600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.
Are you making a list of New Year’s resolutions? What do you hope for in 2013?
What are your dreams for a better – and more just – world next year? How would you like to partner with OneJustice to turn those dreams into reality?
We asked the OneJustice staff members to share their hopes and dreams for 2013, and you can see their ideas below. We also want to know what YOU think! Where should we be focusing our time and energy? What most excites you about being a part of the OneJustice network? Let us know – comment on this post or on our facebook or LinkedIn pages!
It’s also not too late to be part of making these dreams come true! Donate now to any of our program areas to kick off increased access to legal help for Californians in need.
We wish you all the very best in the coming new year.
Pro Bono Team (R to L): Michael Winn, Senior Staff Attorney; Phoebe Kasdin, Program Associate; and Lauren Roberts, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow
More Services for Veterans!
Our Pro Bono Support Team based in the San Francisco office hopes that the early January 2013 Justice Bus Trip to far northern California will serve up to 400 veterans who are members of the Yurok Tribe. They also hope to bring legal help to 600 additional veterans living in isolated areas of the state throughout the year!
SoCal Pro Bono Team (R to L): Monica Mar, Senior Staff Attorney and Cynthia Luna, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow
More Justice Bus Trips Serving Children and Youth!
Our Pro Bono Support team working out of the LA office is dreaming of bringing more legal help on special education issues to 50 children with disabilities in the Lancaster and Antelope Valley areas – and to spread that assistance into other isolated areas of Southern California.
Strengthen the Network team (R to L): Linda Kim, Deputy Director; Stephen Downey, Program Associate, and Thieu Do, Program Coordinator
New Skills for Seniors Programs!
One of our teams working to Strengthen the OneJustice Network has visions of bringing vital assistance in nonprofit management and operations to 10 nonprofit legal organizations serving seniors. This support will expand their leadership, management, governance and outreach capacity to enable them to serve many more low-income seniors during 2013.
Fundraising Support Team (R to L): Natasha Ong, Development Associate; Julia Wilson, Executive Director; and Renae Getlin, Executive Assistant
New Fundraising Strategies for Legal Services Nonprofits!
Another Strengthen the Network team plans to support the leaders of nonprofit legal organizations in increasing their fundraising and communications skills throughout 2013. We know that better fundraising skills will allow their organizations to survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and competitive nonprofit sector.
Your kind gift will support the entire statewide network of over 100 nonprofit legal organizations – donate today! Thank you!
Liz, tell us a little bit about Pro Bono Net, and your role at the organization?
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit working to increase access to justice through innovative uses of technology and collaboration. We have offices in New York and San Francisco, which is where I am based. Among other programs, we have developed and support two web platforms, LawHelp and LawHelp Interactive, to provide legal information and self-help tools directly to the public, as well as probono.net, our flagship platform, which supports pro bono engagement and collaboration among advocates. Our platforms have been adopted by justice communities around the country, including here in California through our partnership with OneJustice on LawHelpCalifornia.org, CalifornaProBono.org, SoCalProBono.org, and several other initiatives.
I work with Pro Bono Net’s partners around the country who are developing initiatives using the LawHelp and probono.net platforms. I’ve been with Pro Bono Net for about 8 years, first as a Circuit Rider and now as the LawHelp Program Manager. I work both on the technology and human sides of the equation – facilitating the use of our tools, and helping programs understand how to integrate them with their broader service delivery to help more clients.
How does your experience in the national access to justice, pro bono, and technology communities inform your work with OneJustice?
In each state, the initiatives are coordinated by leading public interest organizations like OneJustice that adapt the technology to the community’s needs, spearhead the content development, and facilitate the participation by other providers. The projects are collaborative in nature. While one group “hosts” the statewide websites, many groups contribute resources and content, and the projects are intended to support the entire state justice community. OneJustice is a natural home for the projects in that way.
Like OneJustice, Pro Bono Net has a network of partners that we support. One of the really fun and rewarding parts of my job is being able to help our partners get the most out of being part of that network. Many legal aid programs don’t have the luxury of learning by experience and I try to help them leverage their limited resources by sharing what I think other states are doing well. Often that goes beyond technology topics. Many of our partners are interested in law student engagement, and I’ve encouraged them to look at the Justice Bus and OneJustice Summer programs, and how OneJustice facilitates collaboration among law schools and providers.
In your opinion, what are some of the strengths of the collaboration between Pro Bono Net and OneJustice?
