Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Root & Rebound! Declaration volunteers are an important part of our community. Our work could not happen without your support. If you are passionate about criminal justice reform and want to volunteer with us, please see below to learn more about how to get involved.

Project Overview

Work with clients to draft compelling declarations to share their story and demonstrate their humanity, resiliency, and rehabilitation for inclusion in record cleaning petitions.

Record cleaning can open doors for Californians as they work to rebuild their lives after a conviction or arrest. A person with a cleaned-up record is better able to access employment (including upward mobility & living wage jobs), housing, occupational licensing and remove other barriers. Additionally, many people want to clean up their records for internal and personal reasons such as dignity and to affirm their self-worth.

Most record cleaning petitions are discretionary, so the declaration allows the petitioner to share their story and humanity with the court and is the primary piece of evidence submitted to the court in support of their petition. Declarations are signed under penalty of perjury by the petitioner. Declarations are unique to the petitioner and their experience and are developed through a structured interview with the client about their experiences, current situation and their goals for the future. After the declaration is complete Root & Rebound staff will finalize the petitions and send them to the petitioners who file them pro per

About the Day

There are two ways to get involved with declaration drafting at Root & Rebound. 

1. Participate in a Declaration Drive (“clinic”)

Participate in a one-day event where pro bono attorneys will use a structured interview template to interview individual clients over the phone about their background, current circumstances, goals for the future, and how a judicial dismissal would impact them, their family and community. This is usually about an hour conversation. From the conversation, draft (in the client’s voice) a declaration to include in the record-cleaning court filings, usually 30 minutes to an hour.  

Volunteers will meet with one client per appointment slot and are responsible for completing the declaration draft and emailing it to the Root & Rebound staff person [the coordinating staff person or [email protected]] within 48 hours of completing the interview. We ask for the quick turnaround because the declaration should be timely filed with the court and in the client’s voice, so drafting immediately after the meeting is important to keep those details and the client’s voice fresh in your mind. 

Participate in our recurring monthly drive on the third Thursday of the Month by signing up here

Schedule a declaration drive for your firm / office / group by contacting Shannon at: [email protected] 

2. Coordinate with a client outside of a scheduled Declaration Drive 

Does a work-day clinic not work for you, or do you want to participate more regularly than once a month? Great! We have plenty of clients who are also not available for the declaration drives and need some flexibility in coordinating. In this instance, volunteers and an assigned client will be connected with each other over email, then the volunteer and client will coordinate a time for an hour-long phone call within the following week, during when they will complete the declaration interview. The volunteer will then draft the declaration within 48 hours of the interview and email it to the coordinating staff person or [email protected]. We ask for the quick turnaround because the declaration should be timely filed with the court and in the client’s voice, so drafting immediately after the meeting is important to keep those details and the client’s voice fresh in your mind.

Prior to the the declaration interview, Root & Rebound team members will have reviewed each of the clients’ records for eligibility, have discussed the record with the client, and scheduled the call based on the event’s schedule.

Training & Supervision Provided

1. 40 minute training video

2. Review of written materials (max one hour)

3. All volunteers will also be required to review and sign a confidentiality agreement.  

A Root & Rebound attorney will be available throughout the event to answer questions, address concerns and otherwise support the event as needed.

Pro-Bono Qualities Sought

  • Ability to build rapport and clear, compassionate communication over the phone
  • Interest in, and commitment to, supporting people to rebuild their lives after a conviction or arrest history
  • Commitment to second chances
  • Confidentiality, as you will be hearing often deeply personal stories
  • Ability to draft accurate, compelling, and clear declarations in the petitioner’s voice
  • Language access: please let us know if you have language skills beyond English, no one is disqualified due to language limits.


2-4 hours of work (usually completed all in one day), after approximately 1 hour of training.

Volunteer FAQs

Q: When is the next declaration drive?

We hold monthly declaration drives on the third Thursday of each month, any trained volunteer can sign-up. Sign up here. 

You should only write one declaration per client. It is not about a specific conviction, but more about who the client is today and why their dismissal(s) (all their dismissals) should be granted. 

Q: My client has multiple convictions, how many declarations should I write?

Often courts are considering their entire conviction history and considering all of their dismissals in the same hearing, you only need one statement (because they are only going to read one statement), no matter how many separate petitions we will be filing. 

Q: How long should the phone call with the client last?

A strong, unique, and accurate declaration takes time to get the information with enough details to be compelling and clear. Expect the call to last about 45-60 minutes. If it takes less time, you might not have spent enough time talking with the client. If it takes more time, you might have a talker. 

Q: I have a template from a strong declaration I drafted with a previous client, can I use that?

No. These declarations are signed under penalty of perjury and must be unique to the client.  Do not use template language because it might not be accurate to the client, and will not be in their voice. Even template language that says, “I am remorseful for my convictions” might not be accurate, and therefore should not be used unless the client actually stated that they are remorseful (and who really uses the word “remorseful” anyways?).  

Q: I see something about letters of support. What are those and where do those go?

If the client has letters of support or additional evidence of rehabilitation, please have them email it to their contact at Root & Rebound or [email protected] 

You do not need to collect it. We appreciate your work on the declaration and want to provide you with a short term project: one interview and a short drafting. 

Q: My client didn’t have much to say, what do I do?

This happens. An arrest or conviction can be deeply personal, or be from a long time ago, or while a person was in a situation where they can no longer remember any facts. You can pause the interview and reschedule, move to another topic and come back, or just focus on what the client is open to talking about. 

The most compelling declarations do not talk much about the underlying conviction (and some don’t talk about them at all) but really focus on who the person is today, what they have overcome, and why a dismissal is so vital to achieving their goals. 

Q: Why don’t the sample declarations talk more about the conviction?

The declaration is not the place to introduce evidence about the underlying offense. The court will have official records of arrests and convictions for that. The declaration’s purpose is to bring color and humanity to the petition, and to remind the judge that they are deciding how long the collateral consequences of a conviction should continue to follow this petitioner. The judge is weighing “the interest of justice” which can mean a million different things, but needs a compelling narrative about who the petitioner is and why they deserve this dismissal.

Pro Bono Coordinator FAQs

Q: When is the next declaration drive?

We hold monthly declaration drives on the third Thursday of each month, any trained volunteer can sign-up. Sign up here. 

If you are interested in coordinating a group declaration drive outside of the monthly clinic for your firm / office / group please contact Shannon at: [email protected] 

We schedule the declaration drive with you. In scheduling the drive, it must be:

  • Monday-Thursday
  • At least 6 weeks in the future

Q: Why must I get the list of pro bono volunteers to Root & Rebound so far in advance?

Because we schedule the clinic on your schedule, we need the list in order to schedule clients for the slots that your volunteers fill. We cannot confirm clients until we know that you have filled the slots.