Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) is the frontline law firm for poor and low-income individuals in Los Angeles County, and one of the largest public interest law firms in the nation. LAFLA employs more than 60 lawyers and has a total of 175 employees who work in six community-based offices and seven courthouse-based clinics. LAFLA is funded by the Legal Services Corporation, foundations, corporations, law firms and individuals.
Each year, LAFLA provides direct legal assistance to more than 14,000 low-income clients and aided over 55,000 more through referrals and community education. Legal areas of practice include family, Immigration, government benefits, employment, consumer, housing/eviction defense, and community economic development. LAFLA will begin hosting a Skadden Fellow in fall 2012 and counts many Skadden and Equal Justice Works alumni among our staff.
LAFLA is currently accepting applications for Skadden and Equal Justice Works fellowships on an ongoing basis. Please submit your application as soon as possible as decisions are being made daily. No applications will be accepted after July 15, 2013 (school based-applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis). To apply, please see below.
Since 2007, the primary focus of LAFLA’s Consumer Law Unit work has been on maintaining homeownership in the face of the immense foreclosure crisis impacting Los Angeles communities. The Consumer Law Unit is seeking a fellowship applicant to develop and implement a pilot project to bring a Court monitored or Court based foreclosure mediation program to Los Angeles County. Working with the court, other legal service providers and community partners, the project’s goal is aimed at both consistently and fairly managing the volume of foreclosure lawsuits and at providing an effective and fair process for bringing together foreclosure litigants (i.e., servicers/lenders and homeowners) in an effort to arrive at a mutually beneficial resolution to the litigation. A primary objective of the mediation program is to obtain viable loan modification agreements between homeowners and lenders.
LAFLA’s Consumer Law Unit also works to address and stop the financial predation of low and modest income community members. Working with our private law firm partners as well as government and community organizations, the project seeks to raise the level of financial literacy in low and modest income communities through community education, policy advocacy and government agency enforcement as well as direct representation in court to address unfair and illegal debt collection practices.
Violence against women is a serious social and public health issue. In addition to the immediate trauma caused by abuse, women experience significantly higher rates of physical and mental health conditions as a result of their victimization. Consequently, intimate partner violence is increasingly framed as a healthcare issue and health care systems are becoming gateways for identification and intervention. LAFLA’s Medical-Legal Partnership creates access to legal services through a healthcare setting. The goal of the project is to identify and address the social determinants of health for victims of domestic violence through legal advocacy.
A Fellow will participate in the following activities: coordination of on-site legal assistance to at-risk families; representation of clients with legal needs related to safety, food and energy security, housing conditions and education; provision of education and training to medical providers; and advocacy to promote systemic change that will improve the health of low-income families in Los Angeles County. As part of the LAFLA MLP team, the Fellow will contribute to the transition of this pilot project into a sustainable community program designed to create family safety, stability and health for adult and child victims of domestic violence through coordinated medical and legal services.
Provide legal assistance to start up or expanding worker co-operatives and small businesses. Small businesses comprise a large percentage of jobs in Los Angeles, and the challenges of complying with laws and regulations in the operation of a small business can be a major factor in determining its success. Worker co-operatives are an increasingly important route for workers to create their own well-paying jobs in occupations where they are often exploited such as gardening, housekeeping, etc. This project will therefore help create and sustain jobs by providing needed community education, legal assistance with entity choice. It will also involve formation, contracting, employment and other business issues and policy advocacy in partnership with established business assistance organizations.
Employment Discrimination Law
In partnership with a number of other organizations including the UCLA Labor Center, LAFLA is in the process of establishing a project to address race-based employment discrimination faced by low-income workers in Los Angeles. Studies show that although racial discrimination in employment is rampant in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere, there are few resources available to low-income workers who have been affected. This project will include "know your rights" presentations, a monthly clinic, assistance with the administrative claims process, and litigation. The focus will be to launch this practice, organize and staff the clinic, and work with advisory board attorneys, community partners, and pro bono counsel to strategically litigate appropriate cases.
Low-income communities across Los Angeles frequently find themselves needing legal assistance in responding to public and private proposed projects that threaten quality of life and/or could bring needed jobs and community improvements. LAFLA has conducted community education, provided counsel and advice, and legal representation to these communities. As a result, the Foundation has been able to win changes that protect public health, improve environmental quality, create jobs and affordable housing, and address other community priorities. A Fellow would focus on building LAFLA’s practice in these areas by improving our community education materials, working with local community organizations, and negotiating and/or litigating to win agreements that address community concerns.
Because of severe funding shortages the Southern California housing authorities are implementing polices that make it easier to terminate Section 8 voucher benefits. Thus the number of termination hearings have increased. The Fellow would address this problem by analyzing the systemic issues and providing representation to low-income tenants who are being unjustly terminated at administrative hearings and writ proceedings.
LAFLA seeks potential fellows who will address language discrimination and access issues in the Asian & Pacific Islander and other historically underserved communities. The project will integrate the innovative use of technology, mapping and data analysis to provide access to justice for underserved communities through community education, advocacy, and litigation.
