Grant Proposal for The People's Legal Center


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Grant Proposal for The People's Legal Center

  1. 1. Grant Proposal
  2. 2. The People’s Legal Center (415) 724-8024
  3. 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary……………………………………………………………..1 Organization……………………………………………………………………..1 Problem Statement ………...……………………………………………………3 Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes ……………………………………………..3 Programs and Services………………………………………………………… 5 Evaluation ……………………………………………………………………….7 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………9 Projected Budget……………………...………………………………………..10
  4. 4. Executive Summary The need for professional legal representation is universally, both in San Francisco and in U.S. in general. Without the benefit of a professional attorney, their right to justice guaranteed to them in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence is compromised. The People’s Legal Center provides professional quality legal counseling and representation to those individuals in the city and county of San Francisco who cannot afford them. The People’s Legal Center believes that the assistance of professional attorneys is an essential component of the legal process. In addition, the People’s Legal Center believes that it is highly important that all the citizens of San Francisco be educated to understand their legal rights and the nature of litigation in the United States of America. The People’s Legal Center is a newly registered 501 (c) 3 organization seeking $XX, XXX to help establish itself and fund its programs. Organizational Information Mission Statement To empower under-represented individuals through the care of their legal situation and to encourage access to legal knowledge and active involvement in the judicial process for positive change. Organization Structure The People’s Legal Center will house a law office that specializes in various areas of law. The key personnel will be Ms. Maria Lourdes S. Nocedal and Partners. Ms. Nocedal offers three years of law practice as a certified legal secretary/paralegal, six years of social service/nonprofit work, two years of teaching experience and an extensive network in the legal, nonprofit, and education communities. She is also a court appointed Commissioner for the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) and a credentialed Educator for CA. The success of the organization depends on the ability of the staff to communicate ongoing issues and solutions efficiently. Thus, the Executive Director will coordinate monthly or, when necessary, weekly staff meetings to ensure a successful path towards the Center's goals and objectives. Meeting agendas are sent out to all staff members prior to the meeting in order to encourage both input and preparation. Separate meetings are also conducted between the Lawyers, Executive Director, and Board of Directors to address higher-level matters and resolutions. The Office Manger/Accountant coordinates and maintains economic functions for the Legal Center. Other duties include tracking daily costs, posting entries/invoices for lawyer's 1
  5. 5. clients, facilitating bi-weekly payroll, and weekly deposits. Other key priorities include the preparation of monthly financial statements, end of the year tax statements, and working with the Executive Director for the Legal Center’s end of the year report for Funders and community members in total. The staff of the People’s Legal Center will consist of the following personnel: Ten Board of Directors IT Technician Executive Director Receptionist Office Website Designer Manager/Accountant Three Case Managers Grant Writer Three workshop Three Attorneys Educators/Facilitators Three Paralegals (stipend paid) Two Program Managers Volunteers Startup crew will consist of Maria Lourdes Nocedal, Jose Rich Bondoc, Jerome Palencia, and Boris Jovanovic under the advice and supervision of the Board of Directors. Problem Statement Throughout the legal court system in the U.S., unrepresented litigants not only are liable to receive unfair due process of the law but also obstruct the legal process for all parties concerned. As Howard M. Rubin said in his article concerning unrepresented litigants: Any person has a right to represent himself or herself in a civil action. This basic right has created an ordeal in the courts arising from the statement, “I wish to represent myself.” From this point on, the adversary system, upon which civil procedure rules are based is out of synchronization. The judge is faced with the task of balancing fundamental fairness and order in the proceedings. The pro se litigant must struggle with how to present his or her case. The opposing attorney must protect and advocate his or her client’s interest, while meeting the legal obligation to bring the truth to the court’s attention. Further, the party represented by counsel, having a right to demand vigorous representation, must cope with escalating legal costs because of numerous delays. (Langan, 838) This crisis lack of representation undermines everyone’s right to justice in the legal system. This represents a huge crisis in the court system. The California Judicial Council Task Force on Self Represented Litigants estimated that over 4.3 million unrepresented litigants use the California court system. Furthermore, in the big cities in California and New York 70% to 90% of represented litigants go to court facing abuse or loss of a home. (O’Leary, 1) In another study, it was estimated that unrepresented litigants in family court averaged around in 67%. (Rose, 47) Lack of representation may lead to legal and moral abuse. Many litigants may not be aware that they’re missing essential information concerning their case. They might not know their legal rights. They might lack awareness and understanding of court procedures. They might 2
