Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.
Learn how to update your browser.
For COVID updates please visit the following page.
A group of Access to Law Initiative students

Access to Law Initiative

Many California Western School of Law students plan to enter solo or small firm practice after graduation. In 2012, we became the first law school on the west coast to launch an incubator program to help graduates follow that career path.


The Access to Law Initiative (ALI) is a law practice incubator program created exclusively for graduates of California Western School of Law who intend to pursue solo or small firm practice.

The mission of ALI is to provide tools and training to empower entrepreneurial and public service minded California Western School of Law alumni to make a living while making a difference. While serving the community’s legal needs, ALI provides members with critical training and post-graduate education.

The goals of ALI are two-fold: 1) assist new solo attorneys with launching successful legal businesses; and 2) provide pro bono and affordable legal services to underserved populations within the greater San Diego community.


ALI attorneys may work in a collaborative office space on campus subject to availability and restrictions. Each attorney owns and operates an independent law practice. Typically, there are approximately 20 new ALI members admitted to the program per year, with well more than 100 ALI member alumni. The formal training program is 18 months in duration with 12 months spent "in residence" at the campus office location, if desired and available, and six months of maintenance support.

ALI offers its members assistance in the form of practical training on subjects vital to a building a sustainable law practice such as marketing, advertising, networking, client development, practice and case management, business planning, finances, and technology. Other benefits of ALI include collaboration with the ALI member alumni network and vendor resources like online legal research, practice guides and case management software.

In exchange for membership in ALI, member attorneys agree to provide 100 hours of pro bono publico service each year by volunteering with legal service organizations, community clinics, and other nonprofits.

To be considered for the program, you must:

  • Demonstrate a strong interest in solo practice and commitment to public service and access to law
  • Possess an entrepreneurial spirit and be flexible and adaptable to change
  • Work well in intimate settings with a diverse group of individuals
  • Be a member of The State Bar of California in good standing at the start of the program (those who have taken the CA bar exam and are awaiting exam results may apply; acceptance into the program will be conditioned on passing the bar exam and being admitted to practice)
  • Have graduated from California Western School of Law within the last five years (the program is intended for new attorneys; however, exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis)
  • Be willing to commit 18-months to membership in ALI

Applications for the next ALI Cohort are available. Email Matthew A. Lab, director of ALI, to have your name placed on the ALI interest list.


Neighborhood Legal Clinics

As part of its mission to increase access to legal services for low and moderate income people and entities in our community, ALI hosts four free legal clinics per month at which its attorneys provide legal consultations on a wide range of legal matters.

Neighborhood General Legal Clinic

Clinic Location: The LGBT Center – 3909 Centre Street, San Diego, CA 92103
Clinic Hours: 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month (excluding holidays) from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Neighborhood Business Law Clinic

Clinic Location: The San Diego Law Library – 1105 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Clinic Hours: 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month (excluding holidays) from 10:00 a.m. - noon. (By appointment only, call 619-515-1511)


If you are interested in applying or learning more about the Access to Law Initative, please email Matthew A. Lab, director of ALI, or call (619) 515-1511.

Disclaimer: Each of the attorneys in ALI maintains an independent law practice, which is separate from each of the other lawyers and law practices in the program and from California Western School of Law. Retention of one attorney is not retention of any of the other attorneys, nor of the school.

Matthew A. Lab, Esq.
Director, Access to Law Initiative (ALI)
p: (619) 515-1511
Matthew Lab