Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative

Launched in May 2013, this regional collaborative of legal services nonprofits and law firms brings regularly-scheduled free legal clinics to isolated communities in the Bay Area, including Napa County, the coastside of San Mateo County, and southern Santa Clara County.  These clinics are staffed 100% by volunteer attorneys from Bay Area law firms and corporations, supervised by expert attorneys from Bay Area legal services nonprofits.  In its first 11 months, the Rural Justice Clinics have engaged 103 volunteers in staffing 29 clinics to serve 197 low-income residents.

The Collaborative was developed to meet the goals of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel’s (APBCo) IMPACT Project. The APBCo IMPACT (“Involving More Pro Bono Attorneys in Our Communities Together”) Project is taking root in eight urban centers, from the San Francisco Bay Area to New York and beyond. The objective of the IMPACT Project is to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services by utilizing pro bono volunteers.

The IMPACT Project is a direct response to a meeting held in Washington, DC in 2012 among Vice President Joe Biden, APBCo board members and senior management of the board members’ firms. The meeting focused on issues of access to justice and the role of pro bono attorneys in the delivery of legal services to the poor, including innovative collaborations between law firms and legal services organizations. As a result of this conversation, APBCo initiated the IMPACT Project, a long-term project to develop new collaborations across the country to expand pro bono resources and inspire new pro bono projects.