The challenge is great.
OneJustice has been honored to serve and support the California legal aid delivery system for the past 36 years. With that honor comes great responsibility and the need to rigorously evaluate both our impact on the sector and the sector’s impact on the lives of low-income Californians. This plan is the result of an unflinching look at our purpose, programs, and what we hope to achieve in the future.
There is no doubt that the challenge is great. Between eight and twelve million Californians are eligible for legal aid services, and most of them will face one to three legal barriers to basic necessities each year. Due to lack of resources, the state’s civil legal aid system can employ only approximately 1,000 staff attorneys, far too few to respond to this overwhelming demand for assistance. Only one-third of those in need will actually receive legal aid services. Too many suffer, needlessly, from solvable legal problems.
The potential is greater.
The potential power of our sector is greater. We believe the provision of civil legal assistance to those in need can transform lives. We know that the current delivery system is powerful and can also be so much more – with increased resources, volunteers, collaboration, and support. We see first-hand the willingness of the private sector to be true partners in this movement for justice.
To reach its full potential, our sector must continue to transform. We are called on to increase the supply of legal aid services to respond to this tremendous need. To do so, we must fully leverage the power of technology and partnerships with the private sector. We must hone our nonprofit management practices, adopt key lessons from other sectors, and be fiercely committed to a collective impact. Just as we challenge the societal systems that reinforce poverty, we must also challenge our own assumptions about our statewide system, its components, and how we manage finances, resources and talent – as a truly statewide system. By working together, we can move our sector into its next phase of development, reaching its full impact by ending needless suffering for those struggling with legal problems and thereby transforming lives.
The time is now.
With this plan, OneJustice affirms its commitment to you – participants in California’s civil legal aid system – and most of all to the millions of Californians facing pressing legal problems while waiting for our sector to reach them. It is these Californians who stand at the heart of OneJustice’s quest to bring life-changing legal help to those in need by transforming the civil legal aid system.