CHOOSE JUSTICE. INCREASING ACCESS FOR THOSE WITHOUT.
“Our society rests on a bedrock promise that all individuals are equal under the law. To fulfill that promise, people must be able to vindicate their rights through the legal system. Too often, low-income Californians lack resources to stand up for their rights. I work to promote access to justice so that equal justice is a reality, not just a promise, for all Californians.”
– Mark R. Conrad, Assistant United States Attorney, Legal Services Trust Fund Commission Member

Campaign In Action

Campaign in Action Archive

As our Campaign grows, so does our list of accomplishments. It’s one thing to look ahead and work hard to reach our goal, but once in a while it’s good to look back and remember how far we have already come.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video says it all!
Calling on communities of faith
Access to justice is paramount to any civil society
Help us raise $1 million for justice
Donate $1 by liking the Campaign for Justice on Facebook
Thank you to our contributors
Marin and Riverside recognized at Bar Leaders Conference
The State Bar celebrates pro bono work
Third time’s the charm for Insight Center’s efforts to help seniors struggling to make ends meet
Support is brewing in Marin and Riverside
Law firms help close the justice gap
Hanson Bridgett, LLP highlights pro bono and legal aid during their 2nd Annual Pro Bono Pledge Drive
Help us close the justice gap and reach our $1 million goal
Public hearings to address cuts to California’s civil justice system
Campaign for Justice Month a success
Declare October Campaign for Justice Month
Past articles about access to justice

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video says it all!

Image of a man's hands molding clay into a vase using a pottery wheel.Pixel Corps and the Campaign for Justice have teamed up to spread awareness about how legal aid programs benefit our communities and increase access to justice for those that have nowhere else to turn. Pixel Corps is a guild of digital artisans that serves as a source of information and organization for established and emerging computer artists. They have kindly offered to donate their time and services to help the Campaign for Justice expand its presence in social media by producing videos that highlight the work of legal aid organizations around the state. They are also organizing a strategic campaign to capture the interest and participation of the public through the four major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+). The members of Pixel Corps are experts in video production and digital media, and envision a strategy which incorporates 3-minute video clips featuring a legal aid client sharing their personal story of how legal aid helped them resolve a legal issue, how their life has improved because of this resolution, and what would have happened if they were not able to get free legal assistance. The Campaign for Justice will then post these videos at regular intervals on the Campaign for Justice website and Facebook page.

We hope this campaign will introduce the issue of equal access to justice and the efforts of the Campaign for Justice to a new audience, building public support for increased resources for legal aid. With this public support, we hope that lawmakers will be more attune to the legal needs of the poor and consider the issue in their funding and legislative decisions. To share your story on video or learn more, contact Jennifer Kregear at jennifer.kregear@calbar.ca.gov.

Calling on communities of faith

Thanks to Robin Crawford, an attorney, ordained minister, and co-chair of the Campaign for Justice Faith-Based Committee for kicking off the Faith-Based campaign in January by delivering two sermons about access to justice. He spoke at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Pacifica, CA on January 20, 2013 and Presbyterian Chinatown Church in San Francisco on January 27, 2013 where he raised nearly $400 for justice. We greatly appreciate the support of these churches and their efforts to close the justice gap.

Social justice is a critical social concern to many in faith- based communities. That is why Campaign for Justice supporters are reaching out to faith-based communities to ask for help spreading the cause of justice.

We hope that religious and lay leaders will join us in educating members of their communities about the importance of access to justice by designating one sermon or outreach effort in 2013 to share the plight of the many underserved people in California who cannot afford to protect their rights under the law. Then help us bridge the justice gap by urging each member of your community to contribute “one dollar for justice,” or an amount of their choosing, at the conclusion of the service or event.

Campaign volunteers and staff stand ready to support you with materials, talking points, and samples. It is a great way to encourage righteousness in your congregation and your community.

Please join us in the joyful work of repairing lives that have been disrupted by the lack of access to justice. We look forward to your organization answering the call to help raise awareness and funds for critical legal aid.

For more information and to find out how you can participate, contact:

Elena Enzweiler
Legal Services Trust Fund Program
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA. 94105
(415) 538-2532
elena.enzweiler@calbar.ca.gov

Access to justice is paramount to any civil society

Photo of Banafsheh Akhlaghi
Banafsheh Akhlaghi,
Human Rights Attorney

My uncle was a political prisoner in my birth country of Iran. In Iran, citizens do not have a right to counsel. As a political prisoner, my uncle had no legal representation or anyone to be his voice as he was sentenced to years of detention and torture. My uncle’s case moved me to attend law school to be that voice for others and I have since dedicated my career to such cases. As a member of the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission of the State Bar of California, I can make sure funding for free civil legal services continues to flow and the voiceless in our community have access to the legal services they deserve.

