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.

Bringing Congress to You!

April 30, 2019

“It’s not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of
justice for all people.”  -Martin Luther King Jr.

Early this month, OneJustice spent two days walking the halls of Congress to educate and proclaim the importance of equal access to justice.  Far too many Americans, in each and every congressional district, face significant legal barriers, and are forced to seek help from their local legal aid non-profits.  These non-profits cannot provide these essential services without significant federal funding, often provided by the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”).

This year, OneJustice and the American Bar Association (“ABA”) met with thirty-three of the fifty-five California delegates to Congress.  The agenda included meeting with the offices of six of the seven Republicans and twenty-seven of the forty-eight Democrats from California.  Additionally, OneJustice staff dropped off personalized materials to each of the remaining twenty-two offices that explained the importance of civil legal aid in each Members district.

The success of our meetings this year signals an awareness from policy makers that funding for the Legal Services Corporation, and civil legal aid, is a bipartisan issue important to every district, and every Californian.  OneJustice enforced this belief by educating the Representatives and their staff members on the importance of civil legal aid in California’s underserved communities, from north to south, and east to west, and provided them with district specific information that proves that each district benefits from LSC funding.

With the members now attentive to LSC, it is important to continually amplify the significance of robust funding for LSC.  As Congress begins the federal Appropriations process, it is important to remind your Representatives that they work for you. Contact them often with your voice of support for legal aid services in your district.  Ask them to educate and encourage their colleagues to protect equal access to the civil justice system.  Remind them that it is their job to magnify your voice.

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While OneJustice couldn’t bring you to Congress with us, our goal is to continually bring Congress to you.  For updates about federal legal aid policy, and opportunities to contact your Members of Congress, sign up for our Californians for Legal Aid alerts!

Welcome, Wanji Walcott!

April, 29 2019

In March we invited you to meet our board member, Tamika Butler. This month we’re just as excited for you to meet the newest member of our Board of Directors: Wanji Walcott, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at PayPal! Please join us as we welcome Wanji to the OneJustice family!

What made you interested in becoming a OneJustice Board member?

As part of our global pro bono initiative, PayPal routinely engages with various organizations and partners to create opportunities for our teams to leverage their legal expertise to serve our local communities’ needs. Merging my personal passion for pro bono with my role as a founder of PayPal’s global pro bono program, I have participated in many of our Bay Area pro bono outreach efforts, and of the organizations we have been privileged to partner with, I was particularly drawn to the OneJustice team’s work. The organization’s innovative approach of bringing legal assistance and expanding access to legal aid programs directly to communities and people in need, regardless of their location, through programs like the Justice Bus Project is truly inspiring.

These efforts are directly aligned with my personal values system and PayPal’s mission to better serve the underserved. Expanding my ongoing partnership with the organization by joining the Board of Directors is an honor and I am looking forward to working in partnership with my counterparts to build on the strong foundation already in place.

What is your role at PayPal and how do you hope to use your perspective as a Board member?

I have served as Senior Vice President & General Counsel leading PayPal’s Global Legal team since 2017, responsible for oversight of daily legal activities.

With more than two decades of legal experience and a proven track record of helping businesses expand their offerings to reach global audiences, I hope to leverage my skill-set to help OneJustice strategically scale their efforts to reach a greater population of underserved communities in need of legal aid.

What are your hopes for your time as a Board member?

Serving as a OneJustice volunteer inspired me to evolve my thinking around how our PayPal business serves the needs of our underserved customers and communities. The value of this experience and the impact it has had on me – personally and professionally – is immeasurable. In my role as a Board Member, I hope to provide others the same opportunities to work directly with underserved communities through expanded programmatic engagements in the Bay Area and beyond.

Tell us about yourself – something you love to do, a hobby, recreational activity, or something quirky about yourself.

I live my life by the old adage that to whom much is given, much is required. I have had numerous mentors and sponsors throughout my career, and I feel a tremendous responsibility to pay that forward. I strive to serve as a role model for other aspiring women, diverse talent looking to advance their careers, the young people in my extended family and my own daughters – part of my purpose is to serve in this way.

