“For thousands of low-income Bay Area residents, justice is not an abstract ideal. It is food, shelte, and protection. It is the difference between staying in poverty and getting out; between dependence and self-reliance. But without help, justice is often denied.”
This week, One Legal is proud to announce the beginning of an extended revenue-sharing program, partnering with a legal aid group that has served the Greater San Francisco Bay Area for many years. Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) provides much needed legal services to indigent and low-income members of the community who would otherwise have no recourse for resolution of civil injustices.
Through the Giving Back opt-in program, customers authorize One Legal to donate 5% of our own revenues from their purchases to BayLegal to help the underserved. This money is especially vital to the organization’s operations now, when legal aid groups around the country are facing the possibility of huge percentages of their funding being cut after the implementation of a new federal budget.
Working with BayLegal
Bay Area Legal Aid’s mission is to “provide meaningful access to the civil justice system through quality legal assistance regardless of a client’s location, language or disability.” They work with low and very low-income people in and around the communities of the Bay Area, giving representation and legal support to those who cannot afford attorney fees and don’t have the skills to represent themselves.
Over the years, BayLegal has given legal advice and provided representation for more than 14,000 people, helped more than 12,000 people keep their homes, and aided more than 9,000 victims of domestic abuse in escaping.BayLegal’s
BayLegal’s Justice Heroes are their clients and their attorneys, all fighting to help “people in crisis regain self-sufficiency”. By taking on the big issues that come up on a daily basis for individuals and families across the Bay Area, they are making investments in and bringing about justice for members of our communities.
Since 2016, One Legal has been donating legal services and products to BayLegal, a contribution which allows the non-profit organization to focus financial efforts on effectively fighting for their clients. We’re confident that our user-friendly platform is also saving time for volunteers and employees, enabling them to spend more energy on working with their clients.
Without organizations like BayLegal and other legal aid groups, law firms would be inundated with requests for pro bono work, and members of low-income communities would find it nearly impossible to pursue legal action if and when it became necessary.
The American Bar Association (ABA) strongly encourages attorneys to provide pro bono work, specifying that they should “aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.” But pro bono work is regulated—if it is regulated at all—at the state level. A 2011 ABA survey found that 36% of lawyers do provide 50 hours or more each year, 44% render some amount of pro bono work, and 20% reported having given no such service.
Even with the many attorneys who are giving back their time and resources, the State Bar of California reveals that for every one legal aid staff attorney there are more than 8,000 vulnerable people in the state who qualify for free assistance. This program is another way to help meet that need.
What is the Giving Back program?
In addition to our ongoing donation of services, One Legal has begun partnering with BayLegal in a revenue-sharing endeavor to assist in generating funds for their organization. This initiative is especially important for the charity now, when funding for their program and many more like it is about to change drastically.
The proposed federal budget for 2018 calls for the elimination of many established programs, from the National Endowment of the Arts to the National Wildlife Refuge fund. Perhaps the most significant cut to the industry is the rescinding of all funding to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, the heads of more than 150 law firms wrote, “Eliminating the Legal Services Corporation will not only imperil the ability of civil legal aid organizations to serve Americans in need, it will also vastly diminish the private bar’s capacity to help these individuals.”
The San Francisco Chronicle estimated that funding from LSC helped to resolve more than 80,000 cases in just California in 2015. BayLegal itself has been receiving one-fourth of its funding from the LSC, and is now faced with supplementing a significant portion of its budget from additional sources., or else be forced to scale back their services.
How you can help
Because of all the work that BayLegal does, both in and out of the courtroom, it’s more important than ever that our industry helps to support its efforts on behalf of the people in our communities.
At One Legal we are thrilled about this new and renewed partnership with BayLegal, an extension of the work we have already been a part of now opened up to include our customers as well.
Now you can help us make a difference–at no cost to yourself!
How it works:
- Visit our information page to enroll your firm
- Continue to use One Legal for services like eFiling, eService, and research and retrieval
- At the end of each quarter, we will calculate our revenue from purchases made from your account and send 5% of that sum straight to BayLegal.
You’ll then receive an email detailing the contribution we made thanks to you. Add this information to your Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, and talk to your account manager about how to further maximize our donation.
As changes in the federal budget trickle down to affect people close to home, organizations that traditionally benefit from federal funding have had to (scramble) to start making alternative plans. Bay Area law firms and solo practitioners can make a difference for communities close to home by supporting a non-profit that is actively involved in making a difference in their lives.