WA Capitol

Our State Has a New Budget! How Did Legal Aid Do & What’s Next?

By | Advocacy, Legal Aid, State Funding, Take Action | No Comments
By: Jay Doran, Education Director of the Equal Justice Coalition

Good news! Our state officially has a budget for the next two years.  Governor Inslee signed the budget into law on Tuesday, June 30th around 11:30 p.m. – successfully avoiding a partial government shutdown by about 30 minutes. And, civil legal aid received baseline funding plus a $718k maintenance increase.  Given the circumstances of this session, this can be considered relatively successful.

During this long legislative session that has lasted roughly six months and has required three special sessions, our elected officials have grappled with extremely challenging issues, such as funding K-12 education, pay raises for state employees and teachers, and a statewide transportation package (click here for more in-depth budget analysis).  In the midst of all of this, the EJC and its supporters worked hard to obtain a much needed increase for civil legal aid funding, as the need for legal aid services in our state has never been greater.

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ATJ Annual Report_cover photo_cropped

The 2015 ATJ Board Annual Report Has Arrived!

By | ATJ Board, Legal Aid | No Comments
Article by: Ishbel Dickens, Access to Justice Board Chair
Ishbel Dickens, ATJ Board Chair

Ishbel Dickens, ATJ Board Chair

The Access to Justice Board (ATJ Board) holds a unique position within the Alliance for Equal Justice. The ATJ Board works to achieve equal access to the civil justice system for low-income and disadvantaged Washingtonians by developing guiding principles that inform the Alliance’s service delivery, convening Alliance members to foster collaboration and improve efficiency, and addressing current and ongoing access issues. Within the Alliance, we provide a supporting role to legal aid providers to strengthen our state’s network of organizations that deliver services to those in need.

We are very excited to share our 2015 Access to Justice Board Annual Report. This year we have adopted a new format for the report that we hope positively represents all the great work of this community and the ATJ Board. Read More

CLS Presents Jose Antonio Vargas

By | Legal Aid | No Comments

Columbia Legal Services is a sponsor of this year’s Social Justice Film Festival. Festival attendees will learn about the high impact work CLS does on behalf of low-income and marginalized communities to ensure justice is met. The reel was produced by combining a series of photographs and audio interviews recorded by Equal Justice Coalition Director Eric Gonzalez Alfaro. Special thank you to Erik Walters (Silver Torches, The Globes) for giving us the opportunity to use an instrumental version of his song “After Hours” as backdrop for the reel.

Columbia Legal Services and the ACLU of Washington present a special evening with Jose Antonio Vargas as part of the Social Justice Film Festival, which works to bring inspiring filmmaking to new audiences and make the art of filmmaking an integral part of social change.

Vargas changed the national narrative around immigration when he made public his powerful personal story as an undocumented LGBT immigrant and, ever since, has supported the DREAMers in taking bold action that challenges inaction on Capitol Hill around immigration reform and public perceptions about undocumented immigrants.

The event features a free screening of Documented, a documentary directed and starring Vargas, two shorts and a screening of The Vigil, a film about a small group of undocumented mothers who set out to stop America’s groundbreaking anti-immigration law, SB1070, from going into effect in Arizona.

The Vigil will be followed by a panel discussion with Vargas and local leaders and advocates for social justice and immigrant rights, including Aurora Martin of CLS, Jorge Barón of NWIRP, and Pramila Jayapal, founder of OneAmerica (formerly Hate Free Zone).

When:
Friday, October 24, 2014
5 p.m. – Screening of Documented preceded by two short films, Floating Boarders and Los Olvidados. Suggested donation at the door.

7 p.m. – Screening of The Vigil, followed by a dynamic conversation featuring Jose Antonio Vargas and local leaders. Tickets: $10

housing justice project client

Housing Justice Project: Preventing Homelessness for Vulnerable Families in King County

By | Housing | No Comments
Article and photographs by: Eric Gonzalez Alfaro, Equal Justice Coalition Director

King County’s Housing Justice Project (HJP) is an emergency eviction defense clinic. The clinic has offices in the King County Superior Courthouse in downtown Seattle as well as the Kent Maleng Regional Justice Center. Both offices are located just down the hall from the ex parte courtroom where eviction show cause hearings take place. The location of the clinics gives HJP the unique ability to help low income tenants at risk of eviction on the day of their hearing.

HJP is a part of the King County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Services Division. The program began in October of 1997, when Aurora Martin, now Executive Director of Columbia Legal Services, and Steve Frederickson, Northwest Justice Project Advocacy Coordinator, sought to create an outlet for low-income tenants to assert their legal rights. Today, the program continues to provide high quality legal services, with increased staffing and volunteer attorney capacity, helping protect housing for over 4,000 people each year. Read More

NJP Expands Veterans Project, Six Attorneys Deployed Statewide

By | Veterans | No Comments
Article by: César Torres, Northwest Justice Project Executive Director

Low-income veterans across Washington now have an expanded NJP Veterans Project to help address the multitude of civil legal problems that prevent them from securing jobs, finding and keeping affordable housing, and ensuring they receive needed medical care and other benefits. Starting this month, NJP has expanded its Veterans Project from one (1) to six (6) full time attorneys to provide legal assistance to veterans from offices in Spokane, Everett, Olympia Seattle, and Tacoma and will launch a dedicated toll-free number for veterans seeking legal assistance on November 1st. Read More

Serving the Needs of Those Who Served

By | Veterans | No Comments

Article by: Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General

In order to practice law, every attorney must take an oath. In order to wear a uniform, every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman must also take an oath. The oaths themselves are strikingly similar – both include statements of support for the constitution and a promise to serve interests outside of one’s self. Veterans serve and defend our country and our rule of law. The constitution and legal system our veterans took an oath to protect should serve them in return.

The legal community has a duty to ensure our veterans and military families know their legal rights and can access the resources they need. There are a number of laws granting unique protections and benefits to our veterans and military families, enacted in acknowledgment and appreciation of their service and sacrifice. Some of these laws alleviate certain civil obligations in order to help military personnel called to active duty focus on their mission. Other laws are intended to give a helping hand to veterans to advance their education or improve their vocational opportunities. These laws all recognize the sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform make in service to us. As lawyers, we must ensure that veterans and military personnel understand the rights they have. Read More