  6. 6. experience problems with discussing and negotiating with lawyers and judges. In most cases, such problems can lead to delays and lengthening of the legal process, leading to expanded cost and frustration. (Langan, 839-844) Unrepresented litigants also can damage the integrity of the justice system in the courtroom. Lawyers act as advocates to their clients. They explain court procedures to them, motivate them to be honest and upfront, and decide whether to bring a motion to court. Judges can’t depend on the unrepresented in a similar manor as lawyers. In many cases, judges become arbiters of issues that are outside the purposes of the courtroom. (Coleman, 44) As one family law judge said, “So little of our work involves genuine legal issues to be truly adjudicated. At our level in family court, we are a dumping ground for massive social and economic issues and for the acts of very dysfunctional families. I feel that I am more a social worker than a judge.” (Langan, 840) The need for lawyers to represent such litigants is crucial, not only for the unrepresented but the represented as well. For justice to be upheld, it is crucial that all litigants not only have the right to have their day at court, but to have their day in court with a legal professional who is able and capable of representing them for their benefit and the benefit of the U.S. legal system. Goal, Objectives, and Outcomes The goal of The People’s Legal Center, as previously stated, is to ensure that everyone in the community of the city and county of San Francisco has access to reasonable and affordable legal consultation, representation, and education. The center is dedicated to protect their legal rights as was promised to them in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. In regards to this goal, The People’s Legal Center objectives are: To provide reasonably priced, based on a sliding scale, legal case management to all members of the community of San Francisco To provide legal referrals to in-house lawyers if case management deems it necessary that an attorney is required To provide legal referrals to outside lawyers or non-profits if case management deems that it necessary that an attorney or non-profit aside from the People’s Legal Center is required To provide legal workshops and classes for the benefit of the citizens of San Francisco to empower them with the ability to analyze and comprehend legal concepts and terminology so that they can better advocate for themselves. To provide legal educational materiel—books, audio cds, etc. 3
  7. 7. To provide relevant legal contracts and forms along with legal advice concerning how to complete and submit them To provide reasonably priced, based on a sliding scale, notary public and Loan Signing Services for all the citizens of San Francisco The outcome of the People’s Legal Center services is to establish a community where the legal needs of all its members are protected as well as creating universal awareness of the legal process. Programs and Services The People’s Legal Center will provide four program services. All services are provide on a sliding pay scale based on the client’s ability to pay. The key elements are legal counseling and education. Case Management and Referral Services: The Center will provide case management. Qualified legal professional will interview the client, analyze their legal situation, and determine what resources and services the they require. If the they need legal advice or representation then they will be referred to an attorney at the center. If they do not, they will continue to meet with the case manager or attend legal educational workshop/classes until the their situation is resolved. Additionally, the center will provide an outside referral service. If the center cannot assist the client, then they will be refer to outside lawyers or nonprofit organizations based on location, area of law, and special services offered. Legal Education: Attorneys or qualified facilitators/teachers will be teaching legal workshops and classes at the Legal Center. Participants, teachers and facilitators can use these courses for school credit. Each workshop will include: • 1-2 Facilitators • Lesson plans and Outlines • Materials and supplies ( such as pens, paper, etc.) Each workshop/class will have legal terms and concepts to teach participants (i.e. Negligence, Duties of Professionals, and Liability) Each workshop/class unit will focus on a specialized law topic (i.e. Business Law, Criminal Law, Immigration law, Juvenile Law, Real Estate Law) 4
