also not new to me. Men introducing themselves and expressing an interest in visiting Tokyo became such a common occurrence that I learned it was easier to walk away and not mention that I was Chinese.

And the fear of being harmed during this pandemic because I am Asian is not new to me either. As stories of attacks and harassment against Asian Americans increased during shelter in place, I had a disturbing encounter that was frightening enough to make me develop a new routine that I still follow. I no longer leave my home alone without my partner knowing where I am going and without texting him that I arrived safely. I also always text him to let him know when he should expect me home or ask that he pick me up. Prior to the pandemic, I never took such steps. I used to feel safe in my neighborhood.

Despite the violence and its reminder of the long history of harm against people of color, I remain hopeful that this moment in time will bring us closer to a united society where all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ableness and religion are treated equitably, and that I and everyone else impacted by the violence in our country will again feel safe outside our homes. The support the Asian community has received from other organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the NAACP demonstrate that Asian Americans are not alone in standing against the violence they face. And this gives me hope.

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OneJustice has compiled a list of resources dedicated to supporting the communities most affected, reporting on continued racialized violence, and teaching bystander intervention strategies:

Resources:
Advancing Justice-Atlanta has a donations page for the Georgia shooting victims and their families:
https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/support-georgias-asian-american-community/

Advancing Justice- Atlanta’s community response statement:
https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/aaajcommunitystatement

Stop AAPI Hate is collecting data on hate incidents; the website has a reporting form available in 11 languages and also has reports and other resources available:
https://stopaapihate.org/

Stop AAPI Hate’s fiscal sponsor is the Bay Area nonprofit civil rights organization, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA):
https://caasf.org/

Advancing Justice-LA are providing assistance to people directly impacted by discrimination in housing, employment, consumer contracts, as well as other matters:
https://advancingjustice-la.org/anti-asian-discrimination

The California Asian Pacific American Bar Association has been holding a series of webinars on APAs and hate. Recordings for the first 2 events and links to register for future events are available:
https://cal-apaba.wildapricot.org/APAs-vs-Hate

Hollaback! has bystander intervention trainings (they have specific ones addressing anti-Asian harassment but also many other types, including addressing gender harassment and police sponsored violence and anti-Black harassment), and also guides and other helpful resources:
https://www.ihollaback.org/harassmenttraining/

Oakland Chinatown Coalition brings together cultural organizations to advocate for neighborhood improvement projects and community engagement. (NBC News):
https://www.facebook.com/chinatowncoalition/

Donate to The AAPI Community Fund, which benefits a growing list of organizations, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta; CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities; Center for Pan Asian Community Services and Oakland Chinatown Ambassadors Program:
https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/stop-aapi-hate

Support the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), which promotes the mental health and well being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities:
https://www.naapimha.org/

Partner Spotlight – Janay Eustace

This month’s Spotlight is on Janay Eustace, newly-appointed Executive Director of California Youth Connection and current Executive Fellows class member.

OneJustice Program Associate Miguel Martinez connected with Janay via Zoom to hear her amazing story which began as a teenage client of the nonprofit she now leads. Below is an abbreviation of their discussion.

Miguel: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Janay: I am a mom and I have 3 sons, 14, 11 and 6. I’m also a wife and a daughter, an auntie, a cousin, a sister, and I have a huge chosen family as well. Interestingly, the organization I work for, a lot of the youth that are in the organization as our members, they consider a lot of our community-building as really family building, so a lot of the youth that are a part the organization also feel like it’s more of a family. We really focus on making sure to build community, and really establish that, and center it so that our members can get that extra piece to being a member of CYC, which is that family and that belonging part.

I grew up in this organization, and I was a member when I was 14 years old. I did grow up in California’s foster care system for a part of my childhood and adolescence. I emancipated out of the foster care system and went on to become a social worker for a while for Sacramento County. Then I got my Master’s from Sac State, and went on to work in policy. My career choice is based not only on professional experience, but it’s based a lot on personal experience as well.

Miguel: Tell me about the work that you do and the mission of California Youth Connection.