Family Law/Domestic Violence
The Economic Justice Fellowship allows Fellows working with attorneys from LAFLA’s Family Law Unit and Consumer Law Unit to develop a project whose goal is to achieve economic justice for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through direct representation, community outreach and education, and the development of collaborative partnerships between attorneys who handle domestic violence cases and consumer law attorneys who specialize in foreclosure and debt collection relief.
Veterans’ Justice Center
LAFLA’s Veterans Justice Center (VJC) strives to protect veterans and their families by securing government benefits and medical care as well as removing legal barriers to housing and employment. For many veterans, VA benefits such as treatment, financial support and housing are critical links to long-term stability. These benefits may be the bridge to physical or emotional recovery, or the solution to unmet basic needs such as food and shelter. VJC provides advocacy on behalf of low-income veterans seeking VA benefits and in a range of civil legal issues including government benefits, housing and eviction defense, citation defense, family law, employment law, and other consumer law matters. As part of the VJC team, the Fellow will provide direct representation to veterans and their families, while also working with community partners and pro bono counsel to foster growth and enhance sustainability of the project.
The Immigration Unit assists clients through its Naturalization Clinics, Battered Immigrant Women’s Project, Human Trafficking Project and Torture Survivors Project. The Immigration Unit is housed at our East, West and Long Beach offices. We welcome Fellows who are interested in any of the above-mentioned areas.
Examples of legal areas that may be ripe for future development include work with our Torture Survivors Project to advocate and develop strategies to ameliorate some of the harsh effects of the USCIS’s current understanding and implementation of the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds. Under USCIS’s current interpretation, numerous individuals who were victims of the most brutal forms of torture in their countries, those already admitted, others who have resided in the U.S. for years as refugees or asylees are now finding themselves barred from ever obtaining lawful permanent residence. Creative strategies are needed to address this issue and to help torture survivors find closure.
Another area of the law concerns the U -(available to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse) and T-visas (available to victims of human trafficking). A Fellowship to develop a comprehensive array of services to sexual abuse victims in either the U or T visa context could be developed to incorporate outreach, direct services, training and a pro bono referral component. The goal would be to coordinate with local and federal law enforcement agencies and other providers of case management and social services in the greater Los Angeles area to ensure the provision of multi-pronged services that meet the holistic needs of the client. Also, by developing a pro bono component, the Fellowship would assist in the development of a project that has future sustainability.
Employment Law/Low-Wage Worker Safety and Health
Low-wage workers have higher occupational fatality and injury rates than the average worker. A recent study found that of low-wage workers who had experienced a serious injury on the job, only 8 percent had filed a workers’ compensation claim, while 50 percent of the workers who had reported an injury experienced an illegal employer reaction such as retaliation.
LAFLA is seeking a fellowship applicant to develop and implement a project on safety and health for low-wage workers. The goal of the project is to improve worker safety and health through a multifaceted, holistic approach that includes: direct legal services for injured workers; community education to inform workers about their rights such as the right to refuse unsafe work; policy advocacy to call for improved policies and government agency enforcement; litigation; and partnerships with medical providers that will serve injured workers.
Other project ideas are welcome. Prospective Fellows are encouraged to explore and develop their proposals with our experienced staff in the various substantive legal Units.
LAFLA welcomes proposals from law students who will have graduated law school by June 2014 to begin fellowships in the fall of 2014. We will consider any proposal from well-qualified applicants in any of our practice areas. We look favorably on proposals with a strong pro bono component. - See more at:
LAFLA’s Consumer Law Unit, in partnership with the Self Help Unit, seeks a Consumer Rights Fellow who will work to address and stop the financial predation of low and modest income community members. Working with our private law firm partners as well as government and community organizations, the project seeks to raise the level of financial literacy in low and modest income communities through community education and outreach, policy advocacy and government agency enforcement as well as through direct representation in state, federal and bankruptcy court to stop unfair and illegal debt collection practices.
Economic financial abuse can have damaging long term consequences for survivors. Abusers ruin their victim’s credit, steal their identity (and sometimes that of their minor children), forge their partner’s name on checks, deeds or other financial documents, hide marital assets and fail to sign off on documents necessary to effectuate court orders dividing property. The Financial Equity Fellowship allows Fellows working with attorneys from LAFLA’s Family Law Unit and Consumer Law Unit to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to achieve financial equity and independence through direct representation, community outreach and education. The Fellow will also work to strengthen existing, and to develop new, collaborative partnerships between attorneys who handle domestic violence cases and consumer law attorneys who specialize in foreclosure and debt collection relief in order to increase the level of substantive capacity in both areas and to encourage pro bono attorneys to take on more substantively complicated cases.
Please send or e-mail a letter describing potential projects and the fellowships for which you plan to apply, along with a resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: (310) 899-6208.
Or you can mail:
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Karla Barrow, Managing Attorney
Santa Monica Office
1640 5th Street, Suite 124
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Bilingual Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Khmer speakers are strongly encouraged to apply.
LAFLA is an Equal Opportunity employer. Candidates are chosen solely on merit without discrimination because of age, race, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability.