El Centro Legal Clinics

Welcome to El Centro Legal Clinics!

El Centro Legal is UCLA School of Law’s student-coordinated network of volunteer legal aid clinics. Through each of El Centro's clinics, students provide legal services under attorney supervision on a volunteer basis to a variety of communities in the greater Los Angeles area.

Clinics focus on issues related to education, homelessness, immigration, juvenile justice, landlord/tenant, domestic violence and workers’ rights.

Each Clinic has its own volunteers, leadership, practice area, and client base.

El Centro Legal Executive Board 2020-2021

Co-Executive Directors:
Ashley Sykora: sykora2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
Asia Thompson: thompson2021@lawnet.ucla.edu

Volunteer Directors:
Janay Terry-Ramos: terry2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
Isabelle Geczy: geczy2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

Financial Director:
Andrew Reisenauer: reisenauer2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

Training Directors:
Jessica Xu: xuj2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
Kristen Cardenas: cardenas2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality

  • History of El Centro

    El Centro Legal was originally founded in 1973 by UCLA La Raza Law Students Association as an experimental academic program involving its members and low-income residents of Santa Monica. The program took on the name of El Centro Legal de Santa Monica, placing special emphasis on addressing the needs of the Latino population. The El Centro program proved successful in meeting the needs of low-income people in the community, while at the same time providing practical experience for UCLA Law students.

    Over the years, El Centro broadened its scope to provide volunteer legal clinics throughout greater Los Angeles in many different areas of law. El Centro Legal is currently one of the largest student organizations at UCLA School of Law and an integral part of the local community.

  • CRS Race, Work and Economic Justice Clinic

    CRS has partnered with Legal Aid at Work and the Black Worker Center (BWC) to establish this once-a-month employment law clinic serving low-wage workers and members of the BWC. Student volunteers will act as student-counselors who will interview clients one-on-one, discuss the clients’ legal issues with a supervising attorney, and then provide the clients with their rights and legal options. This clinic is available only to 2Ls and 3Ls through a separate application. This clinic is only available to 2Ls and 3Ls through a separate application. Please email the co-chairs listed below for more information.. 

    ​Clinic Chairs:
    Sam Keng: keng2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Laura Lavernia: laura.lavernia@gmail.com

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Education Rights Clinic

    The Education Rights Clinic partners with Public Counsel to provide legal intakes for parents advocating for their children in the public school system. This year, volunteers will also have the opportunity to work with ACLU SoCal's Education Equity Team. Participants have the opportunity to explore every aspect of education law, from special education to enrollment to the rights of bilingual students. Public Counsel's intake nights are held on the third Tuesday of every month, with virtual intakes as needed. ACLU projects will take place throughout the semester. We ask every participant to commit to at least one intake a semester.

    Clinic Chairs
    Peter Horton: horton2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Charlotte Krovoza: krovoza2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • The Immigration Clinic: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) & U-Visa Project

    As a joint effort between the Immigration Law Society and El Centro, the Immigration (VAWA) Clinic helps undocumented immigrants who have left abusive relationships or been victims of serious crimes submit VAWA or U-Visa applications.  These applications allow them to stay in the country, receive a work permit, and obtain permanent residence.  Eligible applicants are also placed on the path to US citizenship.  Volunteers work directly with clients, including women who are victims of domestic violence, as well as men and children who have suffered sexual abuse, felonious assault, and attempted murder. 

    Clinic volunteers work in pairs and meet face-to-face with clients to interview them for their applications. Volunteers then draft a VAWA or U-Visa declaration and review it with the client. We offer a training that helps volunteers prepare for the interviews, address issues faced by our clients, and a draft declarations. Interviews typically take place on Saturdays at CARECEN (Central American Resource Center) in Koreatown, and volunteers are generally responsible for two clients per semester (approximately a 10 hour time commitment per semester). We welcome all volunteers, but given the needs of the clients, we strongly encourage Spanish speakers to apply. 

    Clinic Chairs
    Leeza Arbatman: arbatman2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Amy McMeeking: mcmeeking2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Labor and Economic Justice Clinic

    The Labor & Economic Justice Clinic (LEJC) works in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 11, the Los Angeles-based hotel workers union that engages in innovative labor campaigns, as well as Soldiers of Pole, the new Los Angeles-based union launching a labor movement for strippers. This semester, among other opportunities, clinic participants will have the opportunity to participate in remote unemployment insurance (“UI”) related work to help members of the unions communicate with the California EDD and file letters and appeals to access the unemployment insurance benefits they are entitled to, and to engage in a UI advocacy campaign. Participants must attend the clinic training.

