Director of Communications
UCLA School of Law
LOS ANGELES, CA, October 29, 2010 -- UCLA School of Law's El Centro Legal Clinics (El Centro), the law school's student-coordinated network of volunteer legal aid clinics, has been named UCLA Community Program of the Year. Chosen for the inaugural award by UCLA Government and Community Relations, from nominees across the UCLA campus, El Centro was recognized for its longstanding commitment to serving communities throughout Los Angeles.
Founded in 1973 by UCLA School of Law's La Raza Law Students Association, El Centro originally placed special emphasis on addressing the needs of the local Latino population. It has broadened its scope to include an array of clinics in different areas of law, and provides greatly needed services to a number of diverse and underrepresented groups.
"This award is a testament to the commitment of our school and our students to improving the communities in which we all live and work," Dean Rachel F. Moran said. "El Centro has met urgent needs by serving the community, while also providing practical experience to UCLA Law students. The program continues to have a tremendous impact and demonstrates the vital importance of effective partnerships with community organizations."
El Centro is the largest student organization at UCLA School of Law - involving nearly two-thirds of each entering first-year class as volunteers - and is an integral part of the greater Los Angeles public interest community. It currently consists of thirteen individual clinics, each of which is coordinated and staffed by law school students and partnered with one or more local public interest organizations. Clinics focus on issues related to education, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, immigration, juvenile justice, landlord/tenant rights and workers' rights. Each clinic has its own volunteers, leadership and clients.
Professor Gary Blasi, the El Centro faculty advisor, accepted the university's award on behalf of the clinics during a reception held at City Hall last night.
"El Centro is a remarkable organization. It is an entirely student-run program, passed along since 1973 from generation to generation of UCLA Law students," Professor Blasi said. "This honor is well deserved, and the credit goes entirely to the legions of pro bono student volunteers who have taken the time, in the midst of the pressures of law school, to provide legal services to those who would otherwise receive none at all."
About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and is dedicated to principles of excellence, innovation, access and service. With approximately 100 faculty and 970 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to its effects on society and the legal profession. For more information, visit http://www.law.ucla.edu.