Eat, Drink, and be Scary!

October 31st, 2019

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

Pro Bono Week Spotlight – Arielle H. Friehling


October 23rd, 2019

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 Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative was launched in 2013 by OneJustice and Cooley LLP, in collaboration with a broad network of Bay Area law firms and legal service providers.  The Collaborative was developed to meet the goals of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel’s (APBCo) national network of IMPACT (“Involving More Pro Bono Attorneys in Our Communities Together”) Projects, which are intended to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services by utilizing pro bono volunteers. 

To learn more about Rural Justice Collaborative clinics, please contact Program Manager Lusik Gasparyan at lgasparyan@one-justice.org.

Julia R. Wilson to Step Down as OneJustice CEO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 17, 2019

CONTACT: Erika Pringsheim-Moore, Development Director, epringsheim@one-justice.org, (510) 241-2320 ext. 102

 

Julia R. Wilson to Step Down as OneJustice CEO

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.

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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.

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Meet the latest members of the OneJustice team!


October 4th, 2019

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.

Please welcome Emma, Marlee, and Miguel!

Emma Spiekerman, Development Associate:

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.

OneJustice Responds to State Bar’s ATILS Task Force


September 26th, 2019

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.

Congress agrees to not shut down government

September 23rd, 2019

Federal lawmakers have agreed not to shut down the federal government as they continue to emphatically disagree on many funding and policy issues. Last week, the House passed a short-term funding bill that would maintain existing spending levels until the end of November. The Senate is expected to take up similar legislation this week. This bill, fairly unusually, includes funding adjustments, including additional money for the 2020 census and health care related programs that are set to expire at the end of September. Other issues, like the border wall, continue to frustrate lawmakers as they attempt to outline and approve funding for the current fiscal year.

As a reminder, on June 25th, the House of Representatives passed the package of FY 2020 appropriations bills that includes the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill. The final legislation of this bill provides $550 million for the Legal Services Corporation, an increase of $135 million above fiscal year 2019, and just $43 million under the requested amount from LSC. This Tuesday and Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science Sub-Committee are analyzing and voting on parallel legislation. While we do not yet know what the numbers will look like in regards to LSC funding, we expect the final number to look closer to last years appropriation total of $415 million. We expect both committee mark-ups to be filled with contentious debate surrounding issues like border wall construction and the 2020 census.

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.

OneJustice Firmly Opposes Changes to Public Charge

August 14, 2019

Today, the Trump administration published the Department of Homeland Security’s full “public charge” rule – which is basically a racially-motivated wealth test that unfairly punishes families who are on the path to obtaining a green card.  We join our colleagues at legal services and civil rights organizations across the country in protesting the administration’s rule change that endangers immigrant families’ ability to become citizens simply because they access basic health and housing programs.

Earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget completed their review of the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule, including the required review of the tens of thousands of public comments from Americans coast-to-coast imploring this Administration to reconsider the proposed rule change.

The Administration is now pushing ahead in complete disregard of the comments received.  The new regulation goes into effect on October 15, 2019 and will negatively impact thousands of families across California by either rendering them ineligible to change their immigration status or pressuring families to disenroll from crucial safety net programs.  The legal aid community, including OneJustice, strongly opposed these proposed rule changes when they were first announced, and that fight will continue now that they are finalized.  

Our bottom line is this: no one should have to choose between their health and their families. 

Our message to immigrant communities is clear: we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you.

We salute our colleagues at immigrant legal services and advocacy organizations across the country for their advocacy work in opposition to this rule change, and we uplift their substantive comments and explanations of the impact of the rule change here:

For more legal resources, please access the One California provider network at: bit.ly/immigrationhelp

For information about the rule, please access National Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF).

Volunteer Spotlight: Katrina Bleckley

July 29, 2019

 

“It’s you or no one.”

With those five words, OneJustice’s senior staff attorney Ariella Morrison changed my life. Honestly, she blew it completely apart.