    Clinic Chairs
    Jordan Palmer: palmer2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Alexis Ixtlahuac: ixtlahuac2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Emily St. Marie: st2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • LetsGo! Liberation

    LGL is a pioneering effort to empower low-income intersex, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. Our clinic collaborates with LGBTQ-focused organizations to assist individuals in obtaining legal name and gender marker changes to better conform to their gender identity. In our training sessions, we will learn about the unique legal challenges facing the transgender community, including issues of immigration, criminal law, and domestic violence. At least once per semester, we will collaborate with the L.A. LGBT Center in West Hollywood to host a remote pro bono legal name and gender chance clinic, where volunteers will assist with client intake, filling out court forms, and providing information on what clients might expect from the legal name and gender change process. The clinic will also connect members with other opportunities to volunteer at LGBTQ legal aid organizations. The founding of LGL was inspired by the principles of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. We recognize that the activist efforts of trans people were historically, and should continue to be, central to the LGBTQ rights movement. Above all, our volunteers will gain insight into how legal aid can support the ongoing community-building work of queer and trans organizers throughout the Los Angeles area. There will also be opportunities to speak Spanish, and possibly other languages as needed. Each volunteer will be expected to attend one training and one clinic per semester.

    Clinic Chairs
    Ali Stack: stack2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Val Erze: erze2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Naturalization Clinic

    *This clinic is currently not being offered.*

    The Naturalization Clinic is a joint effort between El Centro Legal and UCLA's Law Students for Immigrant Justice (LSIJ), and is hosted by the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). There are currently around two million people in California who are eligible to naturalize and become citizens. Naturalization is incredibly important as it generally protects people from being put in deportation proceedings. The Clinic seeks to help these individuals naturalize by having law students volunteer at CARECEN's naturalization events. The events take place about once or twice a month (typically on Saturdays) at various community centers throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Volunteers help clients complete their naturalization applications (N-400) and fee waivers and prepare the application for clients to mail following the clinic. Spanish language skills are helpful but not required. 

    Clinic Chair
    N/A

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Public Counsel Cares

    Public Counsel CARES (Connecting Angelinos to Resources and Essential Services) is a direct services initiative that helps clients overcome legal obstacles and administrative barriers in order to receive public benefits. CARES gives law students the opportunity to have a significant and immediate impact on the lives of homeless and severely impoverished Angelinos.  Students will act as on-site advocates at different Departments of Public and Social Services in Los Angeles County, where impoverished, hungry and homeless individuals are most likely to need advice and legal aid.  In addition to helping clients obtain and maintain their cash aid and food assistance, students will give clients referrals to private and community aid organizations that offer basic human needs assistance and legal aid.  Volunteers will gain practice with client intake, advocacy, and dispute resolution and will be providing an invaluable service to their local community.

    The clinic takes place at different DPSS offices on Friday afternoons. 

    Clinic Chair
    Michael Cohen: cohenm2021@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Reentry Legal Clinic

    The collateral consequences of contact with the criminal justice system are far-reaching and create serious barriers to basic necessities such as securing employment, housing, education, vocational training, and loans. As a result, criminal records interfere with people's ability to support themselves and their families, which disempowers these people and their communities and increases recidivism. The Reentry Legal Clinic prepares expungement petitions and takes advantage of existing legal means to clear criminal records. Because of the vast number of people who come in contact with the criminal justice system every year, there is overwhelming demand for these services. The Reentry Legal Clinic is partnered with A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, a trusted community resource that provides legal services and advocacy to alleviate the burdens of mass incarceration. Our volunteers work directly with clients preparing petitions and declarations that will be submitted to a judge. They are trained by attorneys from A New Way of Life on how to analyze complex court dockets, conduct effective client interviews with compassion and sensitivity, prepare expungement petitions, and write client declarations. Students then have the opportunity to apply these skills at our monthly clinics on Saturdays while receiving continued support from experienced volunteers and supervising New Way of Life attorneys. 

    Clinic Chairs
    LV Thompson: thompsonl2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Grace Carson: carson2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Menna Elsayed: elsayed2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Christian Gutierrez: gutierrez2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Amy Munro: munro2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Shyann Murphy: murphys2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Skid Row Housing Clinic

    Skid Row is a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles where homeless, transient, and low-income individuals have lived for over a century. The Skid Row Clinic is an on-the-ground effort by UCLA law students who work with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), and El Centro Legal to provide legal services to Skid Row residents. Skid Row residents encounter a range of legal issues including wrongful evictions, habitability complaints, housing discrimination, and tickets/warrants.  Volunteers participate in a comprehensive training designed to educate them on the legal issues facing vulnerable populations, and foster an understanding and respect for the history and culture of Skid Row. After the training, volunteers will work in pairs to conduct client interviews, complete intake paperwork, and confer with LAFLA attorneys to assess and advise on clients' legal issues. The Clinic meets downtown, at LACAN, on Wednesdays from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

    Clinic Chairs
    Chloe Chung: chungc2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Ilan Zur: zur2021@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Teen Court Clinic

    Teen Court is an outreach of the Los Angeles County Superior Court wherein young people who are suspected of non-serious crimes have the opportunity to avoid unnecessary involvement in the Juvenile Court and instead be questioned, judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers.  Court is presided over by a real LA Superior Court judge, and jurors are selected from the host high school’s student body. The young person who is found guilty then has the opportunity, upon successful completion of his or her probation, to have no record of a criminal conviction. UCLA Law student volunteers help the jurors in questioning the defendant, finding a guilty or not guilty verdict and, if found guilty, deciding appropriate sanctions. UCLA Law supports Teen Court at Venice High School remotely every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30-4:30pm. Volunteers are expected to attend at least one court session per semester.

