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Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Of The San Francisco Bay Area

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Intergroup & Race Relations, International, International Migration & Refugee Issues, Race

Mission: The lawyers' committee staff -- with the assistance of hundreds of pro bono attorneys--provides free legal assistance and representation to individuals on civil legal matters.

Programs: In 2014, lccr's second chance legal clinic continued to provide pro bono legal services to individuals seeking to overcome housing and employment barriers that stem from past contact with the criminal justicesystem. Clinics are offered at two san francisco locations, in partnershipwith mo magic and goodwill industries. During the past year, the clinic served approximately 130 clients in over 170 employment, housing, driver's license suspensions and occupational licensing-related matters. Lccr also provided know-your-rights workshops to more than 830 members of the community, and trainings and workshops on racial justice issues to approximately 400 attorneys and law students. Please see schedule o for a complete narrative of services in 2014, lccr's second chance legal clinic continued to provide pro bono legal services to individuals seeking to overcome housing and employment barriers that stem from past contact with the criminal justice system. Clinics are offered at two san francisco locations, in partnership with mo magic and goodwill industries. During the past year, the clinic served approximately 130 clients in over 170 employment, housing, driver's license suspensions and occupational licensing-related matters. Lccr also provided know-your-rights workshops to more than 830 members of the community, and trainings and workshops on racial justice issues to approximately 400 attorneys and law students. Lccr documented 21st century voting rights obstacles in california in a detailed report, accompanied by an interactive database. Lccr presented our findings at numerous venues throughout the state including before legislative panels community groups, and in a video presentation widely available on-line. In 2014, lccr also recruited, trained, and deployed numerous pro bono volunteers for our election protection project, a non- partisan effort to ensure that voters do not experience obstacles to voting on election day. Together with the aclu of northern california and other legal services organizations, lccr filed and won a case in 2014 challenging the california secretary of state's decision to disenfranchise approximately 70,000 formerly-incarcerated californians, the majority from communities of color. Lccr is continuing to litigate the matter now on appeal. Lccr, together with the law firms of gibson dunn & crutcher and wilson, sonsini, goodrich & rosati, continued advocacy to prevent students of color in san mateo and santa clara counties from being unfairly held back in math classes when they transition to high school. We drafted model school board policies, highlighted how placement policies and practices that unjustifiably fall more heavily on minority students violate federal and state anti-discrimination laws, and presented our findings and recommendations to state legislative panels and community groups. Lccr, together with the bingham law firm, engaged in advocacy around issues highlighted in our report entitled "pushing the line," which documented the disparities in sequoia union high school district's student assignment plan and attendance boundaries, and in particular how these practices disproportionately and negatively impact the largely minority student body of the ravenswood city elementary school district. Following our report, suhsd adopted an interim student assignment plan that mitigated some of the negative impacts that the report highlighted; in 2014, the district implemented a permanent plan to halt the inequities that lccr documented. Lccr spearheaded efforts to strengthen a san francisco ordinance designed to create equal opportunity for small minority- and women-owned and other local businesses seeking public contracts and to extend san francisco's local business program to private developments on public land. The ordinance was passed unanimously by the san francisco board of supervisors and signed into law by the mayor in december 2014. Lccr worked with local community partners to secure passage of a san francisco ordinance that will regulate the use of criminal history information in employment and housing decisions. The ordinance was enacted in the spring of 2014. Together with morgan lewis & bockius llp, lccr successfully settled a case regarding the conditions and services at the west contra costa unified school district's community day school for at-risk youth. As a result of the lawsuit, the district relocated the community day school from its decrepit facilities and contracted with the county to provide educational services.