Outside of this, I am incredibly fortunate in that I have the opportunity to travel and experience new countries, cultures and languages with my family. These family trips are incredibly meaningful to me and the diversity of thought, background and experiences we are exposed to in our travels has helped me become a more empathetic and inclusive person.

Announcing the 2019 Opening Doors to Justice Keynote Speaker – Julie Chávez Rodríguez.

April 25, 2019

We are thrilled to announce that the keynote speaker at the 2019 Opening Doors to Justice event will be Julie Chávez Rodríguez!

Julie Chávez Rodríguez is the former State Director and Senior Adviser for Senator Kamala Harris, where she oversaw operations and public engagement across five district offices as the Senator’s principal representative among constituents and elected leaders throughout California. Before returning to California, Julie was Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Deputy Director of Public Engagement at the White House, directing LGBT, AAPI, Latino, Veteran, Youth, and Labor outreach and supporting efforts to reform our nation’s immigration system, improve services for veterans, and increase access to affordable, quality health care.  She is also the granddaughter of Cesar Chávez, and his work continues to inspire her own.

OneJustice had the great honor of working closely with Julie Chávez Rodríguez and her team in the days and weeks of the San Francisco and Los Angeles airport legal clinics in the wake of the Muslim ban, and that work to expand the reach and scope of legal aid and immigration legal services has continued over the last two years.  Don’t miss this remarkable opportunity to hear Ms. Rodríguez’s reflections on the the importance of civil legal aid, particularly at this period in our country’s development, as we celebrate OneJustice’s impact over the last 40 years and a bold vision for the future.  Tickets are available online here, and we look forward to seeing you on June 13th.

2019 Opening Doors to Justice and 40th Anniversary Celebration

Where: Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco
When: Thursday, June 13, 2019
6pm: Cocktail Reception
7pm: Seated Program with hearty hors d’oeuvres

 

 

Have you met our new directors?

April 19, 2019

With lobbying in DC for increased legal aid funding, running pro bono clinics across the state, and leading trainings for California’s legal aid network, we almost forgot to introduce you to our newest directors – Gail Quan, Director, Healthy Nonprofits and Sharon Bashan, Director, Pro Bono Justice! 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 Gail and Sharon!

 

Gail Quan, Director of Healthy Nonprofits

I joined OneJustice because I love the organization’s approach to bringing life-changing legal help to those in need.  Through its programs, OneJustice effectively partners with nonprofits, firms, law schools, businesses and individuals to improve the civil legal aid delivery system.  The OneJustice team makes a difference, and I’m excited to contribute to their impact.

As the Healthy Nonprofits Program Director, I serve as a member of the Management Team, working to ensure the health, sustainability, and effectiveness of the organization.  I am also responsible for managing and growing the Healthy Nonprofits Program, directing the Executive Fellowship program and participating in HNP consulting projects.  I plan to increase the reach and impact of the Executive Fellowship program by providing alumni with additional support and resources, as well as broadening HNP’s consulting services.

I started my legal career as a commercial litigator at Pillsbury Winthrop LLP (now Pillsbury Winthrops Shaw Pittman and then at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP.  Throughout my work I was deeply embedded in both firms’ pro bono practices, representing clients in matters involving eviction defense, asylum and school expulsions. Immediately prior to joining OneJustice, I worked as Legal Counsel at Tides, a philanthropic partner and nonprofit accelerator dedicated to building a world of shared prosperity and social justice. As Legal Counsel, I managed the risk and compliance of Tides 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) operations, providing legal support for more than fiscally-sponsored 160 projects and assisting high net-worth individuals, corporations and private foundations with their philanthropic giving through a variety of vehicles, including donor advised funds. Throughout my career I also worked, and continue to work, as a law professor at Golden Gate University.

I’m actually an open book, so pretty much what you see is what you get.

 

Sharon Bashan, Director of Pro Bono Justice

I believe that legal aid provides vital, life-changing services that enable a path to upward mobility for many people.  I also believe in the power of volunteerism.  OneJustice marries these two concepts by working to build the capacity of all components of California’s civil legal aid system to meet the legal needs of local communities, and creating an effective statewide pro bono network.  Having collaborated with OneJustice for my entire legal aid career, I have seen the organization’s tremendous effects on the legal aid sector and the communities that we serve.  Additionally, I have seen OneJustice prototype innovative pro bono service delivery models.