    Clinic Chairs
    Lara Heckman: heckman2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Betty Markarian: markarian2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Tenants' Rights Clinic

    The Tenants' Rights Clinic advocates for low-income tenants facing possible eviction, habitability problems, rent increases, and other issues. Clinic volunteers assist staff attorneys at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles in Santa Monica. Along with conducting intake interviews, volunteers collaborate with attorneys to determine how the law applies to clients' issues and how they can be best addressed, then counsel clients to help resolve their problems through the best course of action. The clinic will be conducted remotely, at varied times. Volunteers are asked to participate at least 2-3 times per semester.

    Clinic Chairs
    Jessica Xu: xuj2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Joe Philipson: philipsonj2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Benjamin Levine: levine2021@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • UNHOUSED RESIDENT OUTREACH AND ADVOCACY CLINIC

    Unhoused Clinic works with those experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.  Volunteers work with diverse clients, assisting with wide-ranging issues including warrants, tickets, government benefits, probation/parole, and a host of other issues.  HPC students gain practical legal experience and exposure to the realities of poverty and homelessness, while learning about and helping the most vulnerable members of our community.  There are two clinic activities, and volunteers participate in each once per semester.

    Outreach: Using food as an icebreaker, volunteers join our attorney, an experienced civil rights attorney, to talk to people living on the streets of Venice Beach or Westwood. Volunteers provide a friendly face and friendly words to people who are often treated as invisible by those around them, help assess legal needs, provide information about benefits and services, and make referrals. Outreach is held on various days.

    Q.Me:  A remote offering with opportunities to serve weekly.

    Clinic Chairs
    Gabriel Durkin-White: durkin2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Amanda Dworkin: dworkin2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Olivia Scheyer: scheyer2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Veterans Clinic

    Los Angeles County has the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the country. Students at UCLA Law have the unique opportunity to give back to those who have served our country by providing much-needed legal services to these veterans. Students can join attorneys from Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP at legal intake sessions at the Veterans Administration campus next to UCLA on the second Tuesday of every month from 7:00-9:00 PM.  There, students will gain valuable hands-on experience by interviewing clients and assisting them with a broad range of issues covering everything from debt to family law. Carpools are available. 

    Clinic Chairs
    Diana Yen: yen2022@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Hannah Schnell: schnellh2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality. Therefore, chairs cannot conduct intake interviews with potential veteran clients via email. 

    While the student-run El-Centro Veterans Legal Clinic cannot conduct intake interviews via email, the UCLA Veterans Justice Clinic does conduct phone intake interviews according to a regularly updated schedule on the clinic's homepage.

     

  • Workers Rights Clinic

    The El Centro Workers' Rights Clinic is partnered with the Bet Tzedek Employment Rights Project and provides clinic volunteers an opportunity to become acquainted with California employment and wage law. Volunteers assist Bet Tzedek attorneys with representing workers in conjunction with community services providers and workers centers in Los Angeles. Clinics are currently held remotely every month on the first Wednesday, 4:30pm - 8:30pm, and additional opportunities to assist will be presented over the course of the semester. At the monthly clinic, volunteers conduct intake interviews of clients seeking pro bono legal aid for wage theft and other California wage and hourly law violations. Volunteers will gain experience working directly with supervising attorneys and discussing how California law applies to the clients' unique circumstances. Additional opportunities outside of the clinics may include intakes, discussions with Bet Tzedek attorneys, and any further actions the attorneys think necessary for the client. The clinic has a substantial need for Spanish speaking volunteers and some need for Mandarin-speaking volunteers, but proficiency in either is not required.

    Clinic Chairs
    Benjamin Levine: levine2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Dane Sowers: sowers2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Pauline Alarcon: alarcon2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Youth Deportation Defense Clinic

    The Central American Resource Center's (“CARECEN") UAC Representation Project provides free legal services to unaccompanied youth facing deportation. Many of these children cannot afford representation, so these services can mean the difference between deportation and a path to citizenship. Alongside CARECEN attorneys, students will conduct legal screenings for minors in order to help identify potential defenses to deportation, including Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and asylum. Students will develop client interviewing skills and knowledge of immigration law, while also helping these vulnerable children. Clinics take place remote weekl. Students are required to attend at least twice a semester. There is a high need for Spanish-speaking volunteers, but all students are welcome.

    Clinic Chairs
    Nikki Mahmoudi: mahmoudi2021@lawnet.ucla.edu
    Carlos Martinez: martinezcc2022@lawnet.ucla.edu

     

    Confidentiality Notice: Confidential information received via email is not subject to lawyer-client confidentiality.

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