I think there are a lot of parallels between Pro Bono Net’s approach to supporting technology innovation and OneJustice’s strategies for strengthening and expanding the delivery system. Both organizations are concerned with removing barriers to justice, capability-building and facilitating collaboration.
One of the exciting and unique aspects of the collaboration is that OneJustice has facilitated the expansion of what started as statewide vision, with CaliforniaProBono.org, into regionally-tailored strategies. For example, OneJustice worked with pro bono providers in Southern California to develop SoCalProBono.org on the probono.net platform. So the Southern California community now has a collaborative online resource supporting volunteer engagement in that region. OneJustice is working with Central California Legal Services and Pro Bono Net on a similar initiative, CentralValleyProBono.org, to support pro bono participation in the Central Valley. California is a huge and diverse state, and OneJustice has adopted the probono.net platform to create a robust statewide presence while also building regional capacity. That really speaks to the breadth and depth of OneJustice’s reach.
Last year the Justice Bus Project brought life-changing legal help to hundreds of Californians living in isolated areas of the state.
Justice: the perfect gift. Donate now to bring justice to over 270,000 Californians in 2013.
You can help bring legal help to even more Californians next year – donate now!
These Californians – seniors, families, children, workers, and veterans – are at the heart of the OneJustice network. They are the very reason we exist. Their faces tell the story of our mission better than any words – so we’ve put together a scrapbook blog with photos of clients from all over the state that received help because of the Justice Bus Project during 2012, combined with our favorite justice-related quotes from our quote contest earlier this month. Enjoy!
Donate to support the Justice Bus Project before the end of the year and your gift will be doubled. A generous pool of donors have agreed to match all donations – up to $25,000 – made before the year’s end. Thank you for your support!
There are over 300,000 children and youth in California eligible to apply for a new immigration relief program.
And not enough attorneys to help them – particularly in rural and isolated areas of the state.
You can change this! The Justice Bus Project is building coalitions of nonprofit legal organizations and law firms, law schools, and corporations to respond.
In the short video below, Laura Lopez, a youth in Napa County who graduated with honors from UC Santa Cruz, tells her story and explains why the recent Justice Bus trip with Legal Aid of Napa Valley was so important.
Many thanks also to the California Bar Foundation and the van Loben Sels/RembeRock Foundation for their generous support for the Justice Bus Project! We are thrilled to report that both Foundations just announced that they will provide generous grants in 2013 for even more Justice Bus Trips to bring life-changing legal help to immigrant youth living in rural and isolated areas of the state. Thank you!
Justice: the perfect gift. Donate now to bring justice to over 270,000 Californians like Maya in 2013.
In this guest blog, we are proud to highlight the pro bono work of just one of those wonderful volunteer attorneys – our very own Advisory Board member Mark Conrad.
Guest Blog by OneJustice Advisory Board member Mark Conrad
Mark Conrad provided pro bono legal representation to a small business owner and foster mom after she experienced a violent robbery.
In a violent robbery that lasted less than two minutes, Maya* lost more than $50,000. Unfortunately for Maya, the money was not hers to lose. She was taking the money to the bank to deposit, as she did every night after closing up her small storefront, where she offered wire-transfer services. The money belonged to her customers, and it was supposed to get wired to their loved ones—to friends and family in places like Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Now it was gone. Maya called the police immediately and filed a report, but the gunman was never found.
Days later, three financial institutions were knocking on her door, demanding that she repay the stolen money. The banks had wired the money to the intended recipients, and now they were turning to Maya to pay them back. That was how the contract worked, they explained. Maya was uninsured, on the brink of insolvency, and desperate.
Fortunately, a safety net of pro bono legal counsel came to her rescue. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, a nonprofit in OneJustice’s statewide network, referred Maya’s case to a network of lawyers at downtown San Francisco law firms, and my former firm agreed to take the case as a pro bono (or volunteer) matter.
We helped Maya quickly negotiate a repayment plan with two of the companies making claims against her. These repayment plans took into account Maya’s modest income, so even though she did not have a lot of cash to spare, she was able to save, little by little, and make her monthly payments. She met her obligations under these plans, all while supporting a foster child, with only the modest income she earned selling jewelry and cell phone cases at her store.
For many low-income clients like Maya, justice is only made possible by the tireless efforts of volunteer attorneys.
