SACRAMENTO, Calif. (February 7, 2023) – The California Lawyers Foundation (CLF), in its first three years of operation, has awarded over $450,000 to California organizations that are actively working to enhance diversity in the legal profession and achieve fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. CLF is the charitable arm of the California Lawyers Association (CLA), California’s largest voluntary bar association, representing nearly 80,000 attorneys. Now in its fourth year, CLF will award an additional $350,000 in grant funding to qualifying organizations to increase access to justice, enhance civics education for K-12 students, and eliminate financial and academic hurdles for students of color and students from low-income communities who want to pursue a career in law.
“The State Bar of California recently reported that the state’s adult population comprises 61 percent people of color, but only 34 percent of California’s active licensed attorneys,” said Oyango A. Snell, Esq., Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of California Lawyers Association (CLA). “Furthermore, California is growing increasingly diverse, with only 36 percent of Californians identifying as Non-Hispanic White according to the most recent census data. That means that the majority of Californians do not have access to an attorney that represents their background.”
California Lawyers Foundation believes that fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law begins with representation. Since inception, CLF has actively worked to diversify the legal profession by channeling its efforts to eliminate burdens to enter and access the legal profession. CLF develops and supports projects that improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone, and help educate Californians about the third branch of government, the role of lawyers, and the rule of law.
“By awarding nearly $350,000 to the state’s most impactful organizations, we, as a united profession of attorneys, judges, and legal scholars, continue to ensure that trends affecting the most disproportionate populations in the legal civil and criminal justice system will be addressed,” said Snell.
Recipients of the 2023 Grant Award include:
Access to Justice
- California Access to Justice Commission received $50,000, a project to connect advisors with seniors and others who need to make legal arrangements for their health care decision making and end of life planning.
- Legal Access Alameda received $50,000 to help fund Free Legal Answers California, an online legal advice platform benefitting low-income populations throughout California, founded in partnership with CLA.
- The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area received $30,000 to work with low-income entrepreneurs of color to protect and build locally held wealth, thus staving off commercial evictions and loss of income for small business owners and their families.
- Legal Link received $50,000 to provide timely, effective, community-based legal support for families experiencing poverty and housing insecurity in California.
- Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI) received $7,500 to help eradicate barriers to employment, foster self-sufficiency, and free legal services support for indigent Veterans in Southern California.
- California Judges Association’s Judicial Fairness Coalition received $40,000 to educate people on the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary and to combat attacks and unfair criticism on judges and the judicial branch.
- Legal Education Access Pipeline (LEAP) received $50,000 to continue making law school and legal careers more accessible to underrepresented groups.
- San Joaquin County Bar Foundation received $4,000 to restart the Foundation’s First Impressions program, bringing civic education to fifth grade students in the San Joaquin County area.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- The Legal Aid Association of California (LAAC) received $40,000 to support attorneys and legal aid staff from marginalized backgrounds with the end goal of increasing the critical issue of retention and representation of attorneys from these groups.
- UC College of the Law, San Francisco; Black Alumni Council received $25,000 to fund an established scholarship fund benefiting students who have worked to better the experience of the UC College of the Law, San Francisco African-American community.
In addition to the annual awards to deserving organizations, CLF is always seeking support from law firms and corporate legal departments who believe in diversifying the legal profession, improving access to justice, and enhancing vital civics education. For more information on CLF, its grant funding process, and initiatives, visit www.calawyersfoundation.org.
About California Lawyers Foundation
Formed in 2019, the California Lawyers Foundation is the charitable arm and partner of the California Lawyers Association, California’s voluntary statewide bar association. While new to the scene, the CLF is a statewide foundation actively developing and supporting projects that improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone; increase diversity in the profession and help educate Californians about the 3rd branch, the role of lawyers and the rule of law. CLF is a tax-exempt organization under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 501(c)(3). For more information about CLF, please visit calawyersfoundation.org.
About California Lawyers Association
Established in 2018 and headquartered in Sacramento, California Lawyers Association is the statewide voluntary bar association for all California attorneys. CLA’s mission is to promote excellence, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law. Visit us at www.calawyers.org to learn more about CLA or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.