EBCLC’s direct legal service delivery and clinical education methodology tackles the many interrelated causes that contribute to injustice, in order to promote justice. Our holistic representation extends beyond simply assisting a client with a legal issue—instead, we ensure that all of our clients’ legal needs—however complex and far-reaching—are addressed.
Our education and outreach work has the broadest reach in the community and is an integral part of our multimodal approach to community lawyering. With limited-scope assistance, EBCLC attorneys and staff guide clients through complex legal systems and help create individualized road maps tailored to the issues at hand.
Informed by our direct services work with clients and community partners, we engage in policy advocacy at the local and state levels to ensure broad, long lasting impact. From drafting bills and supporting legislation to advising government agencies on key policy changes, we gather knowledge from our direct legal advocacy and apply it to systemic change.
This has been a remarkable time of growth for EBCLC. In some respects, our growth reflects the great urgency and need of the times. In other respects, the upsurge in support that has allowed this growth is a recognition of the ability of EBCLC’s unique hybrid model of service and training to respond to the needs of people struggling for economic, social, and racial justice.
Two years ago, we made a bold decision to get ahead of the most pressing issues of our time by expanding our organizational capacity. We increased our annual budget by 61% and added attorneys and other key staff in program evaluation and communications. We bolstered our rapid response and ramped up our policy advocacy and impact litigation. And our investment is paying off. We are ending the year with several major policy wins that will transform the economic security of families and communities across California, and we hope they will serve as an impetus for nationwide reforms.
The work we embark on today will be necessary for years to come. EBCLC needs to remain well-resourced in order to have the expertise and the stamina to stay the course over the long haul. You have the sincere gratitude of all of us at EBCLC for your investment in our work, and for what you enable us to accomplish.
We celebrated EBCLC’s 30th Anniversary with the presentation of inaugural Justice Awards to five very deserving community partners and by expressing deep gratitude to our beloved community. Our Thirty Years of Impact.
Direct Legal Services & Clinical Education
We met clients where they are. Our Medical-Legal Partnerships with Highland Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Oakland provided community members housing, public benefits, and immigration legal services, and assistance with Name and Gender Change.
We tackled community wealth stripping. Our attorneys pushed back against attacks on consumer protections, and in the process, discharged $3 million in debt back to our communities from unscrupulous corporations.
We dug deep for tenacity and innovation. With immigrants’ rights under attack at the federal level, we doubled down, delivering compassionate, respectful, excellent legal services to more than 1,150 community members, and expanded our school-based projects to take on hundreds of complex cases.
We prevented homelessness. With the Bay Area housing crisis displacing community members at a terrifying pace, we designed an innovative collaborative to prevent homelessness, doubled the size of our Housing program, and provided robust eviction defense and legal consultations to 2,080 low-income tenants.
We taught, mentored, and passed the torch. Our eight clinics and 36 clinical supervising attorneys graduated the largest-ever class of law student interns, sending 148 new social justice advocates into the world with hands-on case experience, lifelong mentors, and enthusiasm for public service.
We fought the school-to-prison pipeline. Our Education Defense & Justice for Youth program represented 201 young clients facing school push-out and incarceration.
Dr. Gena Lewis receives a Justice Award for her leadership in EBCLC’s Medical-Legal Partnership.
We built cross-sector partnerships. After we published a comprehensive white paper and two years of tenacious advocacy, Alameda County became just the second county in the nation to eliminate criminal justice administration fees and discharge all outstanding probation, public defender, and sheriff’s work alternative program fees. As of January 2019, $26 million in debt will be discharged by the county.
We vowed to drive for broader reforms. Building on this historic victory, we launched Debt Free Justice California, a multi-regional coalition to end wealth stripping from communities across the state.
We innovated alongside our community. Our Community Economic Justice practice advanced a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and Small Sites Program in Berkeley, both of which are being considered by partners in local government.
We practiced movement lawyering. As community lawyers, we accelerated the brilliant campaigns of parent advocacy groups like the Black Organizing Project by providing crucial legal counsel, helping to navigate school districts’ complex legal structures, and gathering evidence to drive local policy change.
The Black Organizing Project receives a Justice Award for their community organizing partnership with EBCLC.