Janay: I am very happy to say that I am the newly appointed Executive Director of the California Youth Connection. I came back to the organization as the Deputy Director and it was just amazing to come back to CYC. I’ve worked alongside CYC for many years now in doing a lot of different work. I realized that in many different roles that I carried and different jobs that I had, I always connected that work somehow back to CYC.

CYC is a youth-led organization to develop leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative policy and practice change. The vision is that all foster youth will be equal partners in contributing to all policies and decisions made in their lives. And all youth in foster care will have their needs met and support to grow into healthy and vibrant adults.

Ultimately, I noticed that in a lot of different areas of my career path before coming back to CYC, I always helped contribute to that mission in some way. Being a member at 14 years old, I never imagined that someday I would be able to co-lead this organization. I say co-lead because it’s my role to facilitate our youth board and our executive board and our community and ensure that we are holding all our members at the center, and really elevating their vision and their mission of this organization to hold that integrity. That to me is the most important part of this role.

Miguel: What are the key challenges facing your clients and what are you doing to address them?

Janay: The key challenge faced by current and former foster youth is lack of stability in many parts of their lives. They would move in the middle of the night or at any different time. They’d come home from school and their social worker could be there and tell them they’re changing placements and going to a new home, a new city, or even out of state. A big issue facing young people in the foster care system is instability in many aspects of their life.

This year, we’re empowering the young people to work on a policy issue where they’re redefining mental health. During this pandemic, through a survey they found that a lot of young people were lonely and having a lack of mental health support. The found that access to mental health services here in California is a real challenge, especially for current and former foster youth in the 18-26 age range. A lot of them weren’t able to access the emergency supports during this time because of insurance billing or service location issues.

CYC is challenging the system to redefine what mental health looks like to allow for access to services and supports as they’re needed, and to look outside the traditional medication management or therapeutic management to include acupuncture, horse back riding, extracurricular activities, gym memberships — alternatives that are not traditional in the foster care system. Many youth feel like they’re being over-medicated, not having a voice in the process, and ultimately overmedication makes them take on dependencies on other substance abuse that’s not healthy.

We are compiling a 10-point redefining mental health plan and spreading that in the community, and looking to partner with some of the systems to see how to reform and change that.

A huge part of our work is partnering with law firms like the Youth Law Center and other lawyers and advocates who help CYC bring the youth vision to fruition.

Miguel: How has the pandemic impacted your organization?

Janay: Tremendously. Youth have missed being together. We have two conferences a year. Day at the Capitol is where our members take on their legislative issue, meet with all of the legislators, share their personal stories and why the particular piece of legislation is important to them, and they ask for their support. It’s a great opportunity for all of these young people to advocate for the issues that affect their lives. This year it will be virtual for the first time in 30+ years. We also have a summer policy and leadership that was held virtually in July, which offers a lot of leadership and development opportunities for the youth that attend.

The camaraderie and community-building are missing and that’s huge because authentically engaging young folks in community-building virtually is much harder. One silver lining is that removing the barrier of travel has helped engage more youth from rural areas or even across the state.

Janay: honored to be the lone social worker among the group of lawyers

 

Miguel: In what ways have you been able to apply what you’ve learned through the Executive Fellows program?

Janay: My cohort within the cohort within the fellowship is an amazing group of women and I have learned so much from the three of them. I appreciate that fellowship and connection. What I have learned came right on time, during a leadership transition at CYC, when they were rebuilding. One of the first sessions was about value and belonging based cultures, so it came at the perfect time for me to ingest all of that great knowledge. I learned to put language to the culture I wanted to help thrive and build at CYC. We really want CYC to be an organization of belonging and value where all staff and our members feel valued, and that we all have something to contribute. It fit so perfectly with my role as facilitator to our executive board, youth board and our community .
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Miguel: Thank you so much. We hope that the Fellowship continues to empower you with new tools and techniques and the connection that you’re building.

Employee Spotlight on Dana Marquez Richardson

Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?

