Chicana lawyer Luz Herrera was recently profiled as a “Legal Rebel” by the American Bar Association for her insistence on finding ways to support low-cost legal services, and providers.
Showing Thomas Jefferson School of Law students and alumni ways they can charge affordable rates and support themselves continues to be Luz Herrera’s primary passion.
In 2011 the school launched its Small Business Law Center, which pairs lawyer-supervised students with low- and moderate-income individuals who need legal representation. And last year Herrera welcomed the first class of lawyers in the school’s Lawyer Incubator Program. In exchange for $250 a month, participants the school calls “new solos” get office space, mentorship and continuing legal education classes. The program has a full-time director, but Herrera refers to it as “my baby.” “I don’t believe that having a number of attorneys starting their own practices is a new phenomenon,” Herrera says, “but I do think we are just beginning to understand it.”
She’s in a good position to explain that. A former Heller Ehrman associate, in 2002 she started a storefront sole practice in Compton, Calif. A desire to help people, coupled with the knowledge that she’d be the town’s only full-time Spanish-speaking lawyer, helped her make the decision.
Her advice for new solos: “Find out what everybody else is charging and cut it off. It doesn’t make sense for a lawyer to charge $300 an hour for a client who can’t come up with a $10,000 retainer.”
If someone sticks with a sole practice, has good business and marketing plans, low overhead and a defined product, Herrera says, he or she can make $50,000 to $60,000 a year by the second year. That’s more money than contract work, she reasons.
An attorney and a community innovator,
Professor Luz Herrera is pioneering a model to support public spirited, entrepreneurial lawyers in their efforts to launch successful law practices that assist clients and seek to strengthen communities. Her efforts are informed by her service with other organizations that have a pulse on legal service delivery in California and across the United States. She currently serves on the American Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee, the board of California Rural Legal Assistance and the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act Implementation Committee.
Professor Herrera recently launched the Small Business Law Center [at Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego]. Before entering academia, she ran a solo law practice in Compton, California. She is also the co-founder and board president of Community Lawyers, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides low and moderate-income people access to affordable legal services and develops innovative opportunities for attorneys and law students in underserved communities. CLI facilitates the provision of affordable legal services to underserved communities through community legal education and self-help legal clinics staffed by a network of volunteer attorneys and non-attorney volunteers that support their efforts.
With her invaluable ability to connect with persons at all levels of national leadership and challenge the existing legal services paradigm, Professor Herrera brings innovative ideas to address the access to civil justice gap and calls for the inclusion of all sectors of the profession in a new legal services paradigm. She is leaving her mark in the legal profession and throughout communities nationwide.
(From her bio at Jefferson Law)
He’s been doing a lot of interviews lately, and it’s interesting how each one differs based on the interviewers approach. Moyers begins with the election and touches on several issues from the popular media, including Bill O’Reilly’s rant….
Video is at Bill Moyers site (Dec 28), and transcript here.
[Diaz:] .. there is an enormous gap between the way the country presents itself and imagines itself and projects itself and the reality of this country. Whether we’re talking about the Latino community in North Carolina. Whether we’re talking about a very active and I think in some ways very out queer community across the United States. Or whether we’re talking about an enormous body of young voters who are either ignored or sort of pandered to or in some ways, you know, kind of distorted, I think that what we’re having is a new country emerging that’s been in the making for a long time, and that in different regions we’ve already seen its face. But I think for the first time sort of revealed itself more fully to the entire country.
BILL MOYERS: Are there no honest mirrors reflecting back to us what you just talked about?
JUNOT DÍAZ: Sure. But, you know, you’ve got to really be interested in that. And sometimes your mindset, you know, doesn’t allow you to see it. I mean, how many people do I know who work in a building where every single person who makes that building possible is Latino, you know? And yet, when you ask them, “Do you know any Latinos?” they’re like, “Nah, really, the Latino community’s growing?” And yet everybody that holds the door, all the way up to the guys who run the mechanical systems in the building. And so, of course, I do think that there’s already for some folks that old story that we’ve been carrying about ourselves that gets reinforced every day in the news and every day on television, in the movies, and even in the culture of books, that old story is tenacious. And it’s hard to kind of move that enormous boulder in a new direction.
Interview continues here.
Check out this thoughtful analysis of the 2012 election by Gihan Perera and Manuel Pastor at Colorlines. You should be checking Colorlines regularly for excellent academically-grounded analysis….
