HOME ABOUT CJP
ABOUT US
OUR MISSION

  We are community lawyers. In our legal work we collaborate closely with community organizers and grassroots groups in low-income communities because we believe that a more democratic, more just and more equal society can only truly come about through grassroots organizing and social movement. We are a part of that social movement in South Florida and strive to support organizing through our varied and often innovative legal work.

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OUR PARTNERS

 

We believe lawyers must ground their legal advocacy in community-based efforts and that without the strength and backing of an organized and informed community, legal gains ring hollow.  As a result, we strive to work collaboratively with community-based organizations in order to shift power back to disadvantaged communities. Our community partners include the following organizations.


South Florida Jobs With Justice

 South Florida Jobs with Justice (SFJwJ) is a membership network of individuals and organizations working toward sustainable economies in the region. Their organizational affiliates include community groups and labor unions. They implement campaigns that strengthen the local economy with responsible business development, fair employment and civic engagement.  Their affiliated organizations include Vecinos Unidos and the Mobile Home Council.  Learn more about SFJwJ here.

 

The Miami Workers Center

The Miami Workers Center (MWC) is based in the Liberty City area of Miami, Fl.  The Center helps working class people build grassroots organizations and develop their leadership capacity through aggressive community organizing campaigns and education programs.  The Center also actively builds coalitions and enters alliances to amplify progressive power and win racial, community, social, and economic justice.  Its affiliated organizations include Low Income Families Fighting Together (LIFFT)  and Miami In Action (MIA).  Learn more about MWC here.

 

Power U Center for Social Change

Power U is working to prevent the displacement of low-income families by increasing community control over current housing, new development projects, and the revitalization of Overtown. Overtown has been in steady decline since I-95 was built right through the heart of this once bustling neighborhood. More than half of the residents have been displaced since then. The real estate boom in downtown Miami is presenting a new threat to the remaining residents. Low-income housing is disappearing as it is either torn down after evicting residents, or allowed to decay to the point where it is unsafe for people to live there; what remains is transferred to the private development of condos and upscale retail.  In addition Power U has been tirelessly organizing and educating low income students and families to reform the suspension policies of the Miami-Dade schools and to introduce policies that emphasize restorative justice principles.   Learn more about POWER U here. 

 

WeCount!

 

We Count! based in the deep South Dade area of Miami-Dade County, has used individual representation of low-wage workers and other legal support to build membership and organizational capacity in South Dade where they operate  a workers’ center.
 

 

 
OUR HISTORY

 
Formally begun in 2008 by  Chuck Elsesser, Jose Javier Rodriguez and Purvi Shah, the Community Justice Project now consists of Chuck and Meena Jagannath.  The Project is dedicated to working with its many community partners in their efforts to organize and empower the low income communities in Miami and throughout Florida.
 

During the past two decades, there has been a dramatic resurgence in both the number of grassroots organizations in South Florida and their sophistication.  With the growth of these organizations has come an increased capacity to utilize legal strategies in social justice campaigns.  Unfortunately, the legal community has not been able to provide sufficient, sophisticated legal assistance sensitive to the needs of  these organizations and their campaigns.   The Community Justice Project was formed specifically to provide legal assistance to these community organizations in a manner  that advances their organizing goals,  obtains real benefits for their membership and  is answerable to their leadership.


OUR GUIDING VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
  • We believe that the structure of our legal system limits equal access to justice especially for people in poverty, minorities, and those faced with language and cultural barriers. We believe well-trained legal advocates should be available to all people regardless of economic status, and to that end we are committed to 1) training lawyers to be more aware of and skilled in addressing the needs of indigent communities; and 2) providing desperately-needed legal services to low-income & minority communities in the areas of housing, employment, public benefits, immigration, and community economic development.

  • We believe that our clients are our partners—not just in name, but in leadership, control and decision-making.

  • We believe in the importance of truly serving our community. We believe in being responsive to what communities determine to be their needs. We believe lawyers must ground their legal advocacy in community-based efforts and that without the strength and backing of an organized and informed community, legal gains ring hollow.  As a result, we strive to work collaboratively with community-based organizations in order to shift power back to disadvantaged communities.

  • We are committed to a practice of self-scrutiny in our legal work and to maintaining a conscious law practice. Both as individuals and as an organization we seek to practice law in a way that demonstrates respect, responsibility and accountability in relationship to our clients and our partner organizations. Just as we strive to undo social injustice, we work hard not to replicate or reinforce the same prejudices or stigmas that can come about where lawyers get involved, with our technical knowledge and access to resources


  • Finally, we believe it is imperative to be culturally sensitive, politicized attorneys.  We understand that poor communities of color face multiple and intersecting injustices and that good lawyering requires a deep understanding of race, class, and power.

 
CONTACT US

 

COMMUNITY JUSTICE  PROJECT

FLORIDA LEGAL SERVICES, INC. 

3000 Biscayne Blvd. #102

Miami, FL 33137

(305) 573-0092