The third company, however, referred Maya’s case to a collection agency, which sent letters threatening legal action. Maya’s livelihood was put at risk by these threats. Only after litigation ensued did it come to light that the third claim was owned by an affiliate of one of the initial two companies that had previously settled their claims against Maya. As a result, we learned, this third claimant had already released its claim against Maya and was seeking an additional windfall recovery. We went to court, arguing that Maya’s debt had already been discharged. The suit was dropped shortly after we filed our papers.
Maya’s case did not make headlines; it did not set any legal precedent. As a matter of dollars and cents, it is among the smallest matters I ever handled in private practice. But I can think of no other case in which I had a larger influence on the final outcome.
Without the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and without the commitment of my former firm to provide pro bono services, Maya would have been on her own. She would have had difficulty negotiating a fair deal with her creditors. It likely would have been impossible for her to get the documents she needed to discover the basis for her defenses in the debt collection action. A motion for summary judgment would have been unthinkable for someone like her, an immigrant with no familiarity with the legal system and little English. In short, without the pro bono safety net, Maya could have lost her business and her ability to support herself and her foster daughter.
Justice: the perfect gift. Donate now to bring justice to over 270,000 Californians like Maya in 2013.
This is why I work with OneJustice.More than any other organization I know, OneJustice strengthens the pro bono safety net that improves the lives and protects the livelihoods of people like Maya. It supports the legal services providers who are on the front lines working with clients like her. It is building bridges to the firms that have resources to seek discovery and file summary judgment motions on their behalf. Its lofty goal is to meet the legal needs of all low-income Californians, yet it pursues this goal with its feet planted firmly on the ground, meeting with legislators, scrutinizing balance sheets, and crunching census data to ensure that more people like Maya find the help they need.
Have a favorite quote about justice? Then you can win!
You can win this nifty OneJustice water bottle!
Our new facebook contest opened today! Everyone who posts their favorite justice quote will be entered in a contest for a nifty OneJustice water bottle. Got two favorite quotes? Post them both! Are you on this blog page, facebook and LinkedIn? Post on all three! Staff will select their favorite of all the favorites – and the winner will get a OneJustice water bottle.
Removing barriers to justice takes a network. . . the OneJustice network.
OneJustice supports a network of 100+ nonprofit legal organizations, law firms, law schools and businesses. Each year this network provides life-saving legal help to over 275,000 Californians facing legal barriers to basic life necessities and core civil rights. You – like everyone in our network – are an essential part of the solution to the fact that millions of our neighbors suffer needlessly from solvable legal problems.
In honor of the work that our network does, each month we’ll feature an interview with a different participant in the network. This month we interviewed Diego Cartagena, Pro Bono Director at Bet Tzedek Legal Services and a member of the OneJustice Board of Directors.
Diego, you have many years of experience managing pro bono delivery systems at various legal services programs in the OneJustice network. How has that experience informed your work with OneJustice?
I started my career as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. In launching the Teen LA project, I focused on helping to give low-income teen mothers and fathers a voice in court by providing them with legal advocacy and outreach in the areas of family and immigration law. I then went on to serve as Pro Bono Director for the Alliance for Children’s Rights, while simultaneously serving as the agency’s Probate Legal Guardianship Program Director. Now I serve as the Pro Bono Director at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, where I continue to leverage the power of the private sector to provide much-needed legal assistance to our clients.
I have worked closely with OneJustice on a variety on pro bono projects during my time at Bet Tzedek and also the Alliance for Children’s Rights. OneJustice supports a network of legal services nonprofits in the Southern California region, with a special focus on strengthening and expanding the pro bono delivery system. With OneJustice’s staffing and support, we are able to come together and work jointly on collaborative pro bono programs – including the www.SoCalProBono.org website, joint MCLE trainings and events for pro bono volunteers, and strategic planning meetings for the Southern California region. In my role as Pro Bono Director, I also work directly with OneJustice staff on all of these important efforts.
OneJustice supports a network of legal services nonprofits that collaborate on SoCalProBono.org.
Tell us about your most recent collaboration with OneJustice?
Through our Justice Bus collaborative, we traveled with six Southwestern law student volunteers to set up a free legal clinic at the Lancaster Senior Center. Thanks to OneJustice, in one single afternoon we were able to conduct intake interviews and even some on-the-spot advice and counsel for 22 seniors who had been on an extensive waitlist. They are now on the path to having their legal issues addressed. We hope to do more Justice Bus Trips with OneJustice in 2013!
What do you enjoy about working with OneJustice?
