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Featured Grantee Partner: Community Law Group – Law College Association for James E. Rogers College of Law

Interview Series: Transformational Grantmaking

What are three interesting things people don’t know about the Community Law Group?

  • The Community Law Group at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law works very closely with survivors of domestic violence, providing them with free legal representation.
  • We also focus on immigration cases, which could also lead to helping clients with employment issues.
  • We provide clients with an untraditional, holistic approach to their legal cases. There are problems that lawyers can’t help their clients with, and so we have a social worker type model where we look at the wide array of our clients’ needs and how to best serve them.

What are you most excited about that’s happening at your organization?

I’m really excited about the social component of how we help clients. For example, something that we had to learn from social workers is how to take and give feedback. Our fellows learned how to really listen, provide legal feedback that the client can understand and easily digest, but also how to receive feedback, even critiques, so they can better serve their clients. If given negative feedback from a client, our fellows can now bounce back from that and get better from the experience.

How has a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona transformed your organization? Is there something you now do differently?

We would have been a very different organization without the grant from the Women’s Foundation. The grant funded the hiring of social workers in order to provide a holistic approach to our clients. Beyond the grant, being able to work with the Women’s Foundation on our self-assessment was very useful. We have a better understanding of how to keep track of statistics, outcomes, etc.

How has your organization grown stronger, increased its impact or changed because of your partnership with the WFSA?

One of the great things about our partnership with the Women’s Foundation is being able to be part of a bigger community. We get to learn about what others are doing. We feel that we are part of a group, and less like we’re on our own, which has been wonderful for our organization.

How did you first hear about the WFSA and their grants?

A colleague from another organization heard about the grant from the Women’s Foundation, although I don’t know exactly from where, and she told me about the grant. It wasn’t a match for her organization, but she thought it would be great for us.

What keeps you up at night when thinking about your organization?

Our clients. I worry about our clients. I worry about their situation and about them personally. I think about their orders of protection, court papers, if they are safe.

Fortunately, I don’t worry so much about the Community Law Group because we have the support of the University of Arizona’s Law School and partners like the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona.

What do you see ahead for women and girls in Southern Arizona?

These are challenging time for everyone, but especially for women and girls. Politically, we’re in a place that is now perpetuating rape culture, where the accused can simply shrug off rape or assault by saying that the victim is crazy or being dramatic. Despite all this, I’m optimistic about the impact of the Women’s March and the subsequent neighborhood meetings. We have to really stay on top of what’s happening in society, and hold our representatives accountable, not only for the potential dismantle of the Affordable Care Act, but to hold them accountable in general.

And finally, is there anything else you would like to add about how the Women’s Foundation helps you in fulfilling the mission of your organization?

I’m so thankful for the unrestricted funds that the Women’s Foundation provides. It’s great having the foundation give us that trust to use funds in the best way we see fit. It’s very empowering, and in some ways, it’s a form of unconditional love.

Negar Katirai is the Director of the Community Law Group, a group that was formed in 2014 to provide free legal representation in cases that focus on family law, juvenile law and immigration.

Special thanks to Women’s Foundation volunteers Gabriela Cervantes and Liz Levine for interviewing this organization and for serving as guest editors.