As Program Manager for the Healthy Nonprofits program, I help lead OneJustice’s policy work, including OneJustice’s advocacy to increase federal funding for legal aid organizations. Serving as OneJustice’s expert on federal funding issues, I lead OneJustice’s role in advocacy efforts in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, and help to ensure that all low-income Californians are being thought of when policies are put into place. As a member of the Healthy Nonprofits team, I also teach and advocate on issues that impact legal services organizations, including team and project management, supervision, and anti-racist practices.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work, and specifically the work of the policy team?

The biggest impact COVID-19 has had on our policy work is by having to transition to virtual lobbying from in person. Last year and this year, our usual trip to Washington D.C. to advocate for Legal Services Corporation funding has switched to a virtual format. This is great for the fact that we can have more staff join our visits without travel restrictions, but lobby visits do lose some personability by taking place online rather than face to face. The switch to virtual however has allowed us to participate in more virtual lobby meetings by partnering with other organizations and being able to do so from our home offices.

Can you describe your experience at the LAAC 2021 virtual Lobby week?
What was the purpose of the lobbying visits, who did you visit?

LAAC’s yearly lobbying day(s) are great because we, as OneJustice, get to go in and share the great work our legal services partners are doing, and how we, as a support center, help provide lasting support for these organizations and their staff. These visits are largely to introduce legislators and their staff to legal aid and to educate them on its importance. This year I was able to meet with Assemblymember Mark Stone, and Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and Senator Connie Leyva’s staff. Each visit was unique and provided us a great opportunity to talk about the unique challenges and opportunities for legal aid in each district.

What was the goal of the virtual lobbying?

This year, our asks revolved around legal aid funding, IOLTA eligibility, and court funding and safety. For legal aid funding, we encouraged lawmakers to support a one-time $20 million budget item to the Equal Access Fund (the line item in the budget that funds legal aid) to backfill losses to IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) of over 60% from 2019. IOLTA is the main funding source for legal aid in California and as a result of a decrease in IOLTA funding, funding for legal assistance is going down at the exact wrong time, when the demand for legal assistance is going up. Decreasing funding means less recruitment and less retention of hardworking legal aid lawyers right when we need to be ramping up both to meet a growing need.
Through Senate Bill 498, introduced by Senator Umberg, we want to increase the eligibility for IOLTA-funded legal services from 125% to 200% of the federal poverty level. This is a long overdue change that means more people can access legal aid. The increase would cover people who are still low-income by California standards and would allow for more individuals in need to be eligible for legal services.
Our third ask was for continued investment in the judicial system to include stable and reliable funding for courts to address annual cost increases in baseline operations and help plan for the future. Because of COVID-19, we have seen access to the courts for our low-income clients suffer. Additional investments into the courts would include providing resources to improve physical access to the courts, expanding access by increasing the ability of court users to conduct court operations online, restoring programs and services that were reduced over the past few years, and continuing to implement innovations in programs and services, such as for self-represented litigants and other disadvantaged court users.

What do you think is the most pressing advocacy/ policy issue for legal aid right now?

I think funding is always an issue for legal aid. However, due to the decrease in IOLTA funds this year, this need feels even more pressing than usual. The current justice gap in California is large. For example, 85% of low-income Californians receive no or inadequate legal help, which means we need to provide more access to legal aid. One issue with this is that there simply aren’t enough legal aid lawyers to meet the need. Even with recent funding increases, there is still only 1 legal aid lawyer for every 5,500 Californians eligible for their services.. Legal aid lawyers are paid far less than many of their counterparts in the legal profession, struggle with educational debt and the cost of living, and have to navigate high levels of emotional exhaustion. These things compound and make it challenging to recruit and retain legal aid lawyers, which impacts client services. Additional funding, while not the answer to all problems, would go a long way in improving client services holistically.

What is something you think is something that is important our broader audience understands about policy advocacy and legal aid?

The advocacy we do is for the benefit of all who interact with the legal aid system. By improving legal aid attorneys’ quality of life, this improves their ability to serve clients. By providing stable funding for services and programs, this improves community based relationships with organizations that provide services outside of the legal system. By providing more resources and access to the courts, this improves the efficacy and efficiency of our judicial system. All of these things are interconnected and at the end of the day, by making any of these services work better, we are improving the lives of those we care about most: the low-income Californians seeking our services.

