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.

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!