My name is Katrina and I am an entertainment lawyer based in Los Angeles. For as long as I have worked, it has been in music. First running bands’ MySpace pages, then interning at labels while getting a bachelor’s degree in music industry, and finally at a boutique law firm while I got my law degree with a concentration in intellectual property. I have my own entertainment practice now and co-run a music nonprofit, PLAG, where we elevate the voices of womxn and non-binary folks in the arts.

There wasn’t a step I took that wasn’t toward establishing my own entertainment law practice, servicing creators at all levels in their career.

Until the Muslim travel ban came down and I found myself running intake at LAX and reviewing my declaration for an ACLU lawsuit against Donald Trump while screaming at border patrol to tell us what was happening. I had no idea what I was doing.

Until I started showing up at every immigration training and clinic that I could. I remember my first DACA clinic and nervously asking a supervising attorney what “EWI” meant while the woman I was helping looked at me skeptically. I had no idea what I was doing.

Until I started attending meetings for the LA Raids Rapid Response Network, where I often found myself more useful to the communications team than the legal team. I offered to get coffee and make spreadsheets. I went back into first year intern mode. I had no idea what I was doing.

Until one day I sat down next to Ariella, until then just a name in my inbox periodically, and asked if I could come into OneJustice once a week to help with the Raids Network. She said yes, and I started making spreadsheets, learning about Innovation Law Lab, trying to memorize organizations and personnel and what they all did. I had no idea what I was doing.

Until that day in November. Ariella and I had casually said that we would one day take on a bond hearing case but had not taken concrete steps to get there. I had never even been to a courtroom. As an entertainment lawyer, I work in jeans and metal band T-shirts. I have purple hair and I am covered in tattoos. I own precisely one suit and one pair of heels, which I only own because I need them to go to Magic Castle. I do business as frequently at local venues like The Echo, the Hi Hat, and the Troubadour as I do via email or drafting agreements. I had NO IDEA what I was doing.

“It’s you or no one.”

Those five words. I can still hear them.

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“It’s you or no one.”

This was in mid-November 2018, the week before Thanksgiving. Ariella was referring to the merits hearing for a 21 year old Salvadoran woman’s asylum case. I had a week and a half to prepare for a merits hearing. I had no idea what I was doing. 

“Okay.”

And, with that, I took my first immigration case. It was that easy. I was lucky that my clients younger sister was represented by Immigrant Defenders Law Center, and Cristel Martinez, my client’s sister’s attorney, helped me prepare a closing brief (that the immigration judge refused to accept), declarations for my client’s mother and sister, my direct questioning and potential cross examination questions, and interpreted for meetings with my client. She also taught me how to say “may I approach, Your Honor?” and what to say when you’re asked to enter your appearance. We did all of this over the Thanksgiving break. In addition to Cristel’s help, I had access to all of the resources that OneJustice and the LA Raids Rapid Response Network could provide. That included access to expert immigration attorneys, form briefs, extensive training materials, and more. Though I was terrified at the time, in retrospect, I was incredibly well prepared for my first hearing. But back in November, I thought that I had no idea what I was doing.

Until I realized that I had an idea what I was doing.

I’ve provided pro bono representation to nearly twenty asylum seekers since then. I got my first asylum grant in early 2019 and I cannot put into words the joy I felt when the immigration judge gave her decision. I text clients out on bond now, about their cases, but also about their lives now that they’re free and unafraid. They send photos of themselves doing normal things: singing karaoke, playing football, spending time with cousins. In fact, I even went to karaoke with my first ever client, the woman from El Salvador, recently. We had Salvadoran food. She sang. Her father sang. And those things are so beautiful and special to see.

