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.

Spotlight on Gracia Berrios

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 gberrios@one-justice.org. We are always in need of legal volunteers for our clinics.

Spotlight on Dana Marquez Richardson and OneJustice’s Policy Advocacy Work

Dana is a Program Manager for OneJustice’s Healthy Nonprofits Program, as well as a member of OneJustice’s Policy Advocacy Team.

Which field of policy work do you primarily focus on?

I focus on federal and state policy that impacts low-income Californians and legal aid. We advocate every year on the need to increase the federal Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”) funding. LSC funds eleven legal aid organizations in California that serve low-income individuals in every county, and collectively these organizations provide services to approximately one-third of Californians that seek help from legal aid in the state each year. On the state level, we stay apprised of changes at the State Bar and any legislative action that will impact legal aid or the individuals they serve. This year in particular, there has been a lot of movement on all levels to try to address the needs stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak.

How does OneJustice’s policy team work intersect with the work you do in your role for OneJustice?

Policy really does impact everything we do at OneJustice on some level. Our work on federal policy impacts our relationships with the organizations that receive federal funding, through LSC or otherwise. Similarly, on the state level, our advocacy related to rule changes or funding increases directly impacts our work with other legal aid organizations and their ability to send their employees to our capacity building programs.

Can you provide a few examples of actions you or the policy team have taken in 2020?

Before the COVID-19 lockdown, we sent a small team to Sacramento to participate in the Legal Aid Association of California’s lobby day where we met with multiple legislators and their staff to discuss the importance of legal aid. As things began to close down, the American Bar Association’s Lobby Days in Washington D.C. switched to a virtual convening where I was still able to advocate for the importance of robustly funding LSC and expanding broadband access across the nation. In addition, we have been able to participate in two other virtual lobby convenings where we met with legislators and staff to discuss specific bills that impact the communities we serve. The ability to attend meetings in a virtual space has increased our ability to be involved in conversations occurring across the state on a vast array of issues including the State Bar’s Paraprofessional working group, and remote hearing and eviction related concerns.

What are some important bills or laws that our supporters should be aware of right now?

What we really need to see on a federal level is another COVID-19 relief bill. The CARES Act was passed at the end of March and provided important relief for those impacted by the pandemic. In the last seven months, we have seen additional relief packages fail in Congress due to partisan bickering and leadership that is failing to protect our most vulnerable. It is essential that the federal government act to protect people that have been devastated by bad policy and the pandemic. The California State Legislature will be back in session in December and it’s likely we will see new legislation introduced to extend pandemic protections. While we wait for important bills to be introduced, you can still contact your legislators, both federal and state, and express to them the importance for coronavirus related protections and stress that the people it most directly impacts cannot wait.

 

Spotlight on Patrick Fodell

 

 

Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?

My role at OneJustice is first to lead OneJustice’s efforts with the Pro Bono Training Institute (PBTI) which is an on demand online training library for pro bono attorneys. Additionally, I work with OneJustice’s new Inland County Small Business Transactional Clinic project. This project will create new transactional clinics in the Inland Empire with two partners, Catholic Charities of San Bernardino and Riverside County and Inland Counties Legal Services. 

Can you tell us more about the Pro Bono Training Institute, and what work you do as the Training Institute Manager?

My role at PBTI is two fold. The first is to collaborate with our PBTI partner the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as PBTI, at its core, is a collaboration between OneJustice and LAFLA. Together we listen to the legal services community and come up with timelines and goals that will address the training needs of pro bono attorneys. LAFLA has been an excellent partner from the start and has really helped PBTI gain a better understanding of the legal services community and the training needs of the pro bono community. Additionally, I serve as the primary tech person for PBTI. This means that I’m the point person for training modules edits and any website edits. However, I do not do this all alone. I work with staff at both OneJustice and LAFLA to ensure that the training modules are edited, uploaded, and updated over a period of time. We treat each training module as a living breathing training that can easily be edited as case law and other factors change. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the work of the Pro Bono Training Institute?

