PLC Launches Citizenship Project

The Public Law Center (PLC), is leading a major collaboration with national and local funders to form the Orange County Naturalization Initiative Collaborative (OCNIC).  Major funding from The California Endowment, The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Evelyn & Walter Hass Jr. Fund along with additional funding from the Orange County Community Foundation, St. Joseph Health System and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Care Foundation, will provide assistance to individuals who seek to become U.S. Citizens.

The Public Law Center will work with Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), a community-based non-profit organization that advances the rights of Orange County's working families through community organizing, strategic research, and advocacy. The Collaborative will include a network of community based organizations that has the trust of the local immigrant groups, creating a formalized structure that unites citizenship providers, shares resources and knowledge, and increases the number of naturalized clients.

"We are proud that these funders have placed their trust in the Public Law Center," said Ken Babcock, PLC's Executive Director and General Counsel. "This collaboration will help immigrants fully integrate into our society and realize the American dream."

PLC and OCNIC partners will aim to complete over 1,800 citizenship applications through fairs and legal clinics. The Public Law Center's experience and history in harnessing the skills of volunteer attorneys throughout the county will be key to the project's success.

The Collaborative will be managed by Supervising Attorney Julie Greenwald Marzourk, head of PLC's Immigration Unit, and Staff Attorney Maricela Montoya.

The Collaborative's first effort was a recent Citizenship Fair held on July 14 at St. Anthony's Church in Anaheim. It was staffed by volunteer attorneys, law students and PLC staff and a wide range of volunteers from OCCORD.  Seventy-one naturalization applications were completed.

Julie Greenwald Marzourk
"The Public Law Center provided attorney oversight on each and every application.  Participants first met with an attorney to assess his/her individual eligibility, and again to review the completed application.  PLC will continue to work with community partners to efficiently serve a large volume of legal residents while preserving high quality legal advice," said Greenwald Marzouk.

This newly funded project dovetails with another recently funded major project for the Public Law Center.  This year PLC was chosen to receive a grant from The California Endowment, as part of the Building Healthy Communities Initiative. Under this grant, PLC is providing a range of legal services in the areas of family law, consumer law, housing, and immigration to residents of central Santa Ana.

The next Citizenship Fairs will be held:
Saturday, September 15, 2012
9:00 am - 12:00 pm or 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Santa Ana Clinic
Saturday, September 29, 2012
9:00 am - 12:00 pm or 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Anaheim Clinic
Training Date for Attorneys Who want to Volunteer and Law Students
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Registration at 5:30 pm and Program from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
 at UC Irvine School of Law
For more information, contact Maricela Montoya at
Thank you  
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP!   

The Public Law Center's Consumer Department runs two clinics at the Bankruptcy Courthouse, including a monthly clinic where volunteer attorneys advise debtors on their rights and responsibilities about a process called Reaffirmation.  When a debtor files a bankruptcy and has a debt secured by personal property, he/she has options as to what to do with that debt and with that property.  One of those options is reaffirmation.  Unfortunately, creditors sometimes take advantage of the debtor and give them misinformation about their rights and responsibilities.  The volunteer attorneys at the Reaffirmation Clinic counsel the debtors on the agreement they signed, making sure they understand the terms of the agreement, the consequences of reaffirming and provide them with information about the legal standard the bankruptcy judges use to evaluate the agreements.  

This summer, the firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP volunteered to adopt the Reaffirmation Clinic for three months.  PLC staff set up training on reaffirmation at Sheppard Mullin's offices, educating the partners, associates and summer associates about the reaffirmation process.  Sheppard Mullin attorneys and summer associates who came to the training and volunteered with PLC at the clinics were from all areas of practice at the firm including bankruptcy, labor, litigation, real estate, corporate and finance.  

Over the three months the Shepard Mullin lawyers and law students met with 70 debtors.  The debtors left the consultations feeling more informed and more confident in their decision regarding their secured debt.  PLC is extremely appreciative of the lawyers and law students from Sheppard Mullin - we are looking forward to repeating the project in 2013! Thank you Sheppard Mullin!

If you are interested in volunteering at the Reaffirmation Clinic, or at PLC's other bankruptcy clinic focusing on Chapter 7 issues, please contact Leigh Ferrin at


PLC Attorney honored by
OC Lavender Bar Association

Munmeeth Soni
On July 18, 2012, the Orange County Lavender Bar Association honored PLC immigration attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow, Munmeeth Soni with the inaugural M. Katherine B. Darmer Outstanding Community Service Award.  Munmeeth received the award for the pro bono and direct legal services assistance she provides to the LGBT immigrant community in Orange County and for the advocacy she does on behalf of LGBT immigrant detainees.  

The OCLBA created the award to honor the late Katherine Darmer-a founding member of the OCLBA and much loved and admired professor, attorney, wife, mother, and champion of civil rights--who was an ardent advocate for the LGBT community in Orange County.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law was also honored, receiving the 2012 Community Leadership Award.

New Federal Pro Se Clinic  

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. District Court, Central District of California Attorney Admissions Fund, PLC opened in June a Federal Pro Se Clinic in the Clerk's office at the District Court in Santa Ana.  Every Thursday from 10 am - 12 pm and 1 pm - 3 pm PLC staff and volunteer attorneys meet with pro se litigants, providing primarily procedural information and advice regarding their federal case.  The clinic is by appointment only and covers most civil litigation cases, including foreclosure, employment discrimination, Social Security appeals, and forfeiture.  Clinic visitors are given forms, sample pleadings and other resources to allow them to properly litigate their case thereby helping with the efficient handling of those matters in the Clerk's office and in individual courtrooms.  

PLC is in need of volunteers to get involved in this new and growing clinic.  Expertise in the specific areas of substantive law is not necessary - only experience with federal civil procedure and case handling in the Central District.  Those interested in volunteering should contact PLC Lead Attorney Leigh Ferrin at (714) 541-1010 x290 or
If you haven't joined your friends and colleagues in making a gift to the Justice for All Fund, you still have time.  This fund supports the ongoing work of PLC, providing hope, access, and justice for the most vulnerable families, individuals and seniors in Orange County.  Your gift helps us to provide direct client services, lawyer training, community education, self-help clinics, and mentoring for law students.

Thank you for making a difference.


Ken Babcock
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Law Center
In This Issue
PLC's Law Firm Spotlight
PLC Attorney honored by OC Lavender Bar Association.
New Federal Pro Se Clinic
PLC Launches Citizenship Project



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Volunteer Today
We invite you to be a part of this exciting new initiative by volunteering your time at one or more of 15 Naturalization Clinics. Training will be provided. Contact Kirsten Kreymann, Pro Bono Director at

Volunteers are also needed for the Federal Pro Se Clinic.  Contact PLC Lead Attorney Leigh Ferrin at


PLC Volunteers for Justice Honorees to Receive State Bar Pro Bono Awards
OCBA President Dimetria Jackson (Community Partner of the Year) with Deb Mallgrave and Bill O'Hare, Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. (Law Firm of the Year)
The Public Law Center recently honored Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P. as Law Firm of the Year, Mayte Santacruz Benavidez of Latham & Watkins LLP as Attorney of the Year, and the OCBA and OCBA Charitable Fund as Community Partner of the Year. 

Mayte with Dr. Juan Francisco Lara, Assistant Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine, at the Volunteers for Justice Dinner

We now have the good fortune of giving Snell & Wilmer and Mayte another round of congratulations.  Both will be recognized for their pro bono work by the State Bar of California at its Annual Meeting in Monterey. 





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