What is LAAC Advocacy?

The Legal Aid Association of California is a zealous advocate advancing the needs of legal services on a statewide level regarding funding and access-to-justice issues. We do this by advocating for more money for legal services in the state budget, better statewide laws for legal aid organizations and their clients, and more effective policies and procedures through both the State Bar and the Judicial Council. Our advocacy policy details when we act. 

Legislative and Budgetary Advocacy

We advance our funding and policy goals by advocating at the state legislature. This includes supporting or commenting on bills that pertain to legal aid, the legal profession, and low-income Californians, and coordinating our members to do so. We convene an annual Civil Legal Aid Day in Sacramento where we bring members to the capitol for pre-arranged meetings with legislators or their staff to inform them about the critical work legal aid organizations do every day. Last, we developed and maintain a webpage where constituency services staff in legislators’ offices can find the appropriate contact at their local legal aid organization to whom they can refer constituents. Check out our current legislative advocacy as well as the highlights of our past legislative advocacy efforts.

Administrative Advocacy: Judicial Council and State Bar

Judicial Council of California

The Judicial Council is the policymaking body of the California courts. We monitor, notify our members, and publicly comment regarding the policies, procedures, and forms produced by the Judicial Council that impact legal aid and low-income Californians.

The State Bar of California

The State Bar is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court and regulates the practice of law. Most relevant to our advocacy, the Bar studies access-to-justice issues, convenes important committees relevant to access to justice, and distributes Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) funding and other legal services funding. We regularly work closely with State Bar staff on issues relevant to the legal services community. Similar to our Judicial Council advocacy, we monitor Bar meetings and engage in public comment as well as promote opportunities to engage in public comment to our members.

Legal Aid in the Judiciary Advocacy

LAAC encourages legal services attorneys to consider becoming judges and encourage your friends and pro bono colleagues to become judges. There are many judicial vacancies in California. See an updated list of judicial vacancies in California. Email scopeland@laaconline.org if you’d like to be added to a group of folks who hope to support each other as they consider future judicial appointments or involvement in the JNE Commission.

Justice in Government Project (JGP)

LAAC engages in our JGP project with the goals of (1) informing and educating state agencies regarding why legal aid nonprofits need to become partners and (2) embed civil legal aid into the state executive branch’s priorities, programs, and appropriations to ensure maximum benefit from dollars spent. Successes include $35 million and counting in Victims of Crime Act grants to legal aid and $1.85 million in California Reinvestment Grant Program funding (cannabis grants) to legal aid organizations in first year.

Legal Aid and Access-to-Justice Research and Evaluation 

As detailed on our Publish page, LAAC has engaged in a multi-year collaborative effort to publish papers with the California Access to Justice Commission (CalATJ) focused primarily on rural access issues through the Rural Justice Policy Paper series. Other collaborative projects with CalATJ include a remote hearings guide detailing issues faced by self-represented litigants and other vulnerable court users and the production of the Justice Map, a visualization of the availability of legal services across California. LAAC has also worked with OneJustice on a survey of legal services organizations to better understand the landscape of the integration of social work services into legal aid. Finally, LAAC produced our Recruitment and Retention Report, Justice at Risk, in 2020.