I witness first-hand the critical services nonprofit legal aid organizations throughout California provide to those that struggle to get by and often cannot afford to defend their rights in a court of law. These organizations offer services in a variety of legal areas from bankruptcy and foreclosure issues to adoptions and domestic violence proceedings. The nonprofit lawyers and legal services staff funded by grants from our commission provide a voice for the elderly, children, and indigent in our communities. These grants ensure that all Californians have access to justice and legal services, which is paramount to any civil society.

In a civil society, we should all have the right to an attorney. In the U.S., we have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, but many vulnerable members of our society in non-criminal matters cannot access the legal help they need to protect and defend their rights. I view every one of our nonprofit legal services organizations as heroes and the members of the commission as stewards to make sure that every senior, woman, and child has a voice and is heard.

Help us raise $1 million for justice

Thermometer indicating the amount of donations we have received ($918,943) and our goal ($1,000,000)Even as the Great Recession still lingers, 2013 has proven to be a record-breaking year in the effort to bring equal access to justice to all Californians. Preliminary numbers indicate that more people than ever before donated to the 2013 Justice Gap Fund campaign and we are VERY close to breaking our previous campaign-year donation record. But that means we need YOUR help to make 2013 a $1 MILLION YEAR for JUSTICE!

As of May 31, donations to the Justice Gap Fund totaled $918,943. That means we need $81,057 by June 30 to surpass this milestone and make 2013 one for the record books. Please donate now whatever you can afford to put us over the top. Help us make 2013, even despite all the economic hardships, a record-breaking year for justice!

Donate $1 by liking the Campaign for Justice on Facebook

Want to support equal access to justice for all Californians but can’t afford to contribute right now? You can still help us reach our $1 million goal by Liking the Campaign for Justice on Facebook! Recently, the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission pledged to donate $1 to the Justice Gap Fund for every Like the Campaign for Justice Facebook page receives. That’s right; you can literally donate with the click of a button!

Image of the Facebook Like symbol

Help us reach our $1 million fundraising goal by June 30 by logging onto Facebook, clicking “Like” on the Campaign for Justice Facebook page, and then invite all of your friends to do the same. It’s that easy to make a difference in the lives of those who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn for justice!

*A special thanks to the Legal Aid Association of California for supporting the Campaign for Justice through its administration of the Campaign for Justice Facebook page.

Thank you to our contributors

We would like to thank Adrian Dollard and Qatalyst Partners for their very generous donation to the Justice Gap Fund and to all of our top contributors who have surely made a difference in the lives of those in need. We are tremendously grateful to all of the attorneys from large law firms, small law firms, corporate counsel and solo practices who are stepping up to help increase access to justice for all Californians. Thanks to all who made a gift to the 2013 Campaign, and to all who are making one now – you still have time to donate and help us raise $1 Million for Justice in 2013!

Although we are still tallying the numbers for our 2013 Large Law Firm Campaign, this is a perfect time to recognize once again the large law firms with the highest level of participation for the 2012 Campaign:

  • Bingham McCutchen, LLP
  • The Justice Gap Fund logo
  • Farella, Braun + Martel, LLP
  • Fenwick & West, LLP
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP
  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
  • Latham & Watkins, LLP
  • Morrison & Foerster, LLP
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP
  • Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLP
  • Sidley Austin, LLP

Marin and Riverside recognized at Bar Leaders Conference

Photo of Robynn Gaspar accepting an award on behalf of Marin County Bar Association with Paul Marks
Justice Gap Fund Committee member, Paul Mark, presents awards to the Marin County Bar Association, accepted by Executive Director Robynn Gaspar (above), and the Riverside County Bar Association, accepted by Bar President Chris Harmon (right).

Thank you to the Riverside County Bar Association and Marin County Bar Association for their leadership in gathering support for the Campaign for Justice and educating their communities about the critical need for increased funding for legal services for indigent Californians. The Riverside and Marin County bar associations were the first this year to pass resolutions in support of the Campaign for Justice. They also published articles about the Campaign for Justice in their magazine and newsletter, and featured the Campaign for Justice on their websites. The support of their Board of Directors and attorney members brings us closer Photo of Chris Harmon accepting an award on behalf of the Riverside County Bar Assocaition with Paul Marksto our goal of securing access to justice for everyone.