OneJustice is an innovative and forward-looking organization that always keeps its eye on the ultimate goal – expanding the legal help available to Californians who are facing legal barriers to basic life necessities. I enjoy the truly generative work of the OneJustice Board to frame the service gaps in the state and identify ways to bridge those gaps, and then I appreciate being able to work together with OneJustice staff to make those creative ideas into on-the-ground projects that make a real difference in people’s lives.
Which of OneJustice’s initiatives for 2013 most excites you?
Seniors living in rural and isolated areas face additional barriers to justice. The Justice Bus delivers teams of volunteers to their community.
Of course as someone who started my career at agencies serving youth and children, I am proud of OneJustice’s initiative to expand services for families – particularly in the areas of immigration and special education. Given my current work at Bet Tzedek – and the profound challenges of bringing much-needed legal help to seniors living in rural and isolated areas of the state – I have to say that I am most excited about the Seniors Legal Aid Fund that will ensure increased nonprofit management support for legal services organizations serving seniors and more Justice Bus Trips to bring teams of pro bono volunteers to help seniors in places like Lancaster and others. I definitely will be involved in those efforts in 2013!
A creative way we can all take a little U-turn back to giving thanks…..and giving…..in the middle of these days so focused on getting.
With two teenaged daughters in my house, the last several days were pretty focused on getting things! Black Friday and Cyber Monday fascinated my daughters, who were appalled that our family didn’t have big plans for tracking down the deals. Instead, we focused on shopping small on Small Business Saturday (see OneJustice’s last blog post), and today — Tuesday November 27 — we are fired up for #GivingTuesday, a creative new way to remind us all to give back in this season of giving thanks.
OneJustice is a proud partner in the first annual #GivingTuesday, the day that also marks the official opening day of the giving season. We’re joining almost 2,000 nonprofits and corporations around the country to celebrate the work of nonprofits in our society – with the goal of driving donations of time, money, or services to charities with the same enthusiasm that shoppers have on Black Friday.
It is a beautifully simple idea, and one that calls on ideals and values that are at the core of American society. First, find a way to give back – through your local school, faith-based organization, charity – maybe even through OneJustice! Then tell others in your network about what you did – and why it matters. #GivingTuesday is about reminding all of us that we are a generous people – with our time, our energy, and with our financial support.
How are you called to participate in acts of giving today, the first-ever #GivingTuesday?
One way to celebrate #GivingTuesday is to Give the Gift of Justice to veterans facing legal barriers to benefits and medical care, vulnerable seniors living in rural and isolated areas of the state, and low-income children who need legal help to access new immigration programs or educational services. Donate today to our Veterans, Seniors, or Children’s Legal Aid Funds, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous group of donors who are also exercising their generosity today as part of #GivingTuesday!
Small businesses have a powerful impact on our communities and larger society. OneJustice supports using our consumer power to support small, local businesses – which are frequently a road out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency for low-income entrepreneurs and small business owners. (For more about entrepreneurship as a poverty alieviation strategy, read here.)
Just like large multi-national corporations, who access legal advice and representation by large law firms, small business owners and micro-entreprenuers often face pressing legal problems. For small businesses, a legal problem can be the difference between thriving and failure – but they usually cannot afford law firm billing rates. The free legal help provided to low-income small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs by organizations in the OneJustice network – like Public Law Center, Public Counsel, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, Volunteer Legal Services Program (legal help for non-profits), and others – can make all the difference.
“Small businesses, which often do not have the resources to pay for an attorney, depend on courts and the assistance of legal services to protect their interests and enforce their rights when they become subject to a wrongful increase in taxes or involved in a lawsuit.”
Nina Jun, small business owner, testifies about the important legal help she received from the Public Law Center and the pro bono firm Crowell & Moring, during the California Civil Justice Crisis Hearings.
Nina reported that – “For a small business like mine, an increase of this amount in tax is big . . . It was not only a monetary victory, but it was a triumph [of] spirit and the pride of . . . small businesses, who are looking for justice.”
The Power of Small Businesses – they contribute positively to their local communities and create new jobs!
So, SHOP SMALL AND LOCAL today on Small Business Saturday. Our community small businesses need all of us – consumers and nonprofit legal organizations – to help them survive and thrive in today’s complex and competitive business sector. And not only will you be supporting the local economy – you might just be supporting someone’s path out of poverty to self-sufficiency.
WE WANT TO KNOW – what is your favorite local, small business that you can support today? Share in the comments here or on our facebook page or LinkedIn page! (You can also find maps of small businesses in your area participating in Small Business Saturday here.)