PBTI’s work has always been driven by the needs of the California legal services community, and the start of the pandemic was no different. Before the pandemic, the PBTI team was already in the midst of a total website overhaul. This overhaul involved recreating all 100+ training modules in order to move them to a more accessible platform. The initial plan was to have this website overhaul done sometime in the middle of 2020, but once the pandemic hit staff realized that the need for remote training would be needed now more than ever. Therefore, PBTI staff updated the timeline to sometime in mid-April about a month after the initial shutdown and several months before the initial goal. It was tough work but the website was overhauled and now more people than ever can easily access our on-demand training library. Additionally, staff developed a whole resource page dedicated to COVID-19 resources which can be found here. PBTI continues to listen to the legal services community and welcomes any and all training needs specifically related to COVID-19. Staff are currently in the process of developing a robust housing training module program that will cover housing rights under COVID-19. We hope that this will be launched by the end of 2020. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming trainings/ projects that you are excited about?

We are particularly excited about our revamped housing training modules that will be available in the fall of 2020. Housing has always been a training course that PBTI staff have wanted on our website. Due to the vast and complex nature of housing law it was hard to determine what should be included and when. PBTI staff have reached out to several trainers and will be launching our new revamped housing series later on this year. 

As a recent graduate of the 2020 Executive Fellowship cohort, did the program help to prepare you for the challenges and changes the legal aid community is facing now? If so, how?

The Executive Fellowship has greatly helped me prepare for the challenges of the legal aid community. It gave me a great background regarding nonprofit management so I, along with the PBTI staff, were able to pivot during the start of the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the legal services community was met. It also gave me an excellent opportunity to learn about program management and execution that helped us move our new website development up several months to ensure the community would be able to training its pro bono attorneys.

Welcome Our Newest Advisory Board Member, Michelle Leung!

Michelle Leung, LinkedIn Corporation

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

I was first introduced to OneJustice through a JusticeBus clinic over five years ago.  Since then I have worked with OneJustice on a number of clinics, and I have consistently been impressed with OneJustice’s commitment and reach in serving the legal needs of the underserved communities throughout California.  I firmly believe in OneJustice’s vision that everyone should have access to high quality legal services, and I’d like to join the Advisory Board to play a more impactful role in helping OneJustice achieve its very important mission.

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

I lead the Corporate legal team at LinkedIn Corporation and am a member of our legal team’s pro bono committee.  I hope to leverage my experience on our pro bono committee to help OneJustice deepen its relationships with law firms and other in-house legal departments.

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

During my tenure as Advisory Board member, I hope to increase in-house counsel participation in pro bono clinics and to use my network to help increase support for OneJustice.

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

I enjoy reading, traveling (in a pre-COVID world) and experiencing the world through the eyes of my two young children.

 

Spotlight on Lydia Sinkus

Lydia Sinkus, Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and PayPal

Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?

I am an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and PayPal. I work to increase access to legal services for immigrants impacted by the criminal legal system. 

For a noncitizen of any legal status, contact with the criminal legal system – a system with profound racial disparities – can result in not only barriers to jobs, education, and housing, but also deportation and permanent family separation. Many noncitizens enter criminal pleas without being advised of these devastating results or available options to avoid them. 

I work with people after this has happened. Through a legal clinic, consulting, and pro bono and organizational partnerships, I help provide access to legal services to help people find out if a conviction impacts their immigration status, explore post-conviction relief options, and connect with services to mitigate immigration consequences and protect their legal rights. 

 

Can you share some highlights of your fellowship?

One recent highlight was a post-conviction relief victory for Orrick pro bono attorney Amanda Maya and her client, winning vacature of a 1989 conviction that put the client at risk of deportation despite having spent the last 35 years working and raising a family as a lawful permanent resident in the United States. Due to the client’s proactive perseverance to resolve this decades-old issue, she will finally be able to obtain her goal of becoming a US citizen.

 

What is some of the work you are doing outside of OneJustice?

Outside of OneJustice, I volunteer with Al Otro Lado (AOL)1, an organization supporting asylum seekers at the Southern Border subject to the “Migrant Protection Protocols”2 and other discriminatory and illegal policies this administration has implemented to restrict access to asylum. Just like many immigration laws, closing off legal pathways to immigration is yet another tactic that criminalizes immigrants and endangers lives.  

With the onset of COVID-19, AOL has been working to free asylum seekers from immigrantion detention, where the virus has run rampant due to the inability to social distance and ICE’s disregard for the health of people in their custody 3. I recently helped prepare a declaration for an asylum seeker who contracted COVID-19 in ICE detention, but was refused medical attention or  testing for weeks while she had severe symptoms. Due to her self-advocacy and a habeas petition from AOL, she was finally released to shelter in place and fight her case with family in Southern California. 

