by Dimetria A. Jackson
As members of the Orange County legal community, we all have much to be thankful for: an engaged and vibrant network of fellow members of the bench and bar, unique opportunities in diverse practice areas, careers that inspire us and renew our passion on a regular basis, and a geographic location that’s second to none. And it’s no small wonder that a group of such successful and empowered lawyers and jurists would want to give back to the community at large. The Orange County Bar Association Charitable Fund extends its sincere thanks to all of the donors, sponsors, volunteers, and OCBA Sections who have supported the OCBA Charitable Fund throughout the year. Thanks to your time, effort, dedication, charitable contributions, and participation in such OCBA Charitable Fund events as the Annual Judge Kenneth Lae Charity Golf Tournament and our themed Fall Fundraisers, we are able to provide continued support in the form of charitable grants to organizations and programs and law student scholarships in order to enhance the system of justice and promote equal justice for all.
Thanks to the funds raised last year, the OCBA Charitable Fund was recently able to present 2013 grants totaling nearly $75,000 to benefit nine worthy and celebrated causes:
Asian Pacific American Legal Center—$2,000 Grant
APALC’s Vietnamese Self-Help Centers and Family Workshops provide services including community education on such issues as dissolution, self-represented litigant resources, and navigating the court system to limited-English proficient Vietnamese residents of Orange County through a partnership with the Orange County Superior Court. During the OCBA Charitable Fund Grant Reception held at OCBA headquarters on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, APALC Staff Attorney Ngoc Nguyen thanked the OCBA Charitable Fund for the grant, which will ensure that Orange County’s Vietnamese monolingual population will have continued access to justice.
Constitutional Rights Foundation, Orange County—$24,000 Grant
CRF-OC’s Constitutional Futures Project is a series of five complimentary programs (Mock Trial, Peer Court, Constitution Day, Law Day, and the Orange County Career Forum) that uniquely educates and empowers our local youth to be active, responsible citizens who are civically minded and engaged. President Barbara Tingley expressed her gratitude on behalf of CRF-OC for the donation, which will prove integral to the continued success of such programs as CRF-OC’s upcoming Law Day event, which will be held Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa. Please visit www.crfoc.org for more information.
Council on American-Islamic Relations—$1,000 Grant
Through its Law Clerkship Program, CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter provides externship opportunities for law students and recent law school graduates to receive hands-on experience providing direct legal services primarily to Orange County residents who have been the victims of discrimination. Said Deputy Executive Director and Staff Attorney Ameena Mirza Qazi, the program addresses such issues as civil rights, national security, and anti-bullying while simultaneously providing recent graduates and current students with practical real-world experience in the law. For more information, please visit http://ca.cair.com/losangeles.
Laura’s House—$2,000 Grant
Through its Legal Advocacy Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence, Laura’s House provides victims of domestic violence with a wide range of services to support and assist them in understanding and securing their legal rights so they can lead safe, violence-free lives. As Legal Advocate Adam Dodge explained, the grant will help fund a variety of services provided through Laura’s House, including transitional housing, therapy, legal advocacy, and a legal clinic provided through a joint partnership with the OCBA. To learn more, please visit www.laurashouse.org.
Orange County Bar Foundation—$1,000 Grant
For nearly two decades, Project SELF (Summer Employment in Law Firms) has provided high school students from Santa Ana—the majority of whom are low-income and/or ethnic minorities—with hands-on, paid internships in the legal field and other professional areas. In part, the grant will go to fund bus passes for Project SELF interns, enabling them to commute to work reliably. By providing them with in-office work experience, often for the first time in their lives, said OCBF President Collie James IV, “you’ve opened an entirely new world to these kids,” showing them that college education and a successful career are realistic, attainable goals.
Orange County Rescue Mission—$1,800 Grant
The Trinity Law/OCRM Mobile Legal Clinic delivers legal aid to impoverished populations and the homeless through the use of a converted passenger van staffed by volunteer lawyers and law students. Thanks to the funds provided by the OCBA Charitable Fund, said Volunteer Manager Bryan Kazarian, the Mobile Legal Clinic will continue to provide the homeless with access to attorney volunteers who both vet and assist with a variety of legal problems. Please visit www.rescuemission.org to learn more.
Public Law Center—$26,000 Grant
Through its Courthouse-Based Legal Clinics Project, Public Law Center (PLC) provides legal services to low-income, unrepresented litigants through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Clinic and Bankruptcy Reaffirmation Clinic co-sponsored by the OCBA, the OCBA Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Section, and the Orange County Bankruptcy Forum, as well as a Guardianship Clinic co-sponsored by the OCBA, all of which are staffed by volunteer attorneys primarily recruited through MCLE trainings coordinated by PLC and OCBA. PLC Executive Director & General Counsel Kenneth Babcock noted that through these Courthouse-Based Legal Clinics, which provide needed information to the public on the spot at local courthouses, PLC was able to serve more than 1,500 unrepresented litigants in the past year alone. To learn more about PLC, please visit www.publiclawcenter.org.
UC Irvine School of Law—$17,000 (Total of Two Grants)
The OCBA Charitable Fund was able to provide grants to benefit two unique projects implemented by UC Irvine School of Law: the Pre-Law Outreach Program, a pipeline program that encourages undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the practice of law, provides them with the necessary tools to be admitted to and flourish in law school, and gives them practical experiences in legal advocacy, and the Saturday Academy of Law, a series of weekend classes designed to help underserved ninth grade students in the Santa Ana Unified School District develop the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills they need to pursue higher education and a potential career in the law. UC Irvine School of Law Director of Public Interest Programs Anna Davis stated that the grants represent “a huge boon to both of our projects,” explaining that the donated funds will provide for busing services and a graduation ceremony for Saturday Academy of Law participants while also enabling the Pre-Law Outreach Program to continue Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s initiative of serving disadvantaged undergraduate students by providing housing for non-locals without access to a vehicle. For more information, please visit www.law.uci.edu.
The Road Ahead
We hope to exceed the funds raised in 2012 to ensure the continued viability of these necessary programs and services—but we need your help! To that end, I encourage all OCBA members (golfers and non-golfers alike) to participate in the OCBA Charitable Fund’s 29th Annual Judge Kenneth Lae Charity Golf Tournament, which will be held Wednesday, June 5, 2013.
Your support of the OCBA Charitable Fund makes a crucial difference in the continued success and growth of the Orange County legal community’s innovative programs serving our youth and underserved populations. In addition to the grants provided, the Charitable Fund will be providing scholarships for BAR/BRI Law Review courses later this spring to some well deserving law students.
For more information, to see a history of grants given, or to donate online, please visit us at www.ocbacf.org.
Dimetria A. Jackson is the President of the OCBA Charitable Fund, Past President of the Orange County Bar Association, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability at Golden State Foods, and CEO of redBAMBINA.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.