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Legal Aid Groups Receive Grant to Serve Those with Limited English Skills

LOS ANGELES, September 30, 2016 — Local civil legal aid organizations just received more than $400,000 to provide online training to attorneys and legal volunteers serving limited English proficient clients.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, along with its partners OneJustice and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, received the two-year grant of $413,088 from the Pro Bono Innovation Fund of Legal Services Corp. It was awarded in early September. The grant will allow LAFLA to create several online trainings for legal services organizations, pro bono attorneys and volunteer interpreters, with the goal of improving the overall client experience for those whose primary language is not English.

“Communication between clients and attorneys is incredibly important and critical in effectively addressing legal issues,” said Joann Lee, directing attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. “This grant means a great deal to people all over California who have not able to access justice because of their limited English.”

“We cannot tolerate a system that leaves litigants in the dark during custody hearings, eviction proceedings, and even domestic violence cases,” said Ana Maria Garcia, Director of Access to Justice Initiatives at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. “This grant both raises awareness of the critical need for language access services, and allows us to begin to work toward the goal of language access for all.”

“We’re glad to help build the means to help train attorneys to serve a diverse client base,” said Julia Wilson, CEO of OneJustice. “This investment means vital pro bono resources will go even further to serve those in need.”

The online trainings will cover:

  • For legal aid organizations: how to create and maintain a language access program
  • For pro bono attorneys: how to work with interpreters
  • For volunteer interpreters: how to properly interpret for pro bono attorneys and other related language access topics

The trainings will be hosted on the Pro Bono Training Institute website, probonotraining.org. The grant will also go toward improving the Pro Bono Training Institute website, allowing easier connections between legal aid organizations, pro bono attorneys and volunteer interpreters. The project may serve as a model for other legal aid organizations that also serve limited English proficient clients.

LAFLA anticipates creating the first trainings for those who speak Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Armenian, Russian, Vietnamese and Persian/Farsi.

LAFLA is one of 11 grant recipients nationwide of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients.
Legal Services Corp. has also published the announcement on their website. It can be found at: http://www.lsc.gov/media-center/press-releases/2016/2016-pro-bono-innovation-grant-recipients#LA

About Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA)
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is the frontline law firm for poor and low-income people in Los Angeles. It provides legal representation and other legal assistance to low-income people in civil legal matters. It has five offices in Greater Los Angeles, along with four Self-Help Legal Access Centers at area courthouses and three domestic violence clinics and helps over 80,000 people each year.

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