The second floor of the Titan Student Union is a quiet place to be. Small affiliated offices of Associated Students Inc. line the walls while compact groups of students chatter among themselves and hold study sessions at available desks.
Just around the corner is a small office with a lot to offer, the office of the College Legal Clinic, TSU Room 258, at Cal State Fullerton.
Founded in 1971 by a group of CSUF students and professors, the College Legal Clinic (CLC) was initially organized to help release student protesters who were jailed during the Vietnam War.
Forty years later, the College Legal Clinic is dedicated to providing free consultations and services in all legal areas by practicing attorneys to CSUF students.
The program, solely run by student interns pursuing a career in law, is a non-profit organization funded by ASI that sometimes slides under the radar of the student body.
Intern Esteban Fernandez, 22, a political science and economics double major, said the program could do more to market its services and get the word out students.
“College Legal Clinic is something that I think a lot more students should be aware of,” said Fernandez. “We are a little bit lacking in the amount of traffic we get.”
To students who do use the services provided, the clinic program tries to the process as convenient as possible.
Matthew Morey, 25, executive director of the clinic and a political science major, said there are various steps students have to take to receive legal assistance.
“The student could give the intern a brief description of the case. The intern could then give a referral to an attorney… or the CLC can schedule the student for a consultation with an attorney which are held on Thursday nights,” said Morey.
Morey said attorneys often come in to the clinic office and speak to students, for free, about their cases.
He advises that students take advantage of the program.
“First of all it’s free for them. People here, they really want to help students, that’s why they get involved,” Morey said.
Jessica Leone, 21, a psychology major, has had legal problems with her landlord in the past. The only reason she was able to get legal advice was because her friend’s mother is a lawyer. If not for her, she would not be able to afford a lawyer.
“Those who will need it will benefit greatly from (the College Legal Clinic). I know I wouldn’t be able to afford a lawyer at my age,” said Leone.
Although the clinic has not recently been busy with student cases, Morey admits that last semester held a record high for referrals.
As for the lack of cases for this semester, Morey said it is because students do not know about the program because it is difficult to keep over 34,000 students informed about all programs CSUF provides.
“Not a lot of students know about all the programs available to them,” Morey said.
The clinic currently works with 18 attorneys and 10 student interns, Fernandez said.
“On a given semester we can have around 10 to 15 interns,” Morey said. “We usually try to cap it at 15 just because there are not many hours to go around.”
Being a student intern at the clinic has provided Fernandez with opportunities that will help him as he pursues a career in law.
“CLC provides me with a lot of opportunities to shadow attorneys, to see what the legal field is like, and also it provides me an opportunity just to give back to the campus,” Fernandez said. “You’re constantly giving back to the campus. These students come here with genuine legal issues.”
The College Legal Clinic makes an effort to provide pro-bono services to those demonstrating financial need, not only limited to students, although largely committed to assisting them.
“Because this organization is run by students and we are aware of the issues going on,” Fernandez said. “When we see students in here we can’t help but sympathize and empathize at the same time.”