About The Community Law Project

The Community Law Project is currently composed of five sites throughout San Diego County, all of which provide free legal services to low-income and indigent communities. CLP began operation in 2005 with a single site in Downtown San Diego and has since expanded to multiple sites, including sites in City Heights, North Park and Solana Beach. 

 

The California Western Community Law Project (CLP) works to provide sustainable and competent legal services to low-income and indigent members of the local community while also instilling a commitment to public service in students of California Western School of Law.

Community Law Project Statement of Solidarity
The Community Law Project stands firm in our commitment to serve all those in need of legal assistance regardless of age, ancestry, citizenship, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or income level. We stand with the immigrant and refugee community as well as others who may be impacted by recent changes in law and policy. CLP has remained a constant for community members, our students, and our community. Our work has made a difference in the lives of those we serve and will continue to do so in the future.

Our Mission

 

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 on the Community

Vulnerable individuals may not have access to the necessary resources to adequately advocate for themselves and as a result may not know how to best assert their rights in a given situation. Community members often seek assistance for multi-layered legal and social issues and may not be aware of the resources available to them.  CLP’s view is that prevention is always less burdensome than remediation.  By providing assistance, direction, and connections to resources, we can promote self-sufficiency within community members resulting in more affordable services for the individual and a reduce in overall costs to the community as a whole.

To date, we have served over 6,000 clients. In our experience, issues are often resolved in one or, in some cases, two meetings. While we are not always able to track long-term outcomes, the evidence of our impact is seen in the resolution of client concerns, referrals to appropriate resources, and the appreciation expressed by clients for the services provided.

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Our Story

How We Got Started

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
  • Herbert Hoover High School
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School
  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
  • St. Leo’s Mission Church
  • 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.

Where We Are Now

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.

 

Our Goals

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. Providing these services to the San Diego community also gives students at California Western School of Law experiential learning oppotunities and an awareness of the community’s legal needs, and instilling in them a desire to pursue pro bono work during their careers.

CLP Staff

Kenneth Klein, J.D.

Kenneth Klein, J.D.

Chair of CLP Advisory Council

Mr. Klein joined the CWSL faculty in 2008 and currently teaches Civil Procedure, Evidence, a section of the Clinical Externship Program, and an experiential course in the law and policy surrounding Natural Disasters.  Before coming to CWSL, Mr. Klein worked at Foley & Lardner and while there, he joined CWSL Prof. Linda Morton, and UCSD School of Medicine Professor, Dr. Ellen Beck, to form the CWSL CLP. Since that time, Mr. Klein has served as a volunteer attorney, supervising attorney, and intake assistant. Mr. Klein is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and is currently the President of the CLP Advisory Board.

To contact Mr. Klein, please e-mail him at: kklein@cwsl.edu

Dana K. Sisitsky, Esq.

Dana K. Sisitsky, Esq.

Executive Director

Ms. Sisitsky joined CLP as Executive Director in October 2010. Prior to joining CLP, Ms. Sisitsky worked as a legal aid attorney for over ten years, most recently as a project director and staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services in Boston, Massachusetts. While at Greater Boston Legal Services, Ms. Sisitsky served as an advocate and litigated on behalf of low-income clients, primarily victims of domestic violence. In addition, Ms. Sisitsky managed the hospital project, a federally funded collaborative with five Boston-area hospitals that provided medical, legal and social services to victims of domestic violence. She was awarded as a Top Attorney in the Academic Category in 2013 with the San Diego Source. Ms. Sisitsky is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley and earned her law degree from New York University School of Law. Ms. Sisitsky holds licenses to practice law in California, Massachusetts, and New York.

To contact Ms. Sisitsky, please e-mail her at dsisitsky@cwsl.edu

 

Ted Janowsky, Esq.

Ted Janowsky, Esq.

Supervising Attorney

Mr. Janowsky has over fifteen years of experience as a public interest attorney. He began his career as a staff attorney for the Homeless Advocacy Project. While there he focused on various poverty law issues including: immigration, housing, unemployment, and helping individuals gain access to federal and state disability benefits. Mr. Janowsky then moved his talents to San Francisco, where he continued to work for the Homeless Advocacy Project from 2006-2011. There, he focused on eviction defense litigation, specifically cases involving clients at risk of homelessness and evictions from housing programs. From there Mr. Janowsky began his work as a staff attorney for the Justice and Diversity Center “Right to Civil Counsel Project.” The focus of his work was to improve the access to attorney representation for low-income tenants. In 2015, Mr. Janowsky returned to San Diego where he began working as a volunteer attorney for the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. Mr. Janowsky graduated from the University of California at Berkely in 1991, and he earned his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1999. Mr. Janowsky holds a license to practice law in California, and is also a licensed Teacher of English as a Second Language.