 

Can you discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the clients you work with, and others currently in immigration detention centers?

For many of my clients, as for many Americans, the priority has become day-to-day health and economic survival ,4 as some people lose jobs or work “essential” roles. An estimated 15 million5 people in families of mixed immigration statuses have been left out of federal relief packages, and clients face the additional hurdles and insecurities that come with having a prior record. 

For people in immigration detention, the situation is even worse. Labeling of certain immigrants as “criminal” and thus deserving of perpetual punishment has always been harmful and obscures “systematic racial disparities, the complexity of the law at play in both the immigration and criminal legal systems, and individuals’ life circumstances.”6 During COVID-19 it has become a potential death sentence.

Immigrants with convictions make up 70% 7 of those in immigration detention. Individuals who have been incarcerated, and been deemed eligible for release from jails and state facilities are often transferred directly to ICE custody to face deportation. Currently, over 20 percent of ICE detainees are testing positive 7 for COVID-19, and by mid-August, five people 8 have died from the virus in ICE custody. At the same time, a federal court 9 recently found that ICE has been purposefully under-testing to avoid having to make accommodations, and ICE facilities have refused medical care 10 to COVID-positive immigrants detained by ICE. 

Even as ICE has released some medically vulnerable people, the prison-to-ICE pipeline continues to refill beds, and people labeled as “criminal” are denied release from detention. The false narrative that a conviction makes a person “dangerous” to the community fails to take into account the systems or individuals involved, and is itself dangerous to the people subject to inhumane conditions in immigrant detention centers and to the larger community by allowing the continued spread of COVID-19. 

 

What advocacy work is OneJustice doing to address the treatment of immigrants in detention during the COVID-19 pandemic?

OneJustice is uplifting and supporting advocacy by those directly impacted and directly serving those impacted. Detained immigrants have been leading the charge11 with work and hunger strikes to protest lack of access to personal protective equipment and adequate medical care, and to demand release. We have joined campaigns by ICE Out of California12, Immigrant Defense Advocates13, and the California Immigrant Policy Center,14 among others.

To take action yourself, I encourage you to call or email Gov. Newsom15 and demand he take measures within his power to save lives and fight the spread of COVID-19. Ask him to:

  1. Use mass clemency & emergency release to free people in state prisons;
  2. Stop transfers from CA custody to ICE & between CA prisons;
  3. Stop the expansion of immigration detention; and
  4. Hold the detention industry accountable.

 

Now that your fellowship is coming to an end, what is next for you?

I’ll be joining Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay as an Immigration Removal Defense Attorney, where I will continue to work with people impacted by the immigration and criminal legal systems and to fight to keep people with their families and communities where they belong.

Resources Mentioned:

  1. Al Otro Lado Website
  2. “Q&A: Trump Administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program”, Human Rights Watch
  3. “‘People Are Terrified’: SF Judge Orders COVID-19 Testing at ICE Facility“, KQED
  4. Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund“, Central Legal De La Raza
  5. Future Stimulus Should Include Immigrants and Dependents Previously Left Out, Mandate Automatic Payments“, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  6. Journalist Style Guide: Covering Immigrants with Convictions“, Comm/Unity Language For Liberation, Comm/ Unity Network
  7. COVID-19 Escalating in ICE Detention Centers as States Hit Highest Daily Records – And ICE Deportation Flights Into Northern Triangle Continue“, International Rescue Committee
  8. ICE Guidance on COVID-19“, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  9. Angel De Jesus Zepeda Rivas et al., v. David Jennings et al.“, CourtListener.com
  10. ICE Facility Turns Ambulance Away After Detainees With Coronavirus Warn ‘I Can’t Breath’“, Newsweek
  11. Joint Statement by the Detained People at Mesa Verde“. CentroLegal.org
  12. ICE Out of CA Website
  13. Immigrant Defense Advocates Website
  14. California Immigrant Policy Center
  15. Contact the Governor“, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Spotlight on the Social Justice Collaborative and their partnership with the Justice Bus Network

Emily Abraham, Legal Director, Social Justice Collaborative

This month we are spotlighting the Social Justice Collaborative, and their Legal Director, Emily Abraham as she discusses the challenges facing her clients, and their pivot towards remote clinics during COVID-19 pandemic. Follow along to read how Emily and Meryl Friedman, OneJustice’s Senior Program Manager discuss their partnership.

