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San Diego Group Offers Free Legal Advice

Reported by Guillermo Sevilla

On the second Tuesday of every month, residents can get free one-on-one help in Hillcrest to evaluate their legal problems.

The advice comes from the Access to Law Initiative, or ALI, an education outreach program organized by California Western School of Law. in downtown San Diego.

Joshua Bruser, who's been practicing law for a year, helps provide free legal advice through the program.

"We provide these free 30-minute consultations so people can evaluate their legal issues and then if they like, they can hire us or we can refer them out to other people in ALI."

The effort is part of a rapidly growing movement in San Diego to provide affordable legal services for people who often don't have access to lawyers.

Bruser said the program's location at the San Diego LGBT Community Center was specifically selected.

"We've been working with City Council and [it] suggested that this would be a good location because it's centrally located, the staff is phenomenal, very open and our clients aren't just LGBT people, they're people from all over the county from all different backgrounds," headded.

Residents from as far away as Escondido and San Ysidro have taken advantage of the program. Issues range from landlord-tenant disputes to immigration or employment and temporary restraining orders.

In addition to benefitting the community, it also allows graduates from the school to share cases and bounce ideas off each other.

"So it’s kind of like a law firm environment, but it helps us prepare to become better lawyers on our own," Bruser said.

Cal Western is the same law school behind the California Innocence Project dedicated to releasing wrongly convicted inmates through DNA testing.

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