College of Law offering clinics

Posted Sept. 21, 2007

Giselle Campbell
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne College of Law in Ontario began a collaboration in spring 2007 with the Los Angeles-based Disability Rights Legal Center to provide free service to the Inland Empire.

In addition to this program, the College of Law recently announced its spring 2008 plans to open its own Clinic for Justice and Immigration.
These two in-house clinics offer ULV law students a chance to practice real cases for clients under supervision.

Legal clinicians who are both lawyers and professors oversee the students’ work.

The programs will accept up to six handpicked students a semester.

“For a small school we do quite a bit,” said Jane Egly, professor of law and director of clinical programs at ULV College of Law.

A goal of these programs is to allow students to work on cases from beginning to end, something unusual for a law school.

This particular way of learning familiarizes students with the methods of approaching and then handling a legal case.

“When you have a low caseload, you have the opportunity to practice in slow motion. This is the time to learn how to practice,” said Diane Uchimiya, assistant professor of law, and Center for Justice and Immigration clinician.

“They’ll be able to think through these decisions quickly in the future,” Uchimiya said.

The Disability Rights Legal Center is located at Loyola Law School.

The center has delivered council and advocacy to low-income people with disabilities, illnesses and mental health issues since 1975.

The work of the DRLC grew out of a lack of access to programs for the disabled within mostly low-income, minority communities.

“We got a lot of calls from the Inland Empire. Riverside and San Bernardino counties are some of the fastest growing in California, indicating a big need for services that were not in place: access issues to education and health care – basic services that people need to live,” DRLC Executive Director Eve Hill said.

“ULV School of Law was the obvious place to work with. It was a perfect match,” Hill said.

The Disability Rights Legal Center’s Inland Empire project now provides numerous legal assistance programs to the community.

These programs include its Community Outreach Program, Civil Rights Litigation Project, Cancer Legal Resource Center, Disability Mediation Center, Education Advocacy Project, Options Counseling, Lawyer Referral Service and Pro Bono Project.

The forthcoming Clinic for Justice and Immigration will serve the substantial immigrant population in the Inland Empire and eastern Los Angeles County.

This type of pro bono work is important because foreigners threatened with deportation have the right to legal council under United States law at no expense to the government.

Many immigrants do not have the financial means to hire an attorney.

“The immigration court in Los Angeles is one of the largest in the country. The ability to discover any benefits these clients are eligible for is significantly increased with counsel,” Uchimiya said.

“If they don’t have money to pay for an attorney, they generally don’t get one,” Uchimiya said.

In immigration cases it is the burden of the client to prove they meet the definition of refugee: one who flees their country in times of war, political oppression or religious persecution. After such criteria are determined, the courts then decide whether asylum should be granted.

The College of Law legal clinics aim to deliver advocacy and justice to those most in need within local communities.

And while the DRLC and future Justice and Immigration clinic will accomplish many things, their main goal is to inspire law students to continue to participate in non-profit law.

“The students that work at the DRLC become passionate,” Egly said.
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