lccr's asylum program screens and matches refugees in need of asylum with volunteer attorneys. The individualsrepresented are low-income residents of northern california who have fledpersecution and torture in their home countries and who would otherwise go without counsel. In 2014, lccr placed over 110 clients with pro bono attorneys for representation, and it supported the ongoing representation of approximately 257 continuing asylum seekers from prior years. Lccr also put on 21 trainings,workshops, and presentations on asylum and immigrant rights issues to over 700 attorneys, paralegals, interpreters, law students, psychologists, and community members. Additionally it produced two updated training and resource manuals. Please see schedule o for a complete narrative of services immigrant justice (detailed) lccr's asylum program screens and matches refugees in need of asylum with volunteer attorneys, and it supports their representation with trainings, case materials, and close mentorship. When needed, volunteer interpreters are also matched with the representation teams. The individuals represented are low-income residents of northern california who have fled persecution and torture in their home countries and who would otherwise go without counsel. In 2014, lccr placed over 110 clients with pro bono attorneys for representation, and it supported the ongoing representation of approximately 257 asylum seekers whose cases continued after having been commenced prior to 2014. Lccr intensively screened approximately 250 individuals for services. Lccr also put on 21 trainings, workshops, and presentations on asylum and immigrant rights issues to over 700 attorneys, paralegals, interpreters, law students, psychologists, and community members. Additionally it produced two updated training and resource manuals. Lccr, along with wilson sonsini goodrich & rosati and the aclu of northern california, successfully settled a federal class action lawsuit challenging the shackling of immigration detainees during their immigration court hearings in san francisco. Under the settlement, detainees will no longer be restrained during their bond and merits hearings, absent exigent circumstances, and procedures are in place to allow for lessening or elimination of restraints during master calendar hearings. Lccr, along with munger tolles & olson, continued settlement negotiations with federal defendants in a case filed on behalf of a german visitor of middle eastern descent who, despite strong u. S. -citizen family ties and numerous previous visits, was denied entry to the u. S. By immigration agents who pressured him to become a spy and confined him to a local jail, where he was subjected to a visual cavity search and other harsh conditions. Lccr, along with davis wright tremaine llp, monitored and ensured compliance with a settlement agreement reached late in 2013 in a case seeking access under the freedom of information act (foia) to asylum officer interview notes. The settlement provided for a national policy change and instructions directing that these records generally not be withheld from asylum seekers requesting them under the foia. Lccr, along with nine other nonprofit organizations, filed a complaint with the department of homeland security's office of civil rights and civil liberties, to address customs & border protection practices that block access to asylum for individuals fleeing persecution abroad. Lccr spearheaded the formation of a regional collaborative that is working to achieve universal representation for individuals in removal proceedings, beginning with those who are detained and least able to access counsel. The collaborative, known as the northern california collaborative for immigrant justice, released a report in november, written by the stanford law school immigrants' rights clinic, documenting the critical difference that representation makes for case outcomes as well as the lack of sufficient resources among nonprofits to meet the needs of northern california immigrants who are detained for removal proceedings. With two other local organizations, lccr convened a roundtable focused on unaccompanied children on their own in removal (deportation) proceedings, bringing together more than 40 organizations, agencies, and pro bono partners to ensure greater coordination and strengthening of the delivery of information and services to this vulnerable population. Together with partners in northern and southern california, lccr monitored implementation and worked to ensure compliance with the trust act, a state law that went into effect in january 2014 and sharply limits the circumstances under which local law enforcement agencies can agree to hold individuals at the request of immigration authorities when the individuals would otherwise be released. Related work included extensive advocacy to limit sheriff offices' agreement to immigration hold requests (known as detainers) in circumstances not covered by the trust act but nonetheless raising fourth amendment and due process concerns. Lccr worked in coalition with community and legal allies to clarify and ensure effective implementation of san francisco's due process for all ordinance, limiting local cooperation with immigration officials. Lccr met with city officials to resolve interpretive issues and address areas of challenge that had the potential to affect efficient and just performance. Lccr's coalition advocacy in this area included close work with the san francisco sheriff to create and implement an internal policy that complies with local, state, and federal law and falls in line with the goal of eliminating the use of ice holds. With its coalition partners, lccr has also been engaged in data collection and monitoring; lccr submitted three public records act request in support of this aspect of the coalition's work. Lccr has continued its work with community partners to pursue a freedom of information act request seeking documents from ice/dhs's workplace enforcement audits, with a focus on the implementation of a memorandum of understanding between ice and the dept. Of labor regarding workplace audits. Lccr published an award-winning report, entitled the ofac list: due process challenges in designation and delisting. The report reveals the injustices and challenges faced by those who were intentionally, but erroneously, designated by ofac. The report sheds light on the often insurmountable legal challenges their clients encounter when attempting to be "delisted" by ofac. Lccr joined with others in the filing of several amicus briefs this year, including two challenging immigration detention in violation of due process, one addressing the burden of demonstrating that voluntary cessation moots a claim for injunctive relief, one addressing conditions for transgender and other lgbtq individuals in mexico, two addressing the erroneous use of the reinstatement statute to bar consideration for asylum, and one addressing matters of proof and credibility in the asylum context. Early in 2014, with pro bono counsel at wilmerhale, lccr completed the briefing support of the petitioner in chen v. Holder, which challenges an adverse credibility finding for an asylum seeker who presented substantial evidence in corroboration of his claim. Lccr launched the immigrant post-conviction relief project, which is california's first pro bono effort to provide low-income immigrants with a means of challenging deportations based on unlawful criminal convictions. The project trains legal services providers and pro bono counsel how to secure post-conviction relief and provides direct services to individuals who need this relief to remain in the united states.

