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Rural Justice Pro Bono Collaborative Launched in Response to Meeting with Vice President Biden

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Palo Alto, Calif. – May 20, 2013 – OneJustice and Cooley LLP, in collaboration with other Bay Area law firms and legal service providers, have launched the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative. The Collaborative held its first free immigration clinic on May 17, 2013 in Napa, California. 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.

The Rural Justice Collaborative is the first IMPACT project to launch. Its mission is to expand access to legal services in rural and/or isolated communities throughout the Bay Area. The May 17th clinic in Napa, the first of eleven free clinics set to be held over the next three months (in Napa, Half Moon Bay and Gilroy), focused on immigration. Subsequent clinics will focus on either immigration or housing issues. The clinics will utilize trained pro bono volunteers from the participating law firms, who will be supervised by experienced legal services staff attorneys. The Collaborative is staffed by a newly hired senior staff attorney at OneJustice. Initial funding and administrative support for the project has been provided by Cooley LLP.

"Those in need in rural areas simply do not have the same access to free legal services that people in urban areas do," said Julia Wilson, Executive Director of OneJustice. "The Rural Justice Collaborative is our response to try to meet this need and to address Vice President Biden's goal to create innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services."

"Rural legal aid organizations have a very real need for financial resources and personnel," said Maureen Alger, Cooley's Pro Bono Partner. "It is truly an honor to be able to contribute the resources needed to make the Collaborative a reality and to make access to legal representation a reality in these communities."Palo Alto, Calif. – May 20, 2013 – OneJustice and Cooley LLP, in collaboration with other Bay Area law firms and legal service providers, have launched the Bay Area Rural Justice Collaborative. The Collaborative held its first free immigration clinic on May 17, 2013 in Napa, California. 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.

The Rural Justice Collaborative is the first IMPACT project to launch. Its mission is to expand access to legal services in rural and/or isolated communities throughout the Bay Area. The May 17th clinic in Napa, the first of eleven free clinics set to be held over the next three months (in Napa, Half Moon Bay and Gilroy), focused on immigration. Subsequent clinics will focus on either immigration or housing issues. The clinics will utilize trained pro bono volunteers from the participating law firms, who will be supervised by experienced legal services staff attorneys. The Collaborative is staffed by a newly hired senior staff attorney at OneJustice. Initial funding and administrative support for the project has been provided by Cooley LLP.

"Those in need in rural areas simply do not have the same access to free legal services that people in urban areas do," said Julia Wilson, Executive Director of OneJustice. "The Rural Justice Collaborative is our response to try to meet this need and to address Vice President Biden's goal to create innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services."

"Rural legal aid organizations have a very real need for financial resources and personnel," said Maureen Alger, Cooley's Pro Bono Partner. "It is truly an honor to be able to contribute the resources needed to make the Collaborative a reality and to make access to legal representation a reality in these communities."

 

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