“There is nothing more important to the stability and welfare of our country than our justice system. Critical to the proper functioning of the judicial system is the public’s confidence in and respect for it. We have the chance to see that the needy are provided with the legal services they need, a goal that I strongly believe is critical to the maintenance of the public’s confidence in and respect for our justice system.”
– Honorable John A. Sutro, Jr., Retired, Legal Services Trust Fund Commission Member

About the Campaign

What is the Campaign for Justice?

California is home to 39 million people and is the world's 12th largest economy - yet 8 million of us live in poverty. Legal problems can disrupt or destroy their families, can lead to homelessness or the loss of critical medical treatment, and can put their lives at risk. Conservatorships, restraining orders, housing law, homeless veterans and kids with special needs - every problem they face has a legal component.  Yet three-quarters of them can’t get any legal help at all.

The Campaign for Justice works to make legal services available to every indigent person in California.  We help by providing funding to 94 non-profit legal assistance organizations that serve all 58 California Counties, boosting the grants they receive through the State Bar to provide free civil legal services to people in need.

The Campaign brings together legal professionals from the for-profit, non-profit, governmental, and judicial realms, to collaborate on ways to expand the legal services available in California. We educate policymakers and financial institutions on ways they can improve access to justice, and encourage legal professionals to contribute their time and money to helping those in legal crisis. Our impact runs from Crescent City and El Centro, to Skid Row and the Tenderloin. We change lives every day.  Please join us!

Why a Campaign for Justice?

The first and primary source of funding for legal services in California is the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA). These funds dropped to about one-quarter of their previous value in 2008, and have yet to recover.  The allocation of public funds out of the state judicial budget, and the settlement of some mortgage fraud cases, also help support legal assistance for those unable to pay for access to justice, but even all these together are not nearly enough to meet the need.  This difference between the legal services we can afford to provide, and those that Californians actually need, is what we call The Justice Gap.

California's legal professionals have played a critical role in helping to close the Justice Gap. By contributing hundreds of thousands  of dollars annually, they've backstopped the drop in IOLTA funding and ensured that our 94 grantees can keep their doors open.  Without their participation, we cannot hope to achieve our goal of making justice a reality for all Californians.  The Campaign for Justice is how we make sure they hear our message and know how to take action to expand access to justice.  

Who benefits from the Campaign for Justice?

Every dollar donated to the campaign is channeled to the 94 nonprofit organizations currently receiving funding through the State Bar's Trust Fund Program, which was established under Business and Professions Code sec 6210 et seq. Grants provided under this statute are used to provide free legal services, ranging from community education and self-help guidance, to brief and extensive services, trial and appeal, and even systemic and structural advocacy.  Grantees work in legal areas ranging from youth law to senior law, from homeless veterans to grandparent guardianships, and from civil harassment to community economic development; some work with volunteers to leverage staff resources, and some are law school clinics training the next generation of defenders of justice.  From a small program that serves the frail elders of Yuba and Sutter Counties, to big ones that provide broad-spectrum assistance to tens of thousands of people each year in the hearts of our biggest cities, all our grantees undergo intensive review and evaluation on an ongoing basis, and serve as national models for effectiveness and innovation.

How Can You Help?

Legal aid needs your help to support the many Californians who have lost their homes, their jobs, and their healthcare. If you already contribute your time or money to a local legal non-profit, please sustain that connection and ask your friends to join you.  Educate your colleagues about the important work of legal aid. If you do not know what legal aid is already doing in your community, please browse this site and learn more.

While national research indicates that investments in legal aid show returns of 500% to even 1000% on the dollar, donations of monetary support are only one of the many components to this campaign.  You could write an article about a pro bono case that changed your perspective, or mentor a volunteer.  You could designate the Campaign or your local legal aid as a cy press beneficiary, if your practice involves undistributable residual funds. There are innumerable ways to help. There are even more opportunities. Please use our Donate button to support legal assistance in California today. The solution to the Justice Gap lies with you.