Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the façade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists… it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.”
-Lewis Powell, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice
What is the Campaign for Justice?
Every day, low-income Californians are denied access to the basic rights entitled to them under the law simply because they cannot afford a lawyer. Equal justice doesn’t just make some of the difference. It makes all of the difference -- the difference between staying in a home and living on the street; between a safe family and a life of fear and violence; and, between getting paid earned wages, and having nothing to eat. Access to a legal aid lawyer often means access to healthcare, safety, food and shelter. The Campaign for Justice is raising funds to ensure that all Californians have access to justice under the law.
The Campaign consists of four key components: educating key policymakers about the importance of legal aid, encouraging banks to maximize interest and waive fees on IOLTA accounts, increasing individual contributions to the Justice Gap Fund, and encouraging pro bono services to leverage legal aid resources. By creating awareness of the importance of legal aid, the Campaign seeks to increase local and statewide legal aid resources, so that Californians are not denied justice simply because they cannot afford a lawyer.
Why a Campaign for Justice?
Currently, the State Bar of California administers three main sources of funding that all benefit legal aid in California: Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA); Equal Access Funds through the Court budget; and voluntary contributions to the Justice Gap Fund through bar membership statements and other outreach. Unfortunately, due to the downturn in the economy, just when the need for legal services is up, revenue is down – one source of funding alone, IOLTA revenue, has dropped from $22 million in 2008, to less than $8 million each subsequent year.
In September 2010, the State Bar and the Legal Aid Association of California gathered legal aid organizations for a statewide meeting to address the funding crises. At that meeting, the legal aid organizations committed to a “Campaign for Justice” modeled after similar efforts in other states, to raise $10 million in new funds for California legal services. Thus, the Campaign for Justice was born.
Who receives Funds from the Trust Fund Program?
The Campaign for Justice funds 95 non-profit organizations throughout California that provide legal help to hundreds of thousands of individuals every year. Some programs are staffed to provide services directly, and other programs coordinate legal services through attorney and law student pro bono. From the smallest legal aid that serves frail seniors in Yolo County to the largest legal aid that provides statewide protection and advocacy to people with disabilities throughout California; from the legal aid organizations that attempt to eliminate inner city slums in Los Angeles, to the program that secures guardianships for grandparent caretakers in Bakersfield and surrounding rural areas – each of the 95 legal aid and legal support organizations has a mission to provide legal aid to people who otherwise could not afford access to justice.
What Can You Do to Help?
Join the Campaign for Justice. Choose Justice.
Legal Services Trust Fund Program, State Bar of California
- Donate to the Justice Gap Fund today.
- Join the Campaign by declaring your support and taking action.
- Support your local legal aid organization.
180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Download the .pdf document to take action.