We hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving last week, surrounded by friends, family, and other loved ones! For those of you who have been a part of our OneJustice network for the past few years, please know how important the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is to us.
Every Tuesday after Thanksgiving, OneJustice celebrates #GratitudeTuesday, where we take a moment out of our busy days to reflect on the many things for which we are grateful. Our work is supported by so many different organizations and individuals – from our community partners across the state, to our Board of Directors, to our generous donors and volunteers. Without you all, it would be impossible for us to truly transform California’s civil legal aid system.
For each and every one of you in the OneJustice network, we are SO thankful – and wanted to share our deepest gratitude with you!
Earlier this fall, you met some new folks on our staff team, and we’re thrilled to let you know that they are not the only new members of the OneJustice family! We’re excited for you to meet the newest member of the OneJustice Board of Directors: Vanessa Frank, an immigration attorney with a growing practice in Ventura County. Previously, Vanessa also worked as a staff attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) Inc., one of OneJustice’s frequent partners on statewide projects. As you welcome Vanessa to the OneJustice board and network, we wanted to share some information to help you get to know her a little better.
What made you interested in becoming a OneJustice Board member?
I have known about and respected OneJustice’s work since I was in college in the Bay Area seeking a job and went to the Public Interest Clearinghouse to look through all the binders to dream of the career I might build for myself. I am so proud now to be on the Board to have the opportunity to work alongside folks from a variety of experiences and with the brilliant and dedicated staff.
What is your professional role and how do you hope to use your perspective as a Board member?
I have built my own human rights advocacy law firm from scratch here in Ventura County, California where our mission is to provide top-notch immigration legal advice and advocacy for our clients and also to build the movement for human dignity, political power, and solidarity among the diverse populations of the Central Coast.
What are your hopes for your time as a Board member?
I look forward to supporting the development and expansion of experimental projects to bring legal services and advocacy to rural and other marginalized communities across our state. For example, as a member of the Board of Directors, I have already attended a Central Coast Immigrant Defense Collaborative meeting with Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other state representatives.
Tell us about yourself – something you love to do, a hobby, recreational activity, or something quirky about yourself.
In my free time, I mostly find myself working on these same issues, but sometimes I also take time away from all of it, going skiing, traveling to visit friends around the world, or going backpacking in the wild.
Please join the entire OneJustice network in welcoming Vanessa to the Board of Directors!
In September, Congress passed an appropriations measure that maintained level funding for government agencies through November 21. With that deadline looming, little progress has been made in budget negotiations. Appropriations leaders are discussing another continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. House leadership passed a continuing resolution on Monday that funds the government until December 20. Senate leadership is expected to vote on this legislation today. The reason for the current delay is continued disagreement on subcommittee allocation levels.
Though the House and Senate agreed to an overall spending limit for FY2020 in September, Democrats and Republicans differ on how that spending should be divided. The fight on overall allocations is primarily driven by the Senate’s inclusion of $8.6 billion to help construct a wall along the southern border, while the House includes nothing for that function. At the same time, the House-passed proposals exceed the amount subsequently agreed with the Senate and these will need to be brought in line with the September budget agreement. When those issues are resolved, appropriators will be able to complete program-level negotiations, which will include the budget for the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”).
As a reminder, on October 31st, the Senate passed an appropriations bill that includes $425.5 million for LSC, a $10.5 million increase from FY 2019. On June 25th, the House of Representatives passed the package of appropriations bills that provides $550 million for LSC, an increase of $135 million above fiscal year 2019, and just $43 million under the requested amount.
OneJustice will continue to monitor the federal government funding process, particularly its impact on funding for legal services. Sign up for Californians for Legal Aid to stay up to date on federal funding and to receive advocacy alerts.
San Francisco, CA — Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States of America heard an appeal challenging three federal court decisions that held that the government’s attempt to terminate the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was unlawful. OneJustice unequivocally stands beside those with DACA – as well as persons with temporary protected status (TPS), Dreamers, and immigrant communities across the country.
DACA recipients are students, colleagues, and community members. They are a part of our schools, hospitals, and our businesses. Across the state and the country DACA recipients have built lives in our communities. They are threads in the fabric that ties us all together.
