Commission Announces Grantes to Expand Access to Legal Services

Posted on January 12, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 12, 2015 — The California Commission on Access to Justice has chosen four projects to receive grants to promote increased access to legal services for low- and moderate-income individuals.

The grants — $185,000 in total — were the first in a new Modest Means Incubator program that funds groups to train lawyers to create sustainable law practices providing affordable legal services.
“This is a wonderful first step in nurturing the next generation of lawyers providing legal services for everyday people with modest means,” said California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, chairman of the Access Commission’s grant review committee.

“The unmet legal needs in our communities are well-documented, and this could serve as a model for incubator projects throughout California and nationwide.”

The Access Commission has approved grants to the following projects:

The Bay Area Regional Incubator Project ($45,000). This is a collaboration among the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, the Alameda County Bar Association and the following law schools: UC Hastings, Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley and Golden Gate University. Other partnering entities include the Contra Costa Bar Association, Bar Association of San Francisco, the Alameda County Law Library and legal services providers.

San Joaquin Valley Incubator ($50,000). This is a collaboration between San Joaquin College of Law and the Fresno County Bar Association. Other potential collaborators include the Fresno County Superior Court, West Hills Community College, the Fresno County Library, the Marjaree Mason Center and community centers and churches.

Los Angeles Incubator Consortium ($45,000). This is a collaboration among three law schools — Southwestern, Pepperdine University and UCLA — as well as the Los Angeles County Law Library and five legal aid organizations: Bet Tzedek, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Community Legal Services, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles and Public Counsel.

Orange County Incubator Consortium ($45,000). This is a collaboration among the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Chapman University, UC Irvine, Western State and Whittier College law schools.

Two dozen applicants in all were received. Applicants were required to demonstrate scalability, sustainability, high-quality services and training, strong collaboration and innovative partnerships.

The 26-member California Commission on Access to Justice was established to explore ways to improve access to civil justice for Californians living on low and moderate incomes.

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The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. Membership now stands at about a quarter million.

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