“I know thank you is not enough, but I can’t find a better word to show my appreciation.”
This is a frequent sentiment for clients of the Community Law Project (CLP), winner of a California Non-Profit of the Year in 2022. The CLP provides pro bono legal services to low-income community members in the greater San Diego area, while providing law students with hands-on training. Staff, students, and volunteer attorneys work together to provide legal representation or navigate resources. For students, the clinic also helps shape their perspective on the power of advocacy. In the words of one student intern: “This program has provided me with the ability to empower members of the community and I love it. CLP has been the most rewarding and beneficial experience I have had in law school.”
In 2022 alone, 32 committed second- and third-year law students, along with undergraduate students and volunteer attorneys, contributed over 3,000 hours of their time. This allowed CLP to host 140 free live legal clinics in the community, as well as provide 14 legal education presentations.
The magnitude of CLP’s impact is no accident. Over the last several years, clinic leadership has received significant philanthropic support while also expanding its services. This includes using a comprehensive database to assist clients with a range of issues, enhanced client follow-up, and greater access to self-help legal issues.
While CLP provides essential legal resources, the human element is also key to its service model. As one intern noted: “It’s not always necessarily being able to fix the client’s problem. Sometimes it is doing well the things we can control, like being kind, patient, understanding, calm, and eager to listen.”