To contact Mr. Janowsky, please e-mail him at TJanowsky@cwsl.edu

Lizeth Cervantes

Lizeth Cervantes

Community Education

Ms. Cervantes joined CLP in the summer of 2018 after over ten years of experience working with Native American students. She serves as the primary coordinator for the program. Ms. Cervantes coordinates Spanish-speaking interpreters, outreach and networking events, and plans workshops and community education events. Presently, she works with University of California San Diego—Extension pre-college programs helping prepare students for college and the professional field. Before working at Cal Western, she volunteered for a non-profit organization in San Diego that specializes in Landlord/Tenant disputes. Additionally, she has also volunteered with a prominent Bay Area non-profit in one of the busiest immigration departments in the region. Ms. Cervantes received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science with a minor in English. She is also working toward becoming a certified court interpreter in California.

To contact Ms. Cervantes, please e-mail her at lcervantes@cwsl.edu

California Western School of Law Students, Legal Interns

A group of ten second and third year law students at CWSL volunteer their time each week to meet with clients and assist specialty attorneys in their consultations.

Community Law Project Administrators/Interpretors

The Community Law Project is able to broaden its community impact with the help of several bilingual undergraduate students from colleges throughout the county. These students volunteer their time to help with the administration of each clinic by helping check-in clients, enter data, and aid the law student volunteers, as interpreters, to bridge language barriers and provide better service to our clients.

 

CLP Partners & Advisory Council

 

Advisory Council Members

  • Mr. William Aceves, Professor, California Western School of Law
  • Ms. Veronica Ayesta, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator, Community Law Project
  • Mr. Russell Block, Professor, San Diego State University
  • Ms. Carlie Bouslaugh, Attorney, Gomez Trial Attorneys
  • Mr. Tim Casey, Professor, California Western School of Law
  • Mr. Kenneth Klein, Professor, California Western School of Law
  • Ms. Mariza Lockhart, Attorney
  • Ms. Linda Morton, Professor, California Western School of Law
  • Mr. Kyle Siems, Attorney, Wilkinson Finkbeiner, LLP
  • Ms. Laura Zavala

Partners

Downtown Site

The Downtown San Diego site of the Community Law Project is part of a unique Medical-Legal Collaboration with UCSD.

California Western School of Law has partnered with the Third Avenue Charitable Organization at the First Lutheran Church in Downtown San Diego, for the Downtown site, and the University of California, San Diego Medical School, Department of Family & Preventative Medicine, to coordinate our legal services with the following additional clinics:

  • The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Student Run Free Medical Clinic;
  • UCSD School of Pharmacy;
  • UCSD’s Pre-Dental Clinic (staffed by volunteer dentists and pre-dental interns);
  • Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM);

The First Lutheran Church provides free space for the collaborating agencies. Third Avenue Charitable Organization, a program of the church, also provides congregate meals to those in need prior to the provision of clinic services.

 

City Heights Sites: Hoover High School, Rosa Parks Elementary School

The City Heights sites of the Community Law Project opened in 2009 with the support and assistance of Price Philanthropies and San Diego State University School of Social Work.  One on one legal assistance is available at both Hoover High School and Rosa Parks Elementary School.  Regular community education presentations take place at Monroe Clark Middle School.  Staff at these sites collaborate with the schools’ social workers, as well as with staff at the schools’ parent centers.  The City Heights sites of the the Community Law Project are proud to be part of the City Heights Educational Collaborative, whose mission it is to improve educational outcomes for students within the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego.  Although the City Heights clinics mainly cater to those residing within the City Heights community, all of the clinics and presentations are open to the community.

Hoover High School’s student body of approximately 2,200 students is rich in cultural diversity with a majority of Hispanic students, 40 percent English Learners, and about two-thirds of our students come from homes where a language other than English is spoken. Hoover High part of the City Heights Educational Collaborative, a partnership with San Diego State University, the Price Foundation, Clark Middle School, and Rosa Parks Elementary. All Hoover students are eligible for guaranteed admission to SDSU through College Avenue Compact.

Rosa Parks Elementary School is located in the Mid City/City Heights area. Its motto is “Doing our best so we can be the best.” It provides standards-based education for all students. Staff, parents, community, and educational partners of Rosa Parks are committed to a quality education for all students. It is a member of the City Heights Educational Collaborative, an innovative educational initiative that partners three District schools in City Heights with San Diego State University School of Education, San Diego Education Association and Price Charities.

Solana Beach Site

The Solana Beach site of the Community Law Project aims to bring our services closer to those who reside in North County. California Western School of Law has partnered with St. Leo Mission Church to host a monthly legal clinic.  Many families served at the North County site receive additional services at the church, including medical and dental care.  St. Leo Mission Church is part of St. James Church, a Catholic Community in Solana Beach.