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.

OneJustice Responds to the 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!

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.