The Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (LACLJ) has provided legal advocacy to low income, immigrant, and Latino populations in Los Angeles for over 40 years. In its early years, the organization played an historic role in the resolution of a range of social justice issues, such as school desegregation and the illegal, involuntary sterilization of Latina women. Today, the agency focuses entirely on providing direct legal and referral services, and client-centered case management to provide support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their mission is to secure justice for their clients and to empower them to create a better future. It is not always an easy path but an important and inspiring one.
This year, The Ebell’s Rest Cottage Association (RCA) granted $10,000 to their Non-Intimate Partner Sexual Assault (NIPSA) program within LACLJ. The NIPSA program provides free legal advocacy, representation, and empowerment-based case management services to their women clients. The NIPSA program is small, representing less than 20 percent of LACLJ’s annual revenues and expenses, but has a large impact on obtaining justice and support for victims.
Clients are referred to LACLJ by several organizations, such as The Downtown Women’s Center, The East LA Women’s Center, as well as LAPD and the LA County Sheriff’s office. NIPSA also dispatches advocates to the LA City District Attorney’s office to help women through the painful and bureaucratic process of pressing charges, in a brave effort to bring the offenders to justice. Staff also helps clients to understand what all their options are. NIPSA client-based services are comprehensive and long-term and range from helping secure T-Visas (victims of human trafficking), U-Visas (victims of violence), obtain restraining orders, and to locating housing.
Currently, two clients working through the criminal justice system are minors. One is 17 and the other is six years old. Both were sexually abused by acquaintances. Another client expressed she was “a victim of domestic violence, feeling completely helpless and powerless. After contact with LACLJ, I felt they changed my life. I now know what to do and feel empowered.” A mother of a two-year-old stated, “I was in an abusive relationship with nowhere to turn. After meeting with LACLJ, in addition to legal guidance, they gave me mental health support and put me on the right path so now I can pursue my dreams.” NIPSA helps some of the most vulnerable in our community and the RCA grant aids in the recipient’s mission.
After meeting with the staff of LACLJ, we have an insight into how Ebell members can provide support to NIPSA. First and foremost, NIPSA always needs pro-bono attorneys who can represent clients throughout the court process, as well as paralegals to assist. Other needs include food gift cards, office supply cards, school supplies for children, and personal wellness items. An Eblast has been sent out separately by Sign Up Genius, with the requested items.