lccr's legal services for entrepreneurs program provides pro bono business law services to low-income people interested in starting or expanding small businesses, as well as to other businesses, including existing businesses ("mom and pop shops") where gentrification is a force for displacement, and those that invest directly in economically distressed neighborhoods. During the past year, the program provided legal services to over 1,125 microentrepreneurs through workshops and attorney-matching. The program also partnered with community organizations to provide clinics serving more than 200 small business clients through regular monthly clinics in oakland and san rafael, as well as the fillmore, soma, and mission neighborhoods of san francisco. Please see schedule o for a complete narrative of services 2013/2014 - economic empowerment (long) lccr's legal services for entrepreneurs program provides pro bono business law services to low-income people interested in starting or expanding small businesses, as well as to other businesses, including existing businesses ("mom and pop shops") where gentrification is a force for displacement, and those that invest directly in economically distressed neighborhoods. During the past year, the program provided legal services to over 1,125 microentrepreneurs through workshops and attorney-matching. The program also partnered with community organizations to provide clinics serving more than 200 small business clients through regular monthly clinics in oakland and san rafael, as well as the fillmore, soma, and mission neighborhoods of san francisco. In addition to expanding geographically, lccr's legal services for entrepreneurs program responded to the increasing pressure endured by many existing small businesses in parts of the san francisco bay area where gentrification is a force for displacement by forming the community business resiliency project, which accomplished the following: six legal workshops focused on existing small businesses (five entitled "commercial leasing basics for small business tenants," and one "legal tips for strengthening your business") and informational materials and handouts in english, spanish, vietnamese, and chinese (including "commercial leasing basics for small business tenants," "top 10 lease issues for small business tenants," and a "healthy business checklist"). In addition, we formed an advisory committee made up of five experienced commercial real estate attorneys who assisted lccr staff and volunteer attorneys with providing immediate legal counsel through legal clinics and pro bono attorney matching to over 124 small business clients, many of whom had been served with notices to vacate their places of business the legal services for entrepreneurs program further targeted specific populations for service, including an employment law roundtable for restaurant owners; a legal workshop for food businesses; and two "hiring 101" trainings for small businesses (in spanish). Lccr also conducted 10 additional trainings and workshops in multiple languages, to ensure access for microentrepreneurs who speak languages other than english. As part of a coalition formed to improve housing, economic development, and transportation opportunities around oakland's international boulevard, resulting from the development of a multimillion dollar bus rapid transit project in the corridor, lccr provided legal advocacy, public records act requests, demand letters, and legal research to the coalition, which resulted in ac transit setting aside in july 2014 a 2. 165 million fund for business impact mitigation along the corridor during construction of the brt.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I served as a volunteer interpreter for their Political Asylum Program and was very impressed with the level of organization and service the LCCR provides. I worked on many different cases and every time the dedication of all staff involved, including the pro bono attorneys, was amazing!