Directory

California Western School of Law

California Western School of Law
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
www.cwsl.edu

Law School Pro Bono Programs 

Contact Information

Jill T. Blatchley, Esq.
Career Advisor, Career Services
jblatchley@cwsl.edu
P: (619) 525-1447

Justin Brooks, Director
Criminal Defense Advocacy Institute
P; (619) 525-1485
jbrooks@cwsl.edu

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator

Description of Programs

The Dean introduces the idea of pro bono service to all students in the welcoming ceremony. In November, the Office of Career Services talks with the students about the Pro Bono Program, and in February of each year hosts a Pro Bono Fair on the campus, at which only public interest organizations that provide legal services are represented. The students are encouraged to make a commitment of 50 hours of service over the course of two trimesters while in law school, making them eligible for induction into the Pro Bono Honors Society. Career Services also orchestrates a Pro Bono On Campus Interview Program each fall and spring.

The Pro Bono Coordinator meets with each student interested in working for public interest organizations through the Pro Bono Program. The Coordinator oversees the Pro Bono Program and tracks the students participating in that program.

Location of Programs

Office of Career Services

Staffing/Management/Oversight

The Pro Bono Program Coordinator is also a full time Career Advisor in the Office of Career Services. The Assistant Dean of Career Services provides additional oversight to the Pro Bono Program.

Funding

There is no separate funding for the Pro Bono Program.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

The California Innocence Project. This law school volunteer program operates out of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy of California Western School of Law, directed by Justin Brooks, 225 Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 525-1485, fax: (619) 615-1443, jbrooks@cwsl.edu. Students work alongside practicing criminal defense lawyers to seek the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners in California. The law students assist in the investigation of cases where there is strong evidence of innocence, write briefs in those cases, and advocate in all appropriate forums for the release of the project's clients. Training is provided by faculty.

Street Law San Diego. In California Western's Street Law Program, second and third year law students teach local high school students about aspects of the law that they will need to know as teenagers and as they become adults. Topics range from how laws are made and administered, to specific issues in criminal law, criminal procedure, juvenile justice, and the First Amendment.

Law High. Since 1991, California Western School of Law has partnered with inner city San Diego public schools on this program. The "motivation has been to reach out to minority and other populations who are unlikely to believe that either law school or higher education is open to them." The goal of the program is to "encourage the students to learn to have aspirations for themselves, to take control of their lives and their futures, and to set higher educational goals than they might on their own." CWSL students have a central role as Law High mentors. "They have planned the program, acted as role models, and offered guidance and an ear for the younger students." Sessions last two hours and are held at the high school, at the law school, and at the federal courthouse. Approximately 25 high school students and 25 law students participate. There are exercises, lessons, speakers and an exciting mock trial before a federal judge. Contact: Marion Cloete, Associate Director of Diversity Services, diversity@cwsl.edu.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

There is presently no mandatory faculty pro bono requirement.

Awards/Recognition

The Pro Bono Program recognizes students who complete 50 hours (exclusive of training) of supervised pro bono legal service over two consecutive trimesters. Students may participate after they have completed their first year of school. Each spring students completing the requisite number of hours are inducted into the Pro Bono Honors Society at a celebration dinner at which the Dean, distinguished members of the bench and bar, faculty, and other public interest organization representatives are present. In addition, the law school officially recognizes these students with a notation on their academic transcripts, along with Pro Bono Honors Society Award Certificates from the Dean.

Community Service

Each year many of our student organizations sponsor food and clothing drives, voter education campaigns, and other philanthropic and service projects.

Law School Public Interest Programs 

Contact Information

Jill T. Blatchley, Esq.
Career Advisor, Career Services
jblatchley@cwsl.edu
P: (619) 525-1447

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

California Western School of Law does not offer a public interest certificate or a specific public interest concentration, though there are many curricular offerings including Aging, Law & Public Policy; Child Abuse & Neglect: Interdisciplinary Overview; Children and the Law; Domestic Violence Law; Health Law Survey; Human Rights Law; Law of Armed Conflict and Peacekeeping; Gender, Property and the Law; Labor Law; First Amendment Law Seminar; Indian Law; Constitutional Law Survey: Sexual Orientation Law; Environmental Law; Mental Health Law; and Women and the Law.

Public Interest Centers

None listed

Public Interest Clinics

The California Innocence Project. The California Innocence Project is a two term course in which law students work alongside practicing criminal defense lawyers to seek the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners in the State of California. Law students investigate cases where there is strong evidence of innocence, research the law pertaining to the cases, and write briefs and post-conviction petitions. The court includes two 1 ½ hour classroom sessions each week and the students will receive three credits for each term.

Externships/Internships

California Western School of Law offers the opportunity for third year students to participate in part or full time internships for academic credit in any supervised and qualifying public interest placement anywhere in the world.

Classes with a Public Service Component

California Innocence Project I & II.

Public Interest Journals

None listed

Public Interest Career Support Center

The Assistant Dean of Career Services and all career advisors at California Western School of Law work individually with students to meet their public interest goals throughout their three years of law school. The Pro Bono Coordinator meets with each student interested in working for public interest organizations through the Pro Bono Program. The Coordinator oversees the Pro Bono Program and tracks the students participating in that program. Each January the Office of Career Services and California Western law students participate in Southern California Public Interest Career Day held at U.C.L.A. Each February the Office of Career Services holds its Pro Bono Fair inviting representatives from over 30 organizations to staff tables at the Fair. Each March the Office of Career Services holds a Pro Bono On Campus Interviewing Program, from which many students obtain summer and fall public interest law clerk positions. California Western School of Law is a member of PSLawNet, Equal Justice Works, and The Peggy Browning Fund.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

California Western School of Law has a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). This competitive program offers the opportunity for some degree of loan repayment assistance to select graduates of the Juris Doctor program at California Western School of Law who work in specific public interest settings.

Specifically, to be eligible to apply for loan repayment assistance, a graduate must satisfy all of the following:

  • Graduation Year: Graduates are eligible for loan repayment assistance for the four years immediately following their graduation from the J.D. program.
  • Type of Employment: Graduates are eligible for loan repayment assistance if they are employed or to be employed:
    1. full time;
    2. in a law or law related position; and
    3. by a legal aid, legal services or other nonprofit advocacy or policy organization qualifying for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Minimum Debt Requirement: Graduates with more than $50,000 in certified law school debt are eligible to apply for loan repayment assistance.

In making awards, the Committee will consider the applicants' financial needs, commitment to public interest, the number of applicants, the availability of present and future funds, the need for continuation of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program in the future, and any other relevant factors. The ideology of the organization by which the graduate is employed will not be considered in determining eligibility for assistance.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

Alec L. Cory Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service. The law firm of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch funds a generous annual scholarship for the graduating student who best demonstrates the pro bono ethic.

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) sponsors an annual auction to raise money to fund grants for students to work in public interest law organizations during the summer.

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

None listed

Student Public Interest Groups

  • Amnesty International
  • Child, Family & Elder Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Health Law Society
  • La Raza Law Student Association
  • Phi Alpha Delta
  • Pride Law
  • Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)
  • Student Bar Association
  • Women's Law Caucus

Updated: August 6, 2018