Justice Bus: Students travel to serve the underrepresented
February 9, 2017 | By Alexa Brown — Established in 2007, the Justice Bus is a mobile legal clinic, part of pro-bono offerings from One Justice, which "takes teams of attorney and law student volunteers from urban areas to set up free legal clinics for low-income Californians living in rural and isolated communities. These clinics provide life-changing legal assistance to low-income veterans, vulnerable seniors, children with disabilities, low-wage workers, immigrant youth, and families."
Pepperdine Law Director of Clinical Education Jeff Baker coordinates trips to visit One Justice, via the aptly titled "Justice Bus," as part of Pepperdine Law's Community Justice Clinic. Volunteers travel with one supervising attorney, and handle cases from start to finish. This February, students successfully assisted 12 clients with the process of clearing their criminal records during the one-day trip.
Students spoke on how the "Justice Bus" offers an opportunity to gain practical experience serving clients with otherwise limited means to attorney access:
"One Justice is an extremely valuable program because it not only allows us to utilize the skills that we're learning in class and apply them to the real world, but more importantly, it allows us to serve less fortunate parts of the community. Yesterday, for instance, we helped a young mother of three start the process of clearing her criminal record so she could get a better job to be able to provide for her family. She brought her youngest child with her and seeing that baby made me realize that we were not only helping change this young woman's life, but also the lives of her three children. I would challenge my fellow students to participate in this program at least once during their law school career because you'll learn lessons in humility that no classroom can teach."—Emily Hoyt (1L)
"The program offers legal assistance to those who cannot otherwise afford it... provides law students and lawyers an opportunity to give back. I recommend this program to every law student, regardless of what practice area he/she is considering. This program allows students to gain hands-on experience, face-to- face with clients, that they are not likely to get in their early years in practice."—Ryan Carter Anderson (3L)
After being assisted, clients of the Justice Bus expressed extreme gratitude at the legal services they were provided:
"Everyone was very helpful and knowledgeable. My felony can be taken down to a misdemeanor and I am just thrilled. I'm very grateful to everyone for helping me with this very important issue."
"The volunteers were very helpful and patient in assisting me. I am grateful for their help and hopeful that my petition for dismissal will be granted."
"The volunteers were extremely helpful and they clarified everything for me. Thanks!"
The Community Justice Clinic:
"Students in the Community Justice Clinic study the substantive law of the formation and governance of non-profit organizations in California and the rules of professional, ethical practice with organizations. Students train to interview, counsel and represent clients and explore dynamics of organizational clients, community organizations and cultural competence. Under the supervision of Profesor Jeffrey Baker, students bear primary responsibility for legal services to clients and are responsible for communicating with and on behalf of clients when necessary and appropriate. Every aspect of the casework is managed by Clinic students, including client communication, research, writing, case evaluation and analysis, drafting and advocacy"
Read more about the clinic here.
Pepperdine Law students interesting in serving with One Justice should email Professor Jeff Baker.