Pepperdine Law recently received a $30,000 grant from a family foundation to continue its Justice Bus project with OneJustice. With partners in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Pepperdine Law students provide pro bono legal services to veterans in need at day-long clinics several times each semester.
In 2013, with funding from the family foundation, the law school began an intensive needs assessment of veterans’ legal needs in these counties. Through the study, the law school identified critical partners to serve these vulnerable clients. Professor Jeff Baker, Director of Clinical Education, led the study: “We identified clear gaps in access to justice for veterans in these communities, and our partnerships have helped expand and improve legal services available to veterans to whom we all owe so much.”
Among those partners is OneJustice, a statewide pro bono agency, and its innovative Rural Justice Bus Project. On Justice Bus trips, Pepperdine Law students travel to underserved areas to partner with local attorneys. Under supervision, the students meet clients in day-long clinics to provide limited-scope representation. This work includes “clean slate” matters like expungements and Prop. 47 petitions, estate matters like wills and powers of attorney, VA benefits questions, and related matters.
Pepperdine first collaborated with OneJustice on Justice Bus trips in 2015, and the trips have continued each semester since. The new funding will support Justice Bus trips for a Pepperdine students through 2020.
These trips provide exceptional experience for students, even first-years, to practice law under supervision. They meet and interview clients, evaluate cases, prepare documents, and advise and counsel clients. These experiences are critical to students’ professional formation and readiness for practice. This work instills the virtue of pro bono practice, integral to Pepperdine’s missions of service, purpose, and leadership