The Department of Homeland Security’s abrupt attempt to terminate the DACA program in September 2017 put the immigration status of more than 700,000 people in question, causing immediate chaos, uncertainty, and fear. Nearly every one of these DACA recipients would lose their work authorizations and other resources they have worked hard to acquire. California is home to over 188,000 people with DACA status, and they are the parents of almost 73,000 children born in the United States. The end of the program would create serious harm for hundreds of thousands of people who came forward to be counted and to contribute to this nation, on their dependents, and on the legal services organizations that work tirelessly to serve this community.
OneJustice, along with 46 other legal aid organizations, is proud to be part of an amicus (or “friend of the court” brief) advocating that the Supreme Court should affirm the underlying decisions and also hold that administration’s termination of the DACA program was illegal. We are grateful to the law firm Cooley LLP for representing us on a pro bono basis in this case.
The Supreme Court has made clear that, under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), when an administrative agency changes policy it must provide an explanation for the change that is cogent and consistent. It must also consider the interests of those who have relied on the policy in place. Where, as here, an agency does neither, then that decision is arbitrary and capricious – and therefore, unlawful. Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have no choice other than to rely upon the continuation of DACA. It is OneJustice’s position that the Government’s failure to even consider these foreseeable and significant consequences of its change in policy renders the attempt to terminate the program unlawful. If the government wants to terminate the DACA program, the public deserves—and the law requires—that the government explain its decision clearly and truthfully so that it can be held accountable for its actions.
The Supreme Court may issue its decision in the DACA case as early as January 2020, but more likely in May or June of next year. For the time being, individuals that have DACA status already may continue to renew their status, and OneJustice will continue to hold DACA renewal clinics across the state. To learn more about these clinics, reach out to us in Northern Californiaand Southern California.
Orange you glad that it’s Halloween? The OneJustice team sure is! From a passionfruit tart, to “chocolate rats,” our day was full of treats for everybody. And, of course, would it really be Halloween without the traditional OneJustice costume contest? This year had so many creative costumes, making it the hardest year to judge yet! Check out the photos below to see why. And the winners are…….
Best Costume Overall: Erika Pringsheim-Moore, Development Director – Colette Tatou, Ratatouille
Best Costume in SF: Fredrick Ghai, Communications Coordinator – Gardner Minshew II
Best Costume in LA: Sharon Bashon, Director, Pro Bono Justice – Hipster Kitty
This Pro Bono Week, we wanted to celebrate one of our fantastic volunteers, Arielle H. Friehling! Arielle practices corporate and securities law at Cooley LLP, but to us she the sweet, reliable, always ready to help Arielle. Arielle first started volunteering with OneJustice while a summer associate at Cooley LLP, in July 2016. Since then, she has become a regular at our clinics – attending 5 since then, assisting numerous clients with their immigration paperwork and legal needs. From screening people for their immigration remedies, to filling out naturalization and DACA renewal paperwork, Arielle brings warmth and kindness to every clinic that makes each of the people she is working with feel special and cared for. Below is an interview that we had Arielle about her experiences being a pro bono!
When did you first start volunteering with OneJustice? My first experience with OneJustice was on the Justice Bus during my summer associate program at Cooley in July 2016. It was a great way to learn the ropes of the OneJustice immigration clinic process since there was some training and clinic overview on the bus, as well as time to bond with the OneJustice staff and other attorney volunteers.
What was your first clinic experience like? I had watched all the training videos and paid attention during our on-site training but was definitely overwhelmed at first by the length and detail of the forms, which made me realize how overwhelming the process must be for someone trying to naturalize or apply for DACA status without assistance. It was really special to be able to connect with clients by listening to them with compassion and helping them navigate through the bureaucratic web of documents.
Why did you continue volunteering? It’s so meaningful to me to use my skills and position as an attorney to help those who otherwise would not receive the assistance they need in a process that is life-changing for them. I appreciate that OneJustice connects lawyers from urban areas to underserved communities in more rural areas that truly need our services.