Please tell us about the mission of the Social Justice Collaborative, and your work at the organization. 

Emily Abraham (EA): Social Justice Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of refugees being targeted by the US government. We provide vital legal services to nearly 1,500 families each year. Our mission is to continue providing full-scope deportation defense to both detained and non-detained immigrants at little to no cost. I am the  founder and legal director of Social Justice Collaborative, and I supervise  all types of complex removal defense cases, especially asylum, as well as appeals before the BIA and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

SJC provides removal defense legal services to about 1,500 immigrant families each year, and represents hundreds of individuals in removal proceedings each year, including complex federal litigation that I direct and oversee. I also coordinate the SJC pro bono program that provides free legal services for several hundred non-citizens each year.  

 

What are the key challenges facing your clients, and the work you are doing to address them? 

EA: The challenges are constantly changing regulations that are mostly illegal, as well as new barriers to asylum relief, changes in employment authorization, and the demonization of immigrant populations and asylum seekers.

Meryl Friedman (MF): During COVID19, a key challenge has been client preparation so that they know how to use the technology to get the most out of the clinic. SJC created client-facing videos in Spanish and Mam to let them know what to expect from a remote clinic. 

 

Can you describe your partnership with OneJustice and the Justice Bus Network?

MF: Social Justice Collaborative is the first member of the Justice Bus Network, OneJustice’s new redesign of the Justice Bus. OneJustice provides SJC with templates, consulting support, pro bono management to execute legal clinics. SJC manages the planning, client preparation, legal training and application filing. 

Due to COVID, the Justice Bus Network pivoted to a remote clinic model. SJC and OneJustice have run 5 clinics, serving 70 clients with the support of 86 pro bono volunteers. We have worked with 5 firms in California, but had a new opportunity to access lawyers and summer associates through their offices in other states. 

 

Can you tell us about any recent clinics or any upcoming clinics with the Justice Bus Network?

MF: After running two Adjustment of Status clinics, we decided to try to run a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) clinic through the Justice Bus Network. SIJS applications are really important, but also very tricky. SJC wanted to expand their reach with SIJS cases, so we thought it would be worth a try. After we conducted a test run, we decided we could run a day-long SIJS workshop using Lawyaw and RingCentral. 

The key was to train the pro bonos well. SIJS is not only a long legal process, it is also particularly difficult due to the age and experiences of the young clients. SJC honed in on the training in cross-cultural lawyering – making sure to use examples from past cases to demonstrate how the pro bonos could talk to their clients and escape the temptation of legalese. We were really excited to see the success of the clinic because the opportunities for scale are enormous. If we can continue holding SIJS clinics with law firms, SJC can help so many clients who typically wait a long time. Post-COVID19, it might be the most impactful way to do these clinics!

 

What drew you to partner with OneJustice and or  participate in OneJustice programming, such as the Organizational Change Accelerators (OCA) Pro Bono Track?

EA: SJC has a long history of partnering with OneJustice, our Executive Director has done the Executive Fellowship Program and I did the pro bono accelerator. Even before that, we partnered doing the Justice Bus and Rural Immigrant Connect. We were interested in the Justice Bus Network because it gave us the opportunity to improve our pro bono clinics while earning revenue. We were excited to establish relationships with Bay Area firms and companies.

 

Can you describe how your work in OCA will influence your work at the Social Justice Collaborative? 

EA: This has inspired me to open up new programs within SJC for pro bono, enrich and expand existing pro bono programs. In fact, we are now launching the new pro bono litigation program (https://www.socialjusticecollaborative.org/probono-litigation) which I conceived during the accelerator although it was not my capstone.

 

For Firms and Companies: OneJustice and SJC are finalizing the fall calendar for remote clinics. If you are interested in scheduling a clinic for 16-10 pro bonos, please email Meryl Friedman (mfriedman@one-justice.org). Learn more here.

For LSOs: If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Justice Bus Network member, please contact Meryl. We can provide consulting, training, and strategic program planning to boost your remote and in-person clinics.

Black Lives Matter Resources

This summer, OneJustice’s staff has identified various action items, education tools, and commitments as an organization to continue to grow and participate in the movement for racial justice. Some of the standout recommendations that we’d like to share include…

Read:

 

Take Action:

Watch/ Listen: