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California Western -- Creative Problem Solving

Proyecto ACCESO
Social pressure and public demand are resulting in judicial reform efforts throughout the world. This is particularly true in many Latin American countries where there is a transition from the traditional inquisitorial system to the adversarial system in criminal procedure.  

With the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the U.S. State Department, GTZ (the German Government Technical Cooperation Agency), and various ministries of justice around the region, the Center for Creative Problem Solving has established Proyecto ACCESO, a Latin American center for training lawyers, judges, law students, government officials and community leaders in the skills of oral advocacy, problems solving and other forms of conflict resolution. With Latin America fast becoming a major trading bloc, it is in the interest of the U.S. government and its business sector that the Americas be governed by the rule of law and that all parties have access to justice.  The project is directed by Professor James M. Cooper.  He can be contacted at

Faculty members, members of the Board of Trustees, California Western law students, and members of the local Bench and Bar all participate in Proyecto ACCESO.

In 2004, California Western students Al Macina and Elizabeth Pietanza went to Chile to intern respectively with the public defenders office and Deloitte law firm.  They completed a twelve week interactive diary that was featured on the California Western Web site.  To see some of the work that our students have undertaken in Latin America, please click here

Visit their website for more information about Proyecto ACCESO and its programs in Latin America. 

Louis M. Brown Program in Preventive Law
Preventive law is a fundamental aspect of Creative Problem Solving. A creative solution to a legal problem is designed not only to solve the immediate problem, but to prevent problems from arising in the future. The Brown Program was established with a grant from The Hermione and Louis Brown Foundation to engage in research and design curriculum focusing on processes and systems that encourage the prevention of problems. For additional information about the Louis M. Brown Program or the National Center for Preventive Law contact Professor Thomas D. Barton at


The Center has produced the following videos:

Youth Voices: Toward Creative Problem Solving
A 30 minute film which highlights some of the best creative practices of youth throughout the nation that promote preventive justice, media advocacy, and critical thinking. The video with its accompanying workbook curriculum has been used in classrooms, juvenile justice facilities and after-school programs in California, Texas and New York. The video has been screened on television in Southern California, at the Directors' Guild of America in Hollywood, and selected by film festivals (Santa Clarita International Film Festival (1998), Rhode Island International Film Festival (1998)).

Jurist Voices: Stories from the Bench and Bar
Chronicles the past, present, and future of legal education and the profession of law itself. It features the works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Navajo Nation Chief Justice Robert Yazzie, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and other highly respected jurists and practitioners.

Using a storytelling technique, the one-hour film chronicles the growing call for creativity in the practice and study of law. The film archives some of those alternatives - from restorative justice to diversion programs and alternative sentencing regimes. By documenting uses of creativity in the law, the film demonstrates the manner in which constructive, effective uses of Creative Problem Solving can be implemented in legal practice and can transform the lives of clients.

Preventive Law and the Multi-dimensional Lawyer
Lawyers are too often portrayed as one-dimensional: the fighter who champions individual rights. Lawyers, however, are also designers who prevent problems from arising by shaping environments that respect existing laws and respond to human needs, and they are problem solvers, seeking creative, non-adversarial solutions to problems that arise. This video introduces the roles, skills, and mentalities of the lawyer as Designer and as Problem Solver.