Research and Scholarship
We humbly accepted a very special recognition. Early in 2018, the California Law Review, ranked among the top 10 flagship law reviews, dedicated a special Festschrift to EBCLC, highlighting the depth and breadth of our unique hybrid model of direct legal services and clinical legal education.
We celebrated our students’ achievements. Shelby Nacino, longtime EBCLC clinical student advocate was honored with the prestigious Sax Prize for her work expanding access to legal aid for trans community members and for her community organizing.
We engaged in cutting-edge research. Our investigation on the unanticipated impacts and harms of electronic surveillance on youth allowed us to share findings at the 2018 National Juvenile Defender Leadership summit in a presentation entitled Big Brother’s Watching: Challenging Electronic Surveillance & Searches of Youth on Probation.
Our students inspired us. Clinical students in the spring semester worked on a thoroughly researched and fiercely composed public comment opposing the racist, xenophobic “public charge” rule change, making the case that this rule change will punish poor families by jeopardizing housing, health care, and employment. Check out all the ways our students made an impact through their time at EBCLC.
We showed off a little. Our brilliant attorneys published community-informed scholarship in some of the nation’s top legal publications, including the Columbia Journal of Gender & Law.
Purvi Shah receives a Justice Award for her mentorship of EBCLC advocates through Law for Black Lives fellowships.
2018 Highlights from Ongoing Impact Litigation
We took on Oakland’s Jim Crow-era loitering laws and won, protecting the civil rights of residents of Oakland’s public housing and scraping these racist laws from the books.
In Doe v. Shiomoto, EBCLC as lead counsel and co-counsel Sidley Austin represent plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief to remedy the DMV’s overbroad retention and reporting of criminal record information, their lack of a proper process to give people access to their records, and their lack of adequate record correction procedures. The case raises important and timely issues regarding the proper life span of a criminal record, and the ways in which government agencies amplify the mark of a criminal record through repeat dissemination. Plaintiffs have defeated two motions seeking dismissal of their claims.
In Sanchez v. Caltrans, EBCLC and co-counsel LCCR, ACLU, and WilmerHale, represent homeless individuals seeking injunctive relief and damages to remedy Caltrans’ practices of unlawfully confiscating property and using excessive force in its raids on homeless encampments. Plaintiffs have defeated two motions seeking dismissal of their claims in the case.
In Hernandez v. DMV, EBCLC and co-counsel Bay Area Legal Aid, LCCR, ACLU, Western Center, and Pillsbury represent plaintiffs in a challenge to the DMV’s license suspension practices. Certain claims were remedied through the successful passage of AB103, which outlawed driver’s license suspensions based on failures to pay, and which EBCLC fought hard to pass. The case continues on claims that the DMV unlawfully suspends licenses when a person fails to appear for a court hearing.
In Roe v. Lightbourne, EBCLC and co-counsel Social Justice Law Project and A New Way of Life represent plaintiffs in a challenge to practices used by the California Department of Social Services to prevent people from working in social service facilities on the basis of a non-conviction arrest. Plaintiffs are proceeding to trial on a subset of their claims.
In Doe v. Harris, EBCLC and co-counsel Social Justice Law Project represent plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief to remedy inadequate record correction practices and accuracy protections by the California Department of Justice.
EBCLC has authored amicus briefs in a number of California and federal cases impacting EBCLC clients, particularly in the criminal justice realm.
Dr. Brendon Woods receives a Justice Award for his leadership in EBCLC’s partnership with the Alameda County Public Defender’s office.
Brian Lewinstein was a brilliant young scholar and dedicated social justice advocate who spent the summer of 2018 working with EBCLC’s Youth Defender Clinic. In applying for the Equal Justice America Fellowship that he received that summer, Brian wrote that the most formative experience leading to his decision to attend law school was the tutoring of a fourth grader named Ryan from East Los Angeles: “I started law school with the goal of confronting systemic barriers through front-end prevention, impact litigation, and policy advocacy so that young people like Ryan and his peers could grow up in a more just, equitable society.” EBCLC, Berkeley Law, and the community at large lost a devoted emerging lawyer dedicated to social justice. In October 2018, EBCLC and EJA enshrined a permanent Brian Lewinstein Chair at EBCLC, in celebration of Brian’s life.