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.
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.
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.