What is CLP?

Community Law Project (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 area. 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 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.

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

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 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.