Spotlight on Tim Ethier, OneJustice Client

For many low-income Californians, finding employment is challenging, and for those with criminal records, can be nearly impossible. People with a criminal record can face lifelong barriers to housing, employment, parental rights, public assistance, and permanent immigration status.

During the pandemic OneJustice has worked to expand access to expungement clinics both in person, and virtually to provide clients with free legal services to restore their criminal records. Expungements have the potential to provide low-income clients with a fresh start, a clean slate, and a fair opportunity to fully engage in their communities.

Today I’m honored to share with you the first-hand story of Tim (pictured above), who received free legal assistance at a OneJustice clinic, in partnership with our legal aid and pro bono partners, to expunge his criminal record.

_______________________________________________________________________

“My name is Tim Ethier, I live in Ventura, California, I have been a lifetime resident of California, and a lifetime resident of Ventura. And basically I am here today to tell my story, briefly, so that OneJustice, the organization that I am speaking about understands not only the gratitude and the importance of the organization, but also to give a personal testimony about what my struggle was throughout the years of my life.

To give you a brief overview, when I got into a bad place with addiction and alcoholism, like a lot of people a criminal record always accompanies that and sometimes it is a result of that or it manifests itself in different ways, so it is important to realize that my testimony is my personal experience, and everybody has their own story, so whatever I can do to inspire you to move on without getting too drug down with the personal details.

My story started about six years ago and I had gotten to a place with drugs and alcohol that was unmanageable at that point. As things happen and your irresponsibility happens with your addiction you create a path behind you that creates a criminal record, and a lot of us have it. It can be anything from a DUI, which I had, to petty theft and domestics and things like that. All misdemeanors but all horrible results of my irresponsibility and my inability to get to the core of my addiction and my problems.

Once I addressed those issues, I was able to do that with the assistance of the Ventura County Rescue Mission, which helped me in the Life Recovery Program and when I graduated that program I was able to start the process of restoring my criminal record. For a lot of people that is uncharted territory like it was for myself, and so I reached out and I put myself out to different organizations and even private lawyers, and I started with the Public Defender’s office in my county and they referred me to the National Legal Defense Fund, which referred me to OneJustice.

The reason why I want to give my testimony today for OneJustice is because this organization was imperative in the process of assisting me to represent myself throughout my expungement process. I say imperative because you can’t really do it by yourself. The legal community is a very tight knit and very difficult place to navigate if you don’t really know the process of lawyers and public defenders and all that, or how to get this process done.

So once I got to a clearheaded place and I started to practice my sobriety, I wanted to restore my character and my criminal record, and when I got to the place where I was able to do that I had a plethora of resources available. But what I want to emphasize is that it takes individual work, individual time and individual patience for anyone to put these things into action. So by no means are you going to be able to rely solely on an organization, whatever the entity is, to do the work for you. But OneJustice was invaluable in the process from the beginning, not only advocating for my recovery, but advocating for the process of wanting to restore my character.

I keep referring to restoring my character because when you look at somebody, and you do an interview in this day in age, especially via Zoom or you do it in an interview for a job or anything, you can create a beautiful resume and a beautiful story about yourself, but if they look at your background it can be a problem, and a lot of people say oh we just have to clear your background and you’ll be good, I can’t tell you how many times I lost prime jobs because of my background and my criminal background. I was thinking that I’m just going to be stuck in this job, and I’m not going to be able to flourish and get back on my feet and so I got tired of that, I got tired of the refusal of jobs that I knew I deserved and I knew that I could perform at because of a bad criminal record. Criminal records can haunt you for the rest of your life if you don’t do anything about them. For those people who don’t have a criminal record it’s easy, but for those that acquire them due to results of irresponsibility and phases in their life, if they don’t address those things they can haunt them for many years, and I was experiencing that. Being a middle aged guy looking to restore my income and find a career, I found the obstacles were huge for me with this criminal record.