I am the new Pro Bono Justice Director and am excited to oversee the expansion of legal services for Californians in need by developing and staffing innovative and effective pro bono projects with law schools, firms, and businesses around the state.  I hope to build OneJustice’s presence and partnerships in the dynamic Southern California region, where there is no shortage of need, but where there is a thriving legal community.

Admittedly, I also have an enormous goal: I would like to apply the lessons that I have learned at two very different legal aid programs in NorCal and SoCal to help further revolutionize pro bono in California, and beyond, so that access to justice becomes a reality – regardless of income, immigration status, and other factors.  I believe that OneJustice is perfectly poised to do just that.

I also look forward to working together with my colleagues and pro bono volunteers to achieve great things.  To quote Mary Oliver: “I believe in kindness.  Also in mischief.” I hope to engage in both kindness and mischief at OneJustice. I hope you join me!

Over sixteen years ago, I took a leap of faith and went to law school with the goal of using my law degree to help the public interest. Subsequently, I started my career in legal aid helping low-income people access the justice system and obtain pro bono representation in critical civil legal matters.  Along the way, I fell in love with non-profit management, acquiring skills not taught in law school – such as running successful programs, reengineering entire operations, recruiting and retaining talent, and fundraising.

At Pro Bono Project Silicon Valley, I started and managed a new program, Domestic Violence Limited Scope Representation (“DVLSR”) from the time it was just an idea, to becoming a successful, award-winning program institutionalized in Santa Clara County. During this time, my path intersected with OneJustice in a number of ways. I served on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) – the membership and advocacy organization for all legal aid organizations in California – when LAAC and OneJustice shared resources and some staffing, and was able to work on some joint projects. I also participated in the inaugural class of the OneJustice Executive Fellowship!

I then served as the Director of Pro Bono & Operations at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County for 6 ½ years, where I was able to develop a new pro bono program that leveraged resources to provide more legal services to low-income individuals and families throughout Los Angeles County.  

I worked with the OneJustice team and LAFLA on the Pro Bono Training Institute and our subsequent Language Access Pro Bono Project – projects that take a need in pro bono – effective and accessible pro bono trainings, including language access trainings – and find solutions to fill those needs for an entire legal aid sector. 

I also directed and oversaw the organization’s Legal Needs Study, a two-year study that utilized a variety of methodologies to obtain the input of stakeholders—clients, staff members, community members, local bench officers, private attorneys, local bar associations, and academics—to get a clear picture of the civil legal needs of low-income people throughout Los Angeles County.  

I have worked professionally in the pro bono space for the past 14 years because I wholeheartedly believe in the impact of pro bono.  In addition to witnessing numerous pro bono victories, I have personally reaped the benefits of volunteering for various causes most of my adult life.  I started volunteering at a local legal aid when I was an undergrad, and have been hooked ever since.

When I am not working, I am probably either eating or running outside — but not at the same time!  I enjoy culinary adventures, whether it is trying out new restaurants or cooking with family and friends.  My natural habitat is the outdoors… at the beach, on a hike, jogging around, or camping.  I also have wanderlust and love to travel to new places whenever I can.  There is nothing better than eating your way through a country and then (sometime later) running as if there is a zombie apocalypse.

OneJustice is headed to DC!

April 9, 2019

“For poor people, the legal issues they are confronting are existential issues happening in the every day. Civil justice is not a metaphysical thing. It is a real life issue for people.” – Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, speaking at the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Legal Services Corporation, April 8, 2019

Every spring, OneJustice prepares to remind Congress about its fundamental duty to keep our country’s legal system–to keep justice–within everyone’s reach.  The sad reality is that for far too many Americans, they do not have equal access to justice because they face legal barriers to basic needs, they cannot afford to hire an attorney to help them, and unlike in the criminal justice system, they have no right for an attorney to be provided to them at no cost. Instead, they have to rely on their local civil legal aid nonprofit to get the legal help they need. And those nonprofits rely on critically important federal funding through the Legal Services Corporation.

This is why OneJustice visits with California’s Members of Congress every spring. Partnering with the American Bar Association (“ABA”), we travel to Washington D.C. to try to meet with all 55 of our state’s representatives and senators. Last year, in 2018, OneJustice met with thirty-two congressional offices and the ABA was able to meet with six others.