To present a resolution to your bar association's Board of Directors, download our sample resolution, and then learn more about how your bar association can support the Campaign for Justice.

The State Bar celebrates pro bono work

The Campaign for Justice would like to congratulate the honorees recognized this year for their exceptional commitment to legal services at the Office of Legal Services Awards Reception held on October 12, 2012 during the State Bar of California's 85th Annual Meeting in Monterey, CA.

Photo of Melinda Bird with the 2012 Loren Miller Legal Services Award
Melinda R. Bird receives the 2012 Loren Miller Legal Services Award (Photo courtesy of The State Bar of California)

Melinda R. Bird, Co-Director of Litigation at Disability Rights California, received the 2012 Loren Miller Legal Services Award, awarded each year to an attorney who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to extending legal services to the poor. During Ms. Bird’s 33 years as a legal services attorney, she has redressed the rights of tens of thousands of low-income Californians through her work on class action and impact cases addressing the rights of homeless and disabled individuals. She has also changed the way legal services attorneys strategize and present their legal arguments through her poignant client stories and unorthodox use of social science to develop unique theories and remedies.

Ana de Alba, Associate at Lang, Richert & Patch, received the 2012 Jack Berman Award of Achievement, awarded each year by the California Young Lawyers Association to a young lawyer who has demonstrated outstanding service to the profession and public. After experiencing the maltreatment of agricultural workers first hand as a child, Ms. de Alba embarked on a legal career to fight for workers’ rights. She currently volunteers with legal services organizations throughout California's Central Valley, serves on numerous local and statewide pro bono committees, and helped organize the Workers' Rights Clinic in Fresno, CA to increase pro bono services for indigent workers.

The State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards each year honor up to nine California attorneys, law students, law firms, law schools, and/or associations of California lawyers who volunteer their time to provide legal services to low-income Californians, free of charge. The 2012 recipients of the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards are:

Mayte Santacruz accepts her award with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and State Bar President Jon B. Streeter
Award recipient, Mayte Santacruz (center) accepts her award with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (left) and State Bar President Jon B. Streeter (right) (Photo courtesy of The State Bar of California)
  • Jonathan Kaiho, Partner at Kaiho & Trivedi - dedicated more than 350 hours in 2011 to volunteering at family law clinics and providing legal advice to over 120 clients.
  • Mayte Santacruz, Associate at Latham & Watkins, LLP - volunteered more than 1,000 hours since 2009 assisting low-income clients with assault and domestic violence cases, and VAWA and U-Visa petitions.
  • Clifford Anderson, Jr., member of the State Bar’s Pro Bono Practice Program - routinely represents family law litigants on a variety of challenging issues and ensures his clients have full access to all available public resources.
  • Michelle de Blank, Pro Bono Attorney at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County - contributed more than 200 hours in 2011 to helping children access educational placements and specialized services, and representing families with IEPs.
  • Grace Carter, Partner at Paul Hastings, LLP - devoted 400 hours in 2011 to assisting low-income clients with General Assistance (GA) benefits, as well as training and mentoring other associates at her firm in the area of GA.
  • Leslie McAdam, Associate at Ferguson, Case, Orr, Paterson, LLP - dedicated over 200 hours in 2011 to assisting women, the elderly and low-income workers at weekly clinics and in multiple cases involving tenant issues, employee rights, and small claims.
  • Snell & Wilmer’s Costa Mesa office - assisted in 70 pro bono matters involving humanitarian immigration relief in 2011. They continue to collaborate with UC Irvine School of Law in providing law student supervision for their U-Visa project.
  • Ellen Eggers, Deputy State Public Defender - contributed over 2,000 hours of pro bono service over the past five years, advocating for the exoneration of a man serving two life sentences for a crime that Ms. Eggers proved he did not commit.
  • Small Claims Project at the Los Angeles County Bar Association - facilitates collaboration between firm attorneys and Southwestern law students in providing monthly small claims workshops to low-income individuals, assisting nearly 400 individuals in 2011.

Whether you are a newly admitted attorney, a law firm associate, or have a solo or small firm practice, you, too, can make a difference in the lives of those who would not otherwise have access to the legal system. For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit www.californiaprobono.org or contact your local legal aid organization.

