What is CLP?

Founded in 2005, CLP is a collaboration between California Western School of Law and several other organizations, including:

  • The UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • The UC San Diego School of Pharmacy
  • The UC San Diego Pre-Dental Society
  • The Third Avenue Charitable Organization
  • The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
  • Monroe Clark Middle School
  • Herbert Hoover High School
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School
  • North County Immigration and Citizenship Center
  • Lemon Grove Academy
  • Price Philanthropies

CLP is a law student-run project that provides pro bono legal services including legal advice, consultations, and referral services to low income people in the greater San Diego community. Our collaborative model allows us to provide clients with a variety of necessary services in one location. CLP provides California Western law students with an awareness of community needs and instills in them a desire to pursue pro bono work during their careers.

CLP has been recognized both locally and nationally. The State Bar of California announced California Western School of Law as a recipient of the President's Pro Bono Service Award in February 2010. The award is the State Bar's top recognition for pro bono service and the first award ever given to a law school. CWSL was also named to the National President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction every year from 2009 to 2014. In 2009, the American Association of Law Schools' section on Pro Bono and Public Services Opportunities chose the Community Law Project's Downtown site as its Annual Service Project Site. Thirty-four law professors from all over the country visited our Downtown site in January of 2009 to learn more about the legal component of the greater collaboration.

The goal of the Community Law Project is to serve low-income, vulnerable, and sometimes homeless individuals in the San Diego community by providing free legal advice, assistance in navigating through complex social systems, and referrals to resources that help build self-sufficiency and economic opportunity. These services are provided while also providing California Western School of Law students with experiential learning and an awareness of the community’s legal needs, and instilling in them a desire to pursue pro bono work during their careers.

Mission Statement

The California Western Community Law Project (CLP) works in partnerships to provide sustainable and competent legal services to low-income and indigent members of the local community while advancing the legal profession by instilling a commitment to public service in California Western School of Law students. CLP offers legal services in collaboration with its professional partners to offer holistic problem-solving solutions to its clients.

Impact to the Community

A vulnerable individual who does not know how to adequately advocate for themselves or locate and use critical resources becomes more financially costly for our community. An uninsured person who must use the emergency room for primary care or care for health issues that could have been prevented is costly to the system. A family losing their apartment due to a landlord issue may become homeless and require intensive and expensive services. A woman unsure of how to attain a restraining order may become a victim of domestic violence. Prevention is always less expensive than remediation. By providing assistance, direction, and connection to resources we can reduce the vulnerability and increase the self-sufficiency of community residents needing our help, and thus reduce overall costs.

To date, we have served over 2,000 clients. In our experience, issues are resolved often in one and sometimes in two meetings. While we have been unable to track long-term outcomes, the evidence of our impact is the resolution of client concerns, referrals to appropriate resources, and the appreciation expressed by clients for the services received.