Our message to Congress is simple: Keep funding the federal Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”).

And make no mistake – this federal funding is under attack. Just this month, for the third year in a row, White House proposed to eliminate federal funding for legal aid (see page 99). So today we have six staff members en route to Capitol Hill. For the next three days, we will be unrelenting in our message as we walk the corridors of the U.S. House and Senate. We will remind Congress about why it created LSC in the first place and what is at stake for our society. We will bring stories about the many Californians who have received they legal help they needed from legal services nonprofits in California. We also plan to live blog, post, and tweet to you as we meet with your representatives. Please join us online and help us carry the message!

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

A Day in the Life of OneJustice

March 26, 2019

One of the things that makes OneJustice truly unique is the number of ways that we support and strengthen California’s legal aid system. Today may have seemed like a normal day in the office. Staff trickling in from all across the Bay Area in the morning before running off to meetings. Flurries of conversations in the new Los Angeles office space.  Staff fielding calls and emails from other organizations.  In other words, a day just like any other!

OneJustice’s Lusik Gasparyan, Program Manager and Ana Urgiles, Program Associate, started off their morning in Rohnert Park training a group of attorneys from across the Bay Area––some traveling from as far as 2.5 hours away–– to staff a free immigration clinic.  More than a dozen clients––mothers and fathers, neighbors, friends––eagerly awaited their arrival so they can get the crucial legal support they need to take the next steps to renew their DACA status or file for citizenship.  In the state of California, there are about 800 full-time legal aid attorneys, or roughly one for every 16,250 Californians in need.  In Sonoma County there are 11 legal aid staff attorneys. Today, these volunteers brought that number to 21.

The same time the OneJustice clinic in Rohnert Park was starting, Roel Mangiliman, Director of Innovation and Learning, is training 11 legal aid leaders from six Bay Area Legal Aid Nonprofits on how to build and lead innovation at their organizations.  Red boardroom chairs are pushed to the far walls of a boardroom in Berkeley as hundreds of post-it notes are flung onto a glass wall in a flurry.  Roel is spending the day running and teaching high-engagement innovation exercises focused on human-centered design.  The goal: to consistently iterate ideas, question everything, and create a final product that brings meaningful and accessible solutions to the real life legal problems of so many Californians.

Over 2,800 miles away, Renée Schomp, Senior Staff Attorney, is at the 2019 Pro Bono Institute Conference in Washington DC, the biggest national pro bono conference of the year.  Renée is facilitating a session on the changing pro bono landscape. Leaders from across the sector, and across the country, are sharing their experiences from working with pro bono attorneys and volunteers, their expertise in the field, and the best practices they have developed.

Back in OneJustice’s San Francisco Office, Chris McConkey, Dana Marquez, and Fredrick Ghai, with Bruno Huziar calling in from our Los Angeles office, are in our 8th floor conference room. They are putting together the final strategy points for their upcoming trip to DC.  The 4 of them –– along with Renée, and OneJustice CEO, Julia Wilson –– are less than two weeks away from walking the halls of congress lobbying to protect federal funding for vital legal services from the draconian cuts proposed by the Trump administration in their latest budget.

At OneJustice, we don’t just claim to transform California’s legal aid system. We actually do it – every day. From working on the ground in underserved communities across the state, to training more than 75% of California’s legal aid organizations, to amplifying the work of these nonprofits in Congress, we work at every level to improve and expand the reach of California’s civil legal aid system.  We fight for a California where access to justice is not a privilege — it’s a right.

OneJustice firmly opposes any federal budget cuts to legal aid

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019

The White House has once again proposed to eliminate the federal government’s primary mechanism for providing low-income people with access to our country’s legal system: its funding for legal aid. The Administration included this proposal in its “Major Savings and Reforms” for Fiscal Year 2020.

For the third time in as many years, the Trump administration has suggested the abolition of the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”).  LSC ensures that people in every county from coast to coast can–through grants to legal aid nonprofits–understand their rights and access our courts when they have a basic need at stake.  While the FY19 budget appropriated $415 million dollars to LSC, this budget plan provides only $18 million, a $397 million cut, to essentially facilitate the closing of LSC’s doors.

