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State Access to Justice Committee Visits California Western Incubator

ALI Staff with California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu (C), Appeals Court Justice Ronald Robie (L) and Superior Court Judge Mark Juhas (R)

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu led a delegation of three jurists in a visit to California Western School of Law’s Access to Law Initiative (ALI) offices on September 12, in conjunction with the State Bar of California meeting in San Diego.

ALI is a group of California Western graduate lawyers who share space, receive guidance and training, and help each other to become successful in the practice of law, as well as to deliver affordable legal services. In other words, it’s an incubator program to launch attorneys into solo practice.

Justice Liu, along with Third District California Court of Appeal Justice Ronald B. Robie, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark A. Juhas, wanted to see first-hand how incubator programs for lawyers such as California Western’s groundbreaking ALI program work.

“We have a tremendous justice gap in this country and in this state,” said Liu. “We have tremendous legal needs that people of ordinary means still can’t afford. What you are doing is a very significant part of what legal practice will be in the future and it’s happening right here.”

 Robie is the chair of the state bar’s California Commission on Access to Justice.

 “The Access to Justice Commission’s focus is on providing access to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it. That’s why that component of the incubator program is so important to the commission,” said Robie.

The judges spent an hour touring the offices and conducted a roundtable with the California Western alumni who are the program’s lawyers.

The jurists were very enthusiastic about what they had seen and heard.

“This is a fantastic program,” said Liu. “It’s wonderful that California Western is leading the way.”

“It’s very creative and exciting,” said Robie. “I think having seen it in person makes a big difference.”

"It was an honor to host a state and local delegation for a tour of the Access to Law Initiative office, and a meeting with the incubator participants,” said attorney Bob Seibel, director of the ALI program. “The ALI attorneys all work hard to improve access to justice, which is part of our mission, so it is important for us to have the support of the Access to Justice Commission. Our graduates who participate in the program are doing excellent work and are superb ambassadors for the profession. With each lawyer in the program providing at least 100 hours of pro bono and public service work, we are able to make an important contribution to the community."

“It’s always great hearing the ALI lawyers talk about their experiences,” said California Western President and Dean Niels B. Schaumann, who attended the event along with Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Linda Morton. “The way in which incubators help join the need for access to justice with the need for some kind of postgraduate training of lawyers is really marvelous,” added Schaumann.

California Western to host national incubator conference in February
California Western will host a national conference highlighting incubator programs on February 27-28, 2015, entitled, “Enhancing Social Justice through the Development of Incubators & Residency Programs II.” The conference will advance the phenomenal growth of post graduate law programs and the new wave of affordable legal services, the impact of these developments on law school recruiting, curricular reform, collaboration between bench, bar, and academics, technology and delivery of legal services, evolution of professional role models, and access to justice.

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ALI now has two locations in San Diego and also sees clients at San Marcos, California.