On Florida’s last day of early voting, I was visiting polls making sure things were running smoothly. When I arrived at the the North Dade Regional Library, 850 people were patiently waiting in line, and many more were rushing to join before the poll shut down. With two minutes left before closing, poll workers made their way to the end of the snaking queue to stop anyone else from joining. A woman pulled up and pleaded with poll workers to give her time to find parking, but they said it was impossible. We looked at each other—and even though we were complete strangers, she threw me her keys and scrambled to join the line without looking back. I jumped in and drove off to find parking. Later, I found her in line to return her keys. We said nothing to each other, but we didn’t need to—we knew what this was about. One of our organizers gave her a card, and she called the offices of Florida New Majority two days later to report that she voted at 12:34 am. And she asked us: what’s next?
In a sense, the results of this year’s presidential election were perplexing. How could a president with an economy in the doldrums, an energized opposition, and an approval rating that had been sagging for years actually pull off a re-election victory? Was it the early branding of Mitt Romney as a vulture capitalist? Was it the Latino reaction to an anti-immigrant tone? Was it the sophisticated data mavens in Chicago who combined behavioral science with “big data” methods to facilitate a remarkably accurate approach to voter targeting?
All those reasons make some sense; all contributed to President Obama’s victory in November. But there was something else happening on the ground that all these analyses miss—and by missing it, fail to capture a reality that we need to understand in order to push the racial justice movement forward in years to come: this time, it wasn’t just about Obama.
Articles continues here
From New American Media, an interview by David Bacon with Lorena Hernandez, a young farm worker and single mother from Oaxaca, Mexico who currently lives in Madera, Calif., with her daughter and aunt.
MADERA, Calif.–To go pick blueberries I have to get up at four in the morning. First I make my lunch to take with me, and then I get dressed for work. For lunch I eat whatever there is in the house, mostly bean tacos. Then the ritero, the person who gives me a ride to work, picks me up at 20 minutes to five.
I work as long as my body can take it, usually until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then the ritero gives me a ride home, and I get there by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. By then I’m really tired.
I pay $8 each way to get to work and back home. Right now they’re paying $6 for each bucket of blueberries you pick, so I have to fill almost three buckets just to cover my daily ride. The contractor I work for, Elias Hernandez, hooks us up with the riteros. He’s the contractor for 50 of us farm workers picking blueberries, and I met him when a friend of my aunt gave me his number.
I’ve known Elias two years now, since the first time we worked putting plastic on the grape vines. On that job, which lasts a month, we put pieces of plastic over the vines so that it looks like an igloo. They do this so the grapes won’t burn from the frost. The grapes are almost ready to pick when we do this, but we don’t pick them. Other people come after us to do that.
I pick grapes for raisins or wine with another contractor. I’ve worked with many contractors doing many different jobs. Sometimes I work a lot with the same contractor, but sometimes it changes — it depends on how they treat me. I also try to find work that’s easier. To me the contractors are all the same, but some treat us better than others, so I go with them.
Interview continues at New American Media
Today Chicanas.com will be featured on KPFK’s Feminist Magazine with Celina Alvarez & Ariana Manov. I’m looking forward to it! KPFK is a wonderful public resource and I hope you’ll support it!
Last weekend was my favorite annual conference, MALCS, for Chicana/Latina academics and students. I gave two workshops, one on how to create a WordPress website on our server, and a second titled “Ten Reasons for Chicana/Latina academics to love the Web.” Had a blast working with my sister on both, but she kicked my ass with her work on the latter workshop. Check it out.
I just finished reading two of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. Both are classic coming-of-age stories, and both just slugged me in the gut. These are the kind of writers that make you grateful to be able to read, that make reading an all-sensory experience that doesn’t leave you for days.
In Leaving Atlanta, Tayari Jones writes from the perspective of three children living in Atlanta during the period of the Atlanta child murders. I found her portrayal of childhood, particularly the social aspects of elementary school, vivid and unromantic and painful and wonderful. Her portrayal of mothers, of poverty that doesn’t recognize itself, of bourgeois aspirations and costs, of the price we pay as humans in a fucked-up society….it’s just brilliant, and I can’t recommend it more highly. Jones also writes a blog (with a beautiful page design), but I don’t really want to read it right now, because I’m still carrying her characters in my head.
