The Justice & Diversity Center Helps Nonprofit Fill Justice Gap for Reentry Individuals

donate-buttonThe Justice & Diversity Center’s (JDC) Community Organization Representation Project (CORP) provides free business law services to nonprofit organizations that serve low-income and underserved communities in Northern California.  CORP volunteers increase access to justice by helping hundreds of nonprofits every year.

R-R-logoMore than one in four Californians – roughly eight million people – has a criminal record.  Individuals reentering the community after serving prison and jail terms face enormous barriers, often lacking the resources to secure employment, housing, food, and other basic life necessities.  With CORP’s help, Katherine Katcher founded Root & Rebound in 2013 to help this vulnerable population stay out of incarceration and thrive.

Root & Rebound has already positively impacted numerous lives through direct legal services, impact litigation and public advocacy.

In just two years, the nonprofit has counseled over 100 people in legal matters involving a variety of subjects, including public benefits, parole and probation, employment and family law.  Root & Rebound’s clients are unable to afford attorneys, and nearly all of them have encountered difficulties obtaining legal aid.

As a new nonprofit with limited resources, Root & Rebound sought CORP’s help to create a solid legal foundation for the organization.  Katcher noted, “Without the help and assistance of CORP, we would never have been connected to so many high caliber, dedicated attorneys.”

CORP first connected Root & Rebound to a partner at Cooper, White & Cooper who reviewed and negotiated the organization’s fiscal sponsorship agreement.  That agreement enabled Root & Rebound to accept tax-deductible donations while waiting for its 501(c)(3) status determination from the Internal Revenue Service.  At the same time, CORP enlisted a team of attorneys from Latham & Watkins to update the organization’s incorporation documents and advise on corporate governance issues.

After Root & Rebound obtained 501(c)(3) status, CORP connected it to three other law firms and one in-house counsel.  DLA Piper reviewed a commercial lease and advised on employment policies.  Haight, Brown & Bonesteel provided counsel on risk management and professional insurance issues.  Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe reviewed an independent contractor agreement.  Additionally, an attorney at Hewlett-Packard Company updated Root & Rebound’s personnel handbook.

Root and Rebound staff

Root and Rebound staff

For more information about Root & Rebound, please visit www.rootandrebound.org, and to learn more about CORP, please visit www.sfbar.org/corp or email probono@sfbar.org.