Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Justice Bus Project
Click here to view our short video about the innovative Justice Bus Project!
One-third of low-income rural Californians need legal help to access life’s most basic needs. California’s rural population faces a large number of legal issues, and along with the significant need there are increased challenges. These challenges include disparate numbers of the elderly, disabled, and poor; sparse populations; lack of transportation; inadequate access to technology and law libraries; lower education levels; language barriers; and fewer law firms providing pro bono services.
In 2007, OneJustice pioneered the Justice Bus® Project by training and organizing California’s urban lawyers and law students and literally busing them to rural California. Together with California’s rural legal aid organizations, they provide essential legal assistance to rural clients.
Lawyers and law students staff free legal clinics with rural host partner organizations. With guidance and support from expert legal services attorneys, lawyer and law student volunteers assist clients by conducting legal intake, drafting legal documents, and providing self-help education. Volunteers learn about substantive legal issues and rural access to justice issues, while legal service organizations help many more clients in a few hours than they are usually able to with limited numbers of attorneys and resources. Many rural organizations do not have the staff to offer legal clinics of this size, and clients often have to wait days or weeks to get legal advice.
In a community of a few thousand people, these clinics make a huge impact. Dori Rose Inda, executive director at the Watsonville Law Center, says:
“As a very small rural organization with limited resources, we rely on volunteer attorneys, particularly law students. OneJustice enables us to hold larger clinics and not have to use our own resources to train the law students. Through those clinics, we are able to serve about three times as many clients. The Justice Bus® also helps us educate urban law students [and lawyers] about the need for their help in rural areas so that when they are attorneys, they will come back to volunteer again!”