The California Lawyers Association has created three bar-wide initiatives consistent with our mission of promoting excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law:   

  • Access to Justice (A2J);
  • Civics Engagement and Outreach (CEO); and
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). 

As a new organization, the focus of our early initiative work has been on surveying the landscape and relationship development in 2019.  CLA has met with key stakeholders around the state including, but not limited to, the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness, California Commission on Access to Justice, Legal Aid Association of California, Southern and Northern California Association of Law Libraries, ChangeLawyers, California Minority Council Program, Minority Bar Coalition, California LAW, Power of Democracy, local Civics Learning Partnerships, statewide and local diversity and metro/county bar associations, leadership from local California Law Academies, California Judges Association, the Judicial Fairness Coalition and the Judicial Council.  We have also analyzed existing program and policy priorities and developed a strategic approach to filling gaps, supporting existing successful efforts with volunteer staffing and supporting a variety of programs in the laboratory of our Sections. 

Below is a status report of our efforts through November 2019.   

For more information about opportunities for Civics Engagement and Outreach, click here;

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).  

CLA has a three-pronged approach to our work on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.  We are working towards a diverse and inclusive CLA professional team with the cultural competency to work across lines of difference among our membership, one another and members of the profession and public with whom the team interacts. A major focus of the 2019 DEI committee’s work has been to improve the diversity of our volunteer leadership ranks and craft policies in support of diverse continuing legal education programming that were adopted by the Board of Representatives.  Finally, we are mindful of the significant gaps between the diversity of California’s population and the lack of diversity in the legal profession—particularly at its highest ranks. Towards that end, we are coalescing around a set of long-term, medium-term and short-term interventions to encourage young people from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in the law and to support law students and recent law school graduates in succeeding in their chosen profession. Specific activities and accomplishments in this arena include:

  • Numerous meetings with key stakeholders to identify gaps and consider CLA’s role;
  • Creation of multiple DEI committees to address both necessary policy and volunteer opportunities for lawyers;
  • Adoption of an Appointments Policy that requires consideration of diversity factors in all leadership and volunteer bodies of the association;
  • Development of a model policy regarding diversity on CLE panels;
  • Multiple leadership trainings and briefings on how to meet CLA’s diversity objectives, the critical need to diversify the profession and the State Bar demographic data; 
  • Planning educational programming that includes introducing the revised Judicial Council’s Judicial Diversity Toolkit and tactics to address implicit bias in hiring and mentoring; and
  • Calls with bar leaders around the state on model diversity programs.  

Civics Engagement and Outreach (CEO) 

One of CLA’s top priorities is to help increase the civic awareness, knowledge and engagement of Californians.   Facilitated by our Civics Engagement and Outreach Committee, (chaired by Jerrilyn Malana), and in conjunction with CLA Sections and our Associate Executive Director Ellen Miller, there are numerous opportunities to get involved at CLA and/or in your local community. Click here to learn more, including our plans for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Access to Justice (A2J)

In the Access to Justice arena, we continue to monitor opportunities where CLA can add its voice. This includes supporting legislation to increase Civil Gideon funding and submitting comments to help inform the State Bar’s next steps with respect to the Task Force on Access Through Innovation in Legal Services and other State Bar invitations to comment. Recognizing the important role voluntary bar associations have in facilitating and convening, CLA also co-convened a gathering of stakeholders in the access to justice community in collaboration with the Legal Aid Association of California on September 6, to discuss challenges, opportunities and potential solutions in access to justice and will be working on a series of post convening working groups.  

Access to Justice Resources

As part of the Family Law Section’s Access to Justice program, the Family Law Executive Committee (FLEXCOM) is pleased to announce that eight instructional videos have now been uploaded to the California Lawyers Association YouTube page. The videos were written and created by current officers, members, advisors and liaisons serving on FLEXCOM.

The videos form the beginning of an instructional library available to assist self-represented parties in addressing issues commonly faced in family law matters. The initial library consists of videos on the following topics:

  • Domestic Abuse and Restraining Orders
  • Divorce and Legal Separations: An Overview
  • Handling the Emotional Aspects of your Divorce or Legal Separation
  • How to Complete Your Petition for Dissolution
  • Starting Your Divorce: Beyond the Petition
  • Requests for Orders: How to Ask the Court for Help
  • Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure: What Is It and How to Prepare One
  • Your Day in Court

You can access the videos Youtube or watch them directly on our website below.

California Lawyers Foundation

CLA has established a separate 501c(3), the California Lawyers Foundation.  This new Foundation will work closely and support our work in these initiatives. 

For more information about CLA’s Initiatives, please contact Ellen Miller, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives at 916-516-1703 or

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