UCI Law wins Advocates’ Award for pro bono and clinical work

Oct. 7, 2013

Image of awards
The WCLP award, at left, with the City of Los Angeles Proclamation at right.

UC Irvine School of Law won The Advocates’ Award from the Western Center on Law & Poverty for the work of pro bono and clinical students. The award was presented to Dean Erwin Chemerinsky at an Oct. 2, 2013, Garden Party event in Los Angeles.

The Dean credited the work of Anna Davis, Director of Public Interest Programs; Carrie Hempel, Associate Dean of Clinical Education and Service Education; and Professor Bob Solomon in helping UCI Law and its students win the award.

Through UCI Law's Pro Bono Program and Community and Economic Development Clinic, students have worked on numerous cases with the center, California’s oldest and largest legal services support center, in pursuit of securing housing, health care and other benefits for low-income residents. In particular, UCI Law students were instrumental in helping the Western Center and its legal aid partners investigate Orange County's General Relief program and eventually win a consent decree in Mankinen v. County of Orange that revised county standards and procedures for General Relief cash aid.

The pro bono students assisted the investigation by spending a semester reaching out to homeless residents at places they already came for help. “As a result of the students’ and our co-counsel’s collective efforts, the County agreed to a landmark class action settlement and 3-year consent decree,” said Stephanie Haffner, a Senior Litigator at Western Center.

The consent decree gave some 20,000 past applicants and recipients a chance to claim aid wrongly withheld. So a group of more than 20 pro bono and Community and Economic Development Clinic students followed up by doing outreach in parks, staffing clinics and helping eligible individuals file claims.

“Thanks to the law school community’s dedication and hard work, thousands of the County’s poorest residents were helped,” Haffner said in presenting the award. Read more of her speech (PDF), including details of the Mankinen case.