So I went backwards and went back to square one and was able to find OneJustice, which advocated for me, and wrote letters for me and connected me with pro bono lawyers to represent me in court when I wasn’t able to do that myself. So basically my testimony today is just to tell you that if you don’t put work in and you don’t reach out, nothings going to happen and obviously nothing comes from nothing. The action that you need to take requires patience and diligence, and forethought, but you also have to be able to communicate with people and trust the process, because if you don’t trust the process and be patient with it, you can give up on it easily. And I did that for years, I gave up on myself and I gave up on a lot of things. But this was something I really wanted for myself and I felt like the team at OneJustice really embraced that passion for me to come back into the fold and address what was necessary for me to restore my character and restore my criminal record.

We all want instant gratification, we all want things to happen right away, and restoration takes a long time to reconcile, and so I had to learn patience, and it has helped me in my job, in the way that I approach people, its helped me in the way I approach my kids, they see a difference, and it is rewarding to see them flourish and not worry about the past that you had, and so I feel honored and blessed that I had the opportunity to be able to trust an organization that went all the way to the wall for me, they went all the way. And you didn’t have to do that , and that is something that I really feel blessed and honored to be a part of because of course I was really doubting that it was going to get done, and when you go on a website and you look up interior superior court, and you see all these things that are dismissed by expungement, and then you get the letter, I didn’t really believe it online, I had to have the hard copies of the letters, which I have at my disposal now, and I’m probably going to frame them and put them up somewhere, but I felt like it wasn’t really tangible until I had the paper in my hand, and it wasn’t something I could imagine.

For some people they buy their way out of this stuff and they are able to look the other way because they have a job that is fine, but it was a personal thing for me, it was personally embarrassing and personally something I didn’t want to be out there, so when you take that initiative to restore your character it is a different road, you can restore a lot of things, but restoring your character takes a lot of time with people, believe me not everyone bought into it and I hurt a lot of people along the way. That reconciliation with them was a motivator, especially with my kids because they look at me totally differently now and that’s representative of putting things into action and not just talking about it, and that’s what people need to realize. I can tell you all day how to do things, what to do, and inspire and motivate you, but you have to put the work in, and if you don’t put the work in, then you won’t get the results you want, so I just feel blessed that you gave me the chance to do that, so thank you.

On February 24, 2021 all six of my charges were dropped. And they were dropped free of charge because I was able to get a waiver. I owed over $10,000 to the courts, and they waived all of that. So there is hope and a path that you can take and doesn’t apply to everyone, but it applied to me. And I was able to take the time and energy to trust people to write letters on my behalf, and I finally got a judge to sign off on all my stuff and I can’t tell you the sense of accomplishment that you have when you are able to clear that. I work for UPS now, and I just got another promotion, so this is a process that happened because of the team and the energy that comes from trusting an organization like OneJustice, and so I am eternally grateful for their time and energy and resources that they provided for me, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being able to have a chance to tell this story, so thank you.”

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Spotlight on OneJustice’s Newest Board Members

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Christian Abasto 

Legal Advocacy Unit Director, Disability Rights California

What made you interested in becoming a member of the OneJustice Board of Directors?

I participated in your Executive Fellowship Program many years ago.  I helped shape me a leader and a manager and is part of my foundation that lead to me being the legal director at DRC.  I love the program and try to send staff to the program every year.

What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective in your work with OneJustice?

Legal Director at a Disability Rights Organization and longtime legal services lawyer.  I have developed substantial expertise on disability justice, race equity, DEI issues, etc.  I am hoping that my extensive background will help one justice as it adapts and grows in a post pandemic world.

What would you like to accomplish as a Board member?

Help the organization develop a clear mission and vision and support Phil in any way that I can.

Tell us about yourself – any interesting facts or what do you like to do for fun?

I like to stay active and fit.  I do a lot of weight lifting.  I am a foodie and a gin drinker.  I also like getting tattoos.

 

Ben Adams

Vice President, Chief Commercial and IP Counsel,  PayPal

 What made you interested in becoming a Board member for OneJustice? 

I have had the chance to work with OneJustice as a volunteer, as well as sponsoring an Equal justice Works fellow who spent the last 2 years working with OneJustice.  I am committed to service and am excited to support the work and mission of OneJustice.

