Great Changes and Growth — A Year Since the Re-branding
By Kate Marr, Executive Director
It is true that much can happen in a year. If I review 2019 in my mind, I can see it evident in the significant changes and growth we experienced at Community Legal Aid SoCal last year.
One year ago, on February 1st, we successfully re-branded our name to Community Legal Aid SoCal (CLA SoCal) and rolled out a new logo. After 35 years of operating in Orange and Los Angeles Counties under two different names, we were long overdue to make this move. Doubtlessly, it was time to finally consolidate the face of our organization and unify under one name and banner. I am thankful to share that, in the year since the re-branding, we have indeed well-established ourselves as CLA SoCal in the communities we serve.
At the time we went public with the re-branding, we also launched and went live with a new website. As with our name change and re-branding, a redesign of the website was much needed. The CLA SoCal website has a clean look, is easy to navigate, is available in seven languages besides English, has an accessibility menu for those who are visually impaired, and features a Safety Exit option, which is critical for those who are experiencing domestic violence or abuse. The website, as with the name change, is reflective of our program as it is now.
Last summer we began the bold process of restructuring our legal program. The Restructure Committee, composed of staff members from all job categories, has been regularly meeting and is hard at work moving forward through the process. This is an important piece in the growth of our program and our vision for the restructure is that, by the end of the process, CLA SoCal will be poised to maximize our impact as a team of staff and volunteers who provide compassionate and client-centered legal services of the highest quality to vulnerable populations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The restructure process has been informed by our recent Community Needs Assessment. We undertook the assessment with two main objectives: 1. to determine client needs, priorities, barriers to service and assess recommendations; and, 2. to inform and optimize our service delivery. Again, through this process, we’ve gained very useful information that will help steer us forward as we evaluate how we can best serve our client communities.
As of this year, we’ve also taken our place as partners at the Collaborative Courts of the California Superior Court in Orange County and at the Family Justice Center at the Santa Ana Police Department. These partnerships allow us to reach and serve those who need our help at two critical locations outside of the doors of our offices.
The Collaborative Courts are “problem solving” courts with specialized court tracks that address underlying issues that may be present in the lives of those who come before the court on criminal, juvenile or dependency matters. As part of the Collaborative Courts, our staff is on site on the first Tuesday of the month at the Veterans Treatment Court and third Wednesday at the Homeless Outreach Court. The individuals who seek our assistance go through an intake process to determine their eligibility for our help. If eligible, they are referred to our staff attorney for legal advice.
Starting with the grand opening of the Santa Ana Family Justice Center (SAFJC) on January 28th, we will be seeing clients at the Santa Ana Police Department on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. The SAFJC is a partnership between the Santa Ana Police Department and 17 social services organizations to provide a “one stop shop” where survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking and elder abuse can receive the assistance and support they need. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized the Family Justice Center as a model of “best practice” and we are elated to be a part of the effort.
All the changes we’ve initiated over the past year, starting with the re-branding and name change, were done with the intention to reflect our connection and dedication to the communities we serve in name and in action. We are committed to meeting the changing needs of our clients and to making our services more accessible to them.