I loved Montserrat Fontes’ Dream of the Centaurs, and it’s the one Chicano novel I was able to give to my techie/bourgie brother that we both loved. It’s an amazing historical novel that absolutely entertains at the same time that it informs about Mexico’s ugly slave history in the henna plantations of the Yucatan peninsula under Porfirio Diaz. So I was thrilled to hear that she had an earlier novel, First Confession, published in 1992. I love reading an earlier title by an author I already respect – it’s fun to see the development of their style and talent in retrospect, to see more rough edges.
Like Jones’ novel, Fontes writes in the voice of a young girl, this time growing up on the Mexican side of the border in a relatively privileged family. It’s also a harsh and unromantic portrayal of childhood and a young girl’s coming into maturity. It feels autobiographical because the author is painfully honest and even judgemental about her protagonist. The portrayal pays off because it’s precisely the rupture of this childish egocentricity that marks her emergence as a young adult by the novel’s end. I can’t praise it enough. She brought to mind for me my sense of loss and shame for my mother’s father, who died at the age of 62 when I was only a preteen. I remember him largely in selfish, childish terms–he took us to fairs, bought us ice cream, always took us on walks. I will always regret that he didn’t live long enough for me to appreciate him in a more mature sense. And I will never understand why people insist on actively forgetting the selfishness and cruelty that is also a part of childhood.
Both novels brought to mind a second theme for me as well. The final mother-daughter scene in Leaving Atlanta choked me up completely, and made me think about how many people-of-color-written novels I’ve read that talk about separation. Written by brilliant people who portray some cost, some separation from home, a sense of home, a sense of self, in order to achieve in American society. The cost of “success” is particularly high for poc… still thinking about this.
Finally, two more new texts to write about soon: Angie Chabram-Dernersesian’s new edited collection, The Chicana/o Cultural Studies Reader, and Demetria Martinez’ latest, Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana.
The Women Studies Department at San Francisco State University is
seeking an instructor to teach WOMS 160: Women, Politics, and
Citizenship for the Fall 2006 semester. This is an interdisciplinary
overview of central political tenets of the United States (democracy,
freedom, rights, equality, etc.) for general education students as well
as majors. It includes an emphasis on histories of immigration, and
ideologies of gender, race, and sexuality. We seek an advanced Ph.D.
student (ABD), or recent Ph.D. to teach this course. Would you please
forward this announcement to potentially interested instructors?
Applicants should send a c.v. to me at: email@example.com or contact our
office at 415-338-1388 for further information. The deadline is August 1st.
What would it take so that the poor were less poor? This article from Alternet discusses some strategies that folks have taken….
Poverty wages for farmworkers were the problem. As Dick Nogaj figured it, blueberries were the answer. On vacation in southwest Florida in 1997, Nogaj and his wife Florence heard about a hunger strike by migrant workers in Immokalee, an agricultural town 35 miles inland from Ft. Myers. The Nogajs immediately drove to Immokalee. They were appalled at how hard the tomato and citrus pickers worked and how little they got in return. The average farmworker in the area, according to researchers at the University of Florida, brings home from the fields an annual income of between $6,500 and $7,000. To boost these wages, Dick Nogaj put his faith in consumers. “We can end poverty in the agricultural sector if only 10 percent of the public pays 10 percent more for their food,” he says. That’s where blueberries entered the picture. The market for the anti-oxidant-rich fruit was growing, particularly among Florida retirees. A variety capable of prospering in south Florida would allow Nogaj to dominate the market for at least a month and possibly two, between the fading of Chilean imports and the ripening of more northern varieties. Higher prices for spring blueberries could translate into higher wages for farmworkers.
In 1999, having recently sold his Illinois engineering firm to its employees, Nogaj invested millions of dollars to turn 36 acres of Immokalee’s sandy soil into a blueberry farm. He took a risk on a new variety developed by University of Florida researchers. He waited two seasons before harvesting the first crop. These “leaps of faith” were motivated by Nogaj’s experience with Habitat for Humanity and a personal philosophy that is equal parts progressive Christianity and solid Midwestern liberalism. Today, he boasts of paying his workers $8.50 an hour, two dollars above Florida’s minimum wage, and his piece-rate pickers as much as $12 to $14 an hour. Nogaj thinks his blueberries, on sale at Whole Foods and other outlets, represent a new model for agriculture in Florida and nationwide.
Continues at http://www.alternet.org/story/385
Test post number one for the Chicanas.com blog….