Enriching Our Community

UC Irvine School of Law was founded on the idea that graduates would not only learn how to practice law, but also understand their professional obligation to use their legal skills to assist underserved communities. From pro bono projects to outreach programs, UCI Law is committed to helping both local and global communities while providing valuable hands-on training for our students.

Robust Pro Bono Program

More than 90 percent of UCI Law students participate in pro bono work, making UCI Law’s pro bono program among the most robust in the country. During the 2013-14 academic year, students provided more than 11,000 hours of pro bono service, volunteering — and often taking the lead — in 100+ projects to help the underserved, including:

  • domestic violence victims who need temporary restraining order declarations;
  • low-wage workers with legal issues related to their employment;
  • job-seekers who need a fresh start with an expungement;
  • elderly and disabled residents seeking assistance with their SSI applications;
  • family law clients involved in dissolution or custody issues;
  • victims of human trafficking who need legal information; and
  • families of special education students that want to understand their legal rights.

UCI Law students have assisted national and international organizations as well, including the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Syrian Justice and Accountability Center. In addition:

  • Since 2011, approximately 90 students have traveled to provide legal services to clients of the Mississippi Center for Justice. 
  • In 2014, 30 students provided 772 hours during their alternative spring break trip to clients in Biloxi, Jackson and Indianola, Mississippi.
  • Other projects include working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Camp Pendleton Legal Assistance Office, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and the California Innocence Project.

Collaborations with more than 20 law firms over the past five years have helped UCI Law to significantly increase services to low-income clients, while also helping to alleviate the caseloads of local legal services providers. More recently UCI Law teamed up with Inland Counties Legal Services to provide free bimonthly family law clinics for low-income residents in the Coachella Valley. Known as Coachella Saturday Justice, the clinic allows students to perform intake interviews and receive feedback from attorney supervisors.

Attorneys who supervise our students in various pro bono projects have included UCI Law graduates, who have been extremely active pro bono volunteers as practitioners. In fact, UCI Law alumni seeking public interest positions have directly parlayed their roles as student pro bono project leaders into post-graduate paid positions.  

Community-Focused Pipeline Programs

Two UCI Law programs encourage students from underserved communities to pursue a career in law and one day give back to their communities as practicing attorneys.

  • Saturday Academy of Law (SAL)
    Through SAL, at least 50 Santa Ana Unified School District ninth-graders travel to UCI Law on six consecutive Saturdays each fall and spring to learn about the First Amendment in a law school setting. They are taught by licensed teachers and also hear from law students and local attorneys. SAUSD is the 7th-largest school district in California; 95 percent of the students are Hispanic, and approximately 91 percent of all students receive free or reduced-cost lunch. More than 500 students have participated in the program since 2009. The first SAL graduates started college in Fall 2012; 61% of the students in that first group immediately enrolled in postsecondary institutions.
  • Pre-Law Outreach Program (POP)
    POP runs in the summer and provides six Saturday lessons for undergraduate college students from disadvantaged backgrounds who wish to attend law school. POP participants come from all over the United States, and most are the first in their families to attend college. They receive information from UCI Law administrators, students and practicing attorneys on how to prepare a competitive law school application and on how to succeed in law school once enrolled. Kaplan Test Prep, Inc. generously donates LSAT review courses for all 40 POP graduates each year. Since 2010, POP has helped more than 180 college students better understand the law school admissions process, and has provided each with mentorship and guidance. Three POP graduates are currently enrolled at UCI Law, and several are attending other Southern California law schools.

UCI Law has worked tirelessly to ensure that our graduates champion public service — and that the school is doing all it can to help our surrounding community. This work would not be possible without the support of local attorneys, legal services organizations, private companies, and our students and faculty.