Third time’s the charm for the Insight Center’s efforts to help seniors struggling to make ends meet

ICCED Logo

Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s three-year journey to improve California’s plan for its retiring Baby Boomer population reached a climax in October 2011 when Governor Brown signed into law AB 138. AB 138 requires public aging agencies to incorporate Insight Center’s Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index) into their area service plans, which guide how resources and services are used to benefit seniors in communities across California. Developed by Wider Opportunities for Women and customized for California by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Elder Index calculates the actual costs of housing, food, health care, and transportation to determine the minimum income retired seniors need to live in each California county.

More than one in three California seniors fall into the “eligibility gap” – the gap between the Federal Poverty Guideline’s income eligibility for public benefits and the income needed to cover basic living expenses as calculated by the more accurate and nuanced Elder Index.

At the urging of the Insight Center and its partners across the state, then-Assemblymember Beall first introduced this policy change in 2009 as AB 324, which passed the legislature but was vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger. Reintroduced as AB 2114 in 2010, the bill passed the Assembly, but was held in the Senate. In 2011, Governor Brown signed the bill, reintroduced as AB 138, on October 9, 2011.

Thanks to the hard work of the Insight Center and its partners, public agencies and program administrators are now able to make smarter, data-driven decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources and target their efforts more effectively to help low-income seniors.

Support is brewing in Marin and Riverside

Many thanks to Kira Klatchko of the Riverside County Bar Association, and Jessica Karner, President of the Marin County Bar Association, for presenting resolutions in support of the Campaign for Justice to their respective Board of Directors, and for all the work they did communicating to their communities the importance of funding for legal aid. Kira made presentations at bar association meetings, reached out personally to many bar members, and published an article in Riverside Lawyer Magazine. Jessica advocated for the Campaign for Justice at board meetings, featured the Campaign for Justice on the bar association's website, and is including the Campaign for Justice in the next Marin Lawyer Newsletter.

Thanks also to the Board of Directors at the Riverside County Bar Association and Marin County Bar Association for passing resolutions in support of the Campaign for Justice. The support of their Boards and attorney members brings us closer to the goal of securing access to justice for everyone. To present a resolution to your bar association's Board of Directors, download our sample resolution, and learn what your bar association can do to support the Campaign for Justice.

Riverside County Bar Association
Resolution adopted April 10, 2012

Marin County Bar Association
Resolution adopted April 11, 2012

Law firms help close the justice gap

This year has proven to be another tough one for fundraising, due to the continuing rough economic climate. Just when need is rising, revenue is down, including Justice Gap Fund donations. Some superstar firms, however, are helping make up for the dip by pushing their campaign efforts to new heights! Representatives from law firms across California are coordinating efforts among their colleagues to increase support for legal aid and equal access to justice for every Californian through donations and pro bono pledges. Join them and help close the justice gap by downloading our campaign tools and tips on how to organize a Justice Gap Fund campaign at your firm.

The State Bar of California recognizes participating law firms with the greatest percentage of attorney contributions at an annual reception during Campaign for Justice Month in October. Will your firm be among our top 10 firms this year? For more information about our law firm campaign, or to get involved, please email us at caforjustice@calbar.ca.gov.

Justice Gap Fund Logo

Thanks again to all of our top law firms in 2011:

  • Farella, Braun + Martel, LLP
  • Fenwick & West, LLP
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP
  • Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, LLP
  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
  • Latham & Watkins, LLP
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
  • Morrison & Foerster, LLP
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP
  • Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLP

Hanson Bridgett, LLP highlights pro bono and legal aid during their 2nd Annual Pro Bono Pledge Drive

Hanson Bridgett The Pledge Strikes Back Pro Bono Pledge Kick-Off Reception and Silent Auction photo collage of attorneys dressed as Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and storm troopers participating in a silent auctionTo celebrate National Pro Bono Week in 2011, Hanson Bridgett, LLP held the firm’s 2nd Annual Pro Bono Pledge Drive. The pledge drive, with a Star Wars theme that was aptly named “The Pledge Strikes Back!” pitted practice sections against one another in healthy competition. For two weeks, the firm’s sections pledged manpower and dollars to support their partner legal services organizations, all of whom provide direct legal services to those in need. Attorneys were able to direct their monetary donations either to a specific legal aid organization or to the Justice Gap Fund to support legal services statewide. In addition, as part of the pledge drive, attorneys donated goods and services to a silent auction; proceeds of which were included in their donations to partner legal services organizations. This year, Hanson Bridgett, LLP had a 97 percent participation rate firm wide. In all, they pledged to complete 2,565 pro bono hours within six months, and donate $16,905 to legal services organizations. Special appearances by Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, Princess Leia, and Yoda at their kick-off reception added excitement to the friendly, but competitive, environment.