  8. 8. The Center will provide books, CDs, and tapes (auditory learning on legal matters) for participants and community members to help them enhance or supplement their learning. Attorneys, facilitators, or teachers will recommend the materials including reading lists. Legal Forms and Advice: Based on the Case Manager’s assessment and recommendations to the client, a Lawyer will provide relevant legal forms with advice on how to complete and file them. Also, the attorneys will offer advice on to use the forms. Notary Public and Loan Signing Services: Being a National Notary Association Member and a Certified Signing Agents Member, we offer public notarization and loan signing services on a sliding pay scale. Evaluation To ensure the quality of our services, the People’s Legal Center has instituted several evaluations and audits to determine the quality and efficiency of the programs. These audits cover legal counseling, representation in court, legal education, and durability of legal assistance. The People’s Legal Center is dedicated to provide programs and services that not only assist those seeking legal aid but also to insure that the programs and services provide are efficient and of high quality. Needs Assessment The case manager will give pre-assessment to establish the needs required before counseling, then a post-assessment after legal services have been provided to measure the clients’ fulfillment of legal needs. At the end of the post-assessment there will be an area for the client to rate the services provided for them. There will also be an area where the client is encouraged to write about their experience with the People’s Legal Center and offer suggestions to improve services. Litigation Audit After the People’s Legal Center has provided legal assistance to the client, the staff will perform a self-audit to determine how well the center has served the client’s needs. This audit will determine whether the client was served in court, whether there was a positive outcome to the client’s legal concerns, whether the client was able to navigate the legal system swiftly and efficiently, whether the client was able to keep legal costs at a minimum, and so forth. Staff will perform a follow-up audit six months later to determine the durable effects of legal services. 5
  9. 9. Class/workshop quizzes Facilitators will hand out concise and in-depth quizzes after educational legal courses are held to determine how well client/students have absorbed the content of the courses. At the end of the quiz, there will be a section where the client student will be asked to rate the course. There will also be a section where the client/student is encouraged to write about their experience taking the course and offer suggestions to improve the content and teaching of the course. Conclusion The need for legal representation is essential and needed. Without proper legal representation for all individuals in the U.S. legal system, one’s right to affordable and fair justice under the law is comprised. The People’s Legal Center is determined to ensure the people of San Francisco have access to professional legal counseling and representation, regardless of their ability to pay. The People’s Legal Center is also determined to see they are aware of their rights and the legal process in the U.S. Representation generally is not a problem for people with financial capital and assets. For those without, their civil rights are often compromised. By funding the People’s Legal Center, you are ensuring the that the right to justice not only belongs to those who can afford it, but also to those are challenged in their ability to understand and defend their the rights in our legal system. 6
  10. 10. Budget Revenue Sales $60,000.00 SF Foundation Grant $8,000.00 Women’s Grant $8,000.00 Law Justice Foundation Grant $12,000.00 Private Donations $1,650.000 DCYF $7,500.00 Gala $30,000.00 Expenses Payroll (employees) $12,000.00 Independent Contractors $24,000.00 Payroll expense, accounting svc. $3,600.00 Payroll taxes $1,200.00 Premise Liability $504.00 Malpractice $1,500.00 Workers Comp $2,004.00 D&O $1,200.00 Marketing/advertising fees $1,200.00 Rent/Lease $9,000.00 Car, delivery, and travel $1,200.00 Accounting and legal $- Office supplies $3,600.00 Equipment $1,700.00 Maintenance/Repairs $600.00 7
  11. 11. Bank services fees $120.00 Utilities and Telephone $3,000.00 Web hosting $120.00 8
  12. 12. Citation List Coleman, Ian Justice. “Unrepresented litigants and the Family Court” Reform 73 (1998): 41-46. Langan Anne-Marie. Threatening the Balance of the Scales of Justice: Unrepresented Litigants in the Family Courts of Ontario. Carters Professional Corporation. 2005. <> O’Leary Kathleen Honorable, Chair. Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self- Represented Litigants. The Center for Families, Children & Courts. February, 2004 Judicial Council of California. < t.pdf> Rose Hough Bonnie. Description of California Courts’ Programs for Self- Represented Litigants. California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California Judicial June, 2003. Council of California 2009. <> 9