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Three reasons to be generous

Cathy, a mother of two, was a domestic violence survivor who sought help from legal aid after suffering from three years of beatings by an abusive husband. She felt frightened and overwhelmed, but the legal aid advocate helped her find safe housing, develop a safety plan, and obtain an evaluation for one of the children, who showed signs of autism. Legal aid also helped her win custody of her children and secure child and spousal support. Cathy and her children are now in permanent housing, the children are continuing with their counseling and treatment plans, and Cathy plans to return to school to become a pharmacist.

Cathy is just one of the many vulnerable Californians who can be helped by the new Justice Gap Fund. Attorneys across the state — from solo practitioners to in-house counsel to law firm partners — are coming together to show our commitment to equal justice for individuals like Cathy.

We are three attorneys from different practice settings who are supporting the Justice Gap Fund, and we are writing to urge you to join us. The reasons we support the fund are varied.

Joseph Chairez
Chairez

Joseph Chairez of Baker & Hostetler, past president of the Orange County Bar Association:

"There are over 8,000 low-income Californians for every legal aid lawyer. So two-thirds of them cannot get the legal help they need when they're facing critical life issues. AB 2301, as passed last year, calls on the State Bar to help lawyers make financial contributions to expand legal help for the poor. It's time for California lawyers to take a leadership role to show our shared commitment to justice."

Charlie Sandel
Sandel

Charlie Sandel, Regional General Counsel Americas with Levi Strauss in San Francisco:

"Supporting the Justice Gap Fund is a natural fit for us — almost as good a fit as your favorite pair of Levi's® 501® jeans. For more than 150 years, Levi Strauss & Co. has been involved in the communities in which we do business, through philanthropy, volunteerism and public advocacy. This work reflects the values and commitment of our leaders and our employees.

"It's hard to accept the fact that in a state so rich with talent and resources that only one-third of people seeking legal aid receive it, and of those, they sometimes only receive partial assistance.

"We feel it's the right thing to do, and that's why we're checking the box on line 10 of the 2008 bar fee statement and contributing the suggested amount of $100 per lawyer to the Justice Gap Fund. We hope our colleagues in-house at other companies and in private practice will join us in this important effort."

Alice A. Salvo
Salvo

Alice A. Salvo, small firm practitioner in San Fernando Valley and past president of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association:

"The Justice Gap Fund is instrumental in providing legal aid to those impoverished persons who would otherwise be unable to afford adequate legal counsel. The fund offers legal assistance in a wide range of important issues, including elder abuse, domestic violence, guardianships, health care and special education. I am pleased to be able to support such a worthy cause.

"I believe that most solo and small firm practitioners have made notable contributions in extending their pro bono and voluntary services to persons of low income. One example is the San Fernando Valley Bar Association's guardianship project in the Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys. While much has been done thus far, it is evident that we, as solo and small firm practitioners, are in a position to do a lot more to help broaden legal access, which remains closed to many persons of low income. A contribution to the Justice Gap Fund can profoundly help in that endeavor."

It's easy to do — you can either contribute when you pay your State Bar dues, or you can go online at calbar.org/justicegapfund. Thank you for helping to prove that lawyers do care. Together we can make a difference.

Joseph Chairez, Charlie Sandel and Alice A. Salvo

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