UCI Law Students Rank Among Leaders in Community Service


IRVINE, Calif., January 30, 2017—The University of California, Irvine School of Law ranked third in the country among all law schools in community service hours per student according to a recent survey: the “Public Service Honor Roll” by the National Jurist. The 334 UCI Law students contributed 71,407 hours of community service in the 2015-16 academic year through UCI Law’s pro bono program, clinical program, externships and other community-focused programs.

“From the outset, public service has been a central mission of UCI Law. I am very proud that our students do more community service work than most other law schools in the country,– said UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Community Service at UCI Law

Instilling the value of public service is at the core of UCI Law’s mission. Students give back to the community in very real and meaningful ways, while simultaneously learning how to practice law at the highest levels of the profession.

UC Irvine School of Law is dedicated to instilling in students the importance of using their legal skills to provide service to under-represented communities and causes. UCI Law has a deeply imbedded culture of public service, ensuring that our graduates are committed to providing legal services to those most in need, either through pro bono service in their private practice, or as public interest attorneys. Students dedicated to a career in public service receive extensive support in every aspect of their law school journey, and all students are strongly encouraged to provide pro bono legal assistance while in law school.

Pro Bono Program

Since we opened our doors in 2009, 92 percent of all UCI Law students have provided more than 50,000 hours of pro bono legal services for the poor and underserved, making our pro bono program among the most robust in the country. Our students recognize that many people do not have the financial resources to pay for the legal services they so desperately need. Our programs provide students the opportunity and training to better meet that need, and to use their legal education to improve society. Our students volunteer in more than 100 projects each year, representing:

  • 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
  • special education students’ families who want to understand their legal rights.

Local clinics, organizations and businesses that we partner with on these projects include: ACLU; Animal Legal Defense Project; Camp Pendleton Legal Assistance Office; Public Defender’s Office; District Attorney’s Office; Orange County Clean Slate Clinic; California Innocence Project; LGBT Center in Los Angeles; and Public Law Center. 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.

Law Clinics

The heart of the UCI Law experiential learning program is the 6-unit core clinical course required of every student. Students may choose one of eight different clinics in which they act as the primary legal representative for their clients. Students work closely with clinic partners to protect and advance client and community interests and provide free services to clients who otherwise would not receive them. The clinical faculty collaborate to ensure that the program offers a wide array of subject matter and work environments. Students in the clinical program periodically have opportunities to work on joint projects alongside students in the pro bono program.

The Core Clinics are: Appellate Litigation; Community & Economic Development; Criminal Justice; Domestic Violence; Environmental Law; Immigrant Rights; Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology; and International Justice. Our Elective Clinics include: Civil Rights Litigation, Department of Fair Employment and Housing Civil Rights, International Human Rights, Reproductive Justice and Veterans.

Externship Program

Another key component is the externship program, which provides academic credit for students doing legal work in a variety of field placements locally, across the county, and internationally. Student externs are immersed in real-life legal practice in judges’ chambers, non-profit organizations, and government agencies on both the federal and state levels. In the field, they learn, in real time, how practicing lawyers and judges handle facts and law, integrate theory and skill, and sometimes face tough choices. Additionally, the program increases students’ understanding of the fundamental values of the legal profession, including a commitment to promoting access to justice and the ethical practice of law.

Community Programs

Students also give back to the community by helping to educate and inspire future generations of lawyers. Through the Saturday Academy of Law program, ninth-graders from local school districts travel to UCI Law on Saturdays to learn about the First Amendment from UCI Law students. The Pre-Law Outreach Program runs on Saturdays in the summer for undergraduate college students from disadvantaged programs who wish to attend law school.

For more information on all of UCI Law's public interest programs, please visit here.

Media Contacts:

Colleen Taricani
Assistant Dean for Communications
Phone: (949) 824-3063
Email address: ctaricani@law.uci.edu

Ryne Hodkowski
Public Relations Manager
Phone: (949) 824-0385
Email address: rhodkowski@law.uci.edu