What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective? 

I’m a senior leader in PayPal and within the PayPal legal department I serve as our Chief Commercial and IP Counsel and lead our global legal pro bono efforts and have recently begun working on a mission to expand skills based volunteering more broadly across PayPal.  I also bring a unique global perspective having spent much of my professional career outside of the US, having lived and worked in places as varied as India, Finland, England and Cameroon.

What would you like to accomplish a member of the Board of Directors? 

I’m keen to help challenge the status quo and understand not only how we can best manage thru the current challenges facing the OneJustice community, but also understand how we can take the lessons learned and leverage new practices to make OneJustice stronger and even more impactful for the longer term.

Tell us about yourself -any interesting facts or what do you like to do for fun?

I served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, Central Africa from 1994-1997 and that experience is foundational to my service mindset.  I had the great fortune to marry an amazing person (Elizabeth) that has been up for a life of adventure and we have 3 wonderful daughters (14, 16 and 18) that do their best to keep us on our toes.  For relaxation, I love to get outside and you can regularly find me exploring the wilds of California, whether it’s biking, hiking, skiing or surfing…I love it all.

 

Cindy Pánuco

Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Public Counsel

What made you interested in becoming a member of the OneJustice Board of Directors?

As someone who is new to legal services, but not to systems change work, I was interested in the cutting edge initiatives to increase the capacity of legal services providers across the state. At a time when those already living at the margins are surviving through the worst economic and health crisis of our generation, the work of One Justice to support the legal aid attorneys who are on the front lines is more critical than ever.

What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective in your work with OneJustice?

I am the Vice President and Chief Program Officer of Public Counsel – the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. I am also the daughter of low-income immigrants from Mexico. Because of my own background, and the socio-economic status of my family, all of the wok of Public Counsel is personal to me. I hope to bring my perspective coming from the client community, and as a leader with knowledge of on the ground issues to guide the work of One Justice to meet those needs.

What would you like to accomplish as a Board member?

I hope to work with the staff of One Justice to provide the resources and guidance they need to meet the challenges and crises of the day.

Tell us about yourself – interesting facts or what do you like to do for fun?

When not working or carrying out service on the boards of non-profits and professional associations, I enjoy trying to develop a green thumb, and growing and caring for over 50 house plants I acquired during the quarantine. I’m taking any and all tips for keeping a zebra plant alive.

 

Rachel Williams

Pro Bono Counsel, Morrison & Foerster

What made you interested in becoming a member of the OneJustice Board of Directors? 

I have been a fan of OneJustice for many years—since Julia Wilson, who had the locker next to me in law school, took the helm.  In the early days, Julia asked me to be part of an advisory committee to help think through the ambitious idea she had that later became the Executive Fellows Program.  Over the years, I have had the pleasure of talking with dozens of current and past Fellows who have spoken rhapsodically about how much they benefitted from the program.  I have also worked closely with wonderful OneJustice staff members in countless ways in the 12 years I have been helping to manage Morrison & Foerster’s pro bono program.  I know what a critical role OneJustice plays in supporting the legal aid and pro bono community in California and am looking forward to contributing to the organization through board service.

What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective in your work with OneJustice?

I am one of three Pro Bono Counsel at Morrison & Foerster.  I manage the pro bono program in our Bay Area and European offices.  I hope to share my perspectives on law firm and in-house legal department pro bono programs and how OneJustice can collaborative most effectively with those parts of the pro bono community in California.

What would you like to accomplish as a Board member?
I would like to help get the word out about OneJustice’s great work in hopes of increasing broad support for its mission.  It can sometimes be a challenge to explain OneJustice’s critical role in the legal services and pro bono realms in California since much of its work is done behind the scenes.  I hope to help more people understand the importance of its work.

Tell us about yourself – any interesting facts or what do you like to do for fun?

I love hiking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cooking, and spending time with my husband and our daughters, ages 11 and 13.  We have been lucky enough to have taken our daughters to see two Women’s World Cups;  our hope is that the world will open up again before the next one in 2023!

Employee Spotlight on Miguel Martinez

Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?