In 2017, LSC Grantee organizations in California closed 75,000 cases and served 185,000 people, including 4,000 veterans and 18,500 seniors.  This closure would take away almost 40% of California LSC Grantees funding and have a profound impact on the services provided to low-income Californians.

OneJustice firmly opposes these cuts and is gearing up to send six members of our team to Washington D.C. to meet with California legislators to ensure that LSC funding is protected.  We trust the strong bipartisan support for civil justice in both the House and the Senate will ensure–as in FY18 and FY19–that congress acts to protect civil justice for all Americans.

To stay informed about the fight to protect legal justice for low-income Americans, please sign up for our grassroots network, Californians for Legal Aid, and keep a look out for our upcoming blog posts in preparation of OneJustice being in Washington, DC. Thank you!

Welcome, Tamika L. Butler!

March 18, 2019

OneJustice has welcomed plenty of new faces to our offices in the last year, but those aren’t all of the new team members around here! In addition to all our amazing new teammates, we are excited to announce we have recently added a new member to our Board of Directors: Tamika Butler, Director of Planning, California & Director of Equity and Inclusion at Toole Design! Tamika joined the Board early this year and we’re as excited for you to get to know her, as we have been!

What made you interested in becoming a OneJustice Board member?

Ever since I was in law school, I’ve known about One Justice and the great work they do. For one reason or another, I was never able to be involved. That never stopped me from following the organization, having friends who worked there, and mentors who were part of the board. When this opportunity came up, I couldn’t say no. Given the current political climate and landscape, the work of OneJustice is more important than ever. At a time when so many people want to be doing something meaningful, it’s a privilege to be part of an organization that does that each and every day.

What is your role at Toole Design and how do you hope to use your perspective as a Board member?

At Toole Design, I’m the CA Planning Director and the Director of Equity and Inclusion.  I see a lot of overlap with with Equity and Inclusion role in helping OneJustice think through and work on equity and inclusion issues within the organization and present in the work. I also have several years of experience being a lawyer and running a nonprofit and hope to bring those skills and knowledge to be supportive to staff as they do impactful legal work.

What are your hopes for your time as a Board member?

I hope to stay out of the way of staff, while still being helpful. I hope to see the impact of the organization continue to grow. I hope that we all understand our little piece in doing work that supports those the most in need who are often also the most neglected.

Tell us about yourself – something you love to do, a hobby, recreational activity, or something quirky about yourself.

My wife, Kelly, our son, Atei, and our dog Stewart Little are all the most important things to me.  I’m also a Midwesterner at heart and love getting back to Omaha as much as possible to visit my extended family.

From Emu Farm to San Francisco!

March 14, 2019

With the start of a new year, comes new faces around the OneJustice offices! OneJustice is excited for you to meet our newest team-member – Dana Marquez, Californians for Legal Aid Fellow! 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 Dana Marquez!

Dana Marquez, Californians for Legal Aid Fellow:

I was drawn to OneJustice because I have always wanted to help people and make a difference for others.  Growing up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, I witnessed first hand the struggle children and their families faced for access to respect and justice in all aspects of their lives.  With advocates and influential leaders on the side of civil justice, the futures of many people can be positively altered.  I came to civil justice to help protect and bolster the civil justice system so that all people have equal access to the law and an equal fight at life in a free and just society.

The Californians for Legal Aid Fellowship position was created to help combat a need in the state of California for structural and innovative development tailored to the needs of children and youth. Approximately 9 million children under the age of 17 were reported to be living in California in 2018 and it is estimated that 21.3%, or 1.9 million, of them are living in poverty.  Serving as the Californians for Legal Aid Fellow, I hope to develop and implement an effective plan for legal services providers across California that are serving at-need children and youth in all aspects of their lives and development.

Before OneJustice I attended the University of San Francisco Law School and San Francisco State University.  In law school, I was involved in a variety of extra-curriculars and groups including the University of San Francisco Law Review, the Women’s Law Association, and the Student Bar Association.  Law school provided me with the opportunity to work for a number of influential offices including the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Little Rock, Arkansas, the USF Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

I grew up on a small farm in the California San Joaquin Valley with a variety of animals including a flock of about 30 emus!