Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

New Program Helps San Diegans Get More Access To Legal Services

Attorneys Robin Sassi and Eric LaGuardia explain the Access to Law initiative on KPBS Evening Edition.

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

California Western School of Law started the Access to Law Initiative last month. It places eight attorneys who each operate their own practices in an office in downtown San Diego’s Symphony Towers. In exchange, the attorneys pledge to provide at least 100 hours per year of pro bono, public service and “sliding scale fee” legal service.

Attorney Robin Sassi told KPBS the program helps new lawyers like her by giving them time to build their practices.

"The way it also helps with the community is that people who need low cost or pro bono legal help, they can come to us," she said.

The new lawyers are mentored by professors and practicing attorneys.

Attorney Eric LaGuardia, a consumer rights lawyer who said he "represents the little guy," told KPBS the program acts as an incubator for recent law school graduates.

"We get the support system to make sure what we think is the right thing to do is the right thing to do," he said.

In a city like San Diego where hiring an attorney often costs $300 an hour or more, the program also aims to help those who are trapped under prohibitive legal fees. For example, Sassi said she has helped tenants in issues with landlords.

The program was started by California Western professor Robert Seibel and modeled on an initiative at City University of New York. San Diego's Thomas Jefferson School of Law is currently establishing a similar project, making San Diego the only city in the nation with two such programs.

San Diego also has the Legal Aid Society and the Volunteer Lawyer Program, which handle legal affairs for those who can't afford them.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.