My role at OneJustice involves assisting the Statewide PBJ team with logistical preparation of the clinics, implementation of the clinics, and support with after clinic administrative tasks. I also support the Healthy Nonprofits team with the logistical and administrative work with the Executive Fellowship. Most recently I am also part of the Homelessness Prevention Project and will assist the team with the planning, coordination, and implementation of the Remote Housing Court Hearing Toolkit.    

Can you tell us about the impact COVID has had on managing clinics? What is the most challenging aspect of virtual clinics?

In the beginning one of the most challenging aspects was converting all of our physical clinic documents into pdf fillable forms. Prior to COVID all of our clinics were done using physical papers, which did not have fillable pdfs. Before COVID hit us, the client and probonos were given physical folders that contained paper clinic documents. Since we had several different clinics such as housing, expungement, estate planning and immigration, each clinic folder had specific paper documents that were not electronically accessible or fillable. I was tasked in the beginning with ensuring that all our clinic forms contained in probono folders and client folders were all accessible and fillable electronically.

We also prepared a client clinic preparation guide that explained to clients what to do to prepare for their remote clinic, which included instructions about how to download zoom, how to log into zoom, and how to sign their documents virtually. This part was also challenging given that it required translating the client prep guide into Spanish. 

Can you describe your role with the Executive Fellowship program?

As a Program Associate I am tasked with three areas to support the Executive Fellowship program, including: (1) Assisting the Director to prepare materials for each session, (2) maintaining communication with fellows with any assistance they may need,  and (3) serving as the main host in managing all zoom sessions of the executive fellowship. 

How has the program had to shift due to COVID and work from home?

The program has had to modernize the implementation of it’s program. Similar to the clinic’s challenges, the fellowship had several paper documents that were not electronically accessible or fillable in pdf format. In the past, the fellows met physically in a location and everything was done using traditional paper work. The fellows had physical folders. Due to COVID many of the fellowship materials had to be made electronically accessible and fillable. The program has also had to use zoom as a platform to hold virtual clinics. Since fellows meet virtually, the experience is not the same as it was in person. This is such that in person fellows were able to physically be with each other and build relationships.
Virtually it was a bit challenging for fellows to connect since they were not in the same room physically. One way to foster fellows’ sense of connection was implementing ice breakers and putting them in break out groups of 4 in each room to do their ice breakers. This has allowed the fellows to get to know each other by doing fun activities that build connections. We also pair up fellows at the end and give them time to talk about what they enjoyed, learned, or would implement at their organization. This was also a strategy we used to foster building relationships among the fellows.

What do you think has been the most valuable takeaway from this year’s Executive Fellowship program for the attendees?

One of the most valuable takeaways from this fellowship has been that the fellows feel informed and empowered as leaders. Many have expressed that they will implement the ideas, techniques and strategies they are learning in their work.

Pro Bono Conference Opening Plenary

Thank you to our Pro Bono Conference Opening Plenary speakers! Following are some highlight quotes from each participant. To view the recorded video, click here.

Zöe Polk, East Bay Community Law Center:

“We are recovering from the wounds of 2020.”

“We don’t want to go back to a pre-COVID world in which people use the word equity in this very ambiguous way and were scared to say racial equity.”

“We can no longer accept a system that values white wealth above black and brown lives.”

“We have to act like it’s radically possible to change the world.”

 

Ilyce Shugall, Immigrant Legal Defense:

“Our immigration system has been broken for a long time.”

“From an immigrant advocate perspective, we’re not only exhausted because of the relentless attacks on the communities we serve, but we’re also exhausted just from the almost daily changes in immigration law and procedure.”

“We’re also preparing for more exhaustion in trying to learn new changes in the laws and procedures that we know are coming.”

 

Cindy Pánuco, Public Counsel

“…feeling like we can catch our breath and maybe start getting out of this survival crisis mode so we can assess how to best move forward.”

“We have to really look at radical change.”

“…there was a larger focus on our mental health and well-being. Organizations and advocates are recognizing the secondary trauma that we’ve all felt.”

“We have to put our oxygen masks on first.”