What has been your favorite memory from clinics? So many good memories to choose from – Bette’s amazing inspiration as a retired immigration judge choosing to spend her free time volunteering all over the Bay Area; Lusik’s entertaining stories that should definitely earn her a podcast. But my favorite memory was actually from my most recent clinic earlier this month. One of my clients was an elderly gentleman with severe medical disabilities that clearly warranted a waiver from the civics exam portion of the naturalization interview. He’s been having trouble finding a doctor who would fill out the waiver form for a reasonable fee. His daughter was there to help translate and explain our questions. Even with all of this adversity, the client was joking and laughing with his daughter and me during our meeting. It was so powerful to see him put at ease and be able to accomplish this important step in his journey toward naturalization.
The Board of Directors of OneJustice announces that Chief Executive Officer Julia R. Wilson will step down in March of 2020, following a successful fifteen-year tenure at the organization.
Under Ms. Wilson’s leadership, OneJustice has become nationally recognized for its work to improve access to California’s civil justice system, build the capacity of individual legal aid leaders and nonprofits, and create innovative strategies to increase civil legal services for Californians who are facing legal barriers to basic necessities.
As OneJustice celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, it is a fitting time to celebrate the growth of the organization and the accomplishments of Ms. Wilson. Since becoming CEO in 2007, she led the creation and expansion of multiple award-winning projects, including the Justice Bus and the Executive Fellowship Program. Ms. Wilson has grown OneJustice’s budget by more than 300%, building a strong, diverse revenue model of individual and corporate donations, foundation grants, and earned income streams. Most importantly, she has built a strong portfolio of highly regarded projects to transform the state’s civil legal aid system to ensure that all Californians can receive the legal services they need.
Silvia Argueta, executive director of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), says, “Julia Wilson is one of the most innovative leaders in the civil justice sector. With her guidance, OneJustice’s state and national presence elevates our work to achieve equal justice for people living in poverty across California.”
Ms. Wilson has been recognized with numerous awards, including as a Daily Journal Top 100 Attorney, a California Lawyer of the Year Award from California Lawyer magazine and a Leadership Award from the James Irvine Foundation.
Don Howard, President and CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, says, “OneJustice has become a critical resource during Julia’s fifteen-year tenure, broadening access to justice throughout California. We’re delighted that Julia received a James Irvine Leadership Award in 2017 in recognition of her ingenuity, passion, and vision in advancing an innovative and effective approach to providing access to legal services across our state.”
“OneJustice is an important part of the state’s civil legal aid delivery system,” says Chris Punongbayan, executive director of California ChangeLawyers and a graduate of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship. “It has been a pleasure to work with Julia on OneJustice’s Rural Justice Initiative and other projects that increase access to legal services, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with OneJustice’s talented and creative staff.”
“OneJustice is highly regarded as a backbone of civil legal aid and pro bono services throughout California because of Julia’s creativity and innovative approaches,” says Kyuli Oh, chair of the OneJustice Board. “CEO transition is a natural component of a nonprofit’s life cycle, and Julia leaves a strong legacy from which to build further growth and success for the organization.”
Ms. Wilson will serve as Chief Executive Officer of OneJustice through March 2020. The Board is actively planning for the leadership transition, including the establishment of a Transition Task Force, which will oversee a national search for her successor.
OneJustice is a statewide nonprofit that brings life-changing legal help to those in need by transforming the civil legal aid system. Working toward a day when all Californians have access to the legal help they need, OneJustice advances the impact of the civil legal aid sector by building the capacity of legal aid nonprofits, engaging the legal profession in volunteering, and supporting a statewide network of Californians who care deeply about justice. More information about OneJustice’s work and programs is online at http://www.OneJustice.org.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to celebrate something good! This October, we’re excited to introduce you to the new members of our team of legal aid innovators. Joining our team this Fall are Emma Spiekerman, Development Associate, Marlee Raible, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate, and Miguel Martinez, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate. As we do with all new folks, we asked them to answer these four questions:
What drew you to OneJustice’s vision, mission, and strategies?
Tell us a bit about your position at OneJustice and what you hope to achieve?
What was your path in coming to OneJustice?
And please tell us something about yourself that not everyone might know.
