California Lawyers Foundation

Get Involved with the California Lawyers Foundation!

By Ellen Miller and Brian Heaton

Formed in 2019, the California Lawyers Foundation (CLF) serves as the charitable and philanthropic arm of the California Lawyers Association (CLA). While the two have a common mission of promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, CLF’s emphasis is on a variety of projects that encourage and support increasing diversity in the profession, improve access to justice for people in need, make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone and help educate Californians about the role of lawyers and the rule of law. Some of CLF’s current efforts include a video project featuring the diverse voices of the legal profession, a video series to help lawyers navigate various COVID-19-related issues and partnering with CLA and Legal Access Alameda for the “Free Legal Answers Program.” One of the Foundation’s newest projects is a comic book aimed at K-12 students. The comic book serves to engage students at an early age and introduce them to the idea that people who look like them are and can be legal professionals. It also explains in accessible language what lawyers and judges do that may impact people’s day to day lives. The comic book is based on the Missouri Bar’s coloring Book, “What Do Lawyers and Judges Do?” and was transformed by California comic book artist Vince Alvendia who was able to bring the words to life and feature illustrations of diverse lawyers and judges. This new resource will be used by lawyers and judges in their outreach to schools and community centers.

CLF is also very committed to helping law students and law graduates access opportunities and funding that support advancement. The Foundation provides a variety of practice-specific diversity fellowship programs and scholarships in the areas of Labor and Employment Law, Environmental Law, and Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law and also supports legal fellows to support rural justice. In addition, the Foundation will undertake initiatives to fill gaps in the areas of Access to Justice/Pro Bono, Diversity, and Civics Engagement and Outreach. “Anyone who looks at the diversity data for the bench and bar in California can see that there is still a great deal of work to do to advance diversity in our profession and recent events have demonstrated the critical need for civics education—two of our Foundation’s priorities," said Ona Alston Dosunmu, Chief Executive Officer of CLA. “CLF’s goal is to be impactful and fill gaps rather than duplicating the efforts of others and to provide the necessary tools and resources to advance its goals.” CLF is governed by a 16-member board of directors supported by a professional team it shares with CLA. The CLF board of directors includes appointments from CLA and liaisons from key CLA committees and initiatives to ensure coordination between the Association and the Foundation. The ties with CLA are close. Both CLA and CLF work together on projects and educational opportunities for the improvement of the legal profession.

Partnering with CLF

CLF welcomes donations from individuals, firms, companies and foundations to help support its growing list of projects. The Foundation has a Gift Acceptance Policy with details on how to contribute and the types of gifts accepted. In addition, CLF is interested in potentially co-sponsoring and supporting projects. To that end, the Foundation has created a Co-Sponsorship Policy that outlines the requirements. In addition, there are other ways to support the work CLF does. From Facebook campaigns to Amazon SMILE designations, there are numerous ways to take part in the Foundation. Visit CLF’s website for more information. Ellen Miller is the Associate Executive Director, Initiatives and Externals Relations, of CLA. Brian Heaton is CLA’s Managing Editor.

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