 

Maureen Alger, Cooley LLP

“There have been shifts in the type of pro bono that we’re doing.”

“We’ve been shifting from one crisis to another, learning really well how to pivot.”

“Need to figure out how to help with the housing crisis that is coming.”

“There is more of a focus on some of these systemic issues, and systemic racism in particular.”

Inclusive Leadership Resources

This month the Executive Fellowship cohort welcomed Neha Sampat, CEO of GenLead/Belong Lab to discuss the topic of Inclusive Leadership: Building Belonging and Busting Bias. Below are some essential and valuable resources shared by Neha and other members of the cohort which address techniques for inclusive leadership.

Welcome our newest Advisory Board Member, Allison Day!

Allison Day, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

What made you interested in becoming an Advisory Board member for OneJustice?

During my first few years at my firm, I had the privilege of working with some amazing organizations on pro bono matters addressing immigration and education adequacy issues.  Based on those experiences, I wanted to find a way to support other lawyers looking to contribute.  I learned about OneJustice from a former colleague, Josh Meltzer, and thought that it would be a fantastic way to promote pro bono efforts in my community.

What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective?

I am currently a litigation associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in San Francisco.  I know that my colleagues are always looking for opportunities to give back while simultaneously honing their litigation skills.  I hope to contribute ideas and insights about how to make pro bono work a seamless and fulfilling part of my peers’ practice.

What would you like to accomplish as an Advisory Board member?

As an Advisory Board member, I hope to both learn more about the needs of my local community and help OneJustice extend its outreach.  I’m looking forward to contributing my love for developing new organizational systems and structures to support the great work that is already being done.

Tell us about yourself – interesting facts or what do you like to do for fun?

My father was in the military and I moved around quite a bit as a child, but I’ve always thought of California as my home.  After spending 7 years on the East Coast, I’m thrilled to be back in the Bay Area and have enjoyed being able to get outside and enjoy all that California has to offer, whether its walking along the coast or hiking in the Sierra.

OneJustice’s Partnership with Inland Counties Legal Services, Inc.

Inland Counties Legal Services, Inc. (ICLS) is a legal aid organization headquartered in Riverside County and serves the Inland Empire. The work they do provides essential and life changing legal assistance to those in greatest need within the vast and diverse regions of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. OneJustice has recently partnered with Inland Counties Legal Services to assist with their strategic planning. Additionally, several of the staffers have attended some of OneJustice’s online trainings!

As part of OneJustice’s Healthy Nonprofits Program, OneJustice provides consulting services in a variety of areas. Organizational strategic planning has been a top priority for many organizations across California as legal aid organizations attempt to be nimble in these ever-changing times while still holding up their mission and their clients. OneJustice worked with ICLS to develop and implement their own strategic planning process. According to Tori Praul, ICLS’ Deputy Director of Community Engagement, “OneJustice’s assistance was invaluable. The guidance and behind-the-scenes work provided by Chris (and Gail) enabled us to complete what would have been an unwieldly project efficiently, effectively, and on time. The finished project is a departure from past ICLS strategic plans and the roadmap it provides for the coming years places ICLS on track to grow from a good to great organization.”

Additionally, OneJustice provides educational opportunities to those in the legal services. These trainings, as part of the Capacity Building Academy and Organizational Change Accelerators, are designed to increase and organizations effectiveness and efficiency in how they service their clients and run their nonprofit. One of the great aspects of these opportunities is that they are not limited to being in-person. Therefore, OneJustice has seen an increase in participation during the pandemic as more people turn to online training especially for new staffers. According to Paulette Gray, ICLS’ Pro Bono Coordinator, “As a new Pro Bono Coordinator, I received the tools and information needed to grow in my new position by participating in the discussions and connecting with other Pro Bono managers across the state, who were experienced and engaging, which provided a free flow of information and networking.  Throughout my interactions with OneJustice staff, each has demonstrated nothing but professionalism, patience, and purpose.”

ICLS and OneJustice have a shared goal of bringing life changing legal aid to those most in need. OneJustice hopes that our role assists ICLS in doing their critical work in the Inland Empire even better than before.
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