I was drawn to OneJustice’s commitment to making legal aid readily available to communities in need. I believe everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background, deserves access to these life-changing services.
As a Development Associate, I will provide support towards donation efforts, special events, and administrative work. I hope to provide excellent assistance to the Development and Communications team and grow in my fundraising abilities.
Before joining the OneJustice team, I was a Language and Culture Assistant in Madrid, Spain. Previously, I worked as a Direct Service Provider to young adults with disabilities and as a Fellow on LA city council member Mike Bonin’s campaign. I have also published essays and articles about immigration, gender equality, and mental health. I received my BA in Psychology with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University.
I love being creative, whether it’s through music, photography, or painting.
Marlee Raible, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate:
I am excited that OneJustice is increasing access to justice for those who are low income and/or in non urban locations. I also love that we focus on innovation and finding creative ways to do our work.
I am a Program Associate meaning that I am helping to coordinate our Justice Bus and Rural Justice Collaborative clinics that provide pro bono legal services to people in non urban areas. I hope to serve clients and support providing quality legal services that help them to address their needs.
I have a background doing extensive work with carceral systems and people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Last year, I completed a nine month exploration of justice systems in Australia and Argentina. Since then, I returned to the Bay Area and have been involved with some amazing organizations and projects such as Impact Justice, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and The Prison University Project. I came to OneJustice looking for an opportunity to increase access to justice, serve impacted people, and explore the legal aid sector.
I grew up in a small, rural town and I had two horses. I loved to ride with my mom, and so I’ve spent many hours in the saddle!
I love to dance. I primarily dance West Coast Swing, but I also love tango, zouk, and salsa!
Miguel Martinez, Pro Bono Justice Program Associate:
I believe attainment of legal aid is a basic human right. Access to legal aid can be a life changing experience and should be available to all, regardless of financial stability. I am excited to be part of OneJustice to fulfill an equitable mission that provides families the opportunity to access legal aid.
Prior to joining OneJustice I coordinated NALEO Educational Fund’s naturalization application assistance program. I assisted legal permanent residents access legal support with filling out their naturalization application. At Magnolia Community Initiative I served as a community organizer who built and activated community leaders who addressed challenges in rising housing costs, public safety, and immigration. While a student at Santa Monica Community College I was involved with community organizing and advocacy work that promoted a pathway for citizenship and the DREAM Act. My early experience in community college paved the way for my passion to serve those most in need.
In my spare time I enjoy exploring nature parks and going for a hike in the mountains. My favorite part is going with friends on a long hike! I am a relaxed person who enjoys the simple things in life, like having a conversation about how modern society, culture and people evolved together in a complex world. I am not a good cook, but can wash dishwasher really well. I enjoy visiting museums, have an appreciation for architecture, and listening to different philosophical perspectives. Fun fact about me, I once ran the Los Angeles marathon in 2006.
Based on the findings and recommendations of a Legal Market Landscape Report commissioned in 2018, the State Bar of California’s governing board appointed a Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (“ATILS”) and assigned it to identify possible regulatory changes to remove barriers to innovation in the delivery of legal services by lawyers and others.
The ATILS Task Force developed and released 16 concept options for potential regulatory changes that were open for public comment until September 24. At this time, OneJustice does not support or oppose these recommendations. We encourage the inclusion of legal aid providers and low-income Californians at every phase of the process and hope they continue to have a seat at the table as these recommendations develop.
The changes proposed by the Task Force have the potential of lowering the justice gap and opening the legal system to individuals that previously would have lived with no solution to their legal issues. However, these changes, if improperly designed and implemented, also have the potential of widening the justice gap and having little positive impact on increasing access to justice for low-income Californians. OneJustice believes that if the legal community works together to develop these regulations and changes, society can benefit greatly, but that development must be done with all Californians in mind and with participation from everyone who will be impacted by these proposed changes. If these proposals are truly meant to have an impact on access to justice issues, we must see proper support systems in place to ensure that low-income Californians are protected, and that the proposals do not unduly burden those providing the services.
OneJustice plans to continue monitoring the Task Force’s actions and remain engaged as these policies and recommendations begin to take shape.