Kara O’Brien

The Project

Kara assists veterans with civil legal issues including housing, discharge upgrades, obtaining VA and other public benefits. The project facilitates housing stability and prevents homelessness. Access to benefits and discharge upgrades promotes economic stability and ensures veterans are properly recognized and compensated for their service.

During her project, Kara will:

  • Assist clients on a variety of veteran law matters, including discharge upgrades, certain VA benefit claims, landlord-tenant issues, SCRA issues and more
  • Attend Orange County legal clinics to assist homeless and low-income veterans by conducting legal intakes and providing general information
  • Work on staffing mobile legal clinics throughout Orange County, will oversee case referrals to pro bono attorneys and provide support to those volunteers, and will facilitate and expand law student involvement with the host organization including outreach and training at local law schools
  • Conduct community education presentations to clients and service providers and will represent PLC at legal networking and community outreach events

The Inspiration

“I have dedicated my entire life to public service. I was a Girl Scout for thirteen years and in my final year, I received the Gold Award for community service work I did with the homeless community. I worked for the American Cancer Society and served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. During college and law school I continued to serve the community by volunteering with the Bay Area Urban Debate League, Teen Court, Skid Row Legal Clinic, OneJustice Bus project, the Immigration Law Clinic, and the Appellate Litigation Clinic. I bring my passion for serving historically underrepresented individuals to this position. Orange County has a housing crisis and many of the individuals displaced are veterans. My work assisting ‘Operation Re-Entry’ at the Public Law Center centers is a way for me to continue my service, to those who sacrificed so much for our country,” says Kara.

The Project

This Fellowship helped to fill a gap in service provision to trafficking victims in Orange County, where there are very few legal service providers with the capacity and expertise to help them. Precious increased Public Law Center (PLC)’s in-house capacity to serve this client population, as well as those of other Orange County legal service agencies. She provided targeted, culturally sensitive outreach to Asian/Asian American trafficking victims, who due to language and cultural barriers are traditionally hard to reach. 

Precious increased PLC’s capacity to meet the needs of human trafficking victims in Orange County, to re-engage with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, to increase capacity among community partners and the pro bono community to assist human trafficking victims, and she developed new partnerships with organizations serving the Asian/Asian American communities in Orange County. 

Precious’ past experience in assisting attorneys provide legal services to victims of human trafficking, as well as her passion to provide these services to this community of people, has helped shape her dedication to provide access to justice for human trafficking victims.  

Media

Supporting Human Trafficking Survivors Through Civil Legal Aid

The Inspiration

The Project

The “One Strike” policy, as currently implemented by HACOLA, allows voucher termination if a family member is involved in a single incident of drug related or criminal activity. Maria’s project, “One Family”, protected low-income families in the Antelope Valley area of Los Angeles County from losing their Section 8 housing due to their children’s involvement in school disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings through direct services, community education, policy advocacy and litigation.

The Project

Cynthia’s project at OneJustice was focused on filling the legal services gaps in rural California through the Justice Bus Project. Her work also involved providing support and assistance to the Pro Bono Managers of Southern California and working with them to maximize their legal resources.

All people deserve to have the legal help necessary to gain their most basic civil rights and to meet their essential human needs.

Cynthia Castellon Luna /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The Center for Veterans Advancement (CVA) at Public Counsel strives to uphold our nation’s promise to veterans and their families. The CVA meets its mission by providing legal services to veterans and their families, which stabilizes their living situation, and assists veterans in obtaining VA and government benefits. The CVA is a national leader in veterans’ advocacy, and represents veterans before state and federal courts, including the VA. In addition, the CVA administers one of the nation’s largest pro bono advocacy programs.