If you’ve ever thought about doing some immigration work but thought that it was too complex, you didn’t have enough experience, or there was too much to learn, please take it from me, a purple haired, tattooed, transactional entertainment attorney: you can do it. A bond hearing is fairly easy to prepare for most asylum seekers and will mean the world to them. It’s the difference between life with family, karaoke, and football and a life spent in a prison. Through the LA Raids Rapid Response network, you will have access to all of the resources that I did. There are more training materials than I can count – both written and video – and expert immigration attorneys who are more than happy to review filings, answer questions via phone or email, or help you navigate the process. I honestly felt safe and prepared every step of the way. The immigration community is a wonderful and supportive one. We’re all in this together, friends. 

Join us, and help save lives.

For policy updates and new volunteer and training opportunities across California, become a part of the Immigration Pro Bono Network!

OneJustice & Partners Launch Immigrant Clean Slate Clinic

By Lydia Sinkus
July 9, 2019

California is home to more than 5 million non-citizen immigrants. When noncitizens interact with the criminal justice system, they are impacted in many of the ways citizens are — facing barriers to obtaining jobs, education, and housing even after serving their time on a conviction.

However a conviction can carry additional long-term consequences for a noncitizen, including deportation and permanent separation from family and community, regardless of time in or ties to the United States. Even a long-time Legal Permanent Resident can be deported and permanently banned from entering the U.S. based on a low-level, non-violent conviction.

California currently offers unique post-conviction relief laws that can mitigate these extreme consequences. Attorney assistance is crucial to providing access to the opportunity at a second chance afforded by these laws. However, there are few legal service providers able to provide free or low-cost services to clients with overlapping immigration and criminal law issues. This gap in legal services is particularly stark in non-urban areas with high immigrant populations.

With immigrant communities increasingly under attack, the need for innovative models to provide immigration-focused clean slate services has never been greater. Through a generous Equal Justice Works fellowship sponsored by Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe and PayPal, OneJustice recently launched a new legal clinic focused on providing equal access to second chances to all members of our community.

Working closely with community partner Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, OneJustice piloted an Immigrant Clean Slate Intake Clinic in Stockton, California. This free mobile legal clinic is one of the first of its kind, tailored to serve noncitizens in rural communities navigating life with a prior conviction.

Working closely with community partner Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, OneJustice piloted an Immigrant Clean Slate Intake Clinic in Stockton, California. This free mobile legal clinic is one of the first of its kind, tailored to serve noncitizens in rural communities navigating life with a prior conviction.

Thanks to the work of Orrick attorneys Ariel Winters, Mike Arena, Jazmin Holmes, and Spencer Wan, in partnership with PayPal pro bono volunteers, James Lindfelt and Ripal Patel, clients received free Live Scan services, a thorough screening, and information on how to best protect themselves and their legal status. Information collected will allow OneJustice and partners at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to screen clients for deportation risk and to identify clean slate and immigration options to keep clients with their families and communities.

OneJustice looks forward to having these clients continue to Part Two of the Immigrant Clean Slate Clinic, where pro bono volunteers will work with clients to complete clean slate petitions and to formulate legal self-defense strategies. Eligible clients will then be referred to immigration partners to apply for naturalization and other immigration benefits.

House Funds More Legal Aid!

June 26, 2019

 

The House or Representatives has passed a package of FY 2020 appropriations bills including a Commerce, Justice, Science funding bill at 11:50 am PST yesterday morning. 

The $383.3 billion package, H.R. 3055, provides robust oversight of the Trump administration, including blocking it from diverting Military Construction funds to build a border wall, preventing the use of funds for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and blocking its rule change on undocumented immigrants in affordable housing, which would threaten the housing of 55,000 children who are citizens or legal residents.

The final legislation provides $550 million for the Legal Services Corporation, an increase of $135 million above fiscal year 2019, and just $43 million under the requested amount from LSC. A division-by-division summary of the full package is available here.

There has been no movement in the Senate for the CJS Bill, or any other appropriations bills. OneJustice will continue to keep you all informed of any movement on the Senate side when they decide to begin their appropriations process.

For updates about federal legal aid policy, and opportunities to contact your Members of Congress, sign up for our Californians for Legal Aid alerts!