Hanson Bridgett, LLP’s pro bono mantra: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Thank you to Hanson Bridgett, LLP and all of their participating attorneys in helping increase access to justice for all Californians and for serving as a model for other firms in their support for legal aid.

Help us close the justice gap and reach our $1 million goal

Each year, the mailing of the State Bar of California member dues bill on December 1 officially kicks off the Justice Gap Fund outreach campaign and this year is no different. The dues bill provides a simple way for every attorney to increase access to justice by retaining the voluntary $100 contribution to the Justice Gap Fund on line 12 of the dues bill, or they can write in a more generous amount ($1,000 to be a Benefactor). Currently, less than five percent of California bar members include the voluntary Justice Gap donation in their dues payment. Our goal is to increase those numbers in order to provide more resources to legal aid organizations that help to close the widening justice gap.

Currently, representatives from various law firms are coordinating fundraising efforts among their colleagues to increase support for legal aid and equal access to justice for every Californian through donations and pro bono pledges. The State Bar will recognize participating law firms with the greatest percentage of attorney contributions. For more information about our law firm campaign, or to get involved, please email us at caforjustice@calbar.ca.gov.

Thanks again to all of our top law firms in 2011:The Justice Gap Fund Logo

  • Farella, Braun + Martel, LLP
  • Fenwick & West, LLP
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP
  • Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, LLP
  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
  • Latham & Watkins, LLP
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
  • Morrison & Foerster, LLP
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP
  • Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLP

Thank you also to all of you who participated in the Justice Gap Fund focus group last October. Many great ideas and strategies were developed which will help us achieve our $10 million fundraising goal.

Public hearings to address cuts to California's civil justice system

Recent budget cuts to California’s court system and legal aid organizations have threatened everyone’s livelihood, rights and freedoms. Without a fully functioning court system or legal assistance, individuals, businesses, and even governments can’t protect their rights or resolve important problems. So in order to bring light to California’s civil justice crisis, four public hearings are being held across California to demonstrate the fundamental function of the courts in our democracy and the essential role of legal assistance in every aspect of life. The hearings will also explore the devastating effects of recent deep cuts in court funding and chronic under-funding of legal assistance on every segment of society, from low-income individuals to major corporations. Help us defend critical funding for the courts and legal aid to low-income Californians by attending or speaking at the hearing near you. For more information, visit www.CaliforniaHearings.org.

Campaign for Justice Month a success

We would like to thank all of our supporters that made Campaign for Justice Month a success. On September 17, 2011, the State Bar of California passed a resolution declaring October 2011 Campaign for Justice Month in coordination with the launch of a statewide campaign to raise awareness and funding for critical legal aid services throughout California. Over the following weeks, the Judicial Council of California and six local bar associations all passed similar resolutions. Thank you to all the supporters who joined the Campaign for Justice, the Judicial Council of California, and the following bar associations who demonstrated their dedication to increasing access to justice for all Californians:

  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
    Resolution adopted September 21, 2011
  • Alameda County Bar Association
    Resolution adopted October 4, 2011
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association
    Resolution adopted October 6, 2011
  • Orange County Bar Association
    Resolution adopted October 17, 2011
  • Santa Barbara County Bar Association
    Resolution adopted October 19, 2011
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
    Resolution adopted October 19, 2011

Declare October Campaign for Justice Month

On September 17, 2011, the State Bar of California passed a resolution declaring October 2011 Campaign for Justice Month. The Los Angeles County Bar Association followed suit a few days later. Then, on October 3, 2011, the Judicial Council of California, recognizing the severity in funding cuts for legal services and commending California attorneys for their ongoing pro bono contributions, joined the State Bar and the Los Angeles County Bar Association in declaring October to be Campaign for Justice Month. Has your bar association adopted a similar resolution? You can find the resolutions and check on the status of the Campaign for Justice in the Campaign in Action section. If your bar has not yet passed a resolution, please contact your local bar leader and ask